It was an absolutely gorgeous day for it - blue skies and bright spring day - so we drove up to Knockhill in the Porsche with the roof down, ready for a 9am start.
After a short wait (during which time I got myself more and more nervous) we were called through to go down to the 'helmet shed' to get our helmets for the day. Jonathan got to watch procedings from the pit lane while first of all Duncan Vincent took me round the track in a Seat - this was to teach me about racing lines, where to break and where to accelerate. Since there were little cones round the track to aim for it was quite easy to follow the racing line but I listened carefully to everything Duncan told me and tried to follow his advice (he later said I was a star pupil!). The other purpose of the laps in the Seat was for Duncan to assess whether I could be trusted to be let loose in the Ferarri - I'm pleased to say I passed the test though since it was the first time I've driven a manual car in many years it was quite surprising how well I did. The most disconcerting thing was probably that the instructor has the rear view mirror so it was hard to see what was behind.
Duncan also drove a couple of laps round the track to show the right and wrong way to tackle the circuit. The wrong way was very scary and we nearly ended up on the grass or in the gravel a couple of times, though Duncan was obviously expert at this and I never really felt in any danger.
Once instructed fully by Duncan it was time to put myself in the hands of Jonathan (Jonny) Adam who was my instructor in the Ferarri. Gear changing was a lot easier as the Ferarri has 'flappy paddle' gear changers beside the steering wheel and no clutch to worry about. I took the first couple of laps very gently, learning to handle the car and how and where to speed up, slow down and take the corners - Jonny talked the whole time, making sure I was positioning the car correctly and encouraging me to 'put my foot down'! My confidence grew steadily with each lap and gradually I was speeding up and enjoying the drive rather than being anxious. By the time I was finished and had to pull in to the pit lane I was really loving the Ferarri and could happily have driven round the track all day. It made me realise how racing drivers can spend a couple of hours driving their cars round the circuit without getting bored. Because of the speed of the car it needed full concentration all of the time and I don't think I looked at the speedo once - I was so focussed on those little cones and making sure I followed the racing line at each corner. So I don't know how fast I went but I know that my favourite part was on the straight past the pit lane where I came out of the hairpin turn and could really speed up!
So after a few laps it was time to come in to the pit lane and take off our helmets. Jonny said I had made great progress and that I was improving with every lap. I was amazed, that given how anxious I was about the experience I could have happily jumped right back in the Ferarri and driven another 20 laps! Therefore this experience is another 10/10!
I'll be back in a few days to give a summary of all of the birthday experiences. Until then, thank you for another great day, Jonathan!