Tuning and Turning, What The Differential? Tom Sharp’s VCARS Diary #2

VCARS 20-year old driver Tom Sharp has had an incredible start to the 2012 season, winning all but one of the opening nine races and finishing second in the other. After last weekend’s Oulton Park practice session, VCARS caught up with a Tom to see what he learned about the track and his car, and what his thoughts are on the weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

VCARS Driver Tom Sharp

VCARS Driver Tom Sharp

Dateline:  Monday May 28th2012

VCARS: You’ve had a few days to think about Oulton Park, what are your thoughts ahead June 9th’s race?

TS: You know, I really enjoyed familiarising myself with the track but more than that, I think Ginetta were the main beneficiaries of last weekend’s testing.

VCARS: How so?

TS: Well, Ginetta are a pretty forward-thinking organisation and to try and make the races even more exciting they were looking at making some changes to the differential ratio.

VCARS: Woah, hold on a second there, you’re going to have to explain that.

TS: The easiest way to think about a differential is to think about how power is transferred to the track. If you change the differential ratio power gets to the wheels at different rates. Simply put, the shorter the differential ratio, the more power (and thus speed) gets to the wheels more quickly. What you might lose is actual top speed, but a closer differential ratio allows you to get to your top speed more quickly.

VCARS: Okay, so if that’s the case, closer differential ratios work best on winding tracks?

TS: Absolutely. Which is why we were trying out the new settings (which would be on offer to all Ginetta cars) at Oulton Park – a particularly winding track.

VCARS: Sound perfect.

TS: In theory yes, but the additional power created by close ratio often affects the balance of the car so you struggle with  traction, particularly on the rear end. A factor which meant we were actually losing time around the track so I think Ginetta are going to look again at differential ratios – a part of the engine set up which really should change track to track.

VCAR: On the subject of winding tracks, we’ve just enjoyed the Monaco Grand Prix. Is that a track on which you’d like to race?

TS: Well, yes, of course. It’s not my ultimate dream, that’s Le Mans, but who could pass up the chance to drive on such an iconic track? As well as F1, there’s GP2 and GP3 races, I’d love to race in one of those. I’ve never even been to the circuit but it looks incredible.

VCARS: What do you think the key is to winning in Monaco.

TS: Well, clearly, it’s so difficult to overtake that qualifying is as important as on any other circuit on the F1 calendar. It’s so tight. I think there’s Monaco, Singapore the European Grand Prix in Spain that are street circuits. Often it’s a case of a mis-judgement and you’re going backwards with no back wheels. It’s really tough to concentrate for such a long time in such demanding conditions – you’ve got to take your hat off to those F1 boys. What they’re doing is superhuman.

VCARS: Who do you root for?

TS: Well, I know VCARS get on very well with Jenson Button so you’ll be pleased to hear that I support McLaren all the way. I grew up in Byfleet very close to Woking which is home to the McLaren HQ. I used to pass it every day on the way to work and even did my work experience there. Whether it’s Lewis or Jenson, I’d just always like to see McLaren take the chequered flag.

VCARS: Us too. 

Tom Sharp is sponsored by VCARS. Our cars are nationwide. At www.vcars.co.uk you can search and compare prices from both independent and franchised dealer networks. Service excellence and value is guaranteed!

Catch all the action from Oulton Park on 9th June by watching live coverage on ITV4 from 11am until 6pm.

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