BSC Rounds 11 and 12The last two rounds of my British Sprint Championship season, culminated with a visit to the famous Knockhill Circuit, sat just north of Edinburgh. I’d never been before, but had spent many years watching the British touring cars there on the TV, and Knockhill was one of those tracks that I just had to tick off my list. Arriving late on Friday afternoon, the weather travelling up the M6 had been gradually deteriorating, and I just managed to unload the car in to the garages before the heavens opened. It then rained throughout the night, and on Friday evening we were kept entertained by some crazy motorcyclists who were getting the laps in on the end of a very wet track day for them.
Saturday morning dawned foggy, but soon cleared, and we were meant to be out at 8:30 for first practice. Driving the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction, Knockhill is the only circuit in the UK licensed to allow racing in either direction. I fitted Dunlop wets, as there was a lot of surface water left from the overnight rain, and we waited patiently for the Doctor to arrive, as the event couldn’t start without one in attendance. 15 minutes later, and we were off, and Stewart Robb, in his 4.0 Judd powered Pilbeam MP88, ventured out on slick tyres, and fell off on his second lap, hitting the tyre wall backwards at Clarkes, and breaking his rear wing and front suspension.
As a former multiple champion, I was hoping to see Stewart set some fast times, but his mistake in practice meant he was out for the rest of the weekend. That delayed proceedings by 15 minutes. Then Stephen Miles fell off, also on slicks, and needed a tow out of the gravel trap. In all, with all the issues with people stalling on the line, and the driver change-overs, embarrassingly our half hour slot soon turned in to 1 hour, and the Super Lap Scotland competitors sat patiently as they were all held in the assembly area for over half an hour.
Then second practice, and the track was drying out, I again went out on wets, and just drove the circuit, trying to learn the braking points, and deciding where to turn in on the many blind crests.
First timed runs were at 1pm and everyone was once again improving, now on slicks, with a dry circuit. Second timed runs, again, smooth as clockwork, and further improvements in times. With the traction control now turned off, I’d qualified 7th for the Top 12 run-offs, and I posted my quickest time of the day on my 2nd run-off run, with a 98.13s time, which I was quite happy with. Thus I remained in 7th place, and scored 6 points.
Winning the run-offs, Thurso’s Heather Calder went round in 81.85 seconds in the powerful V8 Gould GR55, which weighs the same as my Formula Ford, yet has over double the horsepower! With her win, Heather became the British Sprint Champion, and what a champion? only the second woman to win since Patsy Burt won on its inauguration in 1970. I can see Heather going on to win it many more times too. Colin Calder was 2nd with 82.98s, and John Graham in the V8 Gould GR55B was almost 3s behind with a best time of 85.86s
Sunday was basically a repeat of the Saturday, with a dry track, this time circulating the track clockwise, I had to again learn the circuit from scratch, and after practice, in the timed runs I qualified 9th for the Top 12 run-offs, and again, improved, to set my fastest time on my 2nd run-off run, with a 99.64s time, and a flying lap time of 51.27s. [ Basically I’d gone a second faster on each run, recording 101.85s, 100.70s, and finally a 99.64s, so another 3 or 4 runs and I think I could have been challenging for 8th place ]
Heather was again on form, and on her second run-off run, which was far quicker than her first run, as she approached the hairpin for the final time, the Gould slowed to a stop, and Heather hopped out. It turned out to be loose cable, that prevented her from changing gear, and that had put paid to Heather’s hope to lower the circuit record even further. Colin Calder took first place with a 83.70s run, Heather was 2nd with 84.22 from her first run-off run, and John Graham was 6.5s behind with 90.78s.
Over the weekend, several drivers went on to set new class records, and everyone seemed to be making good progress, though some were chasing personal bests they’d set in previous visits and weren’t getting anywhere near them, much to their frustration. The V8’s dominated as usual, and it was a shame Stewart Robb wasn’t around as it would have been a good scrap between him and the Calder’s on both days.
So for me a very exciting weekend, I completed 24 laps of the track, in near perfect weather conditions, with no mechanical issues, I didn’t need to take a spanner to the car for the entire weekend. This year I’ve finished 13th overall in the BSC championship, and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the car. I’ve just two more National B events to go. I’m back visiting Aintree this weekend and then MIRA (Nuneaton) the following, where I’ll be putting what I’ve learnt to practice.
