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Apr 11, 2014 - 08:38 PM
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Sir Ben Ainslie Samples Motorsport
Posted by: newsla on Apr 11, 2014 - 08:35 PM
Sports Cars
Sir Ben Ainslie Samples Motorsport

Four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist, Sir Ben Ainslie, has sampled motorsport for the first time. The British sailor, who is also credited with helping to steer Oracle Team USA to victory in the America's Cup in 2013, drove the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in a Prodrive-prepared Aston Martin Vantage GT4 racing car.


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"I have known Ben for some time and while we were racing in Austin, Texas in the WEC last September, he was leading the dramatic fight back for the Oracle team," said Prodrive chairman, David Richards. "He invited me up to watch, but unfortunately I couldn't go so when he won I invited him to try one of our Aston Martin racing cars."

Before getting to the Silverstone circuit, Ainslie spent nearly two hours in the Base Performance GT simulator with Aston Martin Racing works driver, Darren Turner. Here, as well as learning the fundamentals of car control, Ainslie was able to drive the Silverstone GP circuit, learning the corners and racing lines, as well as comparing his lap trace to the ideal set by Turner. This valuable session meant that after just a few sighting laps at Silverstone with Turner driving, Ainslie was able to concentrate on getting to grips with the Vantage GT4, rather than learning the track.

"The simulator made huge difference, it would be have been very hard at Silverstone without doing that first," said Ainslie. "I knew exactly where I was going so I could focus on listening to Darren and taking his advice about being sensitive with the brakes, steering and throttle."

Darren Turner has been a works Aston Martin Racing driver for ten years ago and through his own simulator business also tutors amateur and professional racing drivers. He said: "Ben was very focussed and in the simulator he was able to pick up everything I told him really quickly and was soon setting some fast and, more importantly, consistent lap times," said Turner. "When we got to the circuit, there was a fair amount of traffic, which can be very distracting, yet despite this he was still able to follow the right lines and slowly increase his pace. I've no doubt that with his ability to concentrate, take instruction and his undoubted competitive spirit, he could become an accomplished racing driver."

Despite the praise from the two-time Le Mans winner, Ainslie is not planning to swap the water for tarmac. He said: "I am told that the Vantage GT4 is just an entry-level car, but with more than 450 bhp it felt very fast to me. I think I did nearly 20 laps and, even with breaks, the level of concentration required leaves you feeling exhausted. I can't imagine how Darren can race the full works spec Vantage for up to two hours at a time, sometimes in the dark and rain. I think I'll continue to concentrate on sailing."

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