The Citroen C1. Not a great road car. Not a great… car. It certainly isn’t the first car that you think of when it comes to on the limit handling, exploring the limits of grip, or even at just… going fast. Allow me to alter your point of view.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Rockingham round of the 24 hour endurance Citroen C1 Racing Club race. So, of course I went. It’s a shame that some of us have real jobs too, because I would’ve loved to be at this thing for more than only 5 or so hours. It was dark, though, and everything always feels more dramatic in the dark. The rain that had fallen earlier in the day helped with that.
24 continuous hours of racing around one of the most unforgiving tracks in the UK. The pit straight has a wall on both sides, and I daren’t imagine what it’s like at top speed up against the solid Rockingham wall. I bet it’s claimed a few egos at some stage…
And if you think the pit straight seems dark, school straight is even darker. Pitch black, in fact. The only light on the tarmac was that of the C1’s headlights as they flew past.
Not all that many people seem to know about the C1 Racing Club, and that’s a real shame, because if they did and they got to experience it up close, I reckon they’d find it more enjoyable than your typical F1 race. Just with less noise, less speed, but so much more overtaking and excitement. It’s not like the cars are getting anywhere near the track’s speed limit of 240mph, but it simply doesn’t matter, the racing is nothing short of intense.
Really though, the pits were the place to be. When the cars come in for new tyres, refuelling or a driver change, the teams spring into action and it’s a sight to see. Again, it’s not Formula 1 speed, but as James May once said “In order to finish first, first you have to finish”. Everything is methodical and purposeful, making sure the cars are race worthy.
Some even found the time to have a bit of shuteye amongst the madness…
The drivers are something else, though. The way they manhandle these tiny cars around corners is properly exceptional. Want to see a C1 go sideways? You’re in the right place. Want to see some mad overtaking manoeuvres? We’ve got you covered. Put it this way, one of the drivers, Paul Roddison, also of the MAX5 race series told me a few days later that the one panel on his team’s car that’s straight is the roof… it turns out that rubbing is indeed racing!
So if you’re the sort of person that laments the demise of proper, exciting racing, this isn’t a bad way of getting your fix of automotive nuttery. I don’t care that ‘nuttery’ isn’t real word, it sums the event up quite well!
If you’re interested, pop along to the C1 Racing Club website and have a gander. It’s a thing of wonder, in its own (very) little way. As a quick side note, you might want to check out the price of entry, maybe you’re able to pull a team together and have a bash yourself.
Accessible motorsport, what’s not to love?