Sadly the new aero never made it on to the car in 2017, I’ve just run out of time getting it fitted, and will spend the winter months making sure that the car (and driver) are even quicker for 2018.
Look for the tag #britishsprintchampionship on social media for photo’s and videos of the weekend.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend at Knockhill, with a 7th place on Saturday and a 9th place on Sunday. The Mygale was faultless, I didnt need to take a spanner to it all weekend. Just changed the tyres, kept adding petrol, and drove it. Lots of pictures taken, and onboard video, which I'm now processing. I managed a 0-60 on Sunday of just 2.6s, pulling 1.0G off the line. The track was very challenging, not somewhere I could just learn with a few laps. The blind brows took a lot of commitment to launch the car over, and with the lack of aero, the car was always looking for ways to chuck me off. The hairpin was particularly challenging, and grip was absent on the Sunday afternoon after the drifters had spent an hour spreading rubber and gravel all over the track, just prior to our run offs.
My rear wing support is away for Tig welding, and should be back in the next couple of days. I'm now building the car back up with the original aero for the weekend, and making sure everything is ready for the trip on Friday.
I went to Donington for the Dukeries Rally on Sunday. I navigated on the Dukeries in a Peugeot 205, in 2000, which was back when the event ran in the forests. Now its all centered on Donington Circuit, but with 8 stages, each one taking in two laps of the track, they certainly got value for money from the milage covered. There was a stunning Fiesta R5 running, which was flying until it retired on stage 6.
7 days to Knockhill, 14 days to Aintree, 21 days to MIRA
I've raised the front ride height, to bring the front wing up to the 90-100mm from the deck that Simon McBeath recommended. The chassis was only 35mm off the ground, when the 195.530 tyres were fitted, but its now 50mm which is the height I needed to bring the wing up to the right height. I also corner weighted the front, and reset the front anti-roll bar, so its all now ready to run the new front wing
9 days to Knockhill
16 days to Aintree
23 days to MIRA
We offered the front wing up again last night, with the 195.530R13 slicks fitted on the front axle, which are not as tall as the wets I tried at the weekend, and the front wing is closer to the ground than I'd hoped. So I'll raise the front ride height, as its 35mm before I sit in the car, which is too low. I'll add 20mm to the ride height, and that should raise the wing up to the height it was designed to be used at.
My entry to Knockhill is confirmed, as is my entry to Aintree a week later. There are just 56 entries at Aintree, which is very low and the event will run, but we'll get lots of runs if the weather is kind.
10 days to Knockhill
The rear wing supports are getting reinforced with some 10mm aluminium rods, which will be trimmed to 194mm in length, drilled and tapped to M6, to allow me to fit them between the two wing support brackets. Then additional aluminium rods will be tig welded to the threaded rods, to triangulate them, which should make the wing bracket solid. The rods will be ready tomorrow, and I'll get on with the mods over the weekend.
A new British Sprint facebook page has been launched today. This will be used to promote the championship, which is badly needed as there is little social media that exists at the moment to promote what we do. Dont forget to Like my Facebook page, which is media rich and is aimed at facebook users.
13 days to Knockhill
With the rear wing and front wing fitted, I rolled the car on to the drive to see how the wings looked, and to check ground clearance. I neednt had worried, there is 40mm clearace at the front. The rear wing brackets will need to be braced, as the wing moves around a lot. I'll do that next.
The front wing bracket has arrived from DJ, and the wing is now bolted to the crashbox. I'm very pleased how it looks, though I do still have the small matter of cutting the fibre glass nose cone to make it fit over the front wing and brackets.
The rear wing brackets are now finished, after a fair amount of cutting and filing, and they're now ready to be fitted, I just need to find some longer M8 bolts to fit in to the end of the gearbox to attach the brackets and spacers to the box.
The trouble is that the aero needs setting up, the car probably needs stiffer suspension springs, and I've only two weeks left to get this done before the trip up to Knockhill, so at the moment, the plan is to reattach the original aero for Knockhill and use the trip to Aintree the weekend afterwards, to setup and test the aero.
I'm now lying 14th overall in the SBD British Sprint Championship, after I spotted I was missing two points from the Croft round in April.