PalmerSport Sensation 2011

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Each year Jemmac offer staff the chance to participate in an Activity Day as a thank you for all their hard work throughout the year. The days are organised by the staff, but paid for by the company to encourage people to participate in something ‘special’ with their work colleagues.

For 2011 Jemmac staff paid a visit to the superb PalmerSport facility at Bedford Autodrome for some high adrenalin motorsport action. PalmerSport deliver the UK’s premier corporate driving event with participants driving seven very different high performance cars in one day.

Matt, Chris and James W on the way to the first event

Add in four separate circuits, an off road course, coaching from ARDS qualified instructors (many of whom are successful racing drivers themselves), breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and you have the recipe for a great day out!

On previous visits the Jemmac team have always returned with at least one trophy for an outright event win – so no pressure then…

The day started with a full cooked breakfast with the Jemmac team showing little concern about carrying extra weight during the days activities. A quick video briefing from the BBC F1 commentary team of Martin Brundle and Jake Humphries set the scene with some extra guidance from the event organisers and then it was off to the first event in the ‘Team Lauda’ bus – all the teams being named after F1 World Champions.

First up were BMW M3 GTP’s running a specification specific to PalmerSport that involved stripping out the interiors, fitting a full roll cage, converting the cars to LPG (a feature of all the cars on the day), some tweaks to the suspension and the fitment of a full titanium race exhaust system.

It was also noticeable that first things in the morning all the tyres had release agent on them having been freshly fitted for the day – clearly they expect participants to make full use of the cars performance!

Event one – BMW M3 GTP’s

Next up were the Porsche 911 JP3’s and the Renault Clio Cup cars. These were run on the same circuit with most people posting faster times in the little Renault’s than the Porsches! The two James’ traded fastest lap times in the Clio egged on by the same instructor called… James!

After that it was off to the Caterham 7 Superlights which for the first time during the day required participants to use their left leg, a clutch and to waggle a stick about to change gear. Having previously raced Caterham’s James W got thoroughly over excited spending more time going sideways than forwards, whilst both Matt and James S ended up facing backwards on the main straight. Nice work chaps!

Event four – Exploring the outer limits of grip in the Caterham

A three course lunch followed with the team once again showing little concern for ballast with pies and potatoes being consumed at an alarming rate … and the pudding’s weren’t shown a lot of mercy either!

First event of the afternoon were the Formula Jaguars. Real single seaters can be intimidating and with no instructor for on track guidance there was a definite air of nervousness as the team took to their cars. Something not helped by having to sit in the pit lane waiting for the track to open wearing full face helmets, overalls, gloves and racing shoes – OK, actually they were Primary School Gym shoes, but you get the idea. Chris in particular seemed to be regretting his lunch as he headed out of the pits, but much to the relief of all, the event passed without ‘major’ incident!

So then it was a quick spot of Go Karting and off to the Caterham Pursuit challenge. Two identical mirror image courses were setup back to back with participants racing each other head to head around the autotest style course. The full 360 degree spin around an island proved too much for most to master with the cars either spinning out of control or under steering in huge arcs well wide of the track!

Then it was Land Rover Defenders around an off road course featuring tipping platforms, water splashes, vertical inclines and a special section of the track set at a crazy angle designed to almost, but not quite tip the Defenders over. It was a serene interlude during a full on day and the performance of the Land Rovers was truly amazing.

So to the final event of the day. The two seater Palmer Jaguar JP LM cars – stupidly fast, and stupidly fun! The instructors pushed us like crazy, with tired and aching limbs only just able to hold the cars at their limits. And then we were done!

Event nine – A gaggle of Palmer Jaguar JP-LMs

A quick bus trip back to the main hospitality suite saw us tucking into afternoon tea and cakes whilst the organisers announced the results. Happily Jemmac’s honour was upheld with a days best time in the Clio Cups and a tie for first place in the Land Rover Defenders. The team also bagged the trophy for overall driver of the day, so all in all a fantastic day as the weary participants made their way home.

Chris : “It was a thoroughly thrilling day, being pushed well beyond my comfort zone by the instructors in some amazing cars!”

James S : “An adrenaline rush from start to finish, a fantastic day out and great way for Jemmac to thank everybody for their hard work.”

Sally : “It’s not the winning, but the taking part…”

For more details on Palmersport see www.palmersport.com

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