Out­side Line

We’ve all got our favourite cor­ners. Meaden wants to hear yours in the hope that it could be­come part of some­thing rather spe­cial

Evo India - - HYUNDAI VERNA - Richard is a con­tribut­ing editor to RICHARD MEADEN and one of the mag­a­zine’s found­ing team @Dick­ieMeaden

WHEN McLAREN RE­VEALED ITS re­cent fan­tasy for a grand prix through the mean streets of Wok­ing, many will have scoffed, but I have to say it struck a chord with me. Not, I has­ten to add, be­cause I’ve long har­boured the fan­tasy of ham­mer­ing through McLaren’s home­town, but be­cause the no­tion of cre­at­ing a track out of fa­mil­iar roads is the stuff that rat­tles around in ev­ery petrol­head’s mind.

Many years ago a cre­ative friend of evo’s sug­gested we com­mis­sion a batch of evo-branded road mark­ers (you know, the day­glo-yel­low tem­po­rary cat­seyes you often see defin­ing lanes through road­works) so that read­ers could proudly – and se­cretly! – af­fix them to the as­phalt as apex mark­ers on their favourite cor­ner.

It was a great idea. One we se­ri­ously con­sid­ered, at least un­til the bor­ing le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions were pointed out to us. At which point the ro­man­tic no­tion of com­ing across a crack­ing cor­ner in the mid­dle of nowhere with a small rec­tan­gle of yel­low plas­tic at which to aim your inside wheel evap­o­rated.

Still, the fact re­mains: we all have our favourite cor­ners. Some might be a sim­ple, well-sighted 90-left or right that lets you kick the tail out or cock a rear wheel in the air without of­fend­ing any­one. Even a quiet round­about in the dead of night has its charm. Oth­ers could be an el­e­gant con­stant-ra­dius arc that re­wards a clean, pre­cise and well-timed turn-in. Get it right and once you’ve ap­plied some lock you can stead­fastly hold the wheel at that an­gle and watch as the apex spools be­neath you as if by magic. The roads are a trea­sure trove of mem­o­rable turns if you’re on the look­out.

I’ve had lots of favourites over the years. Some I drive al­most ev­ery day, oth­ers I haven’t driven for years, decades pos­si­bly. Yet I’m pretty cer­tain one or two runs through and mus­cle mem­ory would find the sweet­est line through them. Of course, those from my dim and dis­tant youth were taken with pos­si­bly a smidgeon more com­mit­ment than was strictly sen­si­ble, but such is life when you’re ex­plor­ing the roads and ex­tent of your nerve and abil­ity. I can’t con­done it, but nei­ther can I con­demn it. What can I say? It was the ’90s.

I grew up on the roads that strad­dle Sur­rey and Hamp­shire. Not clas­sic driv­ing coun­try, ad­mit­tedly, but there were some de­cent stretches to en­joy. One of the near­est was what we re­ferred to as the Pir­bright Bends. Its more of a pro­longed se­quence than one out­stand­ing cor­ner, but hav­ing just put the name into Google, it would ap­pear to have re­tained its al­lure.

In the very early days – be­fore I landed a job as a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist – I would re­lent­lessly tear up and down this sin­u­ous stretch of road in my souped-up 1380cc Mini. Often with my mate Tim in tow on his Honda CBR600 mo­tor­cy­cle. He’d get his knee down while I had the Mini on its door han­dles. We’d pick our mo­ments so it wasn’t busy, and nei­ther of us ever fired our­selves into the un­der­growth, but it still makes my hair curl think­ing about what we used to get up to on that tree-lined snake of road.

Once I got a job road test­ing, my hori­zons were broad­ened, but it be­came a bit of a rit­ual to take what­ever I had up and down that piece of road, often with Tim in the pas­sen­ger seat. Be­ing a biker, he was no­to­ri­ously hard to im­press, but he was a use­ful part of my ap­praisal process, like an im­par­tial or­ganic VBOX. He kicked the two-wheel habit yonks ago, but the fact he quickly turned to Cater­ham own­er­ship sug­gests those cor­ners clearly left a last­ing im­pres­sion.

Re­turn­ing to the fan­tasy race­track theme, per­haps we should pool our favourite cor­ners and per­suade the cre­atives at Polyphony Dig­i­tal – mak­ers of Gran Turismo – to cre­ate an ul­ti­mate evo reader road course? It’s a long shot, but they might just go for it.

My con­tri­bu­tion? Pos­si­bly not what you’d ex­pect, in that it’s not on some re­mote moor, but a slip road con­nect­ing the anti-clock­wise car­riage­way of the M25 with the north­bound M11. Al­ways taken as a re­ward af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing the home bound hor­rors of the Dart­ford Tun­nel, this epic com­bi­na­tion of cor­ners makes Mag­gots-Beck­etts look like a walk in the park. You’d need some­thing down­force-rich like the up­com­ing As­ton Martin Valkyrie to re­alise its full po­ten­tial, but there’s some­thing re­mark­able about the way the al­most end­less and ap­par­ently open right-hand el­e­ment loops up, then down be­fore turn­ing back on it­self, tighter, tighter, tighter like a tar­mac tourni­quet, be­fore chang­ing di­rec­tion and re­leas­ing you onto the north­bound M11 like a cork from a cham­pagne bot­tle.

We’ll worry about the pixel-per­fect ren­der­ing later. In the mean­time, con­tinue to (re­spon­si­bly) en­joy your favourite cor­ners, wher­ever they may be. ⌧

‘The roads are a trea­sure trove of mem­o­rable turns if you’re on the look­out’

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