I love hanging out with my father at car events – he knows more than I ever will about motoring, and it’s from him that I have inherited my love of cars.
Over the years we’ve been involved in all manner of car events – RAC road rallies around the UK in his Jaguar XK120, track days at Goodwood in his MGA, FI driver training with Rob Wilson at Bruntingthorpe in a Vauxhall Astra, and luxe-ing it up in the Tag Heuer Drivers’ Club at the Festival of Speed.
With him egging me on from the passenger seat, I’ve driven faster than my mother ever needs to know on the circuits at Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Rockingham, Goodwood, Castle Coombe, Snetterton and, of course, our home track, Silverstone. Together we’ve braved the speed bowl at Millbrook in an Aston Martin, the hill climb at Prescott (where I ended up in the kitty litter after getting stuck in 2nd), and c0untless time trials and cone tests on aerodromes around the south of England.
(I shall draw a veil over the day that he span a couple of 360s with me in the passenger seat of the 120 on the national circuit at Silverstone. It is the reason why I rarely go on any circuit as a passenger these days unless I’m being coached.)
Which brings me neatly back to Silverstone, where we found ourselves last weekend as guests of our friends at Blancpain for round four of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
We’ve attended once before, back in 2015 – my story is here, so we were looking forward to this.
The Blancpain GT Series is arguably the best international GT3 championship on the motorsports planet. It consists of five Sprint events, (forming the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup) and five Endurance events, (forming the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup) the Silverstone round being one of the latter.
A Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup event consists of two races of one hour per event, while the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup races range from three-hour events through a 1000 km race, to the season highlight of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the world’s leading 24-hour race reserved for GT3 cars. The Silverstone event is a three-hour race, with two mandatory pit stops.
The manufacturers represented on this year’s starting grid are Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, and Porsche, with top level drivers participating, from former Grand Prix and Le Mans-winners to the best GT drivers in the world.
These are some of the guest cars parked by hospitality. *drools*. As we arrived, we caught the tail end of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, before heading to lunch.
And admired the privately owned Lamborghinis parked up in formation, which we spotted as we toured around the team trucks parked up in the paddock.
Then we headed off for a pit inspection.
It’s truly another world out there – it’s motoring, but not as you know it.
We were in the pits to check out this extraordinary car: it’s a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX, run by the Reiter Young Stars team, with the three drivers Mads Siljehaug from Norway, Lenny Marioneck from Germany, and Patric Niederhauser from Switzerland.
(Other cars in the Series include two other lambos – the Huracan GT3, and the REX, a Bentley Continental GT3, an Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3, a Ferrari 488 GT3, an Emile Frey Jaguar G3, a Lexus RC F GT3, a BMW M6 GT3, an Audi R8 GT3, a Porsche 911 GT3 R, a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, a Mercedes AMG GT3, and last, but not least, a McLaren 650S GT3.)
This Gallardo has an aluminium chassis (wth an awful lot of carbon fibre around it), with a V10 engine, rear wheel drive, and a semi automatic, 6-speed sequential gearbox.
I can tell you now that the car is almost impossible to get in and out of. Not including the problem of wedging my bottom into the seat. Those drivers are whippet-y thin – they have to be not just because weight affects the car’s performance, but for the split second importance of the driver changes – three drivers for the endurance race; they need to be in and out of that seat in a second. It took me quite some minutes. Very chastening
Then it was time to head out for the VIP Grid Walk before the day’s big event, the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at 1500hrs. This is always quite the spectacle, and I was extremely pleased to see that the grid girls no longer stumble about in idiotic five inch platform heels on the track – not least because they are standing around for quite some time.
It’s also very heartening to see just how many women are integral parts of the competing teams: it’s no message to send out that the only place for women in motorsport is holding a placard.
Here’s my friend Zoe looking very motorsport glam.
The cars are pushed from the pits onto the grid by teams, and the expectation level starts to reach fever pitch.
Sasha is wearing:
GAP army green Utility Jacket. In sale here
ME+EM black Double layer Maxi Dress (gift). Available here
LK Bennett Mariel Crossbody bag (gift). Available here
Toolally LBD Black Circle earrings (gift). Available here
Christopher Kane Safety Buckle sunglasses (press sample). Available here.
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