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Graduate Driving at Bentley Motors

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I have recently started a new job at Bentley as a graduate engineer and as part of my role I will apparently be trusted to drive Bentleys both on the road and on test tracks. I'm not sure whether this is a particularly good idea but I'm not about to complain!

I did think however, that before I even considered taking the company driving test, I should probably learn how to drive "properly". I've always considered myself a safe driver but after 8 years I figured there were probably a number of bad habits that I'd picked up along the way that needed stamping out of me. I wasn’t disappointed!

When I went out on my first drive with Rick I made sure I drove slowly and cautiously so as not to startle him, only to find out that slow driving wasn't what this advanced thing was all about. Instead I was introduced to “The System” which I have to admit did seem a little unnecessary and over the top, however I stuck with it and after making sure I followed it whenever I remembered, I was hit with a startling revelation – it does actually work! Most people know you are meant to brake before getting to a corner and then accelerate through it; I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that’s common knowledge, but I wager 90% of those people don't actually do it. When this was a skill I finally mastered, the car did genuinely feel more stable and more exciting to drive and even I thought my driving was smoother.

The other major alteration to my driving was "putting my eyes on full beam". I didn't find this as difficult as I thought I would when it was first explained to me. For some reason I thought that if I started looking at the horizon, I wouldn't be able to keep track of what was directly in front of me; fortunately this wasn't the case. This technique has given me far more time to make any observations and process what they actually might mean. Happily in my test, I commented on some horse manure in the road only to go round the next corner and find someone riding a horse - I admit feeling slightly smug at that point - and this is a connection that I would never have made before being coached by Rick.

My driving has definitely improved and I am certainly more aware of everything that is going on around me, and more importantly, that may be about to go on around me. My greatest thanks to Rick for teaching me (or coaching as he calls it) and bring on the Bentleys!

James Croxford