Croft was a lot of fun, although the 3 hour journey up was awful, it rained for the entire 150 miles, and when I arrived, and unloaded the car in to garage 13, I discovered that the trailer wasn't water tight. With the clamshell closed, I found a gap across the front of the trailer, where the clam shell meets the chassis, wide enough to let spray in from the tow car. I'll have to have a go at making it weatherproof, but the rain fall was pretty exceptional, so it may be a while before I test it as thoroughly again.
This was the second round of the British Sprint Championship, and I was in good company in the garage, parked next to Jim Belt in his Juno, and Mark Dempster in his Imagination PH1, which was Methanol powered. Scrutineering was more thorough at this event, with the officials checking every aspect of the car. No issues though, so with the wets fitted we waited for the first practice runs.
There was no drivers briefing for some reason, most likely the delays already caused by the weather, and after all the Porsche cars ran, classes 5 and 4 were allowed out to test the grip levels. In class 5E I was front of the queue, raring to see what the little Mygale was like in the wet, and boy was I in for a shock. It was almost undrivable when the boost came in. The rear wheels would instantly light up, and the car tried to swap ends. But I managed a full lap, and found my way back in to the pits without too much drama.
My Rain cherry had definitely been popped, and as the rain subsided we ventured out on to a less wet track for second practice runs, and I improved by 15 seconds. Over lunch the sun tried to make an appearance, and I fitted the A15 slicks. First timed runs were on a drying track, and I improved by a huge 23 seconds, which I was very pleased about. For the second timed run I improved by another 5 seconds, to record a 94.16s run. I felt so confident after that run, the grip was plentiful, the car started to feel like a go kart, I really had gained some valuable experience. There was no way with my pace I was going to make the Top 12, so I got changed, swapped the slicks back for wets, and loaded the car back on the trailer for the journey home.
Results are available here
This was a video I made from my second and quickest timed run, using the data from the Life ECU to provide speed, gear, rpm and throttle.
Pictures from Rockingham are now on line, taken by Jack Flash Photography.
Here's the data from Pete and my fastest timed runs, vs distance. Petes data is in green, mine is in orange. The top pair of lines are based on wheel speed, and the lower pair are on GPS speed. Theres quite a difference in the wheel and GPS speeds which I cant explain at the moment.
Rockingham yesterday, went without a hitch, as I start to acclimatise to life with a single seater. Pete and Andy in their EcoBoosts were both immediately on the pace. Andy already has a years experience in his red Jamun car, and Pete with the orange Radical Mygale, is a bit of an expert in his Westfield, so I had a lot to do to try to match their times. The new tyres took a couple of laps to bed in, but on my first timed run I ran an 83.6, and went on to improve by a further 2.6 seconds to run an 81.0 on my second timed run. Pete and Andy were 9.5 seconds faster, all day, both exploiting the grip from the word go, and showing the gap between my experience to theirs. Andy finished 4th overall, and Pete 8th. I was 19th overall, and not the slowest single seater, but I certainly need more seat time, and with another half a dozen laps at Rockingham I'm sure I'd be in the low 70's. Each run I was braking later, and gaining confidence, but from the word go I just didnt have the confidence to go flat out, which will come in time. I was improving, taking big chunks out my time, I just lacked confidence. What I'm not appreciating, and I'm finding hard to understand, is the downforce, which you just cant get a feeling for. G force around the corners, you're pinned against the side of the chassis, its quite overwhelming. But exploiting the downforce, and gaining confidence in the corners, is something that I just need to learn. Braking with my left foot is also something I'm adjusting too, and the force from the brakes from cold is incredible. And I probably shouldnt be too disheartened to be 9.5 seconds slower on my first competitive outing. But I certainly need to 'grow a pair' as Andy explained. I'm disappointed (and a bit baffled) to be so far behind the others, but the positives are that I've now done four starts, with respectable 60ft times, T1 2.37s and T2 2.43s. I'm managing the gear changes ok. My lines around the circuit seem to be ok. Its just braking later, and carrying more speed around the corners that I need to focus on. The confidence will come. Next event is Croft on Easter Monday, class 5E, car number 20, garage 13. Another track I've only been to once before, so I'll be studying Youtube this week to try to see if I can learn any tips from other drivers. The results from Rockingham are here
I'm certainly not standing still, as the first round of the championship at Rockingham on Sunday rapidly approaches. This week I've bought a set of radial Avon A15 slick tyres, which are now waiting to be fitted to the third set of rims. I've never bought proper slicks before, there was never any point with the Fiesta, simply because the cost couldnt be justified. The other two Mygales on Sunday are both running A15 compound slicks, so there would be little point in me turning up without them fitted. They cost me a whopping £1100, for four tyres, but they are the best tyres out there. I've gone for 190/530R13 fronts, and 230/550R13 rears. They're so soft you can leave finger print in them.
