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13Oct

The second attempt at making a rear wing bracket is now complete, using the 50% thicker 6mm aluminium sheet. I've retained the 10mm aluminium tubular structure that I'd had made for the first bracket. The key was to mount the tubular structure as low as possible to the gearbox mount, as that was where the bracket was flexing. I can still displace the wing by pressing down on the end plate, but, its far more rigid than before, and with the wire ropes fitted to the diffuser, these will help stabilise the wing further when travelling at speed.

With the wing bracket now sorted, I just need to check the spring rates fitted to the front and rear dampers, and see what came in the box of spares from Radical, as I'll probably fit the next hardest springs I have, to help combat the additional downforce and prevent the car from grounding out.

DJ carbon wing fitted to my Mygale 4000N downforce! #fordperformance #mygale #ecoboost #loughboroughcarclub #ford #mountune #turbotechnics #revo #blackracecar

A post shared by Graham Blackwell (@zetecinsidedotcom) on

I popped over to Curborough last weekend to watch the orange sister car being put through its paces by Pete Goulding. Pete recently bought a front and rear wing kit from Elite Carbon, and on the very first outing at Blyton the weekend before, the new rear wing broke. Pete had gone for a dual element design, 1400mm in width, similar to the standard rear wing design on both cars. However, after climbing over 100mph, the lower wing couldnt handle the deflection from the total downforce that both 1400mm wings were producing, and it sheared at the point where the wing mount was bonded to the lower wing. Pete had to remove the new wing and refit the original, as it wasnt something that could be repaired at the trackside.

Pete has since taken the wing assembly back to Elite Carbon and they're working on the replacement. It should really have incorporated a vertical strut, to distribute the force from the top wing, on to the lower wing mounts. Or the lower wing needed to be made far stronger to take the combined loads. So for Curborough, Pete was running the standard Mygale rear wings, keeping the Elite front wing on the car, and he was suffering understandably from oversteer.

Still, he finished well at Curby (or Cowborough as some people like to call it) and scored enough points to place him 5th overall in the 2017 HSA Championship. I only finished 26th this year, fourth in class, as I was concentrating on the British Sprint Championship, and it's hard enough to commit to one championship, without having to worry about the expense of competing in two. All credit to Pete, he's had a great year, with several FTD's, even with the lower engine power output compared to mine, but I'm still improving, I beat him once, and we had a 1-2 at MIRA, and in 2018, with both cars running uprated aero, it should be interesting to see how much higher we can place in both championships.

Over the winter, Pete is planning on replacing his Pumaspeed Turbo (X37), possibly with a Turbo Technics Revo like mine, and he's aiming for more power than me, naturally. I reckon my Mountune engine could take more power, but to be honest, its proven 100% reliable, and I'm interested in seeing how the performance changes with the aero, before I plan any more power upgrades. My engine only runs 1.2bar to make 313BHP, and the low pressure helps keep the intake charge temperatures down, which prevents the engine suffering from detonation. I'm told that the SBD EcoBoost engine runs over 2.5bar to make 350BHP, which seems to me to be a bit on the high side. But I'm sure with a bit more boost, the Revo turbo/Pro-Alloy intercooler combination on my engine could easily see it reach over 340BHP. I'll let Pete be the pioneer this time ;) and I might just go back to NMS for a small tweak in the Spring to raise the power levels.

For now, its time to go testing, then I'll take the gearbox off for its bi-annual service with MBR, and then wait until March next year for the first round of the 2018 BSC. And in the interim, work on my fitness, and keep my eye in with some simulator work. I want a permanent Top 12 number in 2019, so 2018 is going to be a challenging year.

26Sep

I'm trying my hand at designing the rear wing support brackets, using Sketch Up 2017, which is very easy to use, and after a few hours spent teaching myself how to use it, the results are pretty good. The idea is to machine triangular sections out of the bracket, or get them laser cut, but I cant do that until I'm 100% sure that the wing is sat in the right location.

14Sep

Mygale EcoBoost 1 - 2 at MIRA

After checking the final results from the weekends' MIRA sprint, I noticed that several of the times credited to drivers were struck out. Today I checked with MAC, and they confirmed that these were 'disallowed' times, presumably for track limit infringements. The good news for me, is that Stephen Miles' time of 45.16s was disallowed, which moves me up in to 2nd in class, and, more importantly, 2nd overall behind Pete Goulding in the sister car. So that's our very first Mygale EcoBoost 1 - 2, and long overdue it was too. I'm sorry for Steve, as we were all denied another go at beating our times, due to the rain, and although I've finally beaten him (which has taken me 2 years) I'd rather do that fair and square than through a disqualification.

#ibeatsmiles

I've overlayed Pete's data on mine, for both our T1 runs, and I'm really pleased that I'm now lifting and braking in the same places. I messed up the corner after tower, and I can see on the data Pete grabs time off me there. Pete also made a better job of the final bend, and was WOT about a second before me, which also cost me. I've made notes on what to do next year, and hopefully we'll have another dry attempt at beating our PB's at MIRA again.

10Sep

MIRA Report

The Midland Automobile Club event at MIRA (Nuneaton, Leicestershire) yesterday was a bit of a mixed bag. They said we'd get three practice runs in the morning, and then move to timed runs in the afternoon, which was the same format as we had in 2016. But last year, the event started wet, got wetter still, and only our last runs were in damp but drying conditions. This year, the rain wasnt forecast until midday, so it was suggested at the drivers briefing that we might just do two practice, and one timed run before midday. They said they'd think about it.

