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Old 14th June 2019, 15:19   #1
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Default Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Ever since I started following Formula 1 in 1995, I have wanted to take a quick car onto a F1 race track and thrash it around. This is a summary of my experience with a few technical specifications. Other details available online/from the Buddh site.

Buddh Circuit - 1.6Ltr diesel race spec VW Polo

Not living in Delhi anymore meant the stars needed to align to finally schedule an arrive and drive at Buddh. This finally happened last year after a couple of failed attempts when they had to book the track for Overdrive/BMW last minute.

The VW Polo Cup cars are built for a race track, not meant for cruising around on a Sunday drive. They are just a shell of the road car, everything else is a dramatic upgrade. From a roll cage to protect you, to the stiffer suspension, a more powerful engine, 6 speed gearbox, softer wider tires, upgraded disc brakes, body hugging seats (you do get thrown around on track) are all new. This translates to a 17 second quicker lap around the circuit.

Do follow basic racing rules:
- Respect the car, circuit, fellow racers and officials.
- Follow the briefing and rules. You can get hurt and/or injure others if you dont.
- Get to know the track layout and each turn before you even get to the circuit.
- Once there, start at a comfortable pace, gradually build up speed once you have the confidence to push and then proceed to attack corners.
- Brake when approaching a corner, then turn in, (not while braking), balance the car on the apex (the middle of a corner) and finally start to accelerate out.

The Buddh F1 circuit is a fantastic track. Fast corners, dipping blind right handers and 2 long straights mix it up. A 30 minute stint works out to approx Rs 15000/-
Driving the Polo was great fun, living upto the hype built up in my head over the years. These are ideal cars to begin one's track drive journey. You can push them around and find the limit, they are forgiving enough. Grunt from the engine spurs you on. I remember screaming to myself in excitement under my helmet ever so frequently in the 30 mins on track. It is the horizontal version of a roller coaster! I was intent on pushing the limits and challenging myself. Screeching tires are offer validation of corner speed! Power steering makes cornering less physical than a go kart, with enough feedback coming through the low profile tries and suspension. Negligible body roll gives the confidence of knowing you wont turn turtle! Not to mention the cocooning effect of the roll cage. You feel how light the car is compared to the on road version. Braking and cornering blow you away as they are unlike anything an everyday road car can offer. The tires become sticky when hot and cling to the tarmac. There is no ABS and you will lock up if you brake too hard.

When braking slightly later than I had done the previous lap on quick corners, one goes through a tiny moment of doubt (is it too late? Will I lose the rear/spin?), this is a high only a race track can deliver! The only mistake I made on track was 2 corners before the long right hander loop. Having just overtaken another car on track, I wanted to build a gap in case he messed up his braking. I lost the rear, felt it drifting away, only to immediately control it with opposite lock and managing to stay on the circuit. No other instances of me going of losing control and going off track/spinning, inspite of me pushing.

The back straight is the quickest part of the circuit with speeds going upto 185km/hr in 6th gear. The two straights give you a breather and time to analyse the lap and where corrections need to be made.

While on track, I had overtaken all cars at some point, the final one, was ahead now, trying to get racy and I intentionally waited patiently behing him for a few corners till the start finish straight to overtake. He seemed an absolute rookie, and I didn't trust him in and around corners. Overtaking him, I braked as late as I could, focused on the car behind in my rear view mirror and looking at Turn 1 only out the corner of my eye, I noticed he braked far too late and ended up spinning, ultimately facing the wrong way on track! If there was a car behind him they would have collided. Glad I did what I did. Guys do be careful.

The other incident was witnessing a stationary car parked up on the side, of the track, I slowed immediately and found it a bit strange as there was no spin/crash. Much later after I had finished my drive I was being given a tour of the medical facilities that I found a guy admitted there. He was the one in the car, turns out his friends and him had partied a little to hard the night before, and got dehydrated on track due to the heat and had to pull over! It is quite hot in the car, especially with a helmet on. ( I make it a point to drink 2 glasses of water before getting onto any track)

In the end, it was great to be back at Buddh after attending 2 out 3 F1 races earlier. We got the tour and it was nice to see the paddock area and team hospitality units. They need to maintain the track in order to retain its certification of a Grade 1 circuit (capable of hosting F1 races). This means, grass around the circuit needs to be cut regularly, track has to be flawless and any repair work done at the earliest, manage a medical facility with an existing Doctor at hand. The management do a fantastic job of maintaining the track and buildings, it does look like it can host an F1 race anytime!

I will definitely come back and drive the Polos again sometime.