The new rear tyres lower the car by 10mm (550mm compared to 570mm), so I need to adjust the ride height and corner weight the car again. I've made a timing beam splitter, which I've wrapped in black vinyl. Hope it doesnt break off when the car is flat out on the Rockingham banking. I spoke to James Abbott about a few tips for driving, and he's been very helpful, with some suggestions I'm keeping close to my chest, but I'll try and remember for Sunday. I've also reduced the front camber to around -1.75°, for the new tyres, as Avon recommends running less than -2.5°. I've also checked the gearlinkage as I had a few selection issues at Blyton, but I can find nothing wrong and I suspect when I select 4th I'm not pulling the lever hard enough and its just not going fully in to gear. Mark Bailey said I need to be quite forceful with the change, something else to remember.
I'm still no where near ready, but theres a few more nights of midnight oil to burn before we load the car on the trailer on Saturday. I need to fit the front perspex deflector, to stop my crash helmet from wanting to lift my head off plus stick some yellow tape on the battery -ve terminal, the intercooler needs securing properly as it tried escaping at Blyton, and a few other minor jobs.
A very successful days testing yesterday. No issues, nothing broke, no leaks, learnt a lot about handling, etc. Looking forward to Rockingham on the 20th for her first competitive outing.
The car was log booked on Tuesday with no issues. I've provided the digital images, and they're now on their way to the MSA so the vehicle passport can be produced. I've spent a few more hours on the car during the past few evenings, cable tying and securing parts that were disturbed during the stripdown/inspection. I've sat in the car and adjusted and re-adjusted the seat belts, and I've tried the pedals whilst wearing my race boots, and its actually quite a comfortable and agreeable driving position. I have also adjusted the gear lever, moving it forward a couple of inches, as I found that I couldnt pull the lever back to change up. I've tried the Sparco knee pads that I bought last month, and they cushion my knees from hitting the chassis bars that are placed above my knees, which is a real comfort. I couldnt imagine driving the car without them. I'd end up battered black and bkue. Gates open at 8am tomorrow, and the restaurant is open for lunch. And most important, the weather forecast is good.
Turned the car around today, so it can be loaded on to the trailer. I collected the resprayed nose and front panel from Faircharm Restorations, and they look stunning. If anything the gloss black is too good, and puts the rest of the car to shame. I'm relieved that they're back as it allowed me to take photographs for the Vehicle Passport.
The car will be inspected by Chris Mount, a local MSA scrutineer, on Tuesday, which is part of the process to obtain a Vehicle Passport, otherwise known as a Competition Car Log Book. This is required by the MSA to allow me to compete with the car. Pete has already had his car inspected, with a few notes from the scrutineer. I'm not expecting any problems, but I'm sure Chris will point anything obvious out.
After continued pressure on Life, and Ford, they've both reached an agreement to allow us to tune our EcoBoost engined cars at NHM, to fully exploit the capabilities of the ECU's.
Some good news.Thats great news, but I still need convincing that the OEM locked ECU's in the Mygales are really capable of traction control and significant gains in power without great expenditure. We will need to change the Turbos to Garret Hybrids, and spend a fair amount of time on the dyno, to see what the limitations are with the electronics. I need traction control, but we dont think the ECU has the I/O to allow it. Once Troy has a handle on whats what, I'm sure we'll be able to increase all the car's performance.
We have now settled an agreement with Ford so the FF200 EcoBoost cars can be modified as owner see fit. The ECU can only be accessed by our agreed approved aftercare distributor Northampton Motorsport. Basically they can fully re-map, add features and more to any existing FF200 car. You will need liaise with them if you require any modifications. Please also feel free to pass this information to anyone else.
Senior Applications Engineer
Finally I've registered for the British Sprint Championship and I've entered the Croft Sprint on March 28th (Easter Monday). Pete Goulding has also joined the HSA Championship, and that means I now have some competition to hone my skills against.