Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Blog has Moved

Those of you that follow my blog will know that I tend to be very "bursty" in terms of the frequency of updates.
One of the reasons for this is that I'm short of time so anything that acts as a disincentive means that the updates don't get done.

Well the Blogger interface has certainly been acting as a disincentive. It is particularly poor at uploading photos and videos in a timely fashion in the evening (which is when I do most of my entries)

So I'm giving Wordpress a go. The new blog is at http://www.rgbracer.com
Plus the Apple template is a bit cleaner and nicer, with a better blog search facility.

Sorry for being a pain, but hopefully you may get more frequent updates as a result.



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Winter Plans

It seems class B is going to get busy next year.  Tim, Judy, Rob Grant, Dan Bromilow and  several others are all swapping to class B.   This means that life is going to get much more competitive and I don't really expect to finish as close to the front as I have done this year.

This year has been fantastic... we'll see how next year goes  but Idon't expect to win any pots.. Tim is usually at least half a second ahead of me with a class C engine, that could well be extended with the extra power of a class B

As for winter plans,  
  • I'm going to try and take some more weight out of the car and me.
  • Fit some analog instruments, so that I can release some channels from the logger
  • Sort out the bodywork,I'm really fed up with my car being the most skanky on teh grid, so she is going to get a new front end and a full respray.   
  • All the suspension bushes need changing
  • The engine will come out and go to Andy at AB Performance for a refresh
  • New regs mean that I have to modify the exhaust to fit a catalytic converter.
  • After that we'll see how much time I have for other modifications


My Genesis seems to be fitted with a Mulching attachement as these shots from my off at the Birkett Show

Birkett Race Report (Very Long)

The Birkett is a 6 hour endurance relay race run on handicap lines at Silverstone by the 750 Motor Club.  entry is open to teams of between four and six cars and is open to any closed wheel race cars.  As a result we get really esoteric machinery to race against from Radicals and Mallocks, to Se7ens, D/C type Jags, 2CVS and MR2s.. It is such a hoot, and really servers as the end of season party.  This years race was the 59th year that this unique spectacle has been run

I went testing on friday and it was bloomin lethal first thing Friday morning, my lap times were 2:20 ish and they began to start dropping to 1:41s by lunchtime. The track was damp  &  unpredictably slippery first thing in the morning but rubbered in and came back to us by lunchtime.  I had two going backwards on the grass moments, one at Farm/Abbey and one spin to the inside at Brooklands,  both due to being hamfooted on the throttle in very challenging conditions.

The Silverstone International circuit is a hoot,  it takes a while to dial it in... but changes Silverstone from dull and boring to exciting and fun.  The morning was open pit lane and I probably did 30 or 40 laps, including one quite nice session when Duncan called me in because I was having a ball... he was afraid I would run out of fuel.   The morning was otherwise punctuated by a series of Caterhams and MR2s parking them selves in gravel traps and causing red flags. Oh and numpty Morgan driver who cut across me dangerously at 4 consecutive apexes until he saw me and waved me past. I was literally shouting "Use your f*****g mirrors man!"  After lunch I went out again and managed a 1:39:xx which I was quite pleased with.  But I had a horrible jarring  judder in the drive train.

So we came in and checked out the chain and diff.   Unfortunately the chain had lost four of the bearing rollers from a short section, and this was plainly stiffening up and it was its poor engagement on the man drive sprocket that I could feel. It was obviously about to fail and flail the entire engine to death, even after we had split the chain (which took about 40 minutes)  this particular section was still very hot to the touch, whereas the rest of it had returned to ambient temps, so it was plainly on the way out

So Dunc and I set about changing the chain (Fortunately Tim Pell had a spare), and we also fitted my replacement rear sprocket too, as the existing one (which had done about a season) and was very worn indeed.  We also replaced one of the inlet trumpets in the throttle body.... it had rattled free and had been floating around the inside of the airbox. This took us until just about 4:30 and I managed to get out in the last of the afternoon sessions.

The drive train felt smooth and silky by comparison to the previous chain, and so I went for it a bit. The new rear sprocket was a 56 point rather than a 54, so the diff was slightly shorter, than normal. Now a 3.5 rather than a 3.375.  I was concerned that I would top out, but it proved to be just perfect... Right on the redline just as I hit the (now shorter and later) braking zone for Copse.