After walking the course, off we went then, for first practice, my first time at the track with 313BHP, and paddles, launch, traction etc, and I recorded a time of 46.07s, which was 10s quicker than my PB set in 2016. I was also quicker than Stephen Miles, and just behind Pete Goulding in the sister car, Pete having benefitted from driving at the track a few months previous, in the dry.

Second practice, I tried much harder, and went much quicker, but when I checked my time it showed a 64ft time of 5.08s, with a run of 48.73s. Here we go again. I had this same issue at Blyton. Somehow, they'd started the clock 3s before the green light came on, and my 64ft time of around 2.0s had had 3.0s added to it. I spoke to the CoC, and he said he'd make sure the start line marshals tightened up the procedure, and made sure the car didnt roll forward at the line. I know its only practice, but its meant to be practice for the drivers, not for the start line marshals. I arrive in 1st gear, hold the car in 1st gear, and launch the car a second after the lights have gone green. I'm not doing anything to make the car move forwards to break the timing beam light before the green light comes on.

News then came that the third practice run would indeed be changed for the first timed runs, and we quickly added fuel, cleaned the tyres, and watched the weather radar. "The rain is due in ten minutes" was the cry from Smiles' trailer, and looking skywards, there certainly seemed to be black clouds heading our way. But I joined the queue on slicks, as did everyone else, and all the single seaters quickly formed a line stretching down the paddock, all hoping to beat the weather. Rain started falling. At car 113, I was the last single seater out in the batch, so just my luck, everyone else would get a dry run and I'd get soaked. As the queue moved forwards, the rain was falling, and my visor had to be wiped dry. I could see the drops landing on the bodywork, but, in the short space of time, I was hoping the circuit wouldnt be too wet. Then a red flag appeared, and that added a delay of a couple of minutes, the rain was still falling, and the tension was rising. I convinced myself that the track wouldnt be too wet, and it stopped raining as Smiles shot off the line. Then the Dallara, followed by Pete, and now it was my turn. I made another great start, drove as quick as I could, made a right mess of the corner after tower, with the tyres screeching, I kept it on the track, and wrestled the oversteer on the last corner. But was it enough?

The time keepers at least got the 64ft time right this time, and I'd done a 45.27, which was 0.11 slower than Smiles with his 45.16, and Pete Goulding beat us both with a 44.08s, with the Dallara in fourth. We then watched the black clouds roll in during lunch, and there was a very heavy downpour which totally soaked the track. After lunch, I didnt bother venturing out again, but Pete did with a set of freshly cut intermediates, but he was 6s slower than the FTD run before lunch. And then several more showers came, and I decided I couldnt improve, so I loaded the car back on the trailer.

So I was 3rd overall, and just a tenth behind Smiles, which I'm very pleased about. Another dry run and I'd have sorted out the couple of mistakes in T1, and I'd have been in the 44's, if not the 43's. I hit 138MPH on the approach to Tower, and Smiles' Van Diemen only made 124MPH, which shows the difference between our 1.6T engines and the SBD 2.0 Duratec. We've far more torque, but zero Aero, so next year with the new wings fitted, we should be far quicker, and I'm hoping for some better results. I'm not unhappy with knocking 11s off my PB though. But FTD would have been nice.

05Sep

I was lucky enough to visit Base Performance Simulators a couple of weeks ago, where I learnt the Knockhill circuit in both directions on their 6-axis simulator. I video'd the session too, and felt the sim wasn't that far off the real thing, and when I compare my real Knockhill footage with the sim video, its amazing how accurate the sim is.

Watch for yourselves.


04Sep

Aintree Report

Aintree was another action packed day on Saturday, with sunny skies, a dark contrast to the weather this time last year. We had two practice and two timed runs before lunch, and four timed runs in the afternoon, with barely 35 mins between each run. I did OK, with a 42.99s, which was 0.4s slower than my PB in June. Now I'm home I can see from the video and data where I was unnecessarily slow, but on the day the pressure was such that you barely had time for a pee and any car prep was at a premium. My thanks again to Liverpool Motorclub for putting on such a slick, well run event. I was 2nd overall, behind John Graham, but then thats not surprising as there was only the two of us in the over 2.0 class.

This video shows all six timed runs. I reached over 150mph on several runs, and the car was once again, perfect.

My next event is the Midland Automobile Club MIRA (Nuneaton) sprint this coming Saturday.

31Aug

These are the two fastest runs from Knockhill, both setting new Forced Induction class records in the BSC. I also beat Ashley Suttons flying lap time, from when he raced his EcoBoost at Knockhill, which I should, as I have double the horsepower, but its still a box ticked for me :D




And so its a return to Aintree again this Saturday, alas, the new aero wont be on the car, as the rear wing support still isnt stiff enough and I dont want to lose the rear wing at 140MPH. So I'll be concentrating on carrying more speed around the corners, with the standard Aero fitted, to see if I can close the gap to John Graham in his Gould GR55.

31Aug

Knockhill Report

BSC Rounds 11 and 12

The 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.

30Aug

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.

21Aug

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.



19Aug

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


17Aug

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.

16Aug

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.

13Aug

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.

12Aug

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.