Donington Track

LEARN TO DRIVE DONINGTON WITH PROFESSIONAL DRIVING COACH JACK LAYTON

Last Updated: May 13, 2021

You have already talked us through driving Goodwood Motor Circuit and Brands Hatch, but now we want to pick your brain about Donington!

For those of you reading, in case you don’t already know, Jack Layton is a professional driver coach. His job varies day to day from being the Chief Instructor at Goodwood Motor Circuit to 1-1 driver coaching for individuals, race teams, enthusiasts and club racers! 

Let’s start with the basics, talk to us about driving on track…

For those scared to take their pride and joy out on a track, what would your key piece of advice be?

A track day is a social event and non-competitive. It’s not expected for anyone to push beyond their comfort zone, so don’t feel you have to drive your car to the maximum of it’s potential.

Most drivers are enthusiasts and want to look after their car having driven it to and from the circuit. If you are concerned about damage and depending on the value of the vehicle, track day insurance may be a consideration. It’s not essential but worth knowing that having an ARDS instructor with you will lower the cost. Overtaking rules are put in place to minimise the chances of car-to-car contact so any overly aggressive drivers are usually dealt with. All in all, it’s a very controlled environment to enjoy your pride and joy

What do you feel is the biggest challenge people face on track?

One of the main challenges is managing the space around and driving consistent laps without being distracted by other cars and following their mistakes!

In your view what needs to be done to prepare your car for a track day?

It’s always worth getting the car serviced before any day on track to minimise the chances of a mechanical issue. Fresh brake fluid and a decent amount of brake pad depth is a good idea if the car hasn’t been on track before. Also carrying a few basic tools is worthwhile to keep your car safe and mechanically sound. This could be a tyre pressure gauge, pump, torque wrench, some spare engine oil and coolant to keep levels topped up as required.   

What advice would you give to someone that has never done a track day before? 

The more you can prepare for the day the more you’ll get out of it. This could include getting your car serviced and checked beforehand, which will lower the risk of a breakdown, to memorising the circuit layout and ideally booking in some instruction. Always build up gradually so you are consistent. Remember everyone starts somewhere and you should not try to be too fast too soon! 

For those experienced drivers out there, what would your key piece of advice be to improve? 

Maximise what you can learn from your track time. Hiring a driver coach is the most effective way of doing this. They will look at what you are doing and pass on their years of experience and knowledge to improve your driving. It’s also a good idea to invest in an onboard camera so you can watch your driving back on and see what mistakes you can spot! 

Tell us all about the Donington GP Circuit! 

Talk us through Donington GP Circuit – what should drivers focus on for each turn?

Turn 1 Redgate:

This is a tighter right corner than most realise and subsequently it’s easy to turn in too early. The apex is towards the end of the access road on the inside curb. Out braking yourself here will compromise your exit speed so be patient on entry to pick up a good clean exit on the power. You don’t want to compromise your lap before you’ve really got going!

Turn 2 Hollywood:

This is a fast long right leading into the infamous Craner Curves. You’ll be on the power and typically in the middle of the track holding a continuous steering input. The goal here is to apex late on the right so you don’t commit too early for Craner Curves! As you’ll be on the power all the way through this section it’s really important to look ahead and anticipate the next corner and any traffic.

Turn 3 Craner Curves:

The fastest corner on the track, you’ll be dropping downhill before and through this very fast left. In some cars this might be flat out, but in most powerful road cars it’s usually a lift or brake before you turn in. The speed you potentially carry here may well compromise your line and approach to braking for the next corner, so a full hardy approach isn’t necessarily the fastest way! The later you’re able to apex on the left curb the easier the approach will be to the next braking zone.

Turn 4 The Old Hairpin:

Not a hairpin at all but a fast right where exit speed is very important. You will need to brake for this one. The outer profile of the corner here begins quite early so maximising track with and creating a straight platform to brake is the challenge. Most drivers tend to turn in too late and too hard through here so use your peripheral vision to focus on the apex early and gauge your turn-in point.

Turn 5 Starkey’s Bridge:

A run up hill through a minimal left turn. For most cars in dry conditions, it’s flat out. The apex here couldn’t be more obvious, but the turn in points and the amount of track width required as you approach will be vehicle dependant. Minimal steering and using the full track width on exit is important!

Turn 6 Schwantz Curve:

A very fast left leading immediately into a braking zone for the next corner. Be aware that turning in early here will push your car into an early turn in for McLean’s. 

