Archive for the 'Racing' Category

Formula Jedi 2012 Calendar

07-08 Apr: Silverstone National
12-13 May: Anglesey
02-03 Jun: Cadwell Park
21-22 July: Snetterton (200 & 300)
18-19 Aug: Rockingham
01 Sep: Oulton Park (International)
20-21 Oct: Donington Park

Formula Jedi 2011 Draft Calendar

Subject to change!

2nd April: Oulton Park International
24th/25th April: Snetterton 300
4th/5th June: Cadwell Park
23rd/24th July: Donnington Park
27th/28th August: Rockingham
24th/25th September: Anglesey
22nd October: Silverstone (new International)

Oulton Park didn't go as smoothly as it might

Went testing at Oulton on Friday, intending to work on tyre temperatures (because I suspect that this might be part of why I’m consistently in the top 3 during the first 5 minutes of qualifying/the race, but gradually drop down the order after that). And ended up doing no running and having to cope with 3 inches of water in the paddock.

Then race day went like this:

  • Wet at the start of qualifying but with a rapidly developing dry line. Came in after 4 laps to change to slicks (well done crew for getting me out, F1-style, in time for one flying lap!).
  • Thought that I had everything ready for the first race, and then had to perform emergency surgery to the oil system after the car dumped all its oil over the undertray with just under 60 minutes to go). On the plus side, at least it happened in the paddock, not on track!
  • Torrential downpour on the green flag lap while we were all on slicks, leading to the clerk of the course taking the (probably very sensible) decision not to start us.
  • Much dithering over lunch about whether we should start the race on wets or slicks. I chose wets, which turned out to be the wrong decision, resulting in this.
  • Emergency front brake disc change before the second race, after noticing that one of the pads had just disappeared (3 pads with plenty of meat left, one down to the metal – still not sure why).
  • Great battle in with the front-runners for the first 4 laps, at which point my recurring oil temperature problem, which we thought we’d fixed by having the car re-mapped last week, resurfaced 😦 Then started dropping back – so we now think that maybe my problem isn’t tyre temp, but oil temp leading to reduced power.

So we’re going to bung a new oil rad on and see what happens.

Motor racing eh?

Encouraging failures

The dust is finally settling after the second Formula Jedi meeting at Croft, and I can take stock of the beginning of the season. On the face of things, it’s been a disaster – 4 races, of which I’ve only managed to start 3, no finishes, no points and a car that’s currently back at Jedi being repaired.

But actually, I’m really encouraged by how things have gone. I failed to finish the first couple of races due to the kind of teething problems you expect with a new car, and I was in the battle for 4th place before having to stop. I failed to finish the race at Croft because I clipped some tyres on the apex of one of the corners, but I was in 4th place at the time, right on the pace of the leader.

What I wanted this year was to have a car capable of running at the front of the pack, which I clearly do have. And, even after 3 years out of the driving seat, my driving doesn’t seem to have got quite as rusty as I feared. So, all I need to do now is actually finish some races πŸ™‚

Many thanks to the guys at Texperts who bought me a video camera as my leaving present. Here are the first fruits. I’ve ordered a rollbar mount so that I can mount the camera above my head for the next race πŸ™‚

Shakedown

Today, I took the Jedi to Rockingham for a shakedown.

The point of the day was to run the engine in and sort out teething problems, and from that point of view it was very successful. Nothing major went wrong or fell off, and the teething troubles fixed include:

  • Too little fuel pressure (meaning that the engine wouldn’t rev past 10k)
  • A cable incorrectly fitted (meaning that the top-injector wasn’t firing on one cylinder, and also stopping the engine from revving past 10k)
  • I’d set the alarm duration was set too long on the Stack display, meaning that it refused to tell me about anything at all other than “low oil pressure” for more than a minute after starting the engine
  • The wheel-speed sensor wasn’t sensing (fixed by moving it closer to the wheel)
  • Downloading data from the Stack system was taking longer than it took to record (fixed by swapping to an earlier revision of the cable)

The only outstanding problem we have is that the water temperature is fluctuating rather more than we would likeβ€”I could almost use it as a rev-counter, so much does it increase with revs and so quickly does it drop when I back off.

It’s gone back to Jedi so that they can take a look at the water system and put it on a rolling road to get the power commander set up.

The conditions (rain or drizzle all day, resulting in a very greasy circuit, not helped by the fact that I was using rock-hard 4-year-old wet tyres) and the fact that I could only use full revs in the final session, meant that I learned next to nothing about my driving. I did remind myself just how forgiving the car was – it was getting sideways on 20% throttle in every gear apart from 5th or 6th, and yet I could balance it without really having to think about itβ€”while everyone else was spinning all around. One particular F3 car managed to spin right in front of me on 4 separate occasions.

