The driver’s view: Alex Summers
‘I COMPETE IN HILLCLIMBS in my spare time, so I know about pre-race nerves – but this was completely different. We tried to wangle a practice run, but you’re not allowed. Having seen some of the other soapboxes, I can see why...
Design-wise there are basic packaging restrictions, in that it has to fit down the course, and Red Bull are keen that people aren’t putting themselves in too much danger, but beyond that it’s pretty much anything goes. We designed the soapbox with a lot of strength because, even though it’s a bit of fun, we’re representing Aston Martin. We couldn’t have it collapsing at the foot of the start ramp. Watching previous events, I saw that a couple of years back the eventual winner was topping 30mph. I thought I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but when I went off the first jump and hit the ground the impact was huge!
I’d woken up in a cold sweat a few nights before the event, thinking about the chassis. The front part stuck out straight ahead of the wheels by about 3 inches and I was afraid it would dig into the road and flip me end-over-end. I had the front altered, so it swept up at 45 degrees or so. The boys said I was worrying too much, but the grinding sounds you can hear in the on-board footage is the front of the chassis hitting the road every time we land after the big jumps. I’m glad I made the last minute changes!
The car performed brilliantly and was great fun to drive, but if we were to do it again we’d tweak the design. The reason it nose-dived like it did is because I was sitting too far forward, so we’d push the driver back a bit to stop the rear wheels kicking up as the car leaves the ramp. That’s just a bunch of engineers nitpicking, though. I’m really proud of what we did. The way the car looked, the way the team functioned and the reaction it got from everyone was perfect. I’d do it again in a shot.’