Peter Bowles takes on Mission 5 for Goodwood MINI Drivers
Firstly, I must admit I was slightly worried when I saw the amount of things that I was supposed to cover in the mission. What with a brief recap of the previous mission, hill starts, junction situations and learning the ins and outs of indicating when on the road. However, once I stepped out of the car today after completing the mission, I was utterly confident that I was much better at controlling the clutch, at manoeuvring the car and at driving generally.
Mini Mission 5
Mission five is classified as one of the ‘advanced’ missions and it certainly does pose a challenge. The challenge with this mission is really to give you the mentality of driving on the road rather than driving on a racetrack and Mini Drivers certainly goes as close as it possibly can to do that!
The way that mission five does this is by placing you into real driving situations and taking away some of the freedoms previously enjoyed on the track, not worrying about what side of the road you’re on, not having to worry about indicating to other cars around you and turning in unconfined spaces to name but a few. The main way that the instructors do this is, for most of the hour time period, by actually taking you off the track to an area specifically designed for this purpose. With a mock roundabout, various types of junction and even a pedestrian crossing, this area just off of the motor circuit gives you as good an experience of a real road as you can get without having to worry about other motorists.
My first challenge was to recap the method of starting the Mini whilst on a hill, which utilises all of your practice with balancing the clutch perfectly and is incredibly useful for everything you do in the rest of the mission if you’re feeling a little bit rusty since the last mission.
Mock Road Course
After the hill start I moved round to one of the small lay-bys just off the track to go over parallel parking briefly before moving onto the mock road course. What you are greeted by, past a small gate just past the chicane, is a roundabout with four marked out road spanning off of it. This particular set up is useful because it requires you to indicate for other cars, whether they’re there or not, and to get into the right lane when approaching the roundabout. My instructor here gave varying instructions as to which exit I needed to take and therefore how I should indicate and react in the varying theoretical situations I found myself in.
With the mock road setup used to its fullest extent, including three point turns, it turned out that it was time to return to the pits for the de-brief. As I have previously expressed, this mission really is invaluable in learning how to really drive and, in my case, really give you much more confidence in how to generally handle the car you’re in.