So the next round is WSCC Blyton Weekend (8th & 9th July) and preparations are well under way. I'll be cleaning the tyres again, using the heat gun/scraper technique, which I hate doing, as it's so much effort. Really need to work on a better method. I'm making some more aero tweaks, which will be revealed next week. Needless to say, they should improve the overall downforce, which I'll need a lot of at Blyton as its such a fast and twisty circuit.
Sadly the DJ Aero wont be available for Blyton. DJ are at the MIRA wind tunnel this week, doing some more testing, and they say that I will benefit from the findings, so I'm really hoping to see the wings shortly after Blyton, as they'll need fitting and setting up prior to the trip to Knockhill in August.
NMS has checked the data from the high speed runs at Aintree, and nothing looks awry, which is all good. They did comment that I wasnt trying hard enough exiting the corners, as there arent many traction events appearing in the data, which means that, traction must still be on, even at switch position 4 which I thought turned it off, and, there's more time to be made by burying the throttle on the exits, so I'll remember that for Blyton and see how much I improve over last years PB. Pete will be there in the sister car, and he's out at Curborough this weekend, plus he's going to Lydden on July 15th, and Wiscombe later in the month, which makes for a busy month for him. I wish I had the time to do as many events.
This is the video of my 42.59s / 145mph run from Aintree. I do apologise for the audio, as despite making changes to the mounting of the GoPro its still picking up dreadful vibration through the bodywork at tickover. I shall have an alternative recording device fitted for Blyton to see if the poor sound can be cured. Its a Hero, and its simply picking up vibration from the engine. It wont accept an external MIC unfortunately.
Dont forget I have an instagram feed, which has far more pictures of the car, not just mine, and pictures from events I'm competing in. I'm mostly using the tags #mygale #formulaford #ecoboost and #loughboroughcarclub
Aintree Report4th overall, what more can I say? Blown away by the performance of the car at Aintree. I know where I was losing at least 3s too, so if I get another chance in September, I'll be back again to see how much quicker I can go. This was a shakedown session, for the new PF11 brakes and the repaired diffuser, and I'm pleased to say everything worked perfectly. And look at these 64ft times!
#3 days to Aintree
The diffuser is now fitted back on the car, and I've added a pair of Ti skid blocks. I've also changed the way in which the diffuser is attached to the floor, and the support stays running down from the gearbox have been changed to provide better support to the central section. The Dash4Pro is also back, Race Technology have replaced the faulty cable, and the front panel, so it looks like new again. Many thanks for the prompt service.
#7 days to Aintree
The repair to the diffuser is now well underway. I'm replacing the jabroc panel with a sheet of 5.5mm plywood (yeah I know, its not the same thing, but B&Q dont sell Jabroc) and I'm adding a pair of 38mm square blocks of titanium underneath, to prevent the diffuser from grounding out. I'm also repairing the large split in the diffuser with woven carbon cloth, that is going to be bonded in place using Epoxy resin from Easy Composites. I had bought some polyester resin, which I thought was going to be alright, but speaking to Pete, its Epoxy resin that I needed. Soon see if it works. I'll treat the plywood with some linseed oil so it doesnt draw any moisture from any rain its going to be driven over. And the titanium blocks will protrude slightly below the height of the plywood, so there shouldnt be too many sparks when/if the car bottoms out again.
I've added another event to my calendar, the MAC MIRA sprint in September. I went last year and it chucked it down all day, hopefully we'll get some better weather this time. So its Aintree next, where I'm car 99 running against John Graham (98) in the V8 Gould, then its the Blyon Weekend, in July, followed 54 days later by two sprints at Knockhill in August, after which I'll be doing MIRA and thats probably going to be it for the year. Whether or not I get the wings from DJ in time for Blyton remains to be seen.
I've had a look at the launches from two of my runs at Pembrey, T2 and Run Off 2, as I was sure I had a gear change glitch whilst accelerating off the line. Sure enough on the T2 run, I couldnt pull 3rd gear when I wanted to. But, the car still accelerated as quickly as it did on the other run I've compared it against. It is actually geared to do 70mph in 2nd gear, so it didnt really make any difference that it didnt go in to 3rd gear when I wanted it to. On both runs I recorded a 0-100 sprint in 6.2s, pulling 1.3G off the line, which is pretty rapid.
Run Off 2 from Sunday afternoon, 0-100 in 6.2 seconds, showing how the launch works most of the time :D
T2 (Second Timed Run), 0-100 in 6.2 seconds. On this run, the automatic change to 2nd gear didnt go as expected, due to wheel spin, and the change to 3rd gear also failed the first time. Despite that, the car still accelerated as quickly to 100mph.
