After having the Steeda suspension upgrades fitted at Perfect Touch recently, followed by some updated Hawk performance brake pads, lightweight Velgen alloy wheels, and grippy Yokohoma tyres, I was invited to take part on what would be the very last trackday event to be held at Rockingham Motor Speedway, so I thought it would be a great way to put the new updates to the test. The Northamptonshire circuit, famous for it’s NASCAR-style banked oval circuit, was officially closed from all racing back in 2018, after 17 years of hosting a variety of motorsport events, including major Championships such as the BTCC and British Superbikes. The owner of the circuit had kindly agreed to open it back up for one final time in 2019, for a special two-day track event for the armed forces charity, Mission Motorsport. I went along with fellow Magnetic Grey Mustang owner, David Brown, who is a great supporter of the charity and it was nice to have the two cars together on the drive up to Corby, and then on track at the same time too.
As we were in the midst of winter, the drivers briefing did highlight that the damp (not recently used) circuit on such a day was like a vat of eels bathing in olive oil – just the ideal weather to try out the new Yokohama rubber then?
I must confess, I did let the track dry out for a bit, while I wandered round taking photos of cars on track flying by – the circuit is mainly a storage facility now, and the empty grandstands made for a skeletal backdrop.
But after a few cars had been round I decided that track was dry enough to go out and have some fun, and I gently got to grips with the circuit that had been laid out for us. Rockingham did boast a unique set-up of being able to serve up over a dozen different circuit layouts, all within the one overall track.
Out on track, the biggest difference I noticed between here and last time out at Silverstone was the steering felt much more precise and lighter, mainly due to the massive weight savings of the new Velgen alloys. The Yokohamas felt grippy, even on the damp circuit, and never wanted to let go. While the extra bite of the Hawk brake pads was very welcome with unforgiving-looking walls just a few feet away, and made for a much more confident session.
After lunch and a heavy downpour, I went back out for more on-track fun. Althiugh this session also served as an opportunity for fellow pro photographer, Rob Overy, to get some shots of the GT in action. It’s difficult trying to photograph yourself while trying to control a V8-powered rear-drive car on a greasy track!
I did have a moment where the car was telling me it was too wet and wanted to power slide out of a corner a bit too aggressively for my liking! That signalled enough was enough for me, I’d had a great day and I wanted to keep it that way, so wisely decided to end my track sessions at that point. As the day came to a close, I took the opportunity to capture the Mustang against the Rockingham grandstands, which was a bit of a special occasion as the circuit will no longer thrive with cars going at breakneck speeds around the banked circuit.
On the way home I went from 10mpg track driving up to 30mpg when cruising on the motorway. And that’s something I forgot to mention in my previous updates, but as well as the performance and aesthetic benefits of the new wheels, the lighter Velgens have also helped eek out a couple of extra mpg too thanks to requiting less effort to accelerate and brake, and believe me, on a 5.0-litre V8 you do tend to notice any changes in mpg!
That brings me up to date to the end of 2019, and I’m excited to see what 2020 has in store for me and the Mustang…