Archive for April, 2004

Croft race report

The weekend did not start well – the journey up to Croft was awful, partly
because of several traffic jams but mainly because the trailer developed a
nasty “snake” at one point. This was a very frightening experience
(particularly as not very long ago one of the mechanics at Jedi had the same
thing happen to him, and he ended up with the van he was driving on its
roof). Luckily nothing so severe happened to us, but I will definitely be
taking steps to stop the problem recurring!

We went to the circuit armed with various suggestions from both Jedi and the
rolling road who set up the carburettors for things we could try in order to
cure the engine problems we had at Silverstone. I thought that we’d found
the problem when I removed the needles from the carbs and discovered that
cylinders 1, 2 and 4 were running almost full rich whereas cylinder 3 was
running full lean. Unfortunately, making the settings consistent didn’t have
any noticeable effect on the track, and neither did anything else we tried
throughout the weekend 😦

The track was mainly dry for qualifying, but there were still a few damp
patches from the overnight rain and even a few patches of standing water. I
ended up 6th overall, which was actually rather better than I expected given
the engine problems. I was in the middle of a group of cars approximately 3
seconds off pole (which is a very big gap!). I’m not going to be able to
challenge for the front of the grid until I have the new, tuned engine ready
(hopefully in time for the next race!).

After practice, the whole field was called to see the Clerk of the Course
for a wrist slapping. He said that he’d had the largest pile of reports from
the marshals he’d ever seen and was worried that the race would be carnage.
As it happens, he wasn’t far wrong…

The race started OK – I picked up one place at the start, but I very quickly
came under pressure from two cars behind me. I was able to stretch my lead
through the faster sections of the track, but as soon as we got to anything
twisty the engine would bog down again and they would be right on my tail.
On lap 2, we passed one of the leaders who had stopped with mechanical
trouble and then on lap 3, the red flags came out to stop the race.

For the restart, I was in 4th, but the 3rd place car was missing (presumably
involved in the incident which brought out the red flags) so it was a
“virtual” 3rd. I didn’t get a great start, and I went into the first corner
side-by-side with another car. We both tried to outbrake each other and as a
result, both braked too late. He left it slightly later than I did and ended
up spinning in the gravel trap. I also went into the gravel, but managed to
keep the car pointing roughly in the right direction and get back onto the
track. Unfortunately, in the process of getting back onto the track, I
tangled with John Lord and we hit (my right-hand rear to his left-hand
front). This deranged my suspension and I had to pull off at the next corner
😦

The race turned out to be something of a demolition derby with several cars
hors de combat by the end. Only three of the top 7 qualifiers finished!

The collision had written off the right hand rear upright and a couple of
rod ends – not too bad considering how bad it could have been. My pit crew
put in their usual sterling effort, and the car was back together, with all
of the wheels pointing where they should be, in time for the second race the
following day.

My DNF in the first race meant that I would be close to the back of the
grid. I got a pretty good start, and picked up around 6 places before the
first corner. I made up a few more places throughout the rest of the race,
and eventually finished 11th. It should have been higher, but on the second
to last lap, I spun at the hairpin as a result of trying to keep the engine
revs up and avoid bogging down. This allowed two cars past, and gave me an
unpleasant moment when my visor immediately steamed up making it very
difficult to see whether it was safe to restart!

All in all, not a very good weekend 😦 Full results are [here](http://www.mst-group.co.uk/meeting.asp?event=41664&source=cscc2004&eventtype=csccclub)

The next race is in 5 weeks time at Snetterton on May 22/23. Hopefully I
will have the new tuned engine in by then, and working properly!

Silverstone race report

The start of the day was pretty hectic. Jedi had forgotten to send exhaust
mounts to replace the ones which had failed during the test at Mallory. We
therefore organised for a race supplies company based at Silverstone to
leave an envelope with some in it for me at the gate. Amazingly, this
worked, so the first job was to fit these before scruitineering. This wasn’t
helped by the fact that the paddock organisation was the normal Peterborough
Motor Club shambles, resulting in us having to move the car and trailer
after having unpacked everything. Hey ho.

The weather forecast was for rain all day, and sure enough it started
raining just before the first practice session of the day. By the time we
were due out, the rain had stopped, but the track was still wet enough that
rain tyres were clearly the right choice. A number of people managed to
throw their cars at the scenery in the conditions, resulting in the session
being red flagged after a couple of laps and many yellow flags throughout
the rest of the session. It was very difficult to find a clear lap, but
other people obviously found it even harder than I did, and I ended up
qualifying 2nd (although more than a second slower than John Lord’s pole
time).

By the time the race was due to start, the track was completely dry, and
although the sky looked threatening and there were the odd spots of rain,
slicks were order of the day. The arrangement of the grid was slightly odd –
for some reason they decided to put pole position on the left hand side of
the track when the first corner, Copse, is a right-hander. I wasn’t
complaining, as this definitely worked to my advantage.

I was a little apprehensive about the start, as this would be the first time
I’d done a racing start with the new engine, and I wasn’t entirely sure of
the best technique to use. As it happened, I got a pretty good start – not
great, but good enough to mean that I was in the lead into Copse, although I
had both John Lord and Andrew Cowell (who had qualified in 4th and therefore
right behind me on the grid) very close in my mirrors. On the run down to
Maggots, Richard Cottrell appeared from nowhere and shot past the whole lot
of us. Pretty impressive given that he’d qualified in 7th!

I was still in 2nd at the end of the lap, but was having some problems
keeping John Lord behind me. The engine was bogging down in the middle of
corners – at first, I berated myself for being in the wrong gear, but it
quickly became clear that this wasn’t the problem. The engine was fantastic
above 10,000RPM, but there was nothing at all below that. Unfortunately, the
gearing just isn’t close enough to be able to keep the engine revving that
high 😦

I managed to hold 2nd for a short while, but it couldn’t last and both John
Lord and Peter Whitmore both got past me on lap 3. That was it until the
flag, and I finished in 4th.

We’re not sure what the problem with the engine is. The fact that it’s fine
at high revs is encouraging, as it probably means that whatever the problem
is isn’t too serious. The most likely culprit is carburetion. It will be a
little disappointing if this is the problem, given that the car was on a
rolling road, supposedly to get the carbs set up correctly, less than 2
weeks ago! I will be calling the rolling road to discuss first thing on
Monday 🙂

Next race (and the first Formula Jedi round) is a double-header at Croft on
the 17/18th. As ever, let me know if you don’t want to receive my ramblings
and I’ll remove you from the list…