My first knowledge of Any Priaulx Sports Management (APSM) was when I saw the likes of Harry Thompson, Oliver York, Georgi Dimitrov and Kai Askey wearing their smart looking white race suits. Apart from the logo I didn’t know much about the sports management company run by professional racing driver Andy Priaulx MBE. So, when I was invited to spend a day at their facility I was really excited.
On arrival, I was met by Andy himself and Rodrigo Loyo, who gave me a tour of the facility. Based at iZone at the Silverstone race circuit I could hear cars buzzing around the track and I imagine for drivers of Thompson’s age this must be a constant reminder of where they could be in a few years.
On the outside, the facility seems very small, but that’s not the case once you get inside. As I was shown around the facility it became clear everything had been put in a certain place for a reason. There are three simulator rooms in total, one for karting, one for single seaters and one for GT cars which for me was the most impressive! Then there is the gym and zone room which offered something slightly unique. Along with that there is a meeting room, an office and a shower which drivers can use after gym or simulator sessions.
Whilst there I also saw British and World Champion Oliver York, who was going to be my competition for the day on the simulators. Some competition…
Current APSM Young Drivers
- Harry Thompson
- Oliver York
- Taylor Barnard
- Jac Maybin
- Josh McLean
- Kai Askey
- Georgi Dimitrov
- Freddie Slater
- Edward Pearson
Meeting the Team
Before the fun began it was time to meet all the team and find out more about APSM in the meeting room. The APSM team consists of:
- Andy Priaulx MBE (Mentor)
- John Pratt (Performance Driver Coach)
- Dr Ben Chell (Performance Director)
- Rodrigo Loyo Guiot (Commercial Manager & Race Engineer)
And that’s just to name a few!
As each member of the team was telling me their involvement in the programme and more about what they do I started to realise why APSM no longer has any places left on the programme. All the staff are purpose built for their roles and they have a huge number of qualifications between them along with experience at the top level too.
So, first up was the karting simulator and as I entered the room Junior X30 World champion, Oliver York was putting some laps in at PFI. Dan Hazlewood (Fusion Motorsport Team Owner and APSM Karting coach) took this chance to show me what data was being recorded live and what data is accessible for overlay to help drivers see where they need improvement. Although there was a lot of data on there, it was very easy to understand which I imagine is essential when teaching some of the younger Cadet drivers.
So, with a decent time set I jumped in for the first time to see how close I could get to the World champ. My instructions were to take it easy, do the first lap at 50% speed then slowly build up to 100% speed.
On my first lap the two key features I initially noted were the feeling you get when hitting kerbs and the feel in the steering when you start sliding. All I can say is this really is the closest thing you’ll get to being on the track and in terms of feel there wasn’t much difference!
Dan was giving me plenty of tips as I was going along which was allowing me to progress, but the main aim was to get used to the sim. For a regular karter this apparently only takes around 10 laps, but for me it took slightly longer. After a lengthy session, I took a break to watch Oli go round again.
As I was watching Dan was showing me my data compared to his and talking through my laps. He pointed out a couple of key places where I needed improvement and as I boarded for my next session John Pratt was standing by to assist, someone who I have worked with before.
John was using a laser to tell me where I should be looking and what to be thinking about, this may sound crazy to some people but it’s very helpful and common among top drivers. He did one lap on and one lap off to see how quickly I could apply what I was doing and on my last lap I put in a time which was one second off Oli and it was at that point I called it a day.
Single Seater Simulator
Next up was the Single Seater simulator where myself and Oli would be driving around Brands Hatch Indy in a British F3 car. The simulator itself is very impressive and hi-tech which has an almost identical feel to the real car.
I watched Oli go around first and as he was I decided to inspect the simulator and the attention to detail was very impressive. Looking at the data as expected there was a lot more going on than the karting one, but that’s always to be expected.
With Oli completing his session it was my turn to jump in. Having the privilege of once driving the F3 car already, I kind of knew what to expect but having Dan by my side really helped. He would tell me what gear Oli took each corner in so I could do the same, he’d tell me if Oli braked later and if he got on the throttle earlier, all of which really upped my confidence and took me to a time just four tenths off the Karting magazine Driver of the year nominee.
As previously mentioned I liked the GT simulator the most. I didn’t quite have time to test it myself, but it was just such an impressive setup. Having two seats inside means a coach can sit right next to you and talk you through laps if they need to. When there are youngsters training for something like Ginetta Junior’s I’d imagine, they’d spend a bit of time in there.
There is a small gym at APSM which includes traditional workout equipment to more motorsport specific equipment. One of my favourite features was the brake training which gives drivers practice at applying brake pressure. I remember testing an F3 car and only locking up once due to not putting enough brake pressure on so this requires preparation.
Me and Oli did have a go at the BATAK wall which is designed to improve reactions. I watched Oli set an impressive score before I tried. I remember being about 30 seconds is and thinking I’m doing good here only to see my score and realize I had been beaten by kids as young as 10. This really did blow me away, just goes to show how the training has been working!
Our last stop of the day was the Zone room where you would practice mind training and if I had to pick something I struggled at most, this was it! The exercise we did was a game where you had series of 8 balls on the screen. Four would light up and would be numbered before going back to their original colour. They would then move around the screen and after a short period of time they would light up and you would have to pick them out.
I know right it’s even confusing explaining it but Oli made it look easy as he quickly moved through the levels before it came almost impossible! Well, for me anyway.
My go eventually came around and in all honesty, I was pretty useless at it, but looking at the scores of the Cadet drivers I was amazed how good some of them were even with very little practice. It just goes to show how they are improving with yet another key attribute in racing at APSM.
When the day had finished, I had some more time to chat to the staff before leaving I asked Andy the question, what inspired you to set this up? He replied:
“During crucial moments in my career, when under extreme pressure, it is so important to have a solid working method and a process that enables your natural driving to shine, this is what inspired me to help and guide the younger generation to learn this as early as possible and that’s why I’ve set up APSM”
The facilities at APSM are very impressive as are the staff and drivers! The contacts Andy has in motorsport is invaluable, just being there for a few hours I bumped into loads of drivers and personalities in the sport and it just seemed natural. It’s easy to think this sort of thing is unnecessary in karting but APSM certainly seem to be concentrating on training the drivers more than anything else which I really like. They use the older drivers to help the younger drivers too and have a presence in the sport that has grown rapidly in the last 12 months.
On top of all that is a really nice group of people who make you feel at ease as soon as you walk through the door and who have an extensive understanding of racing, winning and everything else that goes with it.
Written by Chris McCarthy