Former Caterham Graduates driver Andy Coombs returned to racing at Brands Hatch last weekend after spending the last two years building a Mk3 Mazda MX-5. He took a best finish of 16th in the Supercup races with the JZ Racing Developments team and has secured a sponsorship deal with Fix Auto Loughborough to race the car for the next two years.
The racing drivers’ excuses book is legendary.
If I had a pound for every time I heard “I didn’t see the lights/flag/ speed limiter” or “I didn’t see the penalty board, I thought you were supposed to get extra warnings before they gave you a penalty” I could probably quit journalism and retire on a yacht somewhere.
But race officials have grown wise to such excuses, and at Spa-francorchamps last weekend British GT drivers underwent a new test designed to remove such arguments.
The Sean Edwards Test, set up in collaboration with the Sean Edwards Foundation and the late driver’s mother Daphne, is an Sro-designed system to quiz drivers’ knowledge on the rules and regulations of the race weekend. It can act as a refresher, or a stark reminder, of what they need to do in any given situation.
“We brought the test in for the Blancpain GT Series last season and found it useful in many ways,” said SRO’S sporting director Jacquie Groom. “We do the questions in English or French so firstly it highlights any potential problems with language and if any drivers are having issues understanding the rules.
“If a driver fails, we can review whether they need a refresher of the rules with the race director, or if we have a real issue that needs clarifying or working on. We’ve found it very useful at improving driving standards and general safety.”
I decided to put myself to the test, and scored a respectable 80 per cent pass rate from the 15 multiple choice questions, which included everything from wet weather behaviour to pit lane etiquette, marshal recovery process and race start procedures.
I obviously blame the strong Belgian sun on the ipad screen, the odd ambiguous question, a typo and partially laggy wifi for the dropped 20 per cent there…that score was described as “about average” by Groom. I’d be allowed on the grid… if I had my licence with me and a weighty stack of cash handy that is.
But the test serves a very honourable purpose. The Sean Edward Foundation has campaigned to increase driver safety and awareness ever since the GT star’s death during a track day accident in October 2013.
Aside from this, the only time a driver will have a rules and flags refresher will be their ARDS test, or if something serious has happened, which by then is usually far too late.
Having the rules fresh in your mind before a race weekend is a great way to make drivers think, and understand better how racing works. Anything we can do to make motorsport a safer and more understandable place is a good thing in my book.
The Ford RS Owners club once again returns to Donington race track on August 21 for an action packed day both on and off the track. The infield returns to full service this year so the traditional grassy static show can once again be at the heart of the track action which will surround them. Event head Justin Smith said: “Our show is going from strength to strength and we are trying a few new ideas out this year to take it to a whole new level.” Tiff Needell has been confirmed as the guest PA this year and is hoping to get behind the wheel of some original Sierra RS500 touring car machinery in the lunch time display sessions inbetween his time out in the show getting to meet the membership. Paul Swift is also confirmed and, in somthing new for this year, he and others will be running a new Live Action area on the Melbourne loop with the support of the MSA and other guest cars.