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Crash.net heads on track at Oulton.

Working in motorsport has its advantages, but one thing you always wish for as a reporter is to swap with the stars you are writing about and actually get on track yourself.

Luckily, that chance arrived when we were invited along to Oulton Park to sample the circuit for ourselves. While we've had the chance to go round the circuit alongside the professionals during various media events, this time we'd be at the wheel.

Oulton itself, with its sweeps and curves, is regarded as a true favourite amongst the drivers and is also popular with fans for the action it provides. However, its also known as one of the more challenging circuits on the UK motorsport scene – as the various drivers and riders who have fallen foul of it will no doubt agree.

With that in mind, a cold December morning probably wasn't going to provide the perfect conditions to head out on circuit, with rain in the preceding days having left the track surface somewhat greasy.

The day comprised of time at the wheel of a Renault Clio Sport 197 and in a Formula Brands single-seater, giving us the chance to experience Oulton from the point of view of a touring car driver and an aspiring F1 ace of the future.

"The Clio is a really good car to use as it has a lot of F1 technology on it," chief instructor and former BTCC racer Nick Beaumont explained. "For example, if you lift the bonnet it has two scoops which held to stabilise the airflow and make the car more stable at speed. It also has really good brakes, which you need for driving on track.

"The single-seater is a proper racing car with a Van Dieman chassis and a 1.8 litre Audi engine. In terms of performance, with the weight and the power, it is the equivalent of a Porsche 911, so it's a proper bit of kit."

A briefing with another instructor, Richard Sproston, explained how our time on track was going to work; with driving lines being described and the point being driven home that it was a 'taste, not a test' and that we weren't going to be turned into racers overnight.

Then it was out onto the track alongside a man with BTCC experience himself, Neil McGrath, for the driving to begin.

After a lap in the passenger seat, it was time to take the wheel and it soon became apparent that all the drivers who have commented on how greasy the track can be at the end of a race weren't lying.



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