Take a Brake . . .

Take a Brake . . .
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

We took a spin around Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park


When it comes to endurance, speed and driving expertise – and a renowned A1 Grand Prix track – we’re fortunate to have all on our doorstep at Taupō’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park. A track for pros and novices (like ourselves) alike, and one most deserving of international acclaim thanks to its Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Grade 2 motorsport circuit.

So, what better way to experience life in the fast lane – and take onboard some driving life skills – than strapping myself (and other half, Dylan Batenburg) into a convertible MX5 alongside local legend Paul Foulds – a race car driver of 30+ years – assisted by operations manager, Russell Barriball, for a fun drive day.

Hands on, look ahead
“There’s a few misconceptions about how we should be driving – race track and road,” Paul informs us. “Make sure you have a bend in your elbow when you’re holding the steering wheel. In a race car, have your hands and thumbs at positions 10 and two of a clock, in a normal car, positions nine and three. In a normal car, that’s going to allow the airbags to release without pushing your thumbs back up and over the wheel. And, don’t look just in front of the car, look out to what’s coming up in the distance.”

Take a break
And, as for braking, have a little more faith – in the car that is, advises Paul.

“Most modern-day cars have ABS braking systems – braking is dispersed across the whole car,” he says. “The trouble is many drivers don’t apply enough pressure, they hear vibrating when the ABS kicks in, they get fearful and take their foot off. If you keep applying pressure, the car will right itself – it’ll do what it’s designed to do.”

Keeping it real
The thrill of a spin around the famous 3.5 km track as Paul’s passenger was enough to get my blood pumping – and face smiling. So, it was Dylan tasked with a solo drive, pushing play on Paul’s steering, braking and cornering advice.

“As Paul said, when approaching a corner, the idea is to minimise the amount of turning, and take the best line through it – so hitting the apex at the right time, and accelerating at right time,” says Dylan. “What I got out of today was more than just a blatt in a fast car, it was an opportunity to think strategically, hone my techniques and learn from a pair of experts who shared their practical knowledge and skills in a really relaxed, Kiwi way.”

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