Seventeen year old Sophie Bennett arrived at Silverstone Race circuit for Oxford Motor Club's Autumn AutoSolo. She had not driven the Humphris (Oxford) Nissan Micra prior to the event. Dealership owner Matt Humphris delivered the car to the event whereby Sophie had a drive of it under Matt's supervision in the car park prior to the event starting.
Prior to the event Sophie was very apprehensive as it was the first event she was competing in on her own, not under the BTRDA Drive program banner, but was determined to reward Humphris for the loan of the Micra with a top half of the entry result overall and in the class.
With a capacity entry of sixty competitors, and the event been the last round of the Cotswold championship, and a championship round to the national British Trial & Rally Drivers Association (BTRDA) the competition was extremely fierce and of a particularly high standard.
The day started off wet with the tarmac been extremely slippery, which added to the challenge of getting used to the Humpris Micra. Sophie felt that Humphris (Oxford) motorsport division Micra handled better than the BTRDA Drive Micra which helped her learn characteristics of the car quickly. First of all Sophie was slightly nervous, but after the first run she got really excited and felt really confident in the Humphris Micra. The first test layout was attempted three times before been run in the opposite direction. Sophie quickly learnt the capabilities of the car and on her second run at each test layout was two seconds faster, and second in class. Having previously only completed in three dry AutoSolos the Oxford event was much faster with second gear been used most of the time on the test, making the class position even more impressive.
Matt Humphris observed Sophie during the morning, along with one of his employees from the workshop who was driving another Micra. Matt was amazed at how cool and relaxed Sophie looks when going around the course. She seems to be looking a lot further ahead and is very smooth for some one who has only just started driving on the public roads. I hate to say this but I would not have been surprised if she had beaten me if I had entered in the Micra (Matt is an experienced Rally Driver).
Sophie adapted and learnt the new car very quickly. Matt was especially impressed with a handbrake turn that Sophie completed during one test, which had been trained to Sophie by another BTRDA Drive sponsor StuntDriveUK.com. He also thinks that Sophie has a good future in front of her if she keeps up the good work and will end up beating a lot more of the boys!!
As conditions dried during the afternoon Sophie closed the gap to the class leader who was leading the Cotswold championship. During the afternoon a different test layout had been planned which competitors have to walk and memorise, aided by the marking cones been numbered.
During the day Sophie acted in a very professional and focused manner, defying her young age and experience whilst targeting that top thirty overall finish, and top four in the class.
Sophie continued to be very analytical and asking for advice on how to go faster from fellow competitors who are always willing to help in this friendly sport aimed at your everyday road car. Sophie exceeded what she expected of myself which put her on a massive buzz and made her even more competitive. Sophie was very proud of achieving second in class. One the first run of every course she just tried to get a good time in, work her way around and make sure she knew where to go. Then on the 2nd and 3rd run of each course she would go faster and try to beat her previous times which seemed to work
Sophie ended up a fabulous second in a very competitive class of much more experienced competitors and twenty fourth overall thus achieving both her targets for the day. Sophie's father Paul who has supported Sophie through her involvement with the Under 17 Car club, which is how she won her years motorsport with BTRDA Drive, was speechless at the end of the event at what she had achieved and extremely proud of how she has developed over the year, and especially driving the Humphris Micra.
Sophie was also very happy with her result and owes the result to the training she has received from Under 17 Car Club, StuntDriveUK, the support of BTRDA Drive but most importantly the generosity of Humphris Oxford. Sophie would like to say "I would like to say a huge thank you to Matt Humphris from Humpris Oxford for lending me the Micra and giving me such a great opportunity. I hope to see him having a go in some events next year maybe! It truly was an amazing day so thank you again." She is now looking at continuing next year to build on her experiences and skills learnt this year.