David Pittard’s #TrackTalk: Donington Park


The Ginetta GT4 Supercup arrives at Donington Park for its second weekend of the season (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Donington Park, based near Derby right next to East Midlands airport will host the second round of the British Touring Car Championship! The shorter National configuration is used for the weekend missing the Melbourne loop hairpin and using a fast kerb hopping chicane instead!

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History

Donington is known to be the first permanent race circuit in the UK when it was built in 1931. Donington has a very varied past, after being abandoned after the war the Wheatcroft family restored the track similar to its current state, even hosting the F1 Grand Prix in 1993 before most recently in 2007 was proposed to hold the British GP. However, lack of funding saw the project bankrupt and returned to the Wheatcroft family who have restored Donington to what it once was!

Going back to that 1993 F1 Grand Prix, a certain Ayrton Senna absolutely demolished the field in wet conditions to win by over 1 min and has been known to be one of his best drives! However sticking with the BTCC theme, I think a classic race would be BTCC in 1998 with Nigel Mansell guest driving for Ford and produced some fantastic racing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpL_72hx3Js

Track Walk

Redgatedonnyredgate

A much faster corner than it look due to a wide entry. Key to get a good exit as it will allow you to carry more speed down the hill! The kerbs are low here so can really be ulitlized on the apex and exit. Probably the best place to overtake on the circuit as it is so wide and leading from a long straight. Also possible to cut back on the exit here too and play chicken side by side down craners!

 

 

Craner Curvesdonnychicane

The icon set of corners at Donington Park! A fast, flowing right left down the hill with the left being surprisingly steep! A great drivers corner as it is so fast and there is such a change of direction. It will be interesting to see how the Ginetta gets on down here but with its aero it will be close to flat! Great to spectate in this natural bowl of the circuit. Here you will be able to see from the exit of Redgate to the entrance to Mcleans and there will be plenty of action inbetween!

 

Old Hairpindonnytt

A fast and committed corner! You have to brake while still coming across the track to the left before rolling off the brakes to the apex. An early throttle is vital here as it leads up a big hill towards Mcleans. A lunge overtaking opportunity is available here but requires faith that the other driver has seen you!

 

 

Mcleans

A very tricky corner. With the apex being the crest of the hill it is hard to spot your exit point. Another tricky braking area too as you are

trying to position yourself well enough on the left while maintaining straight line braking which has caught a few people out in the past. Again, another lunge opportunity is available to pass into here but needs commitment!

Coppice

A short run after Mcleans and up a small steep gradient means braking distances are very small into here. Again it is really hard to spot your apex and exit points due to the gradident. Carrying a good amount of speed through here is vital as it leads onto the longest straight. It can be possible to cut back into Coppice from Mcleans and cut back on the of coppice to. Traction can be an issue but only in the wet.

Essesdonnychicane2

My type of corner, a fast and aggressive chicane with little room for error! The braking area drops away slightly on entry before the fast right left leading onto the start finish line. High kerbs govern the track limits (not for the touring cars anyway) so you have to be very precise in your line and carry the speed through. Another great overtaking spot by being late on the brakes to get to that first apex ahead. Lots of action here!

See this onboard from Clio Driver Rob Smith. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTt-im5slXk

Thoughts

Donington Park is a great circuit to drive, very smooth and very fast and flowing. Quite a high speed circuit so the Ginetta drivers will really test the high speed grip of their cars. I haven’t had too much mileage around Donington before but I feel it will be easy to pick up in the SV Racing Ginetta, saying that I did qualify P2 in my Britcar debut! This circuit, with 2 definite over taking opportunities should see some more action and provide a different challenge to the drivers than Brands Indy!

All images: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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