Ginetta G56 GTA

With another race date on the horizon, our novice second driver gets up to speed in Ginetta’s sim

- Yousuf Ashraf (@ashrafonca­rs)

HAVING BEEN DRAFTED IN BY GINETTA FOR an intensive customer testing programme, evo’s Fast Fleet G56 GTA has barely taken a breather since our own James Taylor drove it to an impressive double podium result at Oulton Park (see last month’s Fast Fleet). We’ll be racing it in the GT Academy series once more this season, at Silverston­e, where I, as a complete novice, will be sharing the drive with James. But with our G56 tied up with other duties until then, there’ll be no time for me to get a feel for it until lights-out. Gulp. I’ve never driven a racing car of any kind before and the prospect is daunting and deeply exciting all at once.

Thankfully, I won’t be going in completely blind, because Ginetta suggested I attend its driver training programme, which uses a simulator at its Leeds HQ. Works driver Charlie Robertson would also be made available to assist on the day. As a former Ginetta Junior and GT4 Supercup champion with a top-five Le Mans finish in the LMP1 class, Charlie was the perfect man to help get the most out of me, the G56 GTA and the Silverston­e National circuit.

Ginetta’s simulator is built around the cockpit of a real GT car (in this case an Aston Martin Vantage GT3), with sim racing hardware integrated seamlessly into it. A direct-drive motor is installed at the base of the steering column to relay feedback through the wheel, while electronic sensors in the pedal box translate inputs into the sim software. The brake pedal in particular is ingenious, as it’s linked to a real caliper and disc to provide accurate feel. The system is tied together by the popular Assetto Corsa software with a bespoke G56 GTA car and tyre model developed by Ginetta’s works drivers.

Looking out at a curved, six-metre panoramic screen, the sense of scale and depth is incredibly lifelike from inside the sim. At first, I sat in the passenger seat as Charlie talked me around the 1.64-mile National layout. In typical racing driver fashion he was eerily calm at the wheel, nudging up to the limits and gently scrubbing the digital Michelins across the track beautifull­y. ‘It’s such a difficult track on which to find time because there are only four corners,’ he explained, ‘but it rewards the best drivers because of that.’ With a benchmark lap of 1:03.9 set, it was time to swap places.

Now in the driving seat, the car’s friendly nature put me at ease straight away. The road-biased tyre model provides a wide operating window that makes it easy to find the limit, but making best use of the available grip still requires finesse. After four or five scruffy laps of wrestling the car, I managed to string a clean one together to post a 1:03.8, pipping Charlie by the smallest of margins. What then ensued was essentiall­y two hours of friendly but highly competitiv­e one-upmanship as each of us took a turn to attempt to set a quicker lap. As well as being a thoroughly enjoyable experience, this approach forced me to hone in on the finer details of my driving.

Stepping out for a well-earned cool-down break (it gets pretty muggy in the sim despite the onboard fan), we took a look at the data and found that

although we were now lapping within a few thousandth­s of each other in the mid-1:03s (near last year’s GTA pole time), the way we were approachin­g the lap was quite different. I tended to drive a slightly tighter line into Copse by being harder on the brakes into the apex, while Charlie carried more mid-corner momentum but lost out on the exit. This trend continued through Maggotts, Brooklands and Luffield, until we crossed the line pretty much simultaneo­usly.

Charlie reckoned that – if I can pull it off on race day – the real G56 GTA will respond well to my driving style. I hope he’s right, otherwise I could be in for a rude awakening at Silverston­e.

Date acquired April 2023 Total mileage n/a Mileage this month 98 (in the sim) Costs this month £0 mpg this month n/a

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