The fifth round of the 2022 Toyota GR Cup got off to an early start at the East London Grand Prix Circuit on Friday morning. Set right on the edge of the Indian Ocean, I and the five other motoring writers selected to represent our titles in this single-make series were the first cars out on this 3.92km circuit for our first timed practice session of the day.
Conditions were pretty much perfect with the cool morning air aiding both engines and brakes as we all set about getting familiar with the track. As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven't driven around this East London institution before so I didn't really know what to expect — especially from the two notoriously high-speed sweeps, Potter's Pass and Rifle Bend. In local race folklore you're “supposed” to take the former flat (#neverlift) but thanks to your brain's proclivity for self-preservation, this is easier said than done.
Instead I found myself giving the middle pedal the lightest of taps just before turning in for the apex. Rifle, however, was taken fully flat and before smashing the brakes hard for the rapidly approaching Copacabana, I saw an indicated 220km/h appear on my Garmin Catalyst. I'd predicted this might be our V02 Max this weekend and for once I was right.
While these first three corners are perhaps the most challenging element of the East London Grand Prix Circuit, the slower speed Esses/Cox's Corner complex also requires a fair amount of respect. Going in too hot will mess up your line and momentum for the charge down through The Sweep, so you need to attack with slightly less gusto than you might think or otherwise pay the price. Yep, you can lose a nice chunk of time here.