My lap now consisted of lift and brief confidence dab on the brakes, hard on the power at Copse well before the apex, let drift out to the exit. Hold  the power flat untll apex of Maggots. dab the brakes and knock it down two to fourth. Apex Beckets and hard on the power until the brake point for the  hairpin, hard on the brakes ,down two and chuck it in. Flat up through the gears round the double lefts that take you down to Abbey/Farm, arrive Farm at 11500rpm in top  Brake hard in a straight line just on the apex of the left kink before it. Knock it down four... apex late and hard up and over the hill to bridge, confidence dab on the brakes, down 1 through Bridge, run it up to Prioriy, brake, down 1 to fourth, Hard, on the gas again  past the apex to Brooklands, Brake hard, down the last two to 2nd and into Luffied... up to 5th by the the Woodcote kink.... and occasionally getting 6th here. And on to Copse

I was really getting into a rhtyhm, but was conscious of cowardice\prudence in both Maggots/Beckets and Bridge/Priory...so more time to come but I was pretty pleased with mostly 1:39s and 1:38.9 according to Duncan's stopwatch.

So Bring on Race day!

I had been given a handicap time of 99 seconds so 1:39 was my target time, Neil was 98s I think, Paul and David on 97s. Derek was handicapped at RGB lap record pace...his target was 1:28 which is plainly unachievable in mixed traffic when sometimes you cant even see the Apex.  We'd also been allocated 8th on the Grid.

By contrast to yesterday, practice was grippy, so rather than just trying to get used to the conditions I tried to go a bit faster again. Mainly I started to change my approach to Maggots/Beckets.  Now doing a lighter dab on the brakes and carry more speed. My best time in Practice was  139.12.... so touching distance of my handicap time.  And practice was marked by one particular full opposite lock lurid power slide round Priory. :-)

The agreed running order was David, Neil, Paul, Derek, Me....... Which meant I had a big rest before I went out, and also that I did the Anchor leg... bringing the team home to the checkered flag. I took that as a great compliment.... but no pressure then!
With Tim  missing we needed to do 36 minute stints but everybody else was pretty limited to 30 Mins  fuel tank capacity,  So with my large tank I could pick up the slack and go out for a forty five minute session to minimize the changes.

I'm was actually pretty worried about this as usually after 15 minutes or so my Carpel Tunnel kicks in and my hands hurt and fingers go slightly numb... go knows how I'm going to do 45 minutes.

So 11 O'clcok comes round and off we go,  David gets a good clean start and is running well in his session.  He's banging in a strong selection of 1:37s,1:138s and 1:39s  with one particularly fast one at 1:35.69... were running about 13th on the road.  David comes in and Out goes Neil.  Unfortunately Neil didn't get to test yesterday, so is unfamiliar with the circuit and is a bit off his handicap pace doing 1:41s and above, so we take a bit of a tumble down the time screen and drop out of the top 20.

At the end of Neil's  session Paul goes out and bangs in a 30 minute session composed of   1:36s - 1:38s with the odd 1:40 for traffic and a 2:35 in the first of a series of brief safety car periods.

Then it's Derek's turn. ... He's never seen the track before, and is badly hampered by a three safety car periods,  but, does a manage a 1:31:85 in one of the few free running periods, but is mostly in the 1:33-1:36 range. Out of a 20 lap stint he manages only 9 laps under green flags  However we make up some places on the road.

So I'm sitting in "Ready 5" waiting to go... In comes Derek, and off I go for my Marathon Stint.   I'm not going to take it easy, but I have warned the guys about my hands and will signal if I need to come in.  I am however making a conscious effort not to grip the wheel to tightly and relax my hands.

There then follows some of the most exciting and rewarding laps of my racing career.
All told I do 30 odd laps, relaxing my hands works beautifully and I have no problem doing 45 mins.,  Initially I'm in 1:43s with a heavy fuel load and lots of traffic, So I'm getting the "Push" Signal from Jonathan on the Pit wall. I drop into the 1:39s, then the 1:38s,  I'm getting braver everywhere, but mostly in Bridge and Priory,  my confidence brake and change down has now become a shorter and shorter lift and hard on the power through Bridge.   I follow a Caterham through Priory who shows me how it should be done and I gain another 1/2 second.  My sector times for Bridge drop from 8.9ish to 8.2 and for Priory they drop  from 14.5 to 13.8.  Sector times through Copse are dropping too as I experiment with no change down, and shorter and shorted dabs on the brakes. My sector times drop from 16 seconds to 14.7

I've also modified Beckett and Maggots and am carrying waay more speed past the first apex.

