Lets Race 2 Reality competition-winner Piers Prior has waxed lyrical about his first taste of high-octane horsepower behind the wheel of a Carlin Formula 3 car at Pembrey Circuit – hailing it as a ‘game-changing’ opportunity.
Sixteen-year-old Prior defeated more than 40 of the country’s top novice drivers across a series of knock-out rounds at Lets Race in Horley – the UK’s only full motion F1 simulator centre – Buckmore Park kart track and ultimately Carlin’s headquarters in Surrey. To reach that stage, the Essex-based teenager needed to safely navigate no fewer than 12 heats and three finals.
The event raised £2,500 for the Henry Surtees Foundation, and Prior’s prize for topping the timesheets was a single-seater test outing at Wales’ premier motor sport venue with F3 powerhouse and multiple British Champions Carlin – whose young driver Academy is based at Pembrey – complete with his own mechanics and engineers. It was, he reflected, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Winning Lets Race 2 Reality was quite an emotional moment,” confessed the keen motor sport enthusiast. “I’ve known for a long time that I’ve wanted to be a racing driver, but this was game-changing.
“The test day was so cool. It was my first-ever experience of driving a racing car or even indeed driving anything with gears or four-wheel brakes, so I knew it was going to be a learning experience.
“The previous day, I was at the Carlin workshop with the mechanics to get a custom seat fitted and the pedals adjusted. On the morning of the test I was really looking forward to getting out on the circuit, and my engineer was on-hand to make sure I was properly prepared. We did a track walk and had a final look at the data before I did my first installation laps.
“As I climbed into the car I was struggling to contain my excitement, but I knew I had to keep focussed on the driving because a Formula 3 car is so quick and with my lack of experience I certainly didn’t want to put a foot wrong!
“As the day advanced, I managed to complete longer and longer stints; I was able to run ten laps in succession by the middle of the day, and my times were consistent and improving. Using the data from the car and the on-board cameras, my engineer was able to give me advice on exactly where I was gaining or losing time, which meant I continued to make progress.
“Driving the F3 car was very physical, and by the close of the test I was starting to feel some fatigue in my shoulders and neck – especially towards the end of the long runs. Having now experienced the extreme forces and effort needed to drive one of these cars, I can work on strengthening those parts of my body so that when I drive a car similar to this in the future, I will be able to drive at 100 per cent for the whole day or race weekend.
“Overall, the test was an incredible experience and an opportunity that I enjoyed immensely – and now I will build on this to achieve greater things.”
For further information about Pembrey’s range of track driving experiences, visit http://www.pembreycircuit.co.uk/experiences or call 01554 891042.