The actual racing side of competing in Europe won’t often differ too much from what you’re used to in your home country, especially for those of you in the UK.
That being said, every championship differs when it comes to parc ferme, pit etiquette, signing on, tyres etc. You’ll need to know your general championship rules before you hit the track but the likelihood is that you’ll either be competing in an international round of a British Championship, or you’ll be working with an experienced European team who can show you the ropes so hopefully, the learning curve won’t be too steep.
It’s off track where you need to consider a few things and this is relevant whether you’re a racing driver, engineer, spectator or media.
Consider the road laws
If you’re taking a road trip to a race on the continent, there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, you’ll need to carry all manner of things in your car including hi-vis jackets for driver and passengers, a warning triangle, a fire extinguisher and, in France, a breathalyser.
Read more: Tips for driving in Europe.
Make sure your car has a country sticker
This is law across the continent. Your car – and trailer, if you’re towing – needs to have a country sticker. These can be picked up quite cheaply but the best option is to look for replacement number plates with a GB badge on them.
Learn some of the language
This is especially important if you’re going to be competing internationally on a regular basis. Knowing a bit of the local language will make getting around the country much easier. Plus, it’s a good skill to have.
Even if you just learn the basics so you can read a few road signs and communicate with the locals, that’s usually enough. My high school French is enough to help me understand some of what I’m reading and ask a few questions, so you don’t need much.
Make sure you have the right license
To compete in other countries, you may need a different kind of race license. If you’re a British racer, you’ll need to upgrade from your National A license to International D or International C, depending on your chosen European championship. This can be achieved by competing in some national races and gaining the relevant signatures. Find out more on the Motorsport UK website.
Learn the circuit
You’re less likely to have driven an international circuit as part of a previous test or track day so take the time to get to know it. There are a few ways you can do this. The first is with some regular simulator time. Whether you visit a VR simulator, have your own rig or splash out on some time with the latest in simulator tech, make sure you learn that track. It’s much cheaper than flying out for multiple test days.
Even when you’re not practicing, make sure you’re visualising apexes, the racing line and all the corners and straights.
Just playing the circuit on a racing game can be a good chance to understand the basic layout. It’s also good to watch onboard videos from a similar car to the one you’ll be driving as it can give you an idea of braking distances and good lines through tricky corners.
If possible, you should also book at a test day so you can get to grips with your car on the track. This will ensure you’re race ready.
Finally, take time to walk the track too. This will help you to see high and low grip areas, patches of uneven tarmac and the state of the kerbs.
Racing in Europe is exciting and the next big step after racing in the UK. Consider these things both on and off track and you’ll be sure to have the best experience possible.
If you’re looking for advice on racing in Europe, join the Racing Mentor Sponsorship Community on Facebook. There’s plenty of experienced racers there who would be happy to share their experiences.