Charlie Martin: the Inferno at Vuillafans, Pride and Ninja Warrior!

Pride - London - Charlie Martin

Our guest contributor Charlie Martin tells us about her preparation for the latest race at Vuillafans. You can read about how she got on in the previous round at Beaujolais by clicking here.

 

After four races I’m reaching the mid-point of the season and it’s a good opportunity to catch my breath and assess how things are going, not that I’m planning to slow down but I have a break of nearly four weeks after Vuillafans before the next round.

Normally this would be five weeks as I’m unable to compete at Duniere due to not holding a French licence (and some other bureaucracy), and in many ways this can be problematic as it means time out of the car while the other competitors will no doubt be cramming in shorter regional events to keep their eye in.

Not wanting to go off the boil I’ve added an extra round into my calendar and it promises to be a big one too, because some months ago I entered the German round of the European Hillclimb Championship.

This is the daddy of all hillclimbing championships in many respects, for the simple fact that competitors race in every major European country from Portugal all the way across to Croatia, and for me it’s at the top of my wish list.

Last summer I took fastest lady at St. Ursanne les Rangiers, the infamous Swiss round that has the highest average speed of all the courses out there, but sadly this year it clashes with Chamrousse so I’ll be getting my first taste of German hillclimbing in the form of Glasbachrennen.

It falls the weekend before Mont Dore so it’s a perfect opportunity to recalibrate my senses, and it will also be a big logistical undertaking as it’s a nine hour drive from my base in France! It’s the closest of the European rounds though and I’ll be joining a good friend there so hopefully my GCSE German won’t be required, (it’s only ever used for ordering food & drinks!)

Evaluating the previous round at Beaujolais

Charlie Martin Beaujolais

Returning from Beaujolais I’ve had a chance to reflect on how my driving is progressing this season, and while I always want to go faster I’m fairly satisfied with how things are going so far.

I’m currently holding onto 4th place in the Formula Renault class while some of the drivers have completed six events to my four, so there is every chance I can push my way into the top three as the season picks up.

Unsurprisingly, I tend to find that I get quicker as the rounds tick by, and on top of this there is also the fact that I can be more aggressive as the Championship draws to a close. I figure that if I can go 10% faster at most corners then this would be the difference between say 5th & 2nd place, there’s obviously a lot more to it than that though! You pretty much always feel that you could have gone faster somewhere, but then there’s the need to keep the car in one piece and to reach the finish line too…

Pride… and Ninja Warrior UK!

Charlie Martin at Pride, London, 2016

I’ve been busy as ever off the track with two trips down to London in the last four days. The first was for Pride, and being the first time I’ve ever attended it was every bit as amazing as I’d have hoped – the atmosphere is just fantastic.

I joined my girlfriend’s colleagues at BAE Systems for the march and after a lot of waiting around and shuffling we were given our slot at the top of Regent Street just behind a large float that was hammering out music. The noise was deafening and I don’t know how many vuvuzelas there were (someone handed me one) but my ears were still ringing when I finally got to bed that night!

To be in amongst such a huge mass of smiling people, with the entire crowd waving and cheering back was an overwhelmingly positive feeling; and certainly a very good antidote and distraction after the weight of the referendum on Friday too.

Ninja Warrior UK - Charlie Martin

I returned to the capital once more on Monday morning for a shot at earning a place on Ninja Warrior UK after making it through to the audition stage. For anyone unfamiliar with the show it’s a cross between Gladiators and Total Wipeout, with contestants aiming to complete a gruelling obstacle course that focuses on agility, balance, upper body strength and consistency as you can’t afford to put a foot (or hand) wrong.

I have to say that the initial performance test was a lot harder than I thought it might be, but I put in a good effort and I know I’ve got some hard work ahead of me if I make it through to the next stages. I’d absolutely love to get on the show so please check out my Twitter page – @GoCharlieM – and put a like on the post from Euro Car Parts!

Into the “Inferno”

As I sit here typing this I have just a few days before I leave for round five and the inferno that is Vuillafans Echevannes. These are two villages that we race between and at 5km it’s the longest round yet; but it’s the heat that makes me apprehensive as much as anything. It was well into the 40’s last year, and as I sat waiting in my full kit for an hour I’ve never known heat like it, my brain was cooking inside my helmet!

Thankfully there is a river that runs through the village so I’ve just ordered a new bikini online. Last year a few people remarked knowingly that the water flows directly from the mountains and is ice cold. “Good” I said, before jumping in at least three times over the weekend.

Vuillafans

The scenery there is to die for and the view from the final hairpin made me go “wow” the first time I looked back down the mountain. The track itself scythes it’s way round in a series of long, foot to the board, parabolic curves. From a driving perspective it’s intense in a ‘Spinal Tap dials on 11’ kind of way. Think I may just need a few weeks off to relax after all!

– Charlie

Come back to the Euro Car Parts blog next week to find out how Charlie got on in Vuillafans and how she plans to spend her time preparing for her appearance in the European Hillclimb Championship in Germany at Glasbachrennen.