Archive for the 'Racing' Category



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! 🙂

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 🙂 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!

At last!

I’ve dragged myself into the 21st century and created one of them new-fangled “blog” thingies!

Apologies to all who have been following my increasingly erratic race reports – I will try to do better in the future now that they have a spiffy new home

Jedis on TV!

All,

To “regular” readers of my race reports – sorry for the long silence 😦 All
I can say in my defence is that 82ASK have been keeping me busy!

This is just a quick mail to let you know that the Jedis will be on TV
tonight! Race and Rally UK on Motors TV at 9pm, and then repeated at various
times throughout the week 🙂

It’s the Cadwell Park meeting from a few weeks ago. I’ve not seen it myself
yet, but I hear that there is some very dramatic footage of me which
explains how both rear uprights got bent.

[link](http://motorstv.autodeclics.com/site/home.php?sec=program&Idarbo=22&Idarbo1=23&lg=2#)

Race reports – first few events of 2006

The first race (at Silverstone) was something of a damp squib. I booked a
place in the Friday practice session mainly to shakedown the car after its
winter rebuild (many thanks to my father for all his help with that!).
Unfortunately the engine developed an oil leak from the output shaft seal
and that was the end of that 😦

The next race was a double-header at Pembrey. Everything that could go
wrong, did go wrong. The minor issues included the door falling off the
motorhome, the fridge not working, the awning falling off the trailer, the
solenoid failing so we couldn’t start the engine and the oil-pressure
warning light burning out.

There were two big problems though. The first one was the worst – the towbar
fell off the motorhome. Luckily, it went at 10mph while I was turning into
the circuit. I’ve been having nightmares about what would have happened if
it had failed on the M4 at 60mph – it doesn’t bear thinking about. Anyone
want to buy a second-hand motorhome (absolutely fine as long as you don’t
want to tow anything with it)?

The second problem was another oil leak during qualifying – which this time
turned out to be a result of the camchain tensioner falling off. By rights,
we should have been going home with a wrecked engine, but somehow the
camchain managed to stay where it should and apart from a huge cleanup job,
all we needed to do was find a replacement tensioner. We did, but it was at
a breakers 60 miles away. When they heard that we needed it to go racing,
however, they dispatched a rider with it, who met my father halfway at a
service station on the M4 🙂

By contrast, the racing went incredibly well, especially given the fact that
I shouldn’t really have been able to race at all! I qualified 7th, and in
the race found myself in a 5-way battle for 2nd place. All of us were
lapping within a couple of tenths of each other, and the battle went all the
way to the last lap with places changing several times. I ended up finishing
4th, which I was delighted with.

The second race was largely a repeat of the first, with five of us again
fighting for second for most of the race. I finished 4th again, so clearly I
need to work on my racecraft, but the fact that I’ve got the pace to be in
the middle of the battle is fantastic and bodes well for the rest of the
season!

Full results [here](http://www.msttiming.com/meeting.asp?event=61932&source=brscc2006&eventtype=brsccclub)

Last weekend, we were at Donington (thanks again to my father who towed the
car there, given that the motorhome isn’t capable of towing anything any
more!). I have mixed memories of Donington – I’ve only ever raced there once
before, when it was soaking wet. I was in the lead and pulling away, when a
halfshaft failed depriving me of what would probably have been my maiden
win.

Qualifying was dry, but by the time the race started it was thoroughly wet.
I was fifth on the grid, but got a good start and was second going into the
first corner behind Nigel. Nigel was clearly having problems (I found out
afterwards that he had got the gearing wrong) and I passed him at the end of
the first lap and started pulling away.

For a while, I managed to extend my lead, but after a couple of laps, Frazer
also got past Nigel and started closing on me. He was on my tail after a few
more laps, and passed me into the chicane. This allowed me to watch his
lines (one of the problems with leading in the wet is that you have to work
out how much grip there is for yourself without any references). I followed
him for a couple of laps, and was starting to think that I might have an
idea about how to do something about him, when the halfshaft (yes, the same
one that failed the last time was at Donington) failed. You couldn’t make
this stuff up!

