The 2013 Ginetta media day was a perfect opportunity to not only meet and greet the drivers and teams competing for honours in the manufacturer’s many one-make series around the country, but also a chance to get behind the wheel of their G40 machine at Silverstone’s national circuit. I was one of those lucky people, and here’s what I thought of the experience…
Having only previously driven a single seater at Croft as my experience, the car I bend my ridiculously out-of-proportion torso into is an H-pattern-equipped version of the popular Junior and GT5 Challenge Ginetta G40, one of the most popular current baby sportscars of motorsport.
Not stalling and creating a scene – unlike our own Simon Paice – thanks to a very manageable clutch, I set off down pit lane, if anything seeming more concerned about breaking any speed limits which, thankfully today did not exist, almost as though I was expecting a drive-through penalty at the end of the run…
After leaving the old Silverstone pits it’s time to test the real speed of the G40, and – for such a little machine – there is still a lot of power available to play with, 165bhp to be precise.
Already smiling from the acceleration and braking at the kerb heading into the national circuit’s Becketts hairpin, the steering feels very responsive when flicking the nose towards the apex of the corner, the car not twitching out of shape meaning I can get on the power straight away heading onto the back straight.
By the time I’ve powered out towards the exit kerb I’ve been complemented with the famous last words: “finally, somebody that can drive!”, and I’m already back into fourth gear where the acceleration and rumble of the Ginetta’s 1.8 litre power plant is intoxicating, and now you start to realise why these Junior drivers adore their racing so much.
By now I already want to push the car, where on the approach to Brooklands I first discover the surprise factor of just how hard you have to stamp on the brake pedal, the car asking for an aggressive right foot as it’s harder to lock a brake in the G40 than you would think, particularly when you are used to a road car for so long…
The car sticks to the racing lines very well when you throw the car into the apex of a corner, and heading into Copse I already have the confidence to take the quick right-hander in fourth gear, scrubbing off enough speed as a precaution before realising that I’m not heading wide, then bringing the car back up towards over 6000rpm for the hairpin once again.
With the instructor enjoying the ride as much as I am, I’m easily egged into trying to take Copse corner even quicker this time, which almost worked until I drifted wide onto the exit kerb (or ‘exploring the limits’ which is the excuse I’m sticking by) and ran out of talent – as well as room – the 360 spin that followed being worryingly quite a rush.
Having neatly left my mark on the circuit, I find that the car grips well around the tight Brooklands-Luffield section, after which the three laps are soon over and I start to realise how much fun this car could be to attack the British circuits with the experience under your belt.
For any motorsport fan, throwing a sportscar around Silverstone is a gem to remember, and the G40 is a machine I would happily have lapped the Home of British motorsport for hour after hour that day. With that in mind, thank you Ginetta, and I apologise for that particular set of tyres!