Archive for January, 2004

Racing

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I was planning to make some upgrades to the car before the 2003 season, but
my argument with the tyre wall at Mallory Park on Boxing Day meant that the
upgrades turned out to be a little more extensive than intended 🙂 In the
end, as well as the planned limited slip diff, I also ended up fitting new
front dampers, upgraded front and rear wings and a new rear undertray. All
of these upgrades were improvements, but the LSD and the new undertray were
particularly successful. The LSD made the car both much more satisfying to
drive and easier on the rear tyres. The new undertray generated significant
downforce (unlike the previous design!) – to such an extent that finding a
way of attaching it to the car firmly enough so that it didn’t pull itself
off was a problem all year!

Unfortunately, the first few events of the year were compromised by a
recurring engine misfire which took us a long time to diagnose. After a
following a number of blind alleys, we finally worked out that it was the
result of fuel vapourisation caused by exhaust heat getting to the
carburettor float bowls. Once diagnosed it was pretty easy to fix by
fabricating a baffle to fit over the exhaust (thanks, Dad!). It was annoying
though, because it meant that I failed to finish the first few events.

From that point onwards, most of the races followed a pattern. There was a
group of two or three faster cars which were consistently ~2 seconds a lap
faster than everyone else, then there was me, and then there was another
group off cars consistently ~1 second or so slower. Unfortunately this meant
that in a lot of races, I was largely alone on the circuit. There was a
battle ahead of me, a battle behind me, but I mostly just drove around by
myself 😦

I had a few good results, including a couple of second places, but these
were as a result of the guys ahead of me having problems rather than me
doing anything particularly clever.

I blotted my copybook in a pretty big way at Croft, when I managed to lock
up going into the first corner and promptly disappeared headfirst into the
tyre barriers. As it happens, this was captured on video by the wife of
another competitor and you can watch me making a mess of it [here](http://www.paulbutcher.com/assets/2007/1/21/croft.mpg)

The car was eligible for two championships during 2003: the Monoposto series
I competed in during 2002 and a new 1000cc class in the Formula Honda
series. For various reasons, I ended up doing a few races in each series
without doing enough in either to really mount a full challenge, so I didn’t
finish particularly well up the final placings in either. For 2004, I’m
planning on concentrating on Formula Honda (which is likely to be renamed
Formula Jedi). I may still do a few Mono events, but I’ll make sure that I
do enough Formula Jedi to be able to place well in the championship.

In order to try to find the 2 seconds a lap which I’ll need in order to be
up with the front-runners, the car is having some very extensive upgrades
over the winter. I’m getting a new chassis (replacing my short-wheelbase,
low nose MkIV chassis with a long-wheelbase, high nose MkVI chassis), and a
new engine (replacing my Fireblade with a Yamaha R1). Enough other things
will need upgrading a result of these changes (bodywork, wiring loom,
exhaust system, …) to mean that it will very nearly be a completely new
car by the time I’m finished. I hope to pick up a large pile of bits which
will then need bolting together from Jedi this weekend, after which I’ll
have my work cut out getting everything together in time for the first race
of the season…

The draft calendars for Formula Jedi and Monoposto have recently been
released:

Formula Jedi:

April 17/18: Croft (Double Header)
May 22/23: Snetterton (Double Header)
May 30/31: Silverstone
June 12/13: Brands Hatch (Double Header)
July 4: Cadwell Park (Double Header)
August 21: Oulton Park (Double Header)
Sept 12: Mallory
Oct 9: Rockingham
Nov 6/7: Brands Hatch (Double Header)

Monoposto:

March 13 Silverstone
April 3 Silverstone
May 23 Mallory Park
June 5/6 Croft (Double Header)
June 19/20 Anglesey (Double Header)
July 31 Oulton Park
August 30 Castle Combe
September 25/26 Snetterton (Double Header)
October 23/24 Donnington (Double Header)

If anyone fancies coming along to watch, you would be very welcome indeed!
And extra pit-crew are always welcome 🙂