Promising young driver Alice Hughes continued her programme of winter testing with an outing at Brands Hatch, driving Team HARD’s VW Golf. Multiple race winners in both the VAG Trophy and VW Racing Cup, Team HARD are the leading outfit in these highly competitive series with Alice experiencing the machine for herself last Saturday. In challenging conditions, Hughes was able to learn the characteristics of the new car and improve her lap times throughout the day under the guidance of instructor Howard Fuller.
In an attempt to allow upcoming racer drivers, in addition to the general public, a chance to drive a range of their race cars, Team HARD are putting on an extensive taster schedule during the winter months with Alice taking advantage of their latest offering. Speaking of her delight arriving on Saturday, Hughes commented ‘Team HARD were host to an excellent track day down at Brands Hatch last Saturday. Everywhere you looked, there were cheek to cheek smiles ranging from the guests, to the team mates and instructors. The ‘Kent fog’ postponed the start time of the track day but this allowed the guests to speak and get to know one another over complimentary teas, coffees and bacon sandwiches supplied by the team’.
Although Alice did not compete at Brands Hatch this season, she has previous experience of racing at the historic track from her time in the Mighty Mini’s series. Commenting on her return to the Kent based track, Alice said ‘Brands Hatch is definitely one of my favourite circuits here in the UK. The ‘belly up’ sensation of practically flying down Paddock Hill bend is a feeling you won’t soon forget! I first raced at Brands Hatch at the Mini festival in Mighty Minis last year which was when I decided going down Paddock Hill bend sideways wasn’t the fastest route. My bad!’
With the fog having cleared, Alice was ready to take to the track for the first time in cold and treacherous conditions, although much drier than when she tested the MINI Challenge JCW car a couple of weeks ago. Hughes gave a positive overview of the opening session by saying, ‘The first session was cold so we had all on getting some heat into the tyres. With it being quite slippery on track, the team made a very wise decision to stick wet tyres on the rear. This actually resulted in a quicker lap time than being on full slicks due to the conditions. Another new factor to me was getting the chance to experience left hand drive. Heading down the pit lane for the first time all seemed very daunting, however, assured by my instructor, Howard Fuller, once out on circuit you couldn’t even tell. In fact, I preferred it as there was a lot more vision out of the front windscreen to hit apex’s on the clockwise Brands Hatch circuit’.
On paper, the VW Golf would appear to be a close match for Alice’s current Ford Fiesta she races in 750 Motor Club events. Hughes found that was the case by commenting ‘The power delivery to the VW golf was similar to my Class A Hot Hatch Fiesta so it was interesting to drive and I learnt a lot! Heading into my second 15-minute session, I knew a lot more about the characteristics of the car meaning I pushed the car to its limits, being inches from the gravel trap at the bottom of paddock every lap. With the tuition I received from Howard, I managed to bag promising lap times!’ Alice was satisfied with the progress she made during the course of the day and thoroughly enjoyed driving a new car and linking up with Team HARD.
Overall, Alice enjoyed a very productive day at Brands Hatch as she continued her winter testing progress. Testing the MINI Challenge JCW and VW Golf definitely gave Hughes a taste of similar machinery to her current Ford Fiesta and the experienced gained will only help her to progress as a driver. Team HARD have proven to be a highly accommodating team who have a race-winning pedigree in a variety of series with Hughes eager for further opportunities in the future.
Alice would like to thank Carl Syres from Red Lime for travelling a 500-mile round trip to support her and capture the day behind his camera, David Boor for being extremely welcoming and helpful on the day. Alice’s instructor, former BTCC driver Howard Fuller, for giving her honest and genuine advice, filling her with confidence and last but not least, thank you to all of Team HARD for putting together such a great experience.
You can keep up to date with Alice’s progress using the social media links below:
Website – http://www.alicehughesracing.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/AliceHughesRacing
Twitter – www.twitter.com/AHughesRacing