Oliver Bryant: Rising Star and Race Instructor
Twenty-one year old Oliver Bryant is enjoying growing success in both modern and historic motorsport. In 2004, at the age of 18, he was named by Autosport magazine as ‘One to Watch’, and two years later he officially became a BRDC ‘Rising Star’, a great honour for the young driver.
Since then his racing career has gone from strength to strength, with multiple British GT race wins in 2005, and then again in 2007 at the wheel of a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, not to mention a continuing involvement in historic motorsport – with no fewer than three drives at this year’s Goodwood Revival. Spectators at the historic race meeting will no doubt remember Bryant’s heroic drive in the Madgwick Cup, when his Lotus XV started from pole position and – despite fuel pressure problems – took third place at the finish by dint of sheer driving skill, particularly his mastery of the notoriously difficult St Mary’s.
Bryant is now offering to share this skill via his one-to-one driver coaching days, for everyone from novice track-day drivers through to semi-professional racers. “It’s common to see the owners of some really high-performance cars – Ferraris, Aston Martins and so on – at track days, who are not getting the best from their cars. Maybe they’re braking too early; or too hard, and scrubbing off too much speed. There are countless other techniques to cover, such as the positioning of the car and making sure the driver looks through the corner, not just straight in front of the car. Then there’s weight transfer and how it affects the handling, and we also look at understeer and oversteer, when to apply the power, plus trail-braking, left-foot braking, heel-and-toeing and so on. In this way, we gradually build up the driver’s confidence and speed. After a day’s tuition it’s astonishing how lap times can improve,” concludes Bryant, “all for less than the cost of a new set of tyres.”
A typical day’s instruction will include both in-car and out-of-car tuition, with an explanation of all the basic track techniques plus both slow and high-speed demo laps by Bryant, to put the techniques into visual practice. Even highly experienced race drivers can find value in tuition, as Bryant explains. “We have quite a few foreign drivers coming over to the UK to race at a circuit they’ve never been to before. I can take them round, maybe a week before the race, and let them into the track’s particular ‘secrets’. For example, if it’s going to be a wet race, they’ll want to know where the slippery points are and where puddles are likely to form, rather than finding out in qualifying!”
But a lot of it depends on what the individual driver wants. “I was coaching a guy recently at Castle Combe who’d worked hard on the techniques all day, and then in the last session it started to rain, so he asked me to take him for a high-speed lap to see it all being put into practice in the wet. He really enjoyed that.”
And what does the future hold for Oliver Bryant himself? “Next year, I’m hoping to do either the FIA GT or the Le Mans Series, and ideally the Le Mans 24 Hours itself. I finish at University in May, and I’m keen to be racing and instructing full-time after that.”
For further information on Oliver Bryant Driver Coaching, call +44 (0)7946 524941, email [email protected] or see www.oliverbryant.com.
Text - Charis Whitcombe
Photos - Oliver Bryant / Simon Gardiner - www.skipster.net
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