Not quite what I intended

Oh well, that didn’t quite work out as I intended. We went to Snetterton last weekend for the next race in the RGB championship. I was hopeful that the new engine would do something useful, although wary that the bodged around exhaust wasn’t really going to help. Also, the car hadn’t been been on a dyno which wasn’t going to help.

I’d left the gearing as it was which, with the new engine’s gearing being different, meant the car was supposedly geared for 141 mph. As I headed out for the first session of the Friday test day before the weekend I wondered how this was going to feel. After a couple of laps some things were really obvious. First of all, the new rev limit was going to take some getting used to. Secondly, the engine didn’t seem to pull that well, but the gearing was far too tall which wasn’t helping. In fact, I wasn’t getting out of 5th on the Bentley straight and I only made 123mph which wasn’t what I was after. For comparison that’s 2-3 mph slower than I managed with the old engine in the race here in May. (Ignoring the second race of that day where there was a huge tail wind which had a huge effect.)

2mph might not sound a lot but it makes a big difference when racing. Just that small difference can allow you to just drive past another car on the straight and then you’re in front and in, errrm, the driving seat.

So, I cut the second session short and changed the driven sprocket for a larger one. (I’m getting good at this.) The meant I was now geared for 136mph so perhaps that would make a bit of a difference? In summary, after lunch it did make a difference. My terminal speed on the straight was up to about 125mph and I was at least in 6th gear. Still didn’t feel too wonderful though.

So, I went to bed feeling a bit fed up, to be honest. However, in the morning I was feeling a bit more positive. After all, I knew that a few things weren’t really optimum as it stood.

All the same it was a race day and things were therefore good. The weather looked a bit gloomy bit with luck it would hold. After scrutineering I somehow or other won the race to get in the queue for the assembly area so headed out for qualifying in front of everyone. Problem was, everyone was zooming past me. Ho hum. the car still felt stolid, although the engine was screaming up to 13,000 rpm.

That all meant that I qualified in a rather lowly 14th place in both races (7th in class) in each race. That was depressing.

However, I was thinking. I reckoned that the engine wasn’t breathing properly, hence the thoughts about the exhaust system. Luckily, I had a stroke of luck in the the cat fell off the end of the exhaust before the first race. However, first of all, we had to race which turned out to be rather more traumatic than usual.

Getting to the grid I was thinking that I’d never done a race start with this engine and I wondered what it would be like. So, we lined up, and this is what happened:

You might need to watch that a couple of times to see what happened. In order, I think it’s:

  1. I stalled on the grid.
  2. As I got going again Ben, who’d taken to the grass to avoid me came back onto the tarmac.
  3. Rob moved across to give Ben room.
  4. Colin took fright and drove into the wall and Bob.
  5. Bob took avoiding action and went left.
  6. I took to the grass to avoid Bob.
  7. I tried to be a bit cute round the outside at Montreal to no great effect.
  8. Sam, in my old car, spun at Chapman and unfortunately came back onto the track.
  9. Bob collected Sam, damaging his right front and ripping off Sam’s left front.
  10. The damage to Bob’s car was such that his throttle jammed open and his feet were pushed off the pedals. (He was lucky to avoid a broken leg, 🙁 )
  11. Bob shot towards the wall trying desperately to hit the kill switch. (There’s a moral here about making them impossible to miss.) Unfortunately he failed and hit the barriers hard on the left of his car. So hard that the left rear upright and disc were shattered.
  12. I took to the grass, again to avoid the carnage and was lucky to miss Sam’s bouncing wheel.

Hmm, not good. So, we lined up again and waited and waited and waited. Luckily no one was seriously hurt other than in the wallet and we set off again. Here’s the complete race from my point of view. (It’s not gripping, I just didn’t have the energy to edit the video.)

You will notice that the start was again fraught. This time because Derek’s propshaft TRT section (a sort of coaxial rubber drive that I was always worried about and replaced when I rebuilt my Fury after the fire) failed completely leaving him standing still.

After that the race was not bad, as I was stuck in a battle with Tony (the silver car) most of the time. At one point you may notice Richard’s black/blue Sabre sailing past. That car’s got the same engine as mine so clearly I’m doing something wrong. However, the missing cat clearly helped, I was up to 127mph, which means that breathing is probably the thing to focus on.

That’s pretty much the story of my weekend really. The second race was rather similar, albeit without the start line carnage. Luckily on this occasion I managed to beat Tony. I wasn’t anywhere near the front of the class though… One thing I did do before the second race was to change the clutch ratio (easy with a cable) to hopefully avoid any more stalling situations. I did get a storming start (which I can’t show you because the camera failed) but everyone I’d passed made it back past me.

So, before the next race I really need to sort the exhaust system. It’d probably be good to race with the lambda wideband connected too to see how the engine’s running. (Pity I didn’t have it in for this race.) I’d also like to replace the handbrake cables which I think are binding slightly.

In the meantime, it’s back to the PhD thesis…

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