Smooth TRS, grunty Camry - tough call
Two different cars, two different championships, two impossibly different racing experiences. Motorsport reporter Chris Hyde could not decide if he should go for a hot lap around Manfeild in the TRS 2 seater or the new Richards Team Motorsport Toyota Camry V8. In the end, like any thorough reporter, he chose both.
Sometimes it would be nice to be able to curse and swear in a newspaper.
At 215kmh down the back straight you are not thinking about how you are going to describe your experience of what it is like to race around Manfeild. You are thinking in swear words.
The motorsport meet at Manfeild in Feilding this weekend is the biggest in the region and one of the largest motorsport events in New Zealand.
It includes two big highlights. One is the Toyota Racing Series which culminates in the 58th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix on Sunday at 3pm.
The other is the Motorsport New Zealand V8s, which will feature the first ever V8 Camry built for top-level Australasian touring car racing.
The two championships are to motor-racing what trots and gallops are to horse racing. I can say that because I took a ride in a car from both championships.
The TRS 2 seater is a smooth, fully-kitted Toyota Racing Series car with a carbon-fibre, Auckland-made "tub" built inside it, so it can accommodate both a driver - Sam MacNeill - and a bungling passenger: me.
Just over an hour before my adventures - and misadventures - in the V8 Camry, I took my first ever hot lap on Manfeild in a TRS 2.
The sleek machine generates 4.5G of cornering and braking force. That decimal point makes all the difference.
Apart from that it's a smooth, fast and surprisingly quiet open-air glide around the track. The car is so low you feel like you could untighten your seatbelt, reach out your finger and run it along the concrete.
These mad thoughts, at more than 200kmh, are rudely interrupted by awe-inspiring braking that jars at the head and brings lunch to the surface of the mouth.
Riding in a TRS 2 you really appreciate the downforce these cars require just to keep them on the track. The biggest fear I had was that the car would flip under the strain of a banking corner, but of course it held firm impressively.
The TRS 2 is easy on the eye and hard on the heart.
The V8 Camry, which was built by Richards Team Motorsport in Paeroa, is also easy on the eye and hard on the heart. But this is where the similarities between the cars end.
Whereas the TRS 2 is curvy, smooth and almost feminine in nature, the V8 Camry is 5-litres of masculine, flesh-numbing grunt.
We might not have been quite as quick in the Camry - although it was close - but in terms of getting a sensory experience, the Camry just shades it.
It is a heavy machine, noticeably bumpier, and it requires a much earlier braking point, but the G-forces as you are flung around feel just as strong.
It's the other senses that make the trip.
The noise inside the machine is hearty. The smell of petrol and clutch fumes pervade the air. And just as I was getting the nuances of the machine in the middle of our sixth lap, the gearbox failed.
Apparently it's fine now, but when you figure out the noise of an unfamiliar car, and then you feel something go clunk underneath you, followed by a horrible crackling noise, life becomes mildly stressful.
If it was not for the ice-cool expertise of my pilot, Martin Short, many a swear word would have been uttered.
As it was, there were none. They were all in my head.
- Manawatu Standard