Outbraked by a Ford Focus… and a visit to TVR Power

We spent some of today in the Tamora at CAT driver training at Millbrook. We had rearranged our performance driving day from earlier this month when snow stopped play, and today we had perfect dry weather.

Millbrook is a great place with an impressive variety of facilities. The driver training day uses the mile straight for braking and brake / swerve, the high-speed bowl, the handling circuit, the Alpine route, and a big skid-pan with lots of coloured circles of different diameters to follow.

It might use other parts too, but our day ended sooner than we would have liked.

As the TVR doesn’t have ABS, we used a Ford Focus to practice some ABS braking / brake & swerve techniques before doing some threshold braking. We then swapped to the TVR which, until now, I have always driven fairly steadily and have not locked up the brakes.

The first stop resulted in a big cloud of tyre smoke as the rear brakes locked up, and the fronts did not. Same tyres front and back, running the same pressure. Further stops over 3 passes down the straight produced exactly the same problem and I was having to limit the braking force to avoid having the rears lock up. The deceleration the TVR could manage without the rears locking was less than the Ford Focus frown

This is not a stable car setup, and the brake test is a good thing to get done early in the day to check that aspect of the cars handling.

Colin discussed whether we wanted to continue with a car that was not handling properly, or postpone the day until we have the car fixed and then carry on from where we left off. This is very good of him, since it effectively writes-off 2 days of his time for our one day of training.

Before finishing, we went onto the 40m circle, and in both directions increased speed until the car started to lose traction. In this respect the TVR is set-up very well (thanks TrackVRoad) – it goes into very mild understeer when pushed, that can turn into slight lift-off oversteer, or can be balanced out with a bit more throttle.

On our way back we popped into TVR Power and had a chat with Jason. He noted that the rear pads were EBC Greenstuff, and it wasn’t clear what the fronts were since the back of the pads is not visible. A mismatched set of pads seems the most likely reason for the brake issues, given the calipers all look in good condition, as do the disks and tyres.

We also discussed the coolant dripping problem and, given its location and a quick examination, he was fairly sure it was the plastic ends to the radiator…

I now have a to-do list of new pads, new tyres, and new radiator before I return to complete my driver training. Based on what we have done so far, I am really looking forward to returning to Millbrook, and am grateful to CAT for being so helpful.

There were lots of interesting development vehicles going round Millbrook. My photo from the day is here.

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