RUGBY STAR BEN FODEN TACKLES SILVERSTONE ON BTCC TRACK DAY
England rugby star Ben Foden swapped the pitch for the pit lane when he took part in a British Touring Car track day ahead of the Championship finale at Brands Hatch this weekend (11/12 October).
The Northampton Saints full-back, a keen motor sport enthusiast, was given the opportunity to sample the adrenalin rush of driving around the iconic Silverstone circuit, courtesy of Dunlop Tyres, headline sponsor and tyre supplier of the MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). The day saw Ben meet up with current BTCC driver and 2012 champion ’Flash’ Gordon Shedden of the Honda Yuasa Racing Team for a driving masterclass.
After getting a feel for the circuit from the sanctuary of the passenger seat, Ben took over the wheel before being given a tour of the pit lane and tyre fitting area to gain an understanding of the extraordinary work that goes on behind-the-scenes to ensure the touring car teams can perform at their optimum level.
For Ben, the day also provided an opportunity to find out more about the physical and mental demands placed on professional drivers in the BTCC and how these compare to professional rugby. Despite the obvious differences between the two sports, there were also some interesting parallels that were clearly apparent to the England international:
“You can’t control what’s happening around you sometimes [on the track] and it’s the same on a rugby field”, said Foden. “You’ve got to read what your teammates are doing next to you, what lines they’re running, what defences are coming at you or where the space is on the rugby field which is exactly the same as for the driver. He’s got to see what the other drivers are doing to the left, to the right of him, behind him, in front of him and he’s got to make sure he makes the right decision to execute the move he’s trying to pull off”.
Shedden also highlighted some of the challenges placed on drivers and how these translate across professional sport:
“We have three races in a day so if you have a great result in the first race, your tail’s up and everything is great, but then you could easily have a terrible result in race two and you’ve still got to be able to re-focus the mind to get going again.”
After an adrenaline-fuelled afternoon, it was clear that Ben had impressed Gordon with his skills behind the wheel. Speaking about his driving ability, Shedden said:
“You can tell he’s a rugby player as he certainly doesn’t lack commitment put it that way! He was on maximum attack from the end of the pit lane!”