And f**k-me it’s fast. I could only use full throttle on the banking, but once the revs get above 10k it just takes off like a scalded cat. Can’t wait to get it somewhere where I can really lean on it…

Almost ready to hit the track

I was at Jedi for a seat fitting on Friday (sitting in a plastic bag full of expanding foam – a sensation very similar to having wet yourself :-)) and I’ve just got around to uploading the photos:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=154574&id=522871533&l=b23b84a19c

Very little’s changed from the car that I wrote off, so it shouldn’t take me too long to get used to it. But there is a *scary* amount of plumbing and wiring compared to the old R1 😐 The days of being able to get the engine out and back in again in between qualifying and the race are definitely behind me!

Formula Jedi 2010 draft calendar

Subject to change, but I’m assured that no changes are expected. All meetings are double-headers:

10/11 April – Silverstone National
8/9 May – Croft
29 May – Rockingham (single qualifier)
12/13 June – Brands Hatch
14 August – Oulton Park International (single qualifier)
11/12 September – Cadwell Park
23/24 October – Snetterton

Apparently there’s a chance that we might get an extra meeting at Mallory sometime in July as well.

Well, that's that then…

Last weekend was the first race meeting of the year at Silverstone. It didn’t go well…

The first piece of bad news was that sticking with my venerable 8-year-old engine for this season was a bad move. A lot of drivers have upgraded to the Suzuki GSXR, and it has a *lot* more power. On one occasion I exited the hairpin right underneath Frazer’s rear wing and by the end of the straight he was a good 5-6 car lengths ahead.

The second piece of bad news was that the car was handling terribly, and chewing up front-left tyres. After a lot of head-scratching, we came to the conclusion that the problem was most likely a result of the chassis not being straight after the accident at the end of the season at Snetterton.

All of that was made moot by what happened in the second race on Sunday – at the start of lap 2, Kat Impey spun on the exit of Copse (very fast – taken in a continuous 4-wheel drift in fifth gear at around 120mph). I was unable to avoid Kat and ended up hitting her very hard indeed. Two further cars then went into the back of us, and the debris hit a couple of other drivers.

The marshalls and paramedics had lots of fun getting me onto a back-board and neck brace and carted me off to the medical centre to be checked over. Luckily there wasn’t any serious damage – although I’m definitely feeling it now!

The car is a complete write-off (as is Kat’s). There are a few bits that I might be able to salvage, but basically it’s a “start from scratch” job.

So, that’s it for a while at least.

Drat.

2007 Calendar

Date Track
14-15 Apr 2007 Silverstone National
12-13 May 2007 Pembrey
09-10 Jun 2007 Cadwell Park
21-22 Jul 2007 Rockingham
04-05 Aug 2007 Snetterton
25-26 Aug 2007 Silverstone International/National TBC
09 Sep 2007 Brands Hatch
13-14 Oct 2007 Snetterton

As you can see, it’s all concentrated very much in the “middle” of the country – apologies to those of you in the North or the West Country. No Donington, Croft, Castle Coombe, Thruxton 😦

In some respects, we’re the victims of our own success – we have enough entries that we can only go to circuits which can cope with large grids. As it is, we’re likely to need heats and a final at Cadwell as we won’t all fit on the track at once.

What happened at the end of 2006

In lieu of the reports I should have written at the time, here’s a quick description of the highlights of the last half of 2006, (with some of the most dramatic pictures you’re ever likely to see! πŸ™‚

My aim for the year was always to get myself to the point that I was part of the “fast group” who were competing for wins. This I pretty much achieved (although on occasion I was hanging on by my fingernails!). In most events, I was there or thereabouts, in particular in the changeable conditions at Brands Hatch and Thruxton. A few silly mistakes on my part, plus some bad luck, meant that I wasn’t always able to convert that pace into results, but it was very encouraging all the same!

The most dramatic event was, without question, the last of the season at Snetterton. I was in the middle of a battle for 3rd with Nigel Reuben (who won the championship by a mile) which I was enjoying hugely. At one point, we went through the Russell chicane side-by-side and crossed the line with less than a hundredth of a second separating us πŸ™‚ The lap after that, however, we came across a group of backmarkers fighting among themselves as we approached a very fast right-hand bend. Nigel went to the left and I went to the right. In the process Russ Melrose and I found ourselves both trying to use the same piece of tarmac at well over 100mph. We touched wheels and this was the result!

You will be pleased to know that Russ walked away – the only serious injury he sustained was some scalding from engine coolant which sprayed on his shoulder from a fractured pipe. The car, unfortunately, did not fare so well, with nothing salvageable whatsoever 😦

I have to say that Russ has been unbelievably understanding about the whole incident. I wouldn’t have been surpried if he never spoke to me again, but he has in fact been extremely gracious. He’s certainly going to have a story to tell down the pub which will trump just about anything!

The other recent highlight was the Autosport Show in early January – in which we put on a show 4 times a day in the “Live Action Arena”. Lots of fun (if hard work!) and an excellent advert for the series!

The series looks to be going from strength to strength, with the factory unable to build new chassis fast enough. A lot of people are upgrading their engines though, so I’m going to have my work cut out to stay in touch with my trusty, but now somewhat outdated 1999 engine on carburettors!