Another big improvement this year is the 0-60 time. Last year, without the paddle shift or the launch control, I could only do 0-60 in around 4.1seconds, and I've shaved that down to approx 3seconds this year using ECU to manage launch and 1-2 gear chage.
Here is the video from my quickest run on Saturday at Pembrey on the original track layout. It was only my third time around the circuit, following the two wet practice runs in the morning. On my T2 run later I was a second slower. In this clip I couldnt take the kink before Honda flat. That was only achieved on the T2 run the following day.
Looking at my performance from the weekend, I think my biggest improvement came when I finally grew a pair and took the kink before Honda, flat. This really taught me that, to be on the pace, sometimes you just have to do these things, do whatever it takes, to compete on the same level as the other guys in the BSC. I'm sure that whilst I kept lifting before the corner, this actually upset the car, leading me to think that the car wouldnt take the corner flat. When in fact, keeping my foot planted, this kept the car on the straight and level, and that's the only time it actually felt it would go round the corner. But these experiences are only coming with seat time. And I've spent 51 minutes 'racing' so far this year, whereas I only achieved 71 mins throughout the whole of 2016, so qualifying for the Top 12 run offs is certainly contributing to my seat time, and my confidence. Its a win-win situation really.
My only challenge at the moment, is maintaining that momentum. I've only got three events left on the calendar at the moment. Aintree in June, the Blyton weekend in July, and the Knockhill weekend in August. Nothing else is planned. These events will give me the minimum 9 rounds I need to do, to hopefully win the Britannia Cup in the BSC, and then I can look forward to 2018 to hopefully do all the rounds of the championship, as this year was really just another development year, and I think I've more than proved that the car is capable of winning, I'm just still not quite there yet with my skills/bravery.
But the car is working flawlessly, the engine and turbo combination are proving very reliable, with the tweaks to the Life ECU made in March paying dividends. The launch control is working really well, with consistent 64ft times, and the traction control certainly works in the wet, and the dry, though I'm tending to turn it off completely in the dry as the car is so much quicker without it. Its great fun to drive, I just wish I had more outings planned, as I'm certainly benefitting from spending time behind the wheel.
Other news, I've recently acquired a Dell T7910 tower pc from the Manor F1 team. It was in their auction in May, and I paid £850 for it, which is a bargain, as the box has a 12 core Xeon inside, 32G RAM, 256GB SSD, and an Nvidia Quadro K4200 card, which combined gives it a phenomenal performance. The idea behind buying it is to turn it in to a race simulator, so I can run rFactor and learn some of the tracks for next year. In April I went on a professional simulator at Base Performance in Banbury, to learn the Croft circuit, and practice the paddle changes that I'd fitted to the car. I'm going back again in August, before the Knockhill race weekend, as I've never been to that circuit before, and I need to learn the track prior to driving all that way with the trailer on the back. I'd love to qualify again for the Top 12, and with everyone else having so much more circuit experience than me, I'm going to have to do whatever I can to step up, even if it means sitting in a sim. But longer term, I'd like to have the sim at home, so I'm not spending yet more money on learning circuits, so the project for the autumn will be to get it all setup, and then I can practice to my hearts content. :)
Pembrey June 2017
Rounds 5 & 6 of the British Sprint ChampionshipMy first visit to the Welsh circuit, walking the course on Friday evening, it seemed to be a fast yet technical track, with lots of opportunities for full throttle and therefore high speeds over the two lap course.
Saturday unfortunately was beset by scattered rain showers in the morning. After the first damp practice runs, for the second practice runs, many people elected not to go out, as the rain was getting so heavy. [You need to do at least one practice run before being allowed to compete in the official timed runs in the afternoon]. As I’d already completed my first practice run, I decided I’d sit the second one out.
However, towards the end of second practice, as the track started drying out, the call went out for anyone who hadn’t taken their second practice runs to go out, and many people, myself included, benefited. This however, introduced quite a delay in proceedings, with all cars doing two laps of the track, and with two cars on the circuit at the same time, it was quite a challenge to get people out.