Turn 7 Mclean’s:

Turn in points and track position may vary depending on the car’s characteristics, but aim to pick the throttle up early and head for a late apex on the back end of the inside curb. Mind the slight crest on the exit which can change the balance of the car. It’s quite easy to end up in the gravel here if you are pushing hard!

Turn 8 Coppice:

A double right where exit speed is really important. The approach is up hill and the apex is unsighted at the point of turn in. Timing and track knowledge is key here so you don’t miss your turn in. Aim to use all of the usable flat curb at the apex (keep off the green as it’ll bounce the car wide!). This corner is a trade-off to get the right amount of mid corner speed and still achieve a clean fast exit with minimal lock. There are a few lines that could be taken for the second part depending on the car and conditions. Regardless of whether the car is positioned to either square off the turn or to carry more of a higher speed curve, focus on using all of the left side of the track as the corner opens onto the straight. 

Turn 9 Fogarty Esses:

This chicane goes left-right and is quite tight on entry before then opening much wider on exit. Again, exit speed is the priority so setting the car up for an early throttle input to stabilise it after the more severe left is the goal. This approach requires a really heavy and long amount of braking so use the circuit signs and curbing on the right to create braking reference points.

Turn 10 Melbourne Hairpin:

Approaching downhill, this 180 degree right hairpin is off camber and has lots of track width. It’s very easy and tempting to be overly ambitious on the brakes here! An element of trail braking from the left side in towards the middle whilst squaring off the corner is what you should be aiming for. Clip an apex toward the end of the curbing and use all the track width on exit.

Turn 11 Goddards:

Approaching uphill, this 180 degree left hairpin is unsighted by a crest that falls away in the braking zone. The track here is full of lots of small details and becomes wider on corner entry. Using the joins in the tarmac repairs, and grid boxes identify a straight and stable platform for braking. Apex toward the middle to second half of the inside curb (conveniently there is some new tarmac here!). A lot can be lost on the exit of this turn if you are scrappy on entry. Ideally, you’ll be back on the power well before you apex and carry all the exit speed you can onto the start/finish straight to end the lap.

What is the most technical part of the Donington GP Circuit?

From Hollywood all the way to the exit of the Old Hairpin. The car is really shifting through this section of track and drivers are constantly working! 

What are the most common mistakes you see drivers make at Donington GP Circuit?

Not exploiting the full track width and on other occasions covering too much distance before turning in. It’s a flowing circuit where getting into the right rhythm will make a big difference!

How do you ensure you get the perfect approach to a corner each time?

It’s tricky to answer this question. This circuit has some unsighted corners and also fast sections that require the driver to allow for direction changes and braking. I’d recommend getting some instruction or sitting with a good driver who knows it well. The racing line is not geometrically obvious and can vary based on the vehicle.

And finally, what are your top 5 things to be aware of when driving around Donington GP Circuit? 

  1. Mind cars exiting the pits. It can significantly tighten up Redgate if you aren’t able to use all the track width! 
  2. Be careful catching slower cars through Craner Curves – balance is critical here and unwanted weight transfer can cause a high speed off!
  3. Make it clear and obvious to other drivers when you’re coming into the pits – keep tight to the left on exiting the final hairpin to avoid cutting across the line of an overtaking car.
  4. Try to focus on achieving a good corner exit speed and only attack each braking zone when you are confident of your line and track position.
  5. Don’t feel tempted to copy everyone else, cars will determine the line taken which is why instruction can make a big difference. 

If people want to book you for tuition on our track day at Donington Where can people contact you if they would like to learn more about tuition?

I’m always happy to chat on the phone (07751941785) or alternatively via social media or email:

Instagram: @jacklaytonracing, Facebook: @jacklaytonracing

Email: Jack-ph-layton@hotmail.co.uk

Jack will be joining us at our track day on 24th August at Donington so please drop us an email if you would like to book coaching with him, we would highly recommend it to make the most out of your day!

We’ve got to get this in there…You have been at many of the Salone Events Track Days, what is your view of them?

Salone Events Track Days are always very special. They’re not just any track day, from the high-end cars customers bring to the extra thought that goes in from the organisers. The words ‘relaxed’ and ‘bespoke’ comes to mind.

Thank you so much Jack, these tips are so helpful and I am sure our clients will take your advice on board to improve their driving skills. We look forward to seeing you at our next track day!