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Published 24 February 2011

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On a Mission @ Goodwood

Peter Bowles takes on his second MINI Drivers Mission at the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit 

Peter Bowles got off to a fantastic start in his first MINI Drivers Mission which he described earlier this month in his website news story (if you missed it you can read about his experience here|). Peter highly impressed his instructor with his competence during the first Mission, so much so that he was fast-tracked from an automatic to a manual car for his second MINI Drivers outing, in which you learn to drive with a manual gear box. Having completed Mission 4 last Sunday, which Peter describes below, he will then go back to learn the skills involved in Missions 2 and 3 in a manual MINI One, before progressing on to the more advanced Missions 5, 6 and 7. Peter, aged 16, tells us all about his transition to a manual car in Mission 4.

“After the customary warm welcome and registration on a somewhat bleak and grey February morning, I was raring to get back out on the track! It is about a month since my first Mission and at first I thought that as soon as I sat inside the Mini again, I would have forgotten everything that I had been taught. Luckily that was not the case!

For this, my second outing at Goodwood, I had been fast-tracked from Mission one to four meaning I had the challenges of a manual gearbox to contend with, on top of everything else. By doing this, it allows you to get as much time as possible to get familiar with clutch control and operating a manual car for completing the rest of the Missions.

The first lesson was in how to apply the clutch properly without having the car shudder and throw you to the edge of your seat. This technique seemed, at first, to be highly illogical and nearly impossible to grasp, but with some gentle reassurance from the more-than-patient instructor, I soon found myself able to manage the skill of not stalling every thirty seconds or so!

Then, after having learnt how to get the car moving, it was the simple issue of changing gears whilst driving that came up next. Thankfully this part of the lesson passed by without too much stalling and in fact happened fairly smoothly.

Finally, before the final lap, it was the trickiest skill of the day; hill starts. I am thankful for these lessons being on private roads; otherwise I fear that, in this section most of all, that there would have been a fair amount of damage to the Mini and other cars around it! Hill starts used all of the abilities learnt so far all in one go. It seemed as if it was a near art form to have to try and perfect, having to match the so-called ‘biting point’ of the clutch and the revs to avoid either rolling backwards or stalling the car once again. Fortunately, the instructor was again both patient and helpful when guiding me through the process. With the hill starts finished, it was time for what everyone understandably looks forward to the most, the lap.

Because of trying to juggle the gear changes, brakes, steering and of course acceleration, my second Mission’s lap wasn’t quite as hasty as my first full lap around the historic circuit! Once again, I loved every minute of my MINI Drivers mission, even if at times I found it really challenging. I am already looking forward to my next session on the track. This really is not an opportunity to pass up.”

Keep your eyes peeled to the website for the tale of Peter’s third Mission after 20 March.

MINI Drivers has more days planned on the track on 20 March, 17 April and 15 May.

For more information about availability and gift vouchers please call 01243 755060.

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