Red nose day

SunsetOK, I realise that I’ve been very uninformative recently although some of you may have noticed the odd posting on Facebook. As a consequence this is going to be a rather truncated posting to just give you the general idea.

In a while you will understand the relevance of that rather spectacular photo on the right, for which many thanks are due to Dan Sayles: “Afghan Dan” to his friends for reasons too bizarre to go into. He always takes a set of great photos of RGB meetings and this is one of the best. For now, though, just look at the nice picture.

The ProbiscisHowever, that’s getting the cart before the horse, back to a few weeks ago and the run-up to the Rockingham meeting. Last time I showed you pretty much what the car looked like. Since then I’ve modified it a bit to make it uglier. In particular, I fabricated a spectacularly nasty proboscis to cover the front ARB and a mostly nasty box to cover the airbox. Both of these are going to have to go but, for the meantime, at least they make me legal.

With that done, we loaded up the car and the bus and trundled off to Rockingham. I must admit to my heart being in my mouth somewhat. I always get a bit nervous before a circuit outing and this was a new car on a circuit that I really don’t like. All the same, I’d booked the test day and needed to find out if the car actually worked.

To cut a long story rather short it did work, although it didn’t feel as nice I wanted it to. One thing that was clear is that it won’t be too long before I have to invest in some more dampers. The Protechs I’m using, which came from the J15, are clearly wrong for this car. In particular because the suspension geometry of the Sabre means that I have to have the bump setting just about at the end of the damping range. However, I did get faster during the day even though I suffered a collection of small teething problems (for example, the gear change fell off) during the  day.

So, come qualifying day, after the unaccustomed experience of attending a first time drivers’ briefing, I set off for qualifying and put in a few laps. I ended up with a fastest lap of 1:37.92 which was good enough for 16th (out of 29) for the first race. The second best time put me 14th on the grid. So, sort of half way up then which was at least a start but I was some distance behind people I wanted to be next door to. For example, Colin was 9th in the first race.

However, that was all a bit of a high point.

BankingThe first race got off OK, although doing a race start is an easily forgotten skill. However, after a while the car started missing which got worse and worse until I pulled off. Luckily just in time as it then stopped totally. Back in the garages we looked into it and Adrian managed to spot the mostly melted stick coil loom which was clearly too close to the exhaust.

That was all a worry, though, as the engine was clearly too hot in that the oil temperature had got up to about 125 which wasn’t too clever.

The second race, though, was rather worse. After a few laps there was a puff of smoke from somewhere and I coasted to a halt on the turn 2 banking. I haven’t actually seen the incriminating videos but apparently there was a big spout of flame from the back of my car and a lot of oil hit the track on the turn 1 banking. Several drivers commented that they’d been thrown many feet closer to the concrete wall than they wanted to be.

So that was pretty much the end of that weekend. Two races and two DNFs which wasn’t too great. The car had worked, though and it did feel as though it would go quicker. The biggest problem was the driver really, who seemed much more tentative than he used to be.

Back at the ranch looking at the car it was clear what had caused the problem. One of the oil hoses had come adrift, I suspect because of too high temperatures (my seat back was welded to the bulkhead) and oil had doubtless come squirting out. The temperature of an exhaust system is below that of the flash temperature of oil and that was what had caused the flames. In retrospect I’m very lucky that the car didn’t disappear in a conflagration.

What I still don’t know is whether the engine survived as it seemed sensible to replace it. So, I sourced another, an ’09 motor this time, and spent much of the time before the next meeting (at Anglesey) fitting it.

Spoiler and floorWith all that done I made a couple of the vast list of intended performance improvements to the car and made a rear spoiler and fitted a very snazzy carbon fibre/kevlar rear floor made by Adrian. You can see them both in the photo here.

With that, it was off to Anglesey. The circuit there is by some distance the best race circuit in the UK, in my humble opinion. The possible problem is the weather as it’s either lovely, or raining horizontally. Luckily, apart from the odd downpour at points that didn’t matter we had a weekend of the former variety. So much so that I’ve got a rather red nose due to the lack of sunscreen application.

The big news is that the spoiler and floor make a quite huge difference. The car felt much more planted and I feel that I’ve now got a decent platform to develop from. I spent the test day on Friday trying various things and, I realise now, getting quicker in every session on the track. There was still a problem though in that the oil temperature is still way too high. Now I’m back home I’m going to:

  1. Fit a bigger oil cooler.
  2. Try and plumb in the oil/water intercooler on the engine. Andy reckons to not  bother with this but in retrospect this seems daft.
  3. Try and open up the sidepod to allow more air into the cooler.

All the same, that didn’t get in the way of a great weekend. In qualifying I scored a 1:14.09 which put me 11th on the grid out of 26. In the second race I was 9th. What’s more, I was more competitive as I was  just  ahead of Colin on both grids. I’m still way behind the chaps at the front though. If I could only string together all my fastest sectors I’d have been on the front row but that’s a level of skill that I just don’t seem to possess.

at speedCome the first race the start was mega-frenetic and half way round the lap I made a total pig’s ear of Rocket 2 and fell off onto the grass. That was probably a good thing though as after that I passed a bunch of other people (remembering my racecraft as a I went) until I was just behind Adrian at the end. I’d have got Adrian with another lap and Colin would have been reachable too. as it was, I finished 11th, where I’d started. FL was 1:13.5 which, inevitably, was faster than the qualifying time.

The second race wasn’t really as much fun. Again a frenetic start and this time I didn’t screw it up, possibly because we get a green flag lap for the second start and as such can get the tyres warmed up a bit. This time I was up behind David, which is a return to the old class C days and very gratifying as he’s racing what is the top car of the moment for which he gets a detailed setup sheet for each race/circuit. I stuck with David for a few laps but it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to pass him, in retrospect the somewhat aggressive angle I’d chosen for the spoiler was probably knocking too much from my top speed. The oil temperature was also too high so I backed off and coasted  to the line in 8th place with an FL of 1:13.6. Most people’s times were slower for the second race though, probably because it was hotter on the second day.

Turn 1So, I’m now home with some updates to do. I’m also reflecting on a superb weekend with some good friends on an absolutely amazing circuit in what has to be best setting in the country. The photo here, of turn 1 at race start, gives just a tiny notion of what the circuit is like. That’s a great circuit, the glistening Irish Sea and in the background the hills of Snowdonia on the mainland. It’s actually quite distracting as you’re driving the track…

And, a quite amazing sunset on Saturday night…


4 thoughts on “Red nose day”

  1. Great update …. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and look forward to future installments!!!!

  2. Great to read your progress Tim. With your oil temp problems, what temp should you be running?
    Also what should the water temp be?
    I’ve fitted a logger to the striker this season and have been running a bit hot, I’ve reduced it a little with extra ducting.

    1. Rew,

      I don’t think there’s a simple answer to what the oil temp should be. However, I’d be happy if it was around 110-115. You do hear people saying that the maximum ought to be the water temperature plus 15, which would be about 100-105 in my case. However, that sort of calculation seems a bit daft as it doesn’t relate to the oil itself…

      All the same, I’ve now fitted a bigger, and more expensive, oil cooler…


  3. Good update. Depending on the specification and if you are selling them when you upgrade. I am interested in the Protech dampers.

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