The test took place at Bedford Autodrome about an hour drive north of London. The first hour was spent for seat fitting followed by two hours of track testing.
The actual driving technique resembles of driving a shifter kart but there were also some differences which made the driving difficult in many ways. The biggest difference was the gearbox which had and H-pattern shifting system rather than the sequential shifting that I´m used to in karting and also the amount of brake pedal force you had to apply, says Charlotte.
In the beginning of the session she took it pretty easy in order to acquaint herself with the car. In spite of that, she managed to do a few spins, slipping out into the grass and a 360 degree spin on the tarmac as well.
In the beginning it was easy to be keen with the throttle coming out of the corners and entering the straights due to the turbo lag. You had to be really soft on the throttle and be aware of the turbo boost that would appear just after a moment, explains Charlotte.
It was a bit difficult for Charlotte, being a kart driver, to achieve the necessary driving rhythm in the beginning. In karting you have an extremely good control of your vehicle, while you in FPA have other parameters such as springs and dampers, wings, turbo lag, limited visibility and of course a much heavier car which you have to get adapted to.
Towards the end of the session, Charlotte got a better pace and got used to the turbo lag. However, it quickly got dark in the evening, so after about 30 laps on the 1,8 miles long West Track it was time to head back to the garage and to call it a day.
Driving such a powerful racing car was really a fantastic experience for me, very much different from what I initially had expected. Much more physical and actually also much more mentally demanding than I had expected as well. But like all other challenges, the more you sweat in practice, the more you gain in battle and the better you get. I hope that I will be able to do some more testing before the end of the season, concludes Charlotte.
Facts about Formula Palmer Audi (FPA):
The series is run and promoted by the former Formula 1 driver Jonathan Palmer and the cars were specially designed and built by the well-known British formula car producer Van Diemen. The cars are constructed around a monocoque of aluminium honeycomb and carbon fibres. The power plant is an Audi 1,8 litre turbo engine coupled to a 5-speed Hewland gearbox. The power output is approx. 300 bhp with an additional power possibility by means of a booster button on the steering wheel, which you are allowed to use eight times during a race mainly for overtaking. The cars are slightly bigger then F3 and FR and have slightly wider tyres as well. The series started ten years ago and among those drivers that have started their careers in FPA Björn Wirdheim, Gary Paffett, Andy Priaulx and Giorgio Pantano can be mentioned. FPA has during the years served as a breeding class and a first step series for all categories of racing drivers resulting in you today can find ex-FPA drivers in F1, F 3000, GP2, F3, FR 3,5, FR 2,0, Touring Cars, Sports Racing Cars etc.