The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - SI­MON DAVIS

DO­ING some­thing for the first time usu­ally goes one of two ways. You’ll ei­ther hate it, or be hooked and left ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the next op­por­tu­nity. I’ve never driven a car on a track be­fore so when I was in­vited to take a se­lec­tion of BMW M cars around the his­toric Good­wood Cir­cuit, I des­per­ately hoped the ex­pe­ri­ence would fall into that lat­ter cat­e­gory. Cars are some­thing I’ve al­ways loved and the op­por­tu­nity to spend a morn­ing blast­ing around a cir­cuit seemed pretty choice to me.

How­ever, the ex­cite­ment of my first track day was mixed with an un­der­ly­ing sense of dread I’d run out of tal­ent in spec­tac­u­lar fashion. Would I spin out in an M4, or put an M2 back­wards into a wall? All of these thoughts had crossed my mind in the days lead­ing up to the event. They were still present at the driver brief­ing where Tiff Needell, of Top Gear and Fifth Gear fame and an ac­com­plished rac­ing driver in his own right, in­tro­duced us to the track.

Words such as “nar­row”, “fast” and “pres­ti­gious” were all used with en­thu­si­asm to de­scribe the cir­cuit, pre­sum­ably to get us pumped up be­fore we took the wheel. In my case, they served only to heighten my anx­i­ety. The brief­ing over, we were herded into the pit lane to be greeted by an en­vi­able se­lec­tion of me­tal. There were BMW M6s, M4s and M2s, as well as a Mini John Cooper Works Chal­lenge to name but a few.

As we had only half an hour on track, there was no way we’d get to go out in all of them, so I de­cided to take an M4 for my first three laps.

Re­as­sur­ingly, there was an in­struc­tor in the pas­sen­ger seat. So, with slightly more con­fi­dence than I’d started with, I gave the car in front of me plenty of room and planted my foot. The trac­tion con­trol cut in im­me­di­ately as the rear tyres strug­gled to grip the damp cir­cuit, but soon the car launched it­self towards the first bend.

With 425bhp and 550Nm of torque, the M4 is a quick car – and I wasn’t even push­ing it. Not yet, any­way. I rounded the first bend and punched it again towards the next cor­ner. Be­fore I knew it, the first lap was over and I was start­ing to feel a lot more con­fi­dent, brak­ing later, turn­ing in more ag­gres­sively and ac­cel­er­at­ing harder out of the sweep­ing turns.

By the time I got to my third and fi­nal lap in the M4 any reser­va­tions were long gone. I not only had a feel for the car, I now knew the lay­out of the track. I even had to slow down to avoid get­ting too close to the driver in front of me.

I jumped out of the M4 and into an M2. Af­ter start­ing it up, I even asked the in­struc­tor if I could switch the car into Sport mode, an idea he dis­missed im­me­di­ately. For le­gal rea­sons.

It quickly be­came ap­par­ent the M2 was a dif­fer­ent beast to the M4. It uses the same 3.0-litre straight-six en­gine, but with 365bhp as op­posed to 425bhp. But it’s smaller, lighter and has a shorter wheel­base – mean­ing it feels much tighter and sharper than its big brother. You re­ally don’t no­tice it’s the best part of 60bhp down on the M4. The M2 is still a rapid thing.

Be­fore I knew it, I was at the end of my third and fi­nal lap of the morn­ing. I jumped out of the car, hop­ing we would have time for one more go. Un­for­tu­nately, we didn’t, but that was okay, be­cause I was buzzing for the rest of the day. I’d gone from be­ing ner­vous about my first track ex­pe­ri­ence, to look­ing at how to get a rac­ing li­cence.

Oh, and if I were to pick be­tween the M4 and M2, with­out a doubt, my money would go on the M2. Not only is it cheaper, it also feels like more of a hooli­gan than the M4, and that counts for quite a lot in my book.

Si­mon Davis takes the BMW M4 out on to the his­toric Good­wood race track. the choices in­cluded an M2 and Mini John Cooper Works Chal­lenge Be­low left,

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