The rain did not really ever allow the track to dry out on Saturday. While the pace was picking up by the third session it was still quite limited by the instructors. The students learned to pick out reference points and the instructors also had a visual exercise in picking out appropriate immovable reference points. Limited because, as was already mentioned, the track has been expanded and repaved meaning that reference points that instructors have used for years have vanished. The pavement is new so there aren't seams or cracks to identify. There's an entirely new section of track to learn and our instructors had had at most one day to check it out prior to the school. Others, like myself, were seeing it for the first time.
More challenging for folks like myself was the small and subtle changes to what was the existing track. It was similar but different. Corners were wider and on one the angle was drastically reduced. There were changes in elevation and the creation of a small hill to create a blind corner – and to challenge the driver as it would unload the car as you crested it. I absolutely loved it. Some students will have to simply learn to trust that the track is still present on the other side of the crest while others may decide to approach it conservatively.
The students received instruction before setting out onto the track and, at the end of the session, had a brief debrief session to discuss how they felt and to hear how the instructor observed their driving. For example, did they overreact when the car began to oversteer in the rain or did they simply freeze. Did they see the marshal waving the checkered flag to end the session. Were they following the line that was demonstrated or were they simply trying to follow the edges of the track? Instructors have likely seen it all. In my case, the student I was instructing had grown up with a race car dad, had attended a school a few years earlier, and was a very speedy learner. From seating position to position of hands on the steering wheel; from identifying a slight crest in the new pavement as the reference point for braking to recognizing that you don't follow the line of the car in front of you but you follow the line you have established (now, if that car in front is increasing the distance between you, then maybe their line should be considered!), to recognizing when it is time to pull off the track to refocus we made fast progress throughout the day. At the end of our sessions on Saturday I knew we were going to have a great day Sunday on the track and slalom courses.
In previous years I have led some of the classroom sessions but this year my focus got to be in car, including time in my Nissan NX GTi-R, on the track during student breaks. I made sure that the boost was turned down and, with my older Yokohama S-Drive street tires, I enjoyed checking out the track at a sedate speed. After all, it was wet and I wanted to be a good example for the students!