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Paul Hollywood’s Great British Brake Off with MSVT

Friday, February 06 2015

Great British Bake Off star and celebrity petrolhead Paul Hollywood is making his motor racing debut in 2015, choosing MSV Trackdays' ARDS Test and Race Academy programmes to get him on track in time for the season.

Paul aims to race in the Aston Martin Le Mans Festival support race during the famous 24 Hour event in June. To do this he will need to get his race licence endorsed to compete abroad and the MSVT Race Academy programme will help him achieve his goal.

"MSVT has been fantastic to me," he said. "I was fortunate enough to be at Brands Hatch last year doing a TV programme with John Surtees [BBC Two's Racing Legends], so I got a feel for the place. I panicked a little bit with the theory test as I'm terrible with exams, but I passed 100% which was good, and the practical was great fun. I've been with Jonny Adam [Beechdean Aston Martin GT driver] practising for a couple of days over the last month or two and it's been such a great experience. It's not something I've thought of doing, but when I was approached to get involved and then to be given the chance to take my race licence and pass, I was over the moon. I feel like a 17-year-old passing my driving test again!"

Paul is regularly seen judging the efforts of others on TV, but doesn't mind being under scrutiny on this occasion: "It's quite nice to be on the other side. I'm used to my role on Bake Off, but I don't mind being judged because when I was learning my trade years ago, you have to listen to learn, and one of the things I pride myself on is being able to listen to people, especially racing drivers who know what they are doing. I've done 30 years on the road driving some pretty fast cars, but when it comes to a race track, it's a totally different game. I had the lines in my head and braking distances which were all wrong, you have to shut up and listen.

"I think your nerves can kick in when you first start, and then you just get a feel for it. It's practice at the end of the day, it's like baking. When I first started my first loaves were OK but they weren't brilliant, but the more you practice it you get a great crust, the taste is good, the structure's there and you get a loaf that looks almost professional. And it's the same with race driving, it's just practice. Being with good teachers helps a lot, and being with MSVT has been fantastic. If you get a great instructor, which I had, you naturally just get better and better."

Like his hero Surtees, Paul has sampled Brands Hatch on both two and four wheels, so is in a good position to compare the two disciplines: "It is different. I was fortunate enough to ride John Surtees's MV Agusta 1960 championship-winning bike, which was a real privilege for me. You use very different lines, and you tend to commit a little bit earlier on a bike just to get lined up for the corner and get yourself settled. But on a straight on a bike, it is much quicker. If all tracks were dead straight my money would be on the bike, but obviously there are corners on a race track!"

Paul was also full of praise for his local circuit: "I've lived down in Kent for 15 years now and I've been here a few times. I came to see Jason Plato race here in Touring Cars recently. With my affiliation with John Surtees following the TV programme, I have a real soft spot for Brands Hatch. I want to try the full GP track with all the extra bends."

Click here to visit the MSV Trackdays website, which includes information on trackdays, ARDS tests and the Track Academy.