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motorsport mania

Think Stretching A Car To Its Limits Will Rapidly Land You In Front Of The Magistrates? Here's How To Do It Safely, Affordably And Without Risking Your Licence.

If you're an enthusiast driver, the situation may well be familiar. Your favourite set of bends, a quiet roundabout or an inviting on-ramp can all prove rather irresistible. Plant the throttle, experience the brief rush of adrenaline as the engine hits the sweet spot and then get that gut churning sensation when the mirror fills with flashing blue lights.

If we're realistic, even speeding on what we deem 'safe' spots is often pretty irresponsible. The problem is that driving on race tracks is expensive and the events are often populated by demon drivers who will spend the entire session viewing you as a mobile chicane deserving a dismissive carve up. In order to keep with the pace, you often need some pretty expensive machinery that you then risk bending should you make an error. There has to be an alternative. MotorSport Vision certainly think so, and run a series of motorsport experiences aimed at those looking to take their first steps in track or off-road driving.

Based at either Oulton Park in Cheshire or Brands Hatch in Kent, there's a wide range of events to choose from. If high-speed thrills are your thing, you can get behind the wheel of Renaultsport saloon cars, single seater racing cars or Caterham Sevens. Alternatively there are Escort Cosworth and Peugeot 206 rally cars if loose surfaces hold a little more appeal than perfectly manicured tarmac. For those who prefer things a little more sedate, if just as exciting, there are 4x4 off road courses offered. Finally there is also the opportunity to see how things are done by sitting alongside an instructor in a race prepared sports car or works rally car.

THE VENUES

Since its birth in 1926 as a bicycle racing venue, Brands Hatch has become synonymous with the best of British motorsport. Situated in a natural bowl, the circuit provides panoramic views of all the action so its popularity as a racing venue rapidly snowballed. In 1950, Brands was a mile long oval tarmac loop, but extensions and improvements meant that by 1960 it was ready to host Grand Prixs. In 1964 Jim Clark won the European Grand Prix, shortly after posting the first 100mph lap of the track. The track also provided Nigel Mansell with his first Formula One victory back in 1985.

Oulton Park first established itself as the North West's premier motorsport venue in the 1950s. Amongst the winners down the years have been such luminaries as Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill. The track has been extended over the years and can be configured in three different ways, namely Fosters, Island and International. Unusually, it's able to hold spectators in beautiful undulating parkland within the perimeter of the circuit, providing unrivalled views of the action. If you have an aversion to the typical British windswept ex-airfield perimeter circuit, Oulton Park is a definite must.

MotorSport Vision also operate at Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Bedford Autodrome.

THE EVENTS

The most popular event is the RaceMaster package. Book at Brands Hatch and you'll get to drive a BMW M3 saloon car as well as a modern Formula Brands single seater complete with front and rear wings. Or you can opt for M3 Master and enjoy the muscular V8 power of this Bravarian icon. The event focuses on teaching the fundamentals of track driving such as learning the racing line around the respective tracks, on-track etiquette and safety and experiencing the brain- scrambling acceleration, braking and lateral grip of the Formula Brands racing car. Little wonder this package is such a favourite.

The RallyMaster event is also justifiably popular. At Brands you'll get behind the wheel of a specially prepared Peugeot 206 beside the wheel of an instructor/co-driver who will supply pace notes. Oulton definitely has the edge in this instance with an all-wheel drive Escort Cosworth to practice those handbrake turns, Scandinavian flicks and four wheel drifts in. The Coppice Stage is particularly challenging and a clean lap of this track is something you'll remember for a very long time.

MudMaster is your opportunity to put the brilliant Land Rover Defender through its paces on some gravity defying off-road obstacles. Wading through deep mud and water, testing the wheel articulation with huge bumps and testing the all-wheel drive system up seemingly impossible gradients may never get you above 15mph but it'll get the pulse going as effectively as a hot lap in a Caterham.

Other activities offered include a special YoungDrive! course open to any young driver over the height of 4'10'. For more information and to book online visit, www.motorsportvision.co.uk or call 0843 453 1000.