January 2003

Sunday 26th January 2003
Quite a good morning at Donington Park race circuit. Got there nice and early, and managed to grab ourselves a garage, #17. The 1st 30 minute session started at 09:30, and I managed about 22 mins in all. I came back in because I could smell burning, and it turned out to be the rear lamps! One of the light units had slipped, and the brake/side light bulb was resting on the brake lense, and melted it! A quick fix with some gaffa tape, and a refuel (>20 litres!) and we went out again at 10:30 for the 2nd session.

Much more comfortable with the car this time. Spent about 25 minutes driving very hard, really working the brakes, which are a lot better now I've modified the linkage (to get more leverage from the brake pedal). I didn't remember to switch the datalogger on for the 2nd faster session, but during the 1st I recorded 98.10 MPH on the pit straight, which was quite respectable. On the 2nd run I managed to hit the rev limiter in fifth gear, just under the Dunlop bridge, which I reckon was about 115 MPH. Like I said before, she's not really geared for race track use, but she's incredibly quick through the gears for sprints/hillclimbs, and I was able to catch and overtake a few cars, so she's not that slow!

Starting the 2nd session I noticed the alternator drive belt squealed when I drove out the pits. At the end of the 2nd session we discovered that one of the bolts that holds the alternator in place, had sheared, and the drive belt was loose. We removed the alternator, but it looks like the bolt had bent before it sheared, so we couldn't remove it from the alternator. We tried, we really did! (thanks to Mark from the XROC for his assistance, and socket set!) But I think fate was telling us that it was time to call it a day, and by about 2:30PM, we'd loaded the car back on the trailer for the journey home. I'd rather something like this broke on a test day, than whilst competing, particularly as Donington isn't that far from where I live, so its a short journey home if anything goes wrong.

I'll drill the bolt out and retap the thread to accept a larger diameter bolt/stud during the week, so it won't shear again. Aside from the breakage, she was just phenomenal! So quick, so much power, and she handles so well. According to the datalogger I pulled over 1G of lateral acceleration on the 1st session, which shows how much grip she has round corners. Going down through the craner curves, you could really feel the offside suspension loading up, before the right hander, and she was just so easy to control on the throttle. In the 1st session the track was still damp from overnight rain, and I could actually get the back of the car to step out, and I drove round the corners with the tail hanging out. Very enjoyable, and I'm really looking forward to the coming season now. The map below shows the datalogger's interpretation of the circuit. It is coloured according to the speed, so yellow sections were the fast bits, and black the stationery bits (ie the pits)
Donington Park Donington Park Donington Park Alternator bolt sheared In the pit garage Track graph
Saturday 17th January 2003
The wiring loom modification worked, first time too. We now have brake lights and rear side lights, and a supply to the DL90 datalogger. I've updated the wiring schematics for the engine bay and the black box, and these are now available for download.
Power connections
Signal connections
Black box circuitry

The JVC miniDV camcorder I bought the other week turned out to be faulty, and the replacement has now arrived. I've fitted an Adaptec 4300 Firewire-1394 adapter card to my PC, and I am now able to download video from the camera directly to the Windows XP Movie Maker program. It's clever stuff. It's amazing how all these gadgets