I have a few spots of rain and Luffied starts to get slimy towards the end of the session.  But I'm having a ball...It seems like I'm the fastest thing on the circuit bar a few bewinged beasties.. and its great.  :-)

Now I'm really in the groove and banging in lap after lap in the 1:37s and 1:38s.   Jonathan gives me the 5 laps to go on the pitboard , and starts the countdown to my in lap... but then I keep getting shown the 2 lap board... plainly they're happy with my times and are keeping me out!  Wow.  I spur on to one final flyer and get a 1:36:43.  Fantastic. Nearly 2.5 seconds below my target pace!

Highlights of this session are a couple of trips across the rumble strip at Copse, avoiding a spinning Caterham on the exit, Going three abreast into copse with a couple of Mr2s and holding the line to take the place, and chasing down and harrying my way past a Gold Arts R400  Fab :-).  And simply bucket loads of overtaking everywhere, slipstreaming past tin tops, out braking Caterhams, out accelerating pretty much everything from the Apexes.... top top fun :-).   The car is absolutely singing, stable under braking, forgiving in the slide....screaming  with delight when hard on the power.


I finally come in for a lie down in a darkened room, and out goes David... and then we get a few minutes of rain.  Oh dear A048rs and rain.... this could be bad.  Were back running in the top 20, and David, unbelievably is taking four seconds a lap out of the guys in front, by the time he finishes his stint we've jumped about four places to about 13th on the grid, Guy does some calculations and we're now leading Class D on the road and on handicap (based on the assumption that nobody else is 10 laps ahead of thier handicap)

Things take on a more serious air  as we start to believe we might win something.

David comes in after his Stirling effort and out goes Paul, again,  we're out of order as Paul has wet settings, and Neil is on drys, Were still holding station around 12/13th on the road.  Derek then goes out and bangs  19 laps of 1:31s to 1:34s  and be gain another couple of places. His best time of the day is 1:31.84

Out goes Neil again but he still struggling,  and does 12 laps in the 1:43-1:45 range.  Plainly he's still  out of sorts and he makes the admirable decision to come in early, by signaling to Jonathan on the wall.  So I get to go and bring the team home to the flag.  Now that's pressure!

Right I'm going to get on it, after an out lap I'm immediately into the1:38s and 39s....I even bang in a 1:35.9 (WOW) I drop in a few in the 1:36s..... Now I''m hard on it ever where, Bridge is a slight lift, hard throttle, hang on.. Priory is now hard brake. hit the apex 100% throttle squirt, and I'm even now trail braking all the way round the Beckets apex..fantastic stuff.   I'm reeling in Doug Carter in the Ginger Biscuit RGB team who is also in a Genesis  but with 185 bhp Class A engine. I'm  gaining 10 meters or so  lap after lap, but intervening traffic is getting in the way.

One of these is an MR2, who I'm right up behind on the exit to Luffied, he grabs the  apex at Woodcote, so I go outside him to take him on the run up to Copse,  I'm halfway along side as we approach the Gantry and he squeezes me off the circuit on to the grass at 101Mph along the main straight.    I guess he hasn't seen me. But there's a fair bit of concrete around here!

The car is bumping along the grass, and each time it bounces I can feel the front end dig in.... Any moment it's going to rip the radiators out :-(... sorry guys.  but no, I keep her straight and get back on the circuit and away we go again :-)

Unfortunately Doug is out of sight  but I still manage a 1:43 for that lap, and bang in a few more 1:38s and 1:37s.    These are marked by rising water temperatures (103), and a distinct smell of mown grass in the cockpit... not to mention bits of mud falling out of the radiator under heavy braking at the Farm hairpin, which then proceed to hit my visor when swept up into my face by the airstream.  Then I come around and it's the checkered flag and we've made it.   We finished 9th on the road :-)

I come into back slaps and handshakes for such a storming stint, from the team and Dan tells me I got into the 1:35s whooo hooo!

What a fantastic Season 08 has been. :-)

All told I did about 45 laps and my Lead Foot Percetage went from 29.7% in practice to 42.6% on my 1:35.9 lap.  My best theoretical lap is 1:34.7 which was just .2 off Josh's best, time and that would put on the front row of Class B next year.

The Birkett as ever, was fabulous!   And I'm smiling my big wide Birkett smile.

