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Ginetta G40

Imagine you that you wake up tomorrow morning and decide you absolutely have to go motor racing. Just where do you start? Even if you had unlimited funds, there's a bewildering number of series to choose from, and a diferent answer from everybody you ask for advice. The road from pipedream to pitlane is so heavily paved with complications it's a wonder anyone ever gets there.
The Ginetta Racing Drivers Club (ginetta. com/grdc) is the Leeds sports car frm's handholding solution. For £36k you get a road-legal G40 racer (to keep) and entry into a four-round season (with two races at each) supporting the British GT championship. Ginetta puts you through your race licence test, throws in a couple of tutored trackdays to get you up to speed and helps run the car at each round. As all-inclusive packages go it's a comprehensive one, and aimed squarely at people trying to fnd their way into the sport. 'I found it frustrating when I started racing,' says Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson. 'I was lucky in that a colleague helped me get started - I wouldn't have known where to begin otherwise. Without Ginetta, there are people that would never have come into the sport that we love. Guys who've got the cash but don't know how to do it.'
And there are worse cars to fnd yourself in for a frst race than the G40. An endearingly titchy two-seater coupe, its fbreglass body hides a robust tubular chassis-cum-rollcage, with a 135bhp 1800cc Ford Zetec engine nestling in the nose. The GRDC car is an evolution of the original G40R road car (last seen in CAR's pages in October 2011) and is now essentially the company's sole road ofering. Ginetta will still build you a regular G40R if you really want, but given that car was always a thinly veiled racing machine rather than an easy-going road car, opting for the barely pricier GRDC package makes much more sense. That's not to say you get a car that's unusable on the road.
The 200-litre boot will take a set of golf clubs (an attribute Tomlinson insisted on, Ginetta staf say), the windscreen's heated and air-con's an option. So are carpets. And arguably the presence of a roof already puts it ahead of a Caterham Seven. 'The only issue really is getting in and out,' says Tomlinson. That's a fair point. Limboing under the low roof and posting yourself through the rollcage is a manoeuvre from the more advanced stages of a yoga course, but once you're in, the wheel adjusts for rake and reach, unlike many mass-produced cars, and there's plenty of fore/aft slidability for the FIAspec (and comfy) seats. Push the weighty hydraulic clutch home, slot the light gearlever (crooked like a crank handle for reach) into first and you're away.
There's no power steering, no ABS and certainly no stability control. 'It's designed to be a car that a novice driver can take to its limit,' says Tomlinson. 'It teaches you how to drive properly.' That it does; with a short wheelbase it's relatively twitchy, and squirms around merrily under braking. It's unnerving at first but after a while you begin to trust it, and understand that it won't bite. The MX-5-sourced gearbox is peachy, so precise and forgiving that you're unlikely to miss a gear in the heat of battle. Admittedly on Silverstone's vast GP layout it never quite feels fast, but you get the impression it would be really quite potent on the road. I've driven a G40 in anger before, when 2014's want2race competition (want2race.co.uk) gave me a shot in a more powerful GT5 Challenge car at Donington Park (highs and lows of which were documented in the December 2014 issue).
The GRDC car's no less enjoyable. It lacks the GT5's sequential 'box, last 30bhp and slick tyres, but it's just as much fun to drive. Whoever wins this year's want2race will get a full season in the GRDC. The jammy sod. Mind you, speaking of jamminess, this won't be our last drive in a G40 this year. Keep an eye on the Our Cars section of the magazine over the next few months for more small, but perfectly formed, adventures on road and track.

Ginetta G40 GRDC Price £35,940 Engine Ford Zetec 1800cc 16v 4-cyl, 135bhp @ 5000rpm, 110lb ft @ 4500rpm (est) Transmission Fivespeed manual, rearwheel drive, limited-slip dif erential Performance 6.0sec 0-60mph, 130mph, 30mpg, 165g/ km CO2 (est) Weight 820kg On sale Now

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