^^^^Many, many words of wisdom, clearly from experience. I agree with every bit of it. Thanks!
One additional point I'll raise: For the maximum amount of track time you might choose a group that does not have a competitive element to the day's events, that is, no timed laps at the end of the day. Especially for the novice, the time trial portion can be a bit of a waste as you are waiting around for your shot at a couple of laps to try for a trophy, time which you might otherwise spend in another 20-30 minute lapping session. Just a thought...