SpeedSport Scholarship Winner for 2020 - Dylan Grant
My experience in the Formula First so far
by Dylan Grant
I’ve been racing karts for 10 years and really wanted to race a car. Dad contacted Dennis from Sabre Motorsport to arrange a driving school track day at Manfeild race track in Palmerston North. I was excited to be having a drive of a Formula First, and learn how to drive with gears. I found the test track was a fast moving track with tight corners but I was able to keep it on the track.
With Dennis’ coaching after each run my lap times improved on every session. The third run included trying to heel and toe which I had not done before. I found that I was not as fast so this was something I definitely needed to practice. Over the day I learned a lot about how the car handled. I found it didn’t have much grip compared to racing karts so had to adjust the way I drove to keep the car on the track.
Luckily I was pretty okay with the gears but there was a lot more to think about what with handling, gear change and heel and toeing. After the day I was now more keen than ever to race Formula First. I got a lot out of the day thanks to Dennis and the mechanics from the Sabre Motorsport Team and would highly recommend it.
After our training day we decided to enter the SpeedSport Scholarship competition. It was a 2 day competition with 4 people being selected to go through to the finals day. Every session was timed and the results put up for everyone to see which created a lot of pressure.
The track was wet on and off but I still managed to be fastest every session but the times were really close. I managed to make it through to finals day. There was lots of pressure between the 4 of us. I was concentrating on heel and toe gear changes first practice, slower but knew the judges would be wanting to see it.
My times were really close with Hayden. We had to have a 1 on 1 interview with one of the judges and I was prepared to talk to the judge about my ambitions of racing and what I want to do in my racing career. The interview went really well and the judges were happy with what is possible for me to bring to the team.
My first race weekend was the third round of the winter series. Before the weekend came I had to get the car setup and a seat fitting at the Sabre Motorsport workshop. It was my first time on the Manfeild full track. Dennis drove me around in his van and showed me the braking points and lines and explained how the day would run.
Dennis introduced me to the team and Jonathan who is my mechanic for the season. We had a new car setup to test which involved giving feedback to Jonathan after every session of the day, making changes and improving as we went. I was working on learning the track, finding braking limits and getting the fastest lines.
On race day, I qualified 7th but need to work on getting a draft off the people in front for a full lap to improve qualifying in future. It was my first standing start in a car. Drafting in the race was awesome, and working out where to be on the track at the right time to make a pass stick is something to work on. The team made the weekend fun, with a lot of coaching and feedback.
The final round of the winter series came around but because of Covid 19, I had no practice day, but had a 30 min session in the morning which gave us enough time to do changes to the car since the last meeting. I qualified 1.5 sec faster than the first meeting in 5th which we could see already how much I had improved from the last meeting.
The car felt really good and we tried a few more changes during the day. There was one qualifying session and 3 heats. This time there were a lot more people which gave me more competition and to give me an idea of how much faster I need to be to battle with the front runners. I had some good group battles and feel pretty confident in the car now.
Overall it has been an awesome experience in the car so far. I can’t wait until the summer series and to show the team my potential for this exciting year.