The steering column has been shortened by 25mm and the new slug that came with the boss I bought from DT is now welded in to the end of the column tube, expertly done by www.altiss.com
My next event is the Snetterton 100, which is on the 13/14th May, and forms two rounds of the BSC. After that I'm at Pembrey for the weekend on June 3rd/4th, which will be my first time there.
I bought a device off the Internet, that was meant to help me push my trailer back in to its parking spot at the caravan storage centre, more easily, a bit of a labour saving device. Despite being beautifully made, it didnt ease the movement, and I've asked for a refund, which by law I am entitled to under the Distance Selling Regulations, but lets just say, the sellers arent cooperating. Right now, I'm not going to mention their brand, as I'm waiting for them to agree to provide the 100% refund. They're only offering 75% which is unacceptable. But I will name names if they dont cooperate, so lets hope for them that it doesnt come to that, as with 10,000 hits a day, I really dont think they want the exposure I can create. I'll get in touch with trading standards and draft a letter, and if they still dont want to give me a full refund, we'll start turning the screws.
A very good day at Croft. Everything worked perfectly, the launch brought my 64ft times down to consistent 2.1-2.2s, and the paddle shift was a revelation. The new wheels made the car so much more stable, I just need the new aero now, so I can get all the power down on the corners.
My best time, of 80.03s was set on the second of my two Top 12 Runoffs, that I qualified for in 11th place, and I was 14s faster than last year, which is a massive improvement.
I'm still not flat everywhere where I wanted to be, but I'm a damn site faster than 2016, and I reached 139MPH on the approach to Tower on my 1st and 2nd timed runs. Thats the quickest I've even been in a race car.
I've weighed the car and it comes in at 453Kg (dry) on the Rimstock rims and wet tyres. The Force rims and slicks reduces the weight by around 3Kg when fitted, so dry, the car is pretty much bang on 450Kg. I'm quite happy with that. Removal of the Diolin side impact boards took 16kg of weight out of the car, and with the removal of the extinguisher system, mirrors, gear shift cable and other alternator parts, the addition of the X10 expander, and the pneumatic paddle system, has put some weight back on, so 450Kg isnt that bad considering. I noticed that the corner weights are out, so I'll set the chassis up at Croft using their flat garage floors.
#4 days to go, and I’m really looking forward to Croft on Monday. It will be the first time I’ve driven the car with the paddle gear change system, and I’ll also have the audible warning buzzer connected inside my crash helmet, which will prompt me when to change gear. The prompts have been optimised according to the gear selected and the torque/bhp trace from the dyno plot, so for each gear, the change point is optimised to drop the engine revs at peak torque each time. So rather than relying on the change lights from the dash, I’ll be concentrating on the buzzer making a noise. I just hope I can hear it, and at the same time, that it’s not too loud. I’ll also have the Force Racing rims fitted all round, with fresh rubber on the front axle.
I've repaired the damaged diffuser, which touched the floor at Rockingham after two of the mounts pulled through. I've a lot of small jobs left to do to be ready for Monday, but I'm sure I'll cram them all in over the Easter weekend.
This is a diagram of the pneumatic paddle setup that I've installed. I've used Geartronics supplied FTR actuator, mounting bracket, a 2 way valve block and their 3500psi regulator. The air bottle I've used is an Empire UL carbon 0.8L paintball bottle, from Just Paintball, and it weighs just 790g. The steering wheel paddles are from Ascher-Racing, in Austria, and are actually race simulator paddles, though there is no reason why they wouldnt be suitable for real racing.
I have now removed the bowden gear change cable, and lever plus strain gauge, and I'll weigh these to see how much weight I've saved.
Well, the paddles worked first time, all my wiring was 100%, and we spent a good 7 hours working on the car, updating the firmware, and changing settings for launch and traction control. Very pleased with the outcome.
The engine now has a raised tickover and some other tweaks to see if we can cure the issue where the engine stalls when moving and then stopping in the paddock. We've enabled stack shift, which is a feature that allows me to shift down several gears whilst still accelerating, and when I reach the corner where the preselected gear is, and brake, the gears will automatically downshift to the gear I originally selected. This will take some practice to ensure its working first. The gear change from 1-2 is now automatic, so I dont need to worry anout reaction times to grab 2nd gear, as the ECU will change up automatically. Plus we spent a good hour or so adjusting the launch control settings, which we tested in the car park, and the system seems to be working properly now.
#12 days to go to the Croft Easter sprint. The entries have now closed, and there are 15 BSC contenders entered, and class 5E has me and five other V8's in the class. This is going to be a tall order.
Pete broke his gearbox in the sister car on Sunday. A layshaft bearing collapsed and the needle rollers from the bearing fell inside the gearbox casing and made their way in to most of the gears. Its looking like an expensive repair bill. Pete said the oil had turned black after the rolling road session but he ignored the warning sign and filled it back up with fresh oil. He managed to do four laps at Rockingham without any issues, but at Hethel on Sunday, after a 146mph run, it blew a hole in the end casing, and lunched itself. Expensive lesson. I've checked the oil in my gearbox and its the same colour it went in, ie clean, so I'll just have to keep an eye on it and see if the colour changes after each event.
I've replaced the steering wheel quick release boss, and the wheel now feels firmer, with no more side to side wobble. The wheel boss that came with the car was pretty worn, and I dont want the wheel coming off halfway round a lap. I've also removed the rear ARB as it wasnt connected, and thats saved another 929g of weight off the car.
I used 4l of fuel at Rockingham over the four 1.58mile laps. I make that 7.2mpg, which isnt bad I suppose.
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.