Skid Pan Day – Saturday 11th June
By Adam Kingston, Photos Gloria Wade
With the not too distant memory of 25mls of rain on the previous Saturday, a group of excited Lotus owners mingled at the Mt Cotton Truck Skid Pan, on a beautiful Queensland winters’ morning. It was 8.30 am, a bit fresh, but the sun soon warmed us.
The cones had been strategically placed, the water had started flooding across the pristine bitumen, a few “skid pan virgins” had even washed their cars. Our instructors for the day, Steve Owen (Mark Winterbottom’s co-driver) and Andrew Price (from Paul Stokell Motorsports) ran through the program – three different courses through the day. On the first course, which was ready for us, we would have a few test runs, then the timing would start. The competition was on!
After the obligatory procession around the course, just to learn the route, the first few drivers made their initial runs. The discussion on the grandstand (Toilet block with coffee making facilities and some shade from the rising sun) was about which turns were causing the most difficulties. There also seemed to be quite a few drivers struggling to slow enough to stop inside the finishing box, ultimately resulting in a two second penalty. The challenge for some, was traction control on or off – others didn’t have the luxury. Some, myself included, always wondered what the button on the dashboard DTC actually did… we certainly found out.
The race between the 7’s/Caterham’s was as competitive as usual, with Shane, on his skinny tyres posting the best times, but the main competition was between El Presidente` showing electric pace, with his new tyres on the green S1 Elise and Garry in the heavily modified red S2. With each driver pushing, trying to find the limit – which they managed to do with ease and regularly spinning, finding the balance between power and the trusty handbrake, it was Garry on the final run who managed to shave a second off his previous time and pip Clive.
The biggest cheer from the grandstand, during the morning session was for an out of control Garry who managed to spin just in front of the finishing box, as he slid sideways towards the cones, somehow, he managed to slide the car in backwards, demonstrating the fine art of reverse parking at speed.
A big thank you for the hearty BBQ lunch which was provided and cooked by Mal and his two capable assistants, Jake and Lachlan. While we ate and discussed the finer detail of the morning’s event, the course was modified to allow two cars to race against each other. Clive threw down the gauntlet to Gary and the rest of us, with a quip about only seeing the back end of his car this time. Would he be able to back it up?
Again, after a couple of drives through the course, to learn the route, we lined up to take on the next challenge. With instructor Andrew doing his best impression of the start of the car race in the movie Grease, luckily without the outfit, we got under way. Surprisingly, or not, the biggest challenge seemed to be getting the cars around the correct course with many drivers, crumbling under the pressure of competition and missing some of the cones.
The final course change for the day, turned the entire arena into a mini Queensland Raceway, with a high speed sweeping horseshoe, starting and finishing in the same box.
Unfortunately, I and a few other drivers were unable to stay to the end of the day, the call of watching the Wallabies take on the old foe England at Suncorp pulled us away. I can only imagine the conversation in the grandstand, of, if only, and how much fun was that!
Thanks to the silent few who organised the day and to the Lotus Club who subsidised the event, it certainly is a great and safe way to find out what the cars and drivers are capable of.