As for the car .... I'm not changing a thing this winter

Another highlight of the day was seeing Anthea (Tim's wife) so well after her recent op... good job she was there too, as the lap timing loop doesn't run out into the grass where I had my off, and they hadn't counted my lap.  Anthea spotted this and Guy went off to challenge the time keepers, they checked the backup system.  She was right and we got the lap re awarded... Good show!

What a great team to race in,  all the cars came home in 1 piece, Many Many thanks to Guy, DH2, Jonathan, Shona, Charlie and of course Duncan.... Plus Helen, Della, David's wife (whose name escapes me sorry)  and Anthea of course.

Just a fantastic time!

Mallory Race Report

Mallory was the last round of the RGB season,  I went into the round just 3 points behind Neil Constable Berry for third place in the championship.  However short of winning the class, and beating everybody in the field I was unlikely to catch him.  So Mallory was simply a bit of end of season fun really.

Qualifying was the most uneventful part of the day, I did however spin on the first lap as I hit the brakes for the first right hander of the Essess, the right rear locked up and I weet careering across the grass.  Now this is the third of fourth meeting in a row where this has happened so it is not just me being useless on the brakes.  I think I'll check the corner weights as something is plainly and repeatably wrong.  

Anyway I adjusted the balance and got going again.  During the session I hooked onto the back of Derek, Josh, Steve R and Doug... all of whom are front runners,  In each case I managed to stick with them a bit and get dragged along.

This really helped my times and  I  Qualified  14th on the grid which is my highest ever starting position   However I was still 4th in Class B  .. 52.25   Overall I'm pretty pleased with that result, but I am one place behind Tony G on grid (we line up side by side).  I am however  2 seconds  and three or four rows ahead of Neil. Next row ahead is David Whale and Richard Wise... which is pretty exhaulted company.

Unfortunately Colin Chapman, had a sprocket adapter  adapter failure in qualifying which meant hat his propshaft went walk about the engine bay it sliced the fuel line just likeTims did last year .. but luckily Colin didn't have the major fire that Tim did. However, his  water pump + reverse is battered to death by the flailing prop, and Colin's day was over :-(  but at least the car isn't toast.

In the Race I  lost a place or so on Grid due to lots of wheel spin.... and tried hard to keep with Tony as we went round for the first couple of laps. Eventually I settled into a three way battle with David Whale and Phil Allcock.  On Lap 1 Josh loses it at the exit of Gerrards and dumps it in the barriers, so I'm now 3rd in class B, Josh damages his front end but he's ok.

About 10 minutes in after having swapped places with Phil and David quite a bit, I got baulked and Phil gets by. ... Tony G is about 10 seconds up the road now. 

I run deep at the Hairpin and let Phil and David through... Arrgh.  By now we've picked up Henry Carr  after he spins. Next Lap round  I get a much better drive out of Devils Elbow and up the start finish straight and we go three abreast into Gerrards. However I've got the inside line and nail both apexes.  Phil Tries to hold the power on level with me all the way round on the outside, but loses grip, puts two wheels on the grass, fishtails a bit and then spins along the outside armco wiping both ends off the car.  Later He freely admits it was his fault as he didn't want to yield the position to me despite my better grip out of the corner. Of course with Phil's car wrecked close to the exist of Gerrards we get red flagged.

We expect to come in, but  no after a fair bit of hanging around we get re-gridded for a 3 or 4  lap sprint.
On the gridI lose a couple of places that I've just taken to David and Henry on the count back to the red flag, but I'm gridded up behind the gap where Phil should be and then the next car is Tony Gaunt who is now 2nd in B and I'm 3rd.  So I've got some clear track to run into.

As the lights go out I get a storming start, a real monster.... by far the best all season, I zoom past Tony with a speed differential of at least 30mph.and go up the inside into Gerrards.  I'm ahead of such high flyers as John Cutmore, and Henry Carr and have dropped both David and Tony.  Heading onto the back straight I'm just four places behind Paul Rogers  who is 3rd and I'm right behind Doug Carter.  Next time round I carry waaaay more speed than him past the 2nd apex of Gerrards... and actually overtake him at the start of the back straight to take 6th on the track and that despite his big power advantage. Unbelievably my extra apex speed meant I just sailed  by him.   Fantastic for the first time I'm not the last Genesis on the circuit!

There' a bit more carnage behind me.  John Cutmore gets stuck nose into the barriers halfway round Gerrards.  Henry and Tony take to the grass, Rob Grant blows a cylinder and sets fire to the car on the inside of the back straight opposite Phil's wreckage.... but his on board extinguisher puts it out.   Mike Allen retires... new boy James Lindley is out again with an electrical problem.  Tony Carpenter half spins at Gerrards and gets gently T boned by Mike Allen at the restart plus a few other random mishaps.