From the pit lane, waiting to go out:
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View from the chequered flag box of the start finish straight:
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Behind the pit lane, team buildings that remain from the last GP:
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_141904.jpg

The FIA boxes with the Mercedes pace cars:
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Mid briefing, with over 50 cameras keeping an eye on track proceedings:
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_123639.jpg

Getting strapped into the harness
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_133921.jpg

Just the bare in car necessities, need to be firm on gear shifts unlike a road car:
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All set, not much air enters the cabin, even at high speeds. Rear windows are sealed:
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Off I went on those low profile grippy tires, other cars were already on track:
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Gunning it on the start finish straight:
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There were 5 cars on track with me:
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1st floor, above the pits, the exclusive Paddock Club:
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Arguably the best view in the house, Paddock Club 'balcony'
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_141810.jpg

From the roof, last corner and the Loop in the distance, beautiful!
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From the roof, overlooking Turn 1
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Last edited by Hatari : 23rd June 2019 at 17:35.
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Old 16th June 2019, 01:17   #2
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Default re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatari View Post
Ever since I started following F1 in 1995, I have wanted to take a quick car onto a race track and thrash it around.
These are lifetime experiences.
Great to see people like you, pursuing their dreams like this.

Thanks for sharing.

How about sharing a couple of video's?

It will be great, if you can share few details like-

How to book a drive over here?
If we can take our own car and have fun?
The approximate expenditure and few more rules if applicable?
Any briefing on the Do's and Don'ts before hitting the track?

Last edited by Samba : 16th June 2019 at 01:22.
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:49   #3
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
These are lifetime experiences.
Great to see people like you, pursuing their dreams like this.

Thanks for sharing.

How about sharing a couple of video's?

It will be great, if you can share few details like-

How to book a drive over here?
If we can take our own car and have fun?
The approximate expenditure and few more rules if applicable?
Any briefing on the Do's and Don'ts before hitting the track?
Thanks!
I got in touch with Vidhu Shukla at Buddh (Mob: 8130193687) All updated contact details are on the BIC site.
Its difficult for them to confirm a drive much in advance as they might have an auto event to take over the entire circuit, which takes precedence.

I would strongly advise against taking your own car, unless you want to just cruise around. The Polos are in race trim, and can be pushed around with no guilt! I heard an incident where a Verna overheated and packed up in 3 laps.

A 30min stint works our to approx Rs 15000/-. One needs to sign an indemnity bond, followed by a briefing on how to drive on the circuit - lines, braking, cornering etc, and finally a familiarization lap where one of the resident drivers takes your around.

I would advise watching a video of in car footage at Buddh to get familiar with the track. You should know the circuit 'by heart', so you are familiar with racing lines. Some tricky corners like 15, which a blind right hander, needs getting use to. Any karting experience is a big boost ofcourse, I must have done about 300-400 laps at various go kart circuits uptil now, in India and overseas.

There is a part 2 of this.. I drove a Mercedes AMG GTS, 4.0L, 510 Bhp beast around Yas Marina.
Write up coming soon! Here's a teaser:
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Last edited by Hatari : 17th June 2019 at 11:53.
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Old 19th June 2019, 09:27   #4
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Tell us more about the polo 1.6 tdi mods done with pictures.
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Old 20th June 2019, 13:38   #5
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by brraj View Post
Tell us more about the polo 1.6 tdi mods done with pictures.
Didnt get into the technical details, but the Cup car is about 17 seconds quicker over a lap than the regular Polo.
The power and bucket loads of grip leave you in awe straight away.

Mods:

A roll cage
Modified engine
Wider slick tires (you frequently get the smell of burning rubber)
a stiffer racing spec suspension (negligible body roll)
6 speed racing spec gearbox (need to be rough with it)
No ABS, for a pure feel
Body hugging racing spec seats

Extended head support on the seats:
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_122956.jpg
Seats hold you in very well:
Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo-img_20170924_123012.jpg

Last edited by Hatari : 23rd June 2019 at 17:16.
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Old 24th June 2019, 10:47   #6
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Motorsport Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 25th June 2019, 09:13   #7
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Thanks @Hatari for sharing your experience. There is typo I believe, the guy's name is Vibhu Shukla.

I can see that roll cage has abrupt and sharp fit and finish. Could that be a problem?

Also can you please tell us what all comprises in INR 15000? Is this only usage fees of track?
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Old 25th June 2019, 11:34   #8
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Default Re: Buddh Circuit - Driving the 1.6L diesel race-spec VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by dicor View Post
Thanks @Hatari for sharing your experience. There is typo I believe, the guy's name is Vibhu Shukla.

I can see that roll cage has abrupt and sharp fit and finish. Could that be a problem?

Also can you please tell us what all comprises in INR 15000? Is this only usage fees of track?
Correct, Vibhu it is. Getting in is a bit tedious, helmet not withstanding, but nothing major.

The fee includes usage of car and track for 30 mins.
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