RSR Track Days – A foreign experience
1st July 2016
Having the opportunity to drive at Spa Francorchamps and experience the famous Eau Rouge is surely on every racing driver’s wish list. However, going further afield to foreign circuits can put off some people, but are they right to be wary? We caught up with the man behind Ron Simons Racing (RSR) to find out why UK track enthusiasts should embrace the chance to take a trip overseas.
“Everyone from the UK should feel as comfortable on European mainland tracks as they do on UK-based tracks.” That’s the comforting advice offered by Ron Simons, founder of RSR, which offers track days, car rental, driving schools and tours at some of the world’s most desirable racing circuits, including Spa Francorchamps and the Nürburgring.
While driving at such circuits is the stuff of dreams for many, the comfort of their local UK tracks often overrides the desire to make a trip to the continent. For some, the fear of the unknown can be off-putting. According to Simons, however, the actual difference between UK tracks and their European counterparts is minimal. “The differences are mainly due to the organisers running the events, and since there are many UK organisations running events at Zolder Spa and the Ring it can feel like being on your home track,” he says.
As with all things in motorsport, cost is something that must be considered, and Simons himself admits that the perception that racing abroad comes at a high cost is not a myth. Also, with most UK insurances not covering the likes of the Nürburgring, it is the driver that has to stump up the extra cash, adding another expense to an already pricey experience.
Simons is keen to point out, though, that drivers should not focus too much on any potential car repair costs when considering a trip abroad. “There are no dangerous tracks, only dangerous drivers,” he says. “When you behave and stay within the limits of the car, conditions and skill level, nothing needs to go wrong. With RSR’s instructors you will never crash on the Ring!”
Of course, any track-specific preparation that can be undertaken before arriving will put you at an advantage, but with multiple track visits often off limits due to the distance and costs involved, MSD sought Simons’ advice. “Any preparation is good preparation, but you’d have to put it into perspective,” he says. “We call drivers with no real track knowledge who crash at high speed the ‘PlayStation professionals’. Get instruction is our advice for first keeping you safe, and then, as a bonus, because you will learn a lot.” With this instruction under your belt, a familiarisation lap on the track day itself will help towards having you feeling fully prepared.
The number of people who make the trip across the Channel to experience Spa in person, coupled with the number that have the circuit on their wish list for the future, is enough to highlight its wide-reaching attraction. However, when expectations are high there is always a chance that the reality will not live up to expectation, but Simons is adamant there is no such risk for those who make the journey to Belgium.
“There are no dangerous tracks, only dangerous drivers”
“My first words during the track walk at Spa, standing at the top of Eau Rouge/Raidillon, are ‘welcome to the best track in the world’,” he states. “Eau Rouge is the best, Puhon is second best, and Blanchimont is third best in the world. All of our Australian and American clients can’t be wrong when they have to travel half the world to get here. For people in the UK, all it takes is to cross the pond.”
The fact that, in global terms, UK-based drivers face a relatively short trip to Belgium and Germany should help to encourage more people to make the journey, especially when both Spa Francorchamps and the Nürburgring can be ticked off the list in a single trip. “This is what we preach,” Simons states. “The two best tracks in the world are only a one-hour drive apart. With so many events and public sessions at both tracks, it’s easy for us to line up a combo, which can be the motoring highlight of your life!”
Of course, anyone considering a visit to these world-leading circuits is only right to take their time to weigh up the costs and logistics, and to perfect their itinerary to ensure they get the most out of what can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Contrary to stories carried by national and international media in the recent past regarding the potential closure of the Spa circuit due to noise pollution, Simons explains that these stories were simply “played up by the media”. In fact, the “circuit’s licence was extended for another 25 years just recently, so there are no issues here”, he says; great news for anyone with one eye on testing their mettle at this famous venue.
Clearly, driving on an overseas circuit shouldn’t feel too foreign at all to anyone who is willing to undertake the right preparation. The only way to really find out if you can handle yourself on some of the world’s best circuits, though, is to experience them for yourself. From what Simons tells MSD, you will not be disappointed.
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