The Autocar Sideways Challenge is run at Silverstone every September. This was the 5th year of the event with 40 readers and 40 professional racing and rally drivers for the days events.
We left Belfast on the Thursday night [in the red E34 M5 – see photos] and drove the usual route to Northampton – a mere 385 miles! On Friday morning we went to the track, and what an array of machinery we saw. There was everything from the new BMW M3 CSL, M5, Porsche 911 and even MG had brought 3 prototype r.w.d. rover 75s with 260bhp 4.0 v8 in each! Japanese drifting cars from Option Motorsport were also in attendance. As we were waiting for our car numbers I really thought we had taken on too much.
After the drivers briefing they wetted the track. The challenge was three corners, all marked out of 25 points (although the last corner was a big long hairpin marked 25 in and 25 out as well). The system was – 80 cars for one run with <strong>no practice</strong>, then the top 30 get to go again down to top ten and then the top three compete in the little <em>legend</em> race cars. I was number 46 and was in the 5th lot of 10 cars. To go out after standing watching it suddenly didn’t look so easy! It was very slippery and so fast. As my run was approaching a lot of the pro drivers had already run. They were driving brand new BMW M3 S, supplied free from BMW GB. I approached the line and gave it my all. A real good but what I considered a fairly cautious first run (as a spin meant no points). The comentator approached me after driving back and he said ‘how do you feel to be our new leader.’ I was delighted. I ended up 4th after the first run and so got another, again giving it all again but only managed to finish 12th. We’ll be back!
The Option Motorsportpeople in general were diassapointing, especially as they had been there several weeks previous practiceing although two of them qualified in the top 10. Both spun in the finals! Stars of the day were <em>Tiff Needell </em>in the M3; the winner of the day was the Lotus test driver; second was the Jaguar test driver and third was <em>Richard Breemer</em> from Autocar.
A genuine trip of a lifetime – the chance to compete along side these guys and also to beat many so called professional drivers!
Thanks for the support from:
– Kerr’s Tyres in Antrim
– Tyrecall Direct
– Hannkook Tyres