Redding conquers Spa Francorchamps on four wheels
Scott Redding took driving lessons of a different kind this weekend, when he made his four-wheeled track debut at the infamous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
Redding, who currently leads the Moto2 World Championship by 35 points, accepted an invitation from Curbstone events and BMW Motorsport to get behind the wheel of the BMW M3 GT4 race taxi normally used by BMW works driver, Uwe Alzen, to entertain and sometimes terrify VIP guests at DTM races.
Ahead of the event Redding admitted to feeling somewhat nervous.
“Normally I drive around in a Caddy van, which is a bit sedate to say the least, so the thought of driving the 420BHP BMW M3 GT4, at Spa of all places, was a little bit scary at first.”
Saturday morning was overcast but dry, as Redding took to the track for the first time under the watchful eye of Martin Scheiff, a racer and development driver with a lot of experience of the intricacies of the Spa Francorchamps circuit.
The smile on Redding’s face on his return to the pits after his first run said it all…
“I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t half as scary as I thought it was going to be,” declared Redding. “It was great to have Martin sat alongside me, giving me advice on lines, braking and where to get on the gas, because going fast in a car is completely different to going fast on a bike.”
After a couple of runs sat alongside his pupil, Redding’s instructor for the day declared his job done and sent the Moto2 rider out for his first laps alone in the BMW M3 GT4.
“He may not have driven a car on track before, but you can tell he’s a racer,” said Scheiff of his latest pupil. “His feel for the car was good and you only had to tell him something once and he did it. After just a few runs there was nothing left for me to teach him and, now, it’s just a case of him getting more experience behind the wheel.”
After completing runs in the dry on Saturday, including laps as a taxi driver for a number of Belgian journalists, Redding returned to find more typical Spa Francorchamps weather on Sunday, with rain making conditions on track very different indeed.
“I didn’t really know what to expect in the wet but, again, Martin’s advice was absolutely spot on. Compared to the bike, the amount of grip you get on wet tyres in the car is incredible and it didn’t take long to get a feel for what was possible in the conditions. I was a bit disappointed when we arrived at the circuit to find it was raining, but the car was actually just as much fun to drive in the wet as it was in the dry. I really enjoyed it.”
“This weekend has been a fantastic experience and I have a lot of people to thank for arranging it. From our side I’d like to say a big thank you to Marc van der Straten, Michael Bartholemy and the Team Principal of our car team, Bas Leinders. I also have to thank Patrick Van Glabeke from Curbstone Track Events, who very kindly allowed me on track during one of their regular track day events at Spa, as well as Udo Mark and Uwe Alzen from BMW Motorsport for supplying the BMW M3 GT4.”
“Finally a big thank you to Jörg and Jens from Uwe Alzen Automotive who not only kept the car running perfectly throughout the weekend, but also did a great job of looking after those of our guests brave enough to get in the car with me or Martin!”
But, the question is; could Redding now be considering a career on four wheels when he eventually hangs up his leathers?
“Driving the car was a great experience and I really enjoyed it, but I’m a bike racer at heart, not a car racer. Having said that, I’m being extra nice to our car Team Principal, Bas Leinders, as I quite fancy a go in one of their BMW Z4 GT3 cars now…”