March 07 2012

Michelin Interview with RMA Track Day Instructor

Michelin caught up with Leyton Clarke, Driving instructor with Michelin partners, RMA for a personal insight into being a Track Day instructor...

What makes a good instructor?

“The ability to get on with people is a must. You also need to be able to put across your teaching methods in a calm and relaxed manner, even when things get a little stressful, which can happen every corner if you’re particularly unlucky!”

How do you become an instructor?

“Nearly every instructor is or at least has been a race driver. A racing career cannot be combined with a regular job, so a lot of racers will join a race school principally to earn money when not competing. Once accepted by a school, instructors receive extensive training in teaching, first aid and interpersonal skills”

What’s your own personal approach?

“For me the first thing to do is to break things down, and get back to basics. This is done by making every other command “SLOW DOWN!” as just about everyone wants to tear the pants off their car to feel as if they are going as fast as possible. I like to start slow and once we have the basic sequences mastered I will then increase the speed and work on outright pace”

What things have you been able to help with?

“I think the universal problem is that because people taking instruction can already drive, I have to get them out of an awful lot of bad habits they have acquired from the road. Once they understand how critical the balance and weight distribution of any car driven at speed becomes, things get a lot easier and moving forwards becomes a lot less terrifying for me. We then concentrate on smooth progressive driving, which apart from being quicker and safer , dramatically reduces wear on consumables such as brakes, transmission and tyres and of course reduces the risk of the far too frequent excursions into the armco!”

How should someone go about finding a good instructor?

“A personal recommendation is undoubtedly the best, but if that is not an option, all the track day clubs employ instructors who are available by the hour by the hour. They are usually solid, experienced instructors so you wouldn't go too far wrong using one of those guys as a starting point, but of course it is essential that you both get on with each other”

Are there professional bodies/driver accreditations?

“All professional instructors are, or certainly should be registered with ARDS and licensed by the Motor Sport Association, the governing body of British motorsport”

What is a reasonable rate to pay?

“You should possibly question the calibre of anyone charging less than £200 a day. My fee’s start at £250 for local circuits, but I also travel all over Europe where it’s appropriate to charge more”

What car do you drive?

“I have recently purchased a Porsche Cayman S, which I intend to use on track for driver coaching, it is fitted with a Racelogic Video VBox which is an amazing aid to driver training it also enables me to produce educational ‘how to drive’ videos for people to watch and learn from before they get to a circuit for the first time. For any driver tyres are undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the entire car. I am extremely picky when it comes to putting them on my car! At the moment I have a set of MICHELIN Pilot Sport tyres on the Porsche but I will soon be taking delivery of a set of the new MICHELIN Pilot Super Sport which I am massively excited about. I have driven a wide variety of cars on this tyre, and even been to a comparison test which was mind blowing-making it the obvious next choice!”

To find out more about Michelin at RMA track days have a look at the article on theMy Michelin page of the Michelin website.

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