LRS Formula at Magny-Cours
While I wish that automotive journalism could be my full-time gig, I have a day job. My day job has me fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), travelling the world. I’m away a LOT, so I inevitably collect a ton of hotel points and airline miles which my wife and I cash in once a year to take an epic vacation. Two things that we always try to do when we travel involve horsepower — a trail ride on actual horseback, and some kind of motorsports experience.
In the past we (yes, my wife drives, too!) have driven a BMW Z4 at the Nurburgring and flogged both a Lotus Elise and an Exige at Imola. We do our best to find some kind of car event that involves instruction whenever possible. While there’s something to be said for getting a nice rental car in a foreign country and tearing up the local mountain roads, there’s nothing like going 8/10ths (or more) in a track-prepared vehicle on a proper racing circuit. Not having to worry about police or speeding tickets is one nice thing, that’s for sure.
In France, track day learning is referred to as “pilotage”. When looking through the various race tracks in the country and seeing which ones had pilotage programs, we happened to find that Magny-Cours was an option. Not only could we drive on one of France’s historic F1 circuits, but we would get to do it in formula cars! Sign us up.
Magny-Cours is a very high-end facility, as any must be in order to have hosted Formula One races (2001-2008). With a length of 2.7 miles and having 17 turns, Magny-Cours is not too long or complicated that it cannot be learned quickly. I found three complexes (turn 1-2-3, turn 9, and turn 12-13) within the circuit to be both technical and pucker-inducing, which gave me something to strive to do better lap after lap.
On the facility grounds (although not inside the circuit itself) is the Hotel Le Paddock. It is a reasonably-priced and very comfortable accommodation. We opted to stay here because we knew that we would have to be up very early for the track day, and wanted to maximize our rest. Plus, it’s a racecar-themed hotel – what’s not to love about that? It was clear that several participants for the LRS event were also staying at the hotel. The restaurant at the hotel, however, was not the most amazing. If Magny-Cours is your only stop in France, you may want to go into town for something more traditionally French.
Welcome to your track day with LRS Formula. Laurent Redon (the “LR” in LRS) is a former: French Formula 3 champion, F1 test driver, and Indycar Rookie of the Year. He wanted to bring the excitement and experience of driving F1 vehicles to automotive enthusiasts, and created LRS Formula with its home base at Magny-Cours in order to do just that. LRS Formula provides a full set of both passenger and driving experiences of varying intensities and costs at tracks in France and Spain.
Here’s a Lamborghini Gallardo. Want to drive it? Then sign up for LRS’ GT driving experience. You also have the option of driving a Ferrari F430, a Ferrari 458 Italia, or a Porsche Cayman. But we prefer to go big or go home.
The start of your day involves a typical check-in process. LRS Formula is a French company based in France. Their primary business language is French. My wife, Ainsley, has fairly decent French skills. Using them (along with a little Google translate assistance) we got everything sorted out over the course of a few weeks. When we arrived at the stated time to check-in, everything was more-or-less in order. If you don’t have any French skills at all, you’ll still be able to do just fine.
LRS provides a complete arrive-and-drive experience, providing everything from helmets to racing suits, racing shoes, and gloves. They have a full complement of equipment to suit drivers of pretty much every size. I am 6’ and Ainsley is 5’2”, and both of us were able to find gear that fit us appropriately. But what would we be driving once suited up? We had each opted for four 20-minute sessions in Formula Renaults.