Vernon Kay Wins Radio1 Breakfast Show Rockingham Driving Challenge
2009-08-14


VERNON Kay has been officially crowned Radio 1’s best driver after beating his co-host Comedy Dave Vitty in a special Breakfast Show Driving Challenge at Rockingham.

The two presenters were invited to put their driving skills to the test by The Racing School at Rockingham Chief Instructor Neil Boardman live on air on Wednesday (August 12).

The Northamptonshire circuit offered to settle an argument between Vernon, who is standing in for host Chris Moyles this week, and Breakfast Show regular Comedy Dave Vitty, about how hard it is to be an F1 racing driver.

In order to discover who’s ultimately the best driver – Vernon and Dave - Rockingham created an afternoon of challenges in their fleet of performance and racing cars. Dave and Vernon’s progress was closely scrutinised by Chief Instructor Neil, who had the task of identifying a winner following two very different performances.

Neil said: “It was genuinely a very difficult decision but Vernon just edged it. Whilst Dave’s confidence and track knowledge increased and started to get faster as the day progressed, Vernon was just that bit quicker in the single-seaters.

“Vernon was pretty wild to begin with but a half-spin in the V8 supercars and a fairly high-speed loss of control seemed to calm him down a little.

“If they could race together, they would make a great team. Vernon’s aggressive, no fear, style of driving would get guarantee them a good qualifying position on the grid, while Dave would guarantee the car would make it to the end of the race!”

The challenge started with Vernon and Dave learning Rockingham’s 1.7 mile National Circuit in a supercharged MINI Cooper S. Their laps were judged by the on-board telemetry system, which monitored their driving skills as they attempted to achieve the perfect racing line.

The telemetry showed Vernon just won with a fantastic score of 97 per cent, while Dave finished with a respectable 94 per cent.

The pair then had some fun on the track in a Ferrari 360 where their contrasting driving-styles came to the forefront. Their driving was assessed by Neil who decided it had to be a draw.

He said: “Vernon was the more natural racing driver and was more comfortable behind the wheel but his driving-style was quite aggressive. Whereas Dave was more methodical and although slower, he had a more consistent style of driving.”

Next, it was down to the serious business of learning race craft in Rockingham’s race prepared 5.7 litre, 380 bhp V8 Supercars, and this time it was Dave who came out on top with 87 per cent with Vernon tail-gating him on 86 per cent after he struggled to keep the car on track!

When Neil felt they'd learned all they could it was time for them to go head-to-head in the Formula One-style single seaters, at speeds of up to 120mph. Like real racing drivers, Vernon and Dave had to obey racing rules and flags, as well using all the skills they had just learnt.

Afterwards Dave said: “It has been a fantastic day, very educational and so much fun. We have learned a lot about the craft of motor racing and next time we watch a grand prix we will watch it in a slightly different frame of mind. Driving these cars takes a lot out of you.

“We have learned the basics of racing in a set of very different cars. It just doesn’t get better than days like this.”

Vernon added: “It has been an absolutely awesome day. I have really enjoyed the driving, it was more difficult than I thought it would be but I have learned a lot. Neil and the instructors have been brilliant. I was quite an aggressive driver while he was like Driving Miss Daisy!”

Finally the adrenalin was certainly pumping after Vernon and Dave received a masterclass in the V8 Supercar with a high-speed passenger ride from Neil with plenty of drifting and tyre smoke.

Both drivers had big grins on their faces and Dave said: “That was absolutely brilliant. The smell of rubber, the screeching of the tyres – it was like being on the Dukes of Hazzard! This is what days like this are all about. You learn how to drive the cars and then the instructors show you how it should be done – a fitting end to what has been an awesome day.”

If you would like to see Vernon and Dave performance at Rockingham or missed the show you can catch all the action at bbc.co.uk/radio1.

For more information about how you can get on track in the awesome cars Dave and Vernon drove, call 01536 500500 or visit the circuit’s official website at www.rockingham.co.uk for more information about corporate driving days or about the individual experiences offered by Rockingham and The Racing School.


ENDS