Yet again, another late update. I’m perhaps slightly better this time that usual though. And, of course, the usual excuses apply. This time, it was a new circuit in that we were racing on the Snetterton 300 circuit. I’ve tested here two or three times so it wasn’t as alien to me as it was to others though.
All the same, I’d booked the test day before hand. I travelled up on my own on the Thursday evening as Anthea had some school do on on the Friday lunch time. The weather forecast for the Friday was pretty grim, although it was OK for the rest of the weekend. Turned out that the forecast was correct as it was absolutely throwing it down on the Friday morning. I took the wise, I reckon, decision to sit out the morning’s sessions as all I was going to do was break the car and I wouldn’t learn anything for the weekend. The afternoon, though, was getting a bit drier so I did the sessions then, although still not really running that quickly. At the end of the last session, though, I was suddenly left without a clutch. Turned out, after limping back to the paddock, that the little flange on the end of the clutch pullrod (the thing that essentially gets yanked when you put your foot on the clutch) has just broken off. Luckily, I knew I’d got a spare one in the garage at home as there were two nadgered ’08 engines sitting there. What’s more, Anthea had now arrived so I had a car and it’s only about 50 mins from Snetterton to home.
After dinner I therefore drove back to Cambridge, with Colin coming along for company. Colin had had a horrible day, losing his car aquaplaning on the start/finish straight and ending up doing a good deal of damage. His weekend was over, but he was staying around to see how things went for everyone else.
With the necessary bit pinched from one of the “spare” engines I set to first thing on Saturday morning and fixed the clutch. After that it was prepping the car for qualifying, scrutineering, etc. Qualifying was going fairly well, and I had a couple of laps around 2:08 which would probably be reasonably good when I remembered. Snetterton 300 is one of the few circuits that has the capability to make me sick. (Cadwell is the worst.) What’s more, I’d forgotten to take the appropriate drugs! I reckoned that wasn’t going to make another lap without throwing up inside my helmet so wimped out a few minutes before the end of the session. All the same, when the times appeared I was 9th fastest, for both races, out of a field of 32 cars so that was OK.
There was a problem though. All the cars in front of me were what you’d call “proper” race cars. David, in 8th place, was 3 seconds faster than me which is an absolute age. As such, I wasn’t really looking forward to a decent race. Turned out I was right, when race 1 started later that day I got a reasonable start but after a few corners I got dropped by all the cars in front, and dropped the chaps behind. As such I had a rather lonely race, although I did at least finish 9th which is at least in the points.
The grid for the second race later the same day was remarkably similar. The chaps in front again got away but this time I had Austen for company and we spent a couple of laps happily swapping positions. Problem was, on the 5th lap I suddenly couldn’t get any drive and after trundling back to the paddock (turned out that I could drive it very slowly) it was clear that the left outer CV joint had expired. So, that was the end of that.
This leaves me thinking what to do. If you remember at the end of last season (before I broke my arm and spent too long finishing my PhD thesis) I was planning on major modifications of the J15. The chaps in front, though, have taken a leap forward and the J15 as it stands is not really up to the competition, both with respect to the chassis dynamics and the aerodynamics. Hence, I’ve taken the decision, after a great deal of agonising, to build a new car. I’m going to be building an AB Performance Sabre although I’m planning some rather obvious and huge modifications to what is the current design of that car. I don’t want to say too much about these yet, but you should see the chassis, etc., arriving soon on this site.
I am in a bit of a quandary about what to do with the J15 though. It’s actually a perfectly competent car, especially for a newbie. However, it’s got lots of bits that would perfectly well fit the Sabre. So I could:
- Sell the J15 as a race car, which would be ideal for an incoming racer, or
- Cannibalise the J15 for the important parts (diff, engine, brakes) and try to sell the rolling chassis at a knock down price.
What I don’t know is whether I’m going to compete for the rest of the season or not. Missing out on going to RGB races would be a real pain, but it does represent money that could go towards the new car… Ideas on an electronic postcard, please.