Gurston Drivers School

We have a little pre-Christmas treat for you here, with a report from one of the sport’s brilliant Hillclimb Drivers Schools.  If you are thinking of competing then the very best place you could start is with a visit to one of these schools. But what goes on there!?

Hannah Wiltshire Gurston Down

Hannah presents the awards after her first competitive event at Gurston in September

 

One Monday back in August our Fashion Correspondent Hannah Wiltshire, who has since been out competing in a Renault Clio Cup, attended the school at Gurston Down. Hannah has kindly sent us this cracking review of her first day on a hill.

Having been lurking around the Gurston paddock for many years, I actually got out there and participated in the school. I’ve got myself a road-going car to compete in, and due to Dad (Gould driver Tony Wiltshire) having nicked it for his daily commute, and stupidly expensive insurance, up until now I haven’t driven it. So before I begin my assault on the hills I thought I’d better take some tips from the pros at Gurston Down drivers school…

So the morning started with the obligatory, all be it very important safety info, and some very useful additional information for anybody considering a competition license and all the get-up.  Followed by a quick run through of Gurston on paper, the lines, the apex’s, the facts and figures. Then straight onto the track.

Firstly walking the track in small groups with each instructor talking us through every apex and braking zone. It was thoroughly useful to visualise the best line… For all the years I have spectated at Gurston, and been up the hill to collect various bits of orange bodywork, I’d never really noticed how steep Karousel was until the walk! Dad was trailing behind, cramping my style, and carrying an oxygen tank for (Instructor) Chris Cannell, and of course getting some tips! This walk was the perfect opportunity to straighten out any questions, and figure out where on earth I was going to fit in any gear changes between Karousel and Ashes.

Next up, two convoy runs in your batch of cars, following your instructor at a relatively quick pace. Then straight into your individual runs, with the aide of cones to indicate apex’s and braking points, the aim of the game was to execute the perfect line at whatever pace you felt comfortable with. After those initial runs you get some feedback from instructors, the best bit… Instructor Tim Pitfield stands at Hollow, John Forsyth at Karousel and Chris Cannell at Ashes so there is no escaping them, they see it all! And off you go again to improve on your performance.

Hannah Wiltshire Gurston Down

The Clio waits for another run in the Gurston paddock

 

After a spot of lunch the day continues with more individual runs. This time the cones have all been removed and you better hope you remember those apex’s! After each pair of runs you receive more feedback, and you’re targeted with improving the errors the instructors have picked up on, because for the final three runs in the afternoon you’re scored against your earlier errors.  So your improvement and progression, consistency and understanding of the sport are key… In my case getting the apex at Ashes spot on, not turning in too early, and getting that wheelspin off the line under control!

Another useful tip is to do your window up before the startline and insist Webbo and Duncan turn around and face the other way… Way less abuse and distraction!

With all that taken on board I managed to finish with a run that I was chuffed to nuts with, a massive improvement from the morning and having started the day thankful that there wasn’t any timing in place, I finished the day wishing there was… I think that speaks for itself!

 

To wrap it all up everybody receives a percentage score for the day, and the person with the highest score is congratulated and in the running for a fantastic day of driving at Thruxton.

The best bits about Gurston drivers school- 1)Track time; 90% of your learning is done in your car on the track. 2) Three different instructors all with different driving styles and a ton of experience on hand with constructive comments 3) The encouragement to push as hard as you can, find your limit and the cars limit without getting any stick!

Massive thanks to everyone at Gurston for a sterling day out! I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, whether you’re thinking about getting out there, or just fancy a bit of a challenge, it’s spot on!

It sounds like a cracking day and well worth a visit, thanks for the report Hannah!

If anyone reading is due to visit one of the other schools and fancies writing a few words about it then we’d love to hear from you! It would be great to start a thread of real-world experiences of the brilliant schools around the country.

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