Overall, a very encouraging weekend. I led the race on merit and was
fighting for the lead when the car failed. It does make me wonder if
Donington has something against me though!

[Results](http://www.msttiming.com/meeting.asp?event=62131&source=brscc2006&eventtype=brsccclub)

The next event is at Snetterton on June 24th. It’s going to be a busy day,
as its going to be a one-day double-header. As always, anyone who fancies
coming along to spectate, pitcrew or laugh as I disappear off the circuit
backwards is very welcome!

Delayed race reports

Pembrey was characterized by lack of turn-in – there’s a very long
left-hander (Dibeni Bend), and no matter what I did I simply couldn’t get
the car to turn in to the corner. I even tried fitting rear wheels on the
front (yes, really!). I ended up left-foot braking on the way in to try to
settle the front-end, and then “pitching” the car into oversteer. Not the
ideal way to take any corner, but the best that I could do with the car
handling the way that it was. I’m told that it all looked pretty dramatic
and entertained the spectators (who were betting on when I would get it
wrong and end up in the tyre wall 🙂 On the plus side the car was much more
predictable than it had been last year – meaning that I didn’t end up in the
tyre wall 😉

I didn’t finish the first race because the throttle stuck open (a stone got
underneath the pedal) – luckily at a point where there was lots of runoff,
so no damage done.

[Results](http://www.msttiming.com/meeting.asp?event=51931&source=brscc2005)

Over the winter, we had increased the front springs to 700lbs (from 600lbs).
The fact that the car was much more predictable at Pembrey confirmed our
theory that last year’s problems were caused by the springs being too soft
(and therefore hitting the bump rubbers). But the lack of turn-in suggested
that we had gone too far – so I changed to 650lbs for the next event. We
also discovered that one of the ribs in the front wing had gone, meaning
that it was twisting under load and couldn’t have been helping with
front-end grip either!

The next event was Cadwell Park, which was a one day double-header. Two
races and two qualifying events in a day, in 30+ degree heat! And you all
know how well I handle heat 😦

From the point of view of working out how the car was handling, the day was
inconclusive. It was more about tyre wear – the heat was so intense that the
car was (literally!) sticking to the ground. In fact, when I came to unload
the car from the trailer after the event, the tyres tore the floor of the
trailer up!

[Results](http://www.smart-timing.co.uk/Results%202005_files/Cadwell%20Park/19th%20June.pdf)

Silverstone was a more representative test, and turned out to be very
encouraging. The car handled perfectly, and I managed at least one lap
within half a second of the previous lap record (although 2 seconds off the
new lap record set by David Hodgson!). With the exception of David Hodgson,
however, I was running competitively and had a number of great battles
throughout both races.

We did have all sorts of problems with the brakes though – the new 6-pot
callipers are clearly too powerful for the discs, and we had to change the
discs during the weekend because they were starting to crack. Not good for
confidence! So Jedi are going to see if they can fit a pair of floating
discs for me before Oulton Park in 2 weeks time. It’s also becoming
increasingly clear that I’m going to have to invest in a set of the larger
sized wheels – the smaller size I’m currently using simply don’t have the
grip or the longevity (I destroyed a full set at Cadwell, and then another
set at Silverstone!). Oh – and I was hit from behind during the last race,
damaging one of the rear uprights. So all in all, it turned out to be a
rather expensive weekend 😦

[Results](http://www.msttiming.com/meeting.asp?event=52831&source=brscc2005)

The second race was red flagged due to a very nasty accident in which Stuart
Abbott went head-on into the tyre wall, flat out. We were all very worried
for a period, but amazingly he got out of the car under his own steam. He
has subsequently been found to have a cracked sternum, but all things
considered it was a real testament to the strength of the chassis that got
away with just that.