The photographs from Jack Flash Photography have come out, and the car looks great with the new Force Racing wheels on the rear. For Croft I'll have the fronts fitted too, which I cant wait to see how she looks, and with the extra weight savings from fitting split rims, I should see a couple of tenths improvement too.
Rockingham 2017 was the first time I got to drive the car with the extra power, and I was slightly apprehensive. I neednt have been though. I started off in practice with CAL-2, which gave me 276bhp, and after two confidence inspiring runs, I selected CAL-1 for the full 313bhp, and the car absolutely flew in the afternoon. I managed to improve my PB by 10 seconds on my 2016 time. I took huge chunks of time out on each run, and unfortunately on my final run I had a terrible launch from the ECU, which cost me at least 1.5 seconds, and I bounced off the rev limiter in 5th before changing to 6th on the first straight leading to Turn 1, which lost me another couple of tenths, and I've found the ground effect at 132mph has pulled both the diffuser mounting screws through the diffuser floor allowing it to bend, which would explain the sudden lack of grip halfway round the circut. So I didnt quite do enough to beat the sister car, but I could have beaten it. As it is I finished 11th overall, which I'm happy with.
Not having the paddles working was a real hindrance too. In fact I had to remove the paddle switch assembly from the back of the steering wheel as I found on first practice that I could hardly get my hand back on to the wheel after changing gear using the gear lever because the paddles were in the way. And even without the paddles fitted, changing gear now with the extra power and increased G forces from the higher cornering speeds, was very tricky. So with losing 1.75 seconds through driver error, plus the time I'd gain from having paddles, for a shakedown, we've learnt that the car is considerably quicker than before. It was just down to my lack of experience that we lost out. Let me assure you, it wont happen again!
Engine health wise, the maximum air charge temperature in the fastest timed run only reached 26C, and the boost topped out at 1.4bar. This little 1600cc engine is hardly stressed with the REVO turbo, and yet its making 313bhp. It just goes to show that with some changes to the internals of the engine, we could just turn the boost up and the skys the limit for power levels.
Photographs from Rockingham can be see here
So lots to do, launch control definitely needs sorting, paddles need fitting again and setting up, and the diffuser needs fixing, and we should be ready for Croft in 20 days time. From now on I'll only try Launch control in practice. If it doesnt work, I'll turn it off for the main timed runs.
Stop Press: The car is now booked in on the 6th April for the paddles to be sorted, ready for Croft on Easter Monday.
#1 day to go. I collected the Force Racing rims yesterday, but when I tried to fit the fronts the offset is wrong, and they hit the bottom wishbones before full lock, so I'll not be running the wider fronts for Rockingham. I will however have the 10.5" rears on, and these will be fitted with 250/570R13 A15 tyres to help get the power down. So everything is ready, the forecast is great for Sunday, lets hope for a trouble free day and some good racing.
#3 days to go. I've removed the gas bottle and regulator as I'm not able to get the paddles setup for Sunday. This will save me some weight, and I'll have to use the stick shift as I did all last year, which hopefully wont be too much of a challenge while I'm wrestling with 313bhp :D
The car is now ready. I've drained the fuel tank following the rolling road session, and managed to drain 6.5 litres, which means it used 5.5litres for the two power runs and the launch control setup. It'll be interesting to see how much fuel she gets through at Rockingham with the extra power. I have notes from last year so I should be able to see by how much the consumption has gone up.
My wheels are ready for collection, and I'll be heading up North in the morning to collect them. They will be lighter than the cast alloys on the car now, and wider, 1" and 2" wider in fact, 1" at the front, and 2" at rear, which will give me 8.5" at the front and 10.5" at the rear. This should help the tyres work better as they were squirming around on the rims last year, as although I bought wide rubber, the stock rims weren't really wide enough to make them work properly.
You should be able to see the difference now in the front wing height. I've lowered it 12mm to the ground, so it might work a little better due to the improved ground effect.
At the rear of the car I have added Gurney flaps to both the elements in the wing assembly. Gurney flaps, which are nothing more than 90" strips of metal, help increase downforce by as much as 10% but their height is critical. Too tall and they just add considerable drag. Too short and they wont be effective. I'll see if they make any difference but to be honest, 10% increase is going to be difficult to feel.
#6 days to go. I am car 118 at Rockingham this Sunday, Pete is 119 in the sister car, and the Lola F3000 V8 is doubled entered. All to play for then.
The airbottle, regulator and pipework are now all fitted, the paddles are wired in, the car just needs setting up by NMS for the paddles to work. I have tried pulling the switches but nothing happens, as NMS disabled the paddles before I left so I could continue to use the stick shift.
Panic! Its only two weeks to go to the first event at Rockingham (26th March), and, well, theres not a great deal left to do. I changed both the trilobe joints this week, as a precaution, for replacement GKN items from Trident. This was a relatively easy job, taking around 15mins each side, and the driveshafts just pop out the gearbox to aid removal, without any of the gearbox oil leaking out. What a clever design.
I've fitted the Geartronics valve block to the car, ready for the transition to flappy paddles, and I've wired them in to the outputs on the X10, but of course, I cant test them until I get the car back to NMS for setup. I've also acquired a 7L dive tank, which will be used to refill the 0.8L paintball bottle on the car, so all I've left to do is to wire up the paddles and it should all just work. The paddles are also fitted to the steering wheel, and I've had to order a 20mm spacer to fit between the paddles back plate and the rear face of the steering wheel, which should be with me this week sometime.
As I've practically finished the paddle install, I've asked Northampton Motorsport again if they can squeeze me in before Rockingham on the 26th as I'd really like to start the season with everything working. My next event after Rockingham is the Croft sprint on Easter Monday, followed by the Snetterton 100 sprint in May, which I've entered. Croft will be the first round for me of the British Sprint Championship, and with the power I have now, I see no reason why I shouldnt be a Top 12 finisher.
The ROPS certificates finally turned up yesterday. They're a 12 page document, printed on security paper, and they detail the roll over protection on the Mygale SJ01 2012 chassis. We have to show these certificates at scrutineering at every event we attend from 2017, and therefore they must be kept safe.
A very big thankyou to Mygale, Ford and the MSA for expediting them. Ford and Mygale waived all their costs, and Ford paid the £370 homologation fee to the MSA. The MSA then sent the certificates out free of charge, so we're really grateful to all involved.
I'm trying to get a set of Force Racing wheels on the car in time for Rockingham, 10" rear and 8" front, so the sticky Avon tyres are able to work better, as the rears squirm around on the 8.5" rears at the moment. They're being made, but no ETA as yet as to when they'll be delivered.