Meanwhile I hold off Doug for two more laps... and at the last hairpin he gets better drive.  But I didn't see him 3/4 along side me and unintentionally squeeze him at Devils Elbow.... this effectively holds him off and I take 6th and second in class B.
Neil is 3rd in B  someway back.  That is my highest ever finish on the track.

So another Pot.  Whoo Hoo.

I raced and beat both Doug and David whom I've never even been close to before. And swapped places with Phil for quite some time, and all this on a track where I thought overtaking was next to impossible.

I finally learned how to get it off the line. :-)

I survived a race where there where 9 DNFs,

I think I earned 6th on merit from the restart but was probably 10th or 12th in the original race so am slightly flattered by that road position but I wasn't lapped in either race.

Getting second I think gives me 9th in the overall championship, although 4th by just two points from Neil in class B.  So no Class Championship pot, still to wear  a single digit "9" next season.... I'll take that thank you very much :-) and four of the top 9 are from class B (I think)

And did I mention it was gloriously sunny too.  Best lap was 52.05... Paul Rogers first in class B did 50.7  so only 1.3 seconds off him and less than .9 from last years class B lap record (51.14).  And remember my car weighs a full 80kg more than Paul's does.

Plus all of our cars for the Birkett are in 1 piece too. Me , Neil, David, Paul, and Derek all emerged unscathed.  The other Birkett teams may be doing some forced amalgamations.

Fantastic day. :-) and a fantastic way to end a fantastic season

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Post Crunch Repairs.

Well after the crunch at Silverstone it was time to effect the necessary repairs.
As you can see the front of the car was most distinctly second hand.  With a very bent radiator and cowl and a broken and torn front  bodywork section.

Now the trick when repairing glass fibre is to have all the bits, then you tape them together at the front, and add new chopped strand mat on the back, with extra resin to reinforce the structure.  Well when I say "you" I mean
 Duncan.  He's much better at bodywork than me and so did some stirling work on repairing the crunched front end.

He converted this mess  into something resembling the cars 
previous front end using just a paintbrush, CSM, resin and some rivets!  Top work.     However unsurprisingly it is now much heavier, and It will simply have to go to Oulton Park covered in red tape As I don't have time to do the long time consuming fill/prime and paint process to get the "face side" looking good.

God I hate having a car that is scruffy, so I've ordered a new front from Tim Pell, which I'll fit and paint before next season.

Meanwhile I set about "repearing" the front radiator cowl with a hammer.  The radiator was plainly toast!  Goodness knows how it stayed watertight as the radiator cooling cores were kinked in numerous places, but i did and I avoided a DNF.  However it clearly needs replacing, and I duly ordered a new one.  Now it turns out to be from a Montego Estate Turbo so not much call for these parts nowadays.  I might as well have asked the guy at the motor factors for a wheel nut for the Flying Scotsman.   Anyway he said he'd try to get me one.

As it turned out he couldn't get me one until the day before I left to Oulton and even then it didn't match the original so a short 20 minute job turned into a 3 hour marathon as refitting it meant reshaping the cowl and a bunch of other niggly work.

The other results of the smash, were bent front body work mounts, many other tears in the front body, a broken front floor, broken headlight lenses and a rather banana shaped rod end bearing on the front upper right wishbone... again this got replaced.  So after the beast was routinely checked over for other issues we were ready for Oulton Park

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crunch at Silverstone -Race Report

After a week away on holiday getting rained on in Shropshire, I returned home to get ready for the 750 Motor Club meeting at Silverstone on he 23rd.   As I was already on holiday from work and we were home in good time on the Friday I thought I'd have plenty of time to get ready.  Oh no... a long and diverting game of "B*gg*er I've lost the Keys to the Winnebago" soon meant that as usual Duncan and I left about an hour later than I intended.  Still we arrived in good time and set about saying Hello to the rest of the RGB paddock.  
It was nice to see Bob back after his diff woes at Cadwell, and generally a nice evening was had by all.   In the week before I went on holiday I had made a couple of changes to the car.  Firstly I had new brake pads on all four corners, and also lowered the bit of aluminium plank on the back of the car that acts a spoiler to give me decent rear downforce and stick the back end down a bit.  I was hoping to reduce the drag penalty and gain top speed, without forfeiting the aero effect.