I was typically sat in the car, in the assembly area, for around 20-25 minutes, gradually edging closer to the start line. With all the double driven cars being worked on, and going in front of those who were queueing it became obvious that a rapid turnaround wasn’t going to be happen. [The first practice runs took 2.5 hours to complete, and the second practice runs took 2 hours, and eventually finished at 1:22pm]
After lunch, later in the afternoon, we completed our first timed runs [which completed at 4:15pm], and I was sitting in 10th overall with a 104.89s, but after the second timed runs I had dropped down to 14th fastest. The issue facing the organisers was that the 6pm noise curfew was rapidly approaching, and after a car dropped its sump oil a few minutes before 6pm, and with the organisers facing a large clean up exercise, they decided to end the event, meaning around 20 queueing drivers weren’t allowed their second timed runs at all. This also meant that there would be no Top 12 run offs for those drivers who had qualified, and their finishing positions would instead be based on their fastest two previous timed runs. This decision was met by frustration, but we all had the Sunday to look forward to, and with several championships absent on the second day, there was a chance we would make better progress, and get the Top 12 run offs in as well.
My nemesis, on my first visit to Pembrey, was the one bend, before Honda, that people kept telling me was ‘flat’. I didn’t manage flat. Though I really did try, and on my final timed run, I was convinced I’d taken it flat, until I checked the data logger, and it showed I’d lifted 10%. Unfinished business. I was determined to take it flat, but with Saturday over, I had to set it as another objective for Sunday.
On Sunday, I woke up to the sound of rain, and sure enough, torrential rain in the morning caused chaos. For first practice on the new track layout, I went out on the wet tyres, and tried the new section of the track out, which included a tricky 90 degree left bend, followed by a long right hander in to the Esses. For the second practice, on a drying track and with the sun shining, I joined the queue on wets, and such were the delays in getting people on to the start line, that after sitting in the car for 25 minutes in the queue, the skies darkened, and the heavens opened, and I splashed around the track in a heavy downpour, with traction control helping make it a steady but not too slow a run. Practice is practice though, and it was more important to improve my pace through the new section than find the limits everywhere else. The first competitive timed runs then happened about 2 hours later, and once again, it was wet. I was again, quicker than before, but with little wet weather experience at Pembrey, it was a case of getting round and recording a time.
So, lunch break finally called at 2pm, and with the sun now shining, temperatures rising, and the track drying out rapidly, I fitted my worn front slicks on the car, and used the heat gun and scraper to try to scrape off all the dead rubber. By 2:45pm I was ready, and we set off on our second timed runs. This was it. I had to throw caution to the wind if I were to improve on my one dry run to qualify for the Top 12 run offs. And I only had this one run to finally take that corner flat, because if I didn’t qualify for the Top 12, this would be my last run of the day, and I wouldn’t be back for another year.
So with a fully dry track and the sun shining, I launched the car off the line, and I wrestled the car round, battling the understeer, and with buttocks firmly clenched, I took the corner flat, straight lining it at 125MPH, and reaching 140MPH on the end of the start finish straight. And doing so meant I’d managed to improve by 24seconds, meaning I’d finished 11th overall with a 115.56s. That’s it, I’d done it, I’d qualified again in 11th place.
But having qualified, it meant I now I had to do two more runs, to see where I’d finish in the Top 12. I’d qualified 11th before, on two other events, and I’d always finished 12th. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. So I added 3litres of fuel to the tank, got back in the car, and lined up for the run offs. Others were fitting their Run Off slicks, which I didn’t have. I shall have to investigate getting another set of tyres just for the run offs.
My first Top 12 run, I went even faster, and flat again through that corner, with confidence growing, but the front tyres were now badly overheating and were totally knackered. I’d done a 114.55s run, which placed me 10th overall. But during the run, the dashboard had frozen, and I had no idea what gear I was in. I’d had to start counting gears, to make sure I was in the right one for the corners. After a quick check, and it turned out to be the flexible cable that goes in to the back of the dash, it had a broken wire inside, so I rerouted the cable to relieve the strain on it, and it was sufficient to allow it to start working again, and I lined up and set off on my second run, with everything to prove. I again wrestled with the car as it understeered under hard acceleration on the corners, I took the corners faster than before, kept 100% throttle wherever I could, and I crossed the line with a 113.88s run, almost another second faster, despite a lock up at the new right hand bend, which I thought had ruined the run. And then after a short anxious wait for the others to do their runs, relief when I found I’d maintained my 10th overall, to score 3 more points in the championship.
What a great venue, and what good luck to get the sunshine when it counted.
Next event is the Aintree Sprint at the end of June, which isn’t a BSC round, but it’s a great place to go, with some very high speeds, and I’ll be using the day to play with the setup. I still don’t have the DJ front and rear wings I ordered in February, these are still being made, but when they do arrive, understeer should definitely be a thing of the past.
This is my fastest run from the Top 12 run offs on Sunday. Slippy slidey :D