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Published 24 May 2011

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MINI DRIVERS - Stepping up a gear

Peter Bowles takes on Mission 3 for Goodwood MINI Drivers

For Peter’s fourth session on the track he took on Mission Three in a manual MINI One. Having impressed the instructors so much with his skills in an automatic MINI in Mission One he was fast tracked to Mission Four and learnt how to use a manual gear box. Peter then went back to learn the skills involved with Mission Two and this month Peter once again took to the track for Mission Three. Peter tells us about his experience below.

“As always, I was looking forward to being able to get out on the track again, yet once more I found myself rather nervous before this mission. I was expecting to have forgotten everything I knew about how to work a car in the two months since my last mission.

This mission would certainly prove to be my most challenging one so far. The three tasks for Mission Three: Emergency Braking, Parallel Parking and Garage Parking. First up, Emergency Braking. After a short demonstration of what to do (brake as hard and fast as possible and hopefully use the clutch to stop yourself stalling), I got into the driver’s seat and tried my hand at it. With my first attempt, I didn’t quite realise just how fast you need to put the brakes on, and would have, if it was an actual emergency situation, hit whatever stepped in front of me! However, on my second attempt I managed to do what was required, in my view, rather well. Admittedly, both my instructor and I were thrown to the edge of our seats before our seatbelts pulled us back with the suddenness of stopping, but overall it was actually quite fun feeling the ABS working underneath your foot.

Following on from the braking test, I was asked to reverse my Mini into an area marked out with cones, roughly the size of an average garage. This particular task posed something more of a challenge to me; after two attempts I still found myself reversing at the wrong angle, which would have meant me reversing into the, luckily non-existent, wall of the garage. But with the guidance of the ever patient instructor, I managed, after a few more attempts, to park it successfully. With a few more successful tries at garage parking, we moved onto the infamously difficult task of parallel parking.

Strangely, I found myself able to park the Mini much more easily when going from alongside than when reversing straight back. However, it was slightly nerve-wracking knowing that I was trying to park, not next to some traffic cones this time, but in front of another instructor’s own car! Once again, with a few attempts and some calm encouragement, I managed to park the Mini fairly successfully.
With all of the tasks finished, it was once again time for my favourite part of every mission; the final lap. Now that I was much more confident with my clutch control and changing gears, I felt able to take this lap much faster than before. I must admit that it is truly heart pounding driving at seventy miles per hour around the beautiful and historic Goodwood Race Circuit.”
Keep your eyes peeled to the website for the tale of Peter’s Fifth Mission after 26 June.

There are some new dates now available for MINI Drivers @ Goodwood:

26 June
10 July
3 August
10 August
17 August
21 August
22 August
31 August
9 October
20 November

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


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