Clockwise Lap Around Hallett
Hallett Motor Racing Circuit (HMRC) is a ten turn 1.8 mile track with a number of elevation changes to it. Relative to high speed racing circuits, HMRC is a technical track where driver’s must apply excellent driving techniques to negotiate it quickly. As such, it is widely regarded as one of the best tracks in the country to learn high performance driving and improve driver skill. The runoff areas are wide and the safety barriers feature tire walls supported by concrete without any Armco steel.
Each of the turns have names as well as numbers. We’ll use numbers for ease of recall. Let’s go for a ride!
Follow the numbers on the track diagram. Proceed to the bottom of the false grid and turn right onto the hot pit lane heading south towards turn 10. Follow this path around the inside of turn 10 to the track entrance headed to turn 9. Accelerate in 3rd gear to turn 9 staying to the right of the track. Turns 9, 8 and 7 are close to one another and we must plan to execute these as a package. Done correctly, the sequence through 9 and 8 should require one setting of the steering wheel.
Notice the track drops off quickly as we approach the turn. Our heavy braking should be started just as we crest the hill before the nose of the car drops down with the contour of the track. Otherwise, as the rear wheels are unloaded they will break loose. Likewise, we should plan to execute a smooth heel/toe downshift into this turn. Popping the clutch out on the downshift will cause the rear wheels to grab while the car weight is shifting naturally to the front wheels with a risk of losing control and spinning. As we try to improve our skills, it is prudent to be conservative in turn 9. After all, it is the beginning of the 9-8-7 turn sequence. Turn in for a late left hand apex in 9 with the target touch-off point on the right side of the track mid-way between 8 and 9. This point is also the apex of a continuous arc that we will follow through turn 8. Our late apex in 8 lies on the left and just beyond the crest in the track. It is important to cross this exact apex since it sets the car up for the right hand turn at 7. As we point the car to the late apex at 7 we can start full acceleration allowing the car to follow a smooth and natural path to the left side of the track. If we need to back off the throttle at all coming out of 7, that means we apexed too early in the turn. The error may have been started at the exit of turn 9.
Heading towards turn 6 we shift briefly into 4th gear. Turn 6 is a right hander with a bit of a groove through the correct line. Coming into the turn we break hard, downshift to 3rd gear, point the car through the late apex targeting the touch-off point on the the left side of the track and accelerate to the turn-in point of turn 5. At this point we plan to execute turns 5 and 4 as a package. That means a very late apex at 5 so that we can make the very important late apex coming out of 4. We remain in 3rd gear for this sequence of turns. Brake coming into 5, turn hard right, accelerate staying to the right side of the track until we reach the turn in point for 4. Go deep into the turn-in point. The apex in 4 is late and at the point that the road begins to drop off going downhill.
We brake lightly coming into 4 , turn hard left, accelerate through the apex and short shift up into 4th gear. The track is downhill to turn 3 so we accelerate quickly to high speed while moving to the right side of the track. Brake hard before the turn-in point at 3, downshift to 3rd gear, jog left across the apex while accelerating and staying wide (left) preparing for turn 2. The track distance here is very short! Brake hard and downshift to 2nd gear. This is a very slow right hand turn with yet another late apex. We position the car to pass through the apex and across the track to the touch-off point on the left and begin accelerating hard when the car feels settled on all four wheels. Even though we are in a slow turn, time is short and all things happen quickly.
The exit from 2 is uphill. We shift to 3rd gear then 4th as we crest the hill, staying to the left of the track, and we now see the entrance to turn one. This is a classic right hand turn that can be taken at moderately high speed. Since this turn leads us onto the long front straight we need to get it right if we want to maximize our speed down the straight. Getting this turn right means executing the turn-in point to hit the late apex and the touch-off point precisely. Apex too late and we reduce our acceleration capability onto the straight. Apex too early and we run the risk of going off the track. The tire wall is relatively close to the track at this point. Let’s do it right! Approaching turn one we brake lightly, shift to 3rd gear and get back hard on the accelerator as we approach the apex. The car drifts to the left side of the track as we build speed then shift up to 4th heading to turn 10. The front straight is slightly uphill in this clockwise track direction.
Turn 10 is technically a double apex turn when driven in either track direction. However many drivers like to treat it as a single apex turn. We will do it as the track designers intended it to be, that is, as a double apex turn. This allows us to extend our braking well into the turn and to better execute the late apex exiting the turn onto the back straight to turn 9.
As we approach turn 10 along the front straight we stay to the left of the track. We brake lightly just prior to the start of the turn and cut to the right holding a straight line across the inside radius of the turn heading towards the outside radius. During this straight line portion we apply heavy braking just as we crest onto the flat part of the track, downshift to 3rd and turn right near the outside of the track ( first apex) targeting a late second apex on the far side of 10 and a touch-off point on the left side of the track. Now we are heading for turn 9, the Bitch, with a full head of steam. We work our way over to the right side of the track using the old bill board off on the horizon, at the end of the straight, to guide us to the turn which is not visible until we come upon it. Since this time around we are carrying much more speed as we come up to the turn it is also much more important to execute our braking and downshifting correctly. We don’t wait until the car is pointed downhill to do our hard braking. Start hard braking as we crest the hill. Turn 9 is ” the Bitch” no matter which direction we are driving in. It will take practice to get this turn done correctly in conjunction with the next two turns that follow it. You will find it very satisfying once you find that smooth arc through 9 and 8.
In the clockwise track direction exiting the track is done from the right side of the front straight just before the timing building. To return to the paddock turn right immediately after the start/finish flag stand.
Lap tour description by John Blocha