For the record I was running a 16:54 sprocket combination which worked pretty well. as I was close to the limiter in 6th when approaching the end of the straights.

Practice was pretty eventful,   after having just scraped past the noise meter test and only been allowed out on pain of death and repacking my silencer for the race I promptly left my race gloves on the back of another competitors car and had a long dash back to the Bus to get the spares when I couldn't find them in the car.  I arrived back in the assembly area, sweaty and panting with about 90 seconds left before we went out on circuit only to be handed my original pair of gloves as I got in the car.  I'm a great believer in routines to calm nerves and get "in the Zone" running a 800m sprint in 3 layer nomex did not help!

After 90 seconds of trying to slow my heart rate, we were off.  It's two years since I was last here and I expected to be rusty. I also expected some odd brake effects as the new pads scrubbed down and bedded in.  What I got was a long brake pedal,  which gave me virtually no braking effort at all, unless I gave it a couple of preliminary pumps to compress the fluid.  Not much fun going around copse at 80+ mph hitting the middle pedal several times before I got any retardation.  Still it proved to me I could get around the corner faster than I had previously  believed possible.... even if it wasn't doing my adrenaline levels any good.  This is the way we learn.

This went on for a few laps and was also augmented by random corners of the car locking up at the fluid in each caliper boiled or cooled unevenly.  It really was quite an "entertaining" few laps.  I had to start braking even earlier to get the extra pumps in, and did consider coming in in case I was losing fluid.  But while I could pump it up I elected to stay out.  What I had done was boil the fluid in the calipers, because the new pads were scrubbing and generating too much continuous heat.  The fluid boils releasing gas and gas is compressible ... therefor you get a soft and long pedal.  Eventually with only about 5 mins left in the session the pads scrubbed down far enough to stop boiling the fluid and  the brakes came back to me.   Now with some confidence in the stopping power I started to get on it a bit more, but I only had time for three flying laps and I managed to post a 1:07:50.

This put me 22nd on a grid of 26 and last of the Class B cars.  Arse! Class B pole was 1:04.29 a full three seconds separated us :-(.  Still that was Paul Rogers who was fourth overall on the grid, this gives you some example of how competitive RGB is... 18 grid places separated by just 3 seconds, that's about the same as the F1 Grid. Being just .5 of a second quicker would have moved me 6 grid slots forward. and a whole second would have moved me about 10.  Those scrubbing pads had really hurt me.  Still my Class B rivals Stephen and Neil where only two rows ahead so if I got a good start I could probably catch them.

The race arrived and we had rechecked all the brakes and repacked the can so we were good to go.  however I got a woeful start again! I either seem to be getting massive clutch slip and huge wheel spin (too much revs) or the engine bogs down ( to few revs) and it's really beginning the ANNOY ME!   I must get some start line practice but on a non road legal car its not an easy thing to practice except at a circuit and we get bollocked for doing it in the paddock (rightly so)

Anyway I lost a couple of places to Tony Carpenter and Bob, but closed the gaps on the run up to Copse.  Bob was being a bit circumspect on the run up to Maggots/Beckets complex and I snuck past on the inside.   Next Stuart Tanton seemed to lock a brake and exited stage right as he went straight on at the Maggots kink, and existed my vision.   Even so I wouldn't have been watching him as I had passed him and had to concentrate on Stephen Dean who was spinning at the Beckets Apex and I had to dive right to the inside to avoid him.  Now Stuart made a surprise reappearance from the right about 15feet in front of me.  He actually emerged on to the track from the inside and was  heading towards the out outside of the bend so again I headed inside him.  Alas he promptly span, did a 180 to face the inside of the corner and stopped dead.  I had no where to go but into him at I guess 40Mph.  I managed to avoid the seat area and T boned him just about on the bonnet line of his fury.

The impact shoved us both onto the grass and I stalled.  I quickly restarted and drove on, by now suffering the ignominy of following the safety car around after the pack. 

Up front there is only body work the water radiator and the front floor.   I quickly decided that the steering and suspension was ok, I couldn't hear the floor rubbing and my feet weren't getting wet and the rad wasn't steaming so lets get back in the game.  There was however a new big gap visible up front which My camera can see the road through so no doubt it wasn't going to be pretty.   I was followed by both Stephen and Stuart some further 5 and 15 seconds further back so at least I wasn't last.

Over the next few laps I caught and passed Judy, Tony, Mike Allen,Bob  and Tony Gaunt helped me along by spinning at Copse.  Stephen and Stuart both retired behind me and some other attrition in the pack meant that I actually finished 17th and 4th in class B only one place behind Neil Constable Berry. Best lap time was 1:07:5 again and unsurprisingly I was lapped close to the end by Derek.  My Best Theoretical lap on the logger is only 1:06.79  so I'm actually pretty consistent, consistently 2 seconds off the pace that is :-(.  I think Neil CB has now pretty much sown up the 3rd spot in the Championship with that extra vital point... but he and I have been trading places and points all season which is great fun so let the battle continue at Oulton Park in two weeks.

So I learned scrubbing pads are bad, how to race with a long brake pedal, how not to avoid a crash and stay in the game if you can, oh and the Low drag configuration seemed to work well too.... some positives at least to take away.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Silverstone - This can't ever end well

This is never going to end well is it?

More details tomorrow.

Surprisingly after this impact I finished 4th in class and 17th on the road.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Championship is Getting Interesting,

I've never been in a position before where the top of the results table is of any relevance to me. But this year I'm taking a keen interest in the RGB championship.
The full current championship table is here :---> RGB POINTS.

But I've uploaded a snippet, and as you can I'm riding high at 10th on the table.

Now lets not kid ourselves here! Being 10th in the table does not mean that I'm the 10th fastest driver in the championship, far from it.  In fact I'm regularly beaten by everybody below me in this snip of the table and there are several faster people than me sidelined by failures (like Colin Duce) but Hey I can only race the people who are on the grid. 

The fact that I'm 10th is is more an artifact of the fact that points are awarded by class rather than by position on the road.  So all other things being equal,  say Tim Hoverd finishes 3rd in class C, but 10th overall on the track  he would score 9 points,  If I finished 2nd in class B I would score 10 points even if Tim actually beat me by 5 places on the road (which often happens) and this elevates me up the table despite being slower than Tim (Sorry Mate)

The thing that is interesting here is the Class B standings, because these are my peers, guys with the same power and similar (albeit lighter cars). a Quick squint at the table shows that I'm 5th in Class B behind Paul Rogers, Neil C-B, Josh S, Stephen. In fact Stephen, Josh and I are within 2 points of each other.  The interesting wrinkle is that this is a "drop 2" championship, meaning that over the fourteen rounds every body can only count 12 scores... so you drop your two lowest scores (but you can't drop disqualifications which are shown in red)

So lets look at the table again, and make the assumption that everybody turns up and scores points in each of the remaining four rounds.
  • Paul is plainly romping away with  first place with an effective score of 105 pts as he drops just 1 and a blank
  • Neil's effective score is actually 66 points as he has been Mr Consistency so far and finished every round so he must drop two 7s.
  • Josh is on 66 points too, as he hasn't competed in every round so he has got several zeros to choose to drop. In fact when he races Josh usually comes second in class B.
  • Stephen is on 64 as he has had a couple of DNFs so will drop these zeros.
  • I'm actually on 63 as I can drop a zero and a 1 from Brands and Anglesey.
So with four rounds to go and assuming consistency  Paul and Josh will likely be first and second, which leaves me, Neil and Stephen to fight for Championship 3rd in class B and an even bigger pot at the end of the season.  And we're all very consistent and tightly packed in terms of performance.   I beat Neil at Anglesey, Brands and Donnington, Stephen beat us both at Brands but I beat him at Anglesey and Cadwell.  So basically all to play for.

I need to beat both of them in the next three races as Silverstone and  Oulton Park (2).  If I do that then  we'll arrive at the last race of the season each with realistic  shot at the Class B 3rd.
But If I have any more DNFs I'm out of the game... ditto for Stephen and Neil.  At this end of the season every point and every finish counts :-) which is why Neil's 2nd from the pitlane at Cadwell could be crucial.

Thing is the last race of the season is at Mallory... and I'm cr*p there. Plus it's on October 12th and likely to be wet.   it may come down to whose best in the wet on the last day of the season.... what an exciting prospect :-)

The other thing to mention is that a top 20 position means that you can "claim" that number as your race number for next year, I like 68 as it has specific importance to me ... but a single digit number may cause me to reconsider :-)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Doldrums at Donnington, but Another Class Podium

I guess its is a measure of how far I've progressed this season that I can go home with a 2nd place in class B, (which I'm delighted about)... but still be dissapointed with my performance and feel that I wasn't "On it" at Donnington.

Anyway the full race report follows.

Prior to Donnington I loaded yet another iteration of the modified fuel map to continue the development on this part of the car.  The other major change I made was to change the front sprocket to a 16 point one.  This gives me a diff ratio of 16:54 or 3.375 which is slightly taller than the ratio I used at Cadwell and should have given me a theoretical top speed of around 130mph.
However my telemetry indicates that my maximum speeds were only 113 mph at 10580 rpm at the end of the back straight, which is really hurting my lap times when compared to the fast guys.  There was however a strong headwind which wouldn't have helped . But most telling really is the fact that when reviewing the video I am woefully slow in Coppice, which hurts my corner exit speed and hence my speed at the end of the straight.  I simply was too cautious and not sliding it around enough in that part of the track.

I did the all comers race as a way of getting some testing time in before the RGB race.   Proper testing is hellishly expensive at Donnington so this seemed a reasonable alternative.  As it turned out I managed a 1:22.58 which is a full four seconds better than my last visit here 2 years ago.  This put me 9th on the grid.  The grid generally reflected the general performance differentials of the series... 10 of the first 11 places were RGB cars, then next half dozen or so the Hot Hatch boys and girls (for whom this was actually a championship race)  and then a melange of various other Tin Tops.  Judy from RGB had qualified a bit further back and was surrounded by no less than 10 Toyota MR2s so she was in for some fun.

One issue with being on the track with so any Tin Tops is that you realize just how low, light, fast and insubstantial an RGB car is when compared to even a Golf, it's like racing cliffs of steel.   This was brought home to me when I nearly got wiped out by one of them on the green flag lap as we weaved to warm the tires. I think I was in her blind spot or below the line of her mirrors.
Anyway no harm done and in the race I got a reasonable start as the RGB boys lead, unsurprisingly by Derek stormed away from the grid. I stuck with Ilsa Cox the only Hot Hatch to be in amongst the RGB pack  for a few laps,  But then Neil Constable Berry and Phil Alcock from RGB had a coming together at Redgate and I backed out of it.  I was in this race to test... not to fight and possibly damage the car.... so I let a few Tin Tops through while I started to focus on particular corners like the Craners and Old hairpin.  By the end I pretty pleased with coming flying down the Craners with only a slight lift... when I was last here that terrified me :-)
Anyway I improved my laptime to 1:22.10.

RGB qualifying was pretty good, I managed to find myself in a bit of gap, behind Tim and was pleasantly surprised to find that we held station for a considerable portion of the practice session.  The track was slippery due to oil dropped in a previous quali session and one of our group also dropped a bunch of oil so by the end of the session it was pretty slippery between Redgate and Old Hairpin.  

I managed a 1:22 3 which put me 14th on the grid and second in class B.  Paul Rogers set Class B "pole" with a 1:19.92 and was fourth overall.   Most surprising of all Tim was 3 places further back.  The first time I had ever out qualified Tim on equal terms :-)  that was worth a "Whoo Hoo" and an appropriate amount of Paddock gloating :-).

In the race I got my customary crap start and Tim got a flyer,  passing me before we even got to Redgate, I also lost a place to Phil Alcock, and then 2 wheels on the grass at Old Hairpin slowed me just enough so that I avoided the Tim as he span into the gravel at McLeans.   As mentioned earlier my main problem was that I was not carrying nearly enough speed through Coppice.Redgate,the Craners and Old Hairpin were all OK or good... but elsewhere I just didn't seem to be on it enough. The car wasn't sliding under me and in essence it felt too controlled, too easy.  Which is a sure sign that I'm not pushing hard enough. One notable battle was with Rob Grant (again) We had a couple of laps of me closing him down and failing to be brave enough to pass him under braking.  but eventually my better line through old hairpin told and I had the momentum to get him under the Bluebird Bridge. Then I was chasing new boy James Walker in his Class A busa Powered Westfield... but he retired on Lap 6 and that broadly left me racing myself, although I had to maintain enough speed so that Neil Constable Berry didn't arrive in my mirrors (but I suspect he was being a bit circumspect after repairing his damage in the all comers race)

In the end I finished 13th overall, 2nd in ClassB and six seconds ahead of the Neil Constable Berry, but I felt I could have found most of those extra two seconds per lap between me and Paul Rogers. And I was a bit disappointed with my performance.  To top it off there was no trophy for 2nd in Class B due to the somewhat depleted entry. 

However on the plus side... another personal best lap time by four seconds, another class podium, I out qualified Tim, beat Neil and brought it home in one piece. All good positive things :-)