In 30-plus years as a full-time road tester and part-time racer I’ve been blessed with hot laps at the world’s best tracks. These are the ones that make me smile
Paul Gover has driven everywhere, man, including all the places of which we can but dream. Here’s his top tracks
1 The Nurburgring
Nothing tests a driver like hot laps at The Green Hell’’. The 21km course is fast and many of the corners are over brows or around blind corners. My first laps of the Ring were in a bogstandard E-class Benz— complete with a bollocking from the PR chief— and most recently I’ve logged time in the Lexus LFA supercar, which made me feel like a legend. In my own words.
I’ve been lucky enough to qualify a V8 Supercar for The Great Race and had a couple of class wins in production car enduros at Mt Panorama. It’s a great track, and the run across the top of the mountain equals the best bits at the Nurburgring — get the start of the run a metre wrong and you are in big trouble at Skyline. My favourite memory is my first big hit down Conrod Straight in Supercar practice at 280km/h, watching Greg Murphy closing like a hungry shark in the Commodore that won in 07.
The best track that no one knows. It’s a private course in Spain that car companies find perfect for letting press people try their new wares. I’ve been there twice, INBMW’SM3 and the latest M5, and it is an incredible challenge with a 240km/h straight and a rollercoaster run-up and over a hill.
4 Laguna Seca
The home of the US Motogp race is an old-style road course that runs up and over a mountain, topped by a signature turn called The Corkscrew. The press drive for the Mercedes SLS gullwing’’ was a hugely memorable day, topped by hot laps paced by German touring car ace Bernd Schneider, who was two car lengths behind Sebastian Vettel in another gullwing.
The Italian track is a spooky place with grandstands built in the 1930s. It’s now the home of the Italian Grand Prix and the most passionate F1 fans in the world. I’ve sampled it from the passenger seat of a Volvo turbo
Lapping it up: above Gover at Paul Ricard; right, behind the wheel testing the Mclaren MP412C sportscar at the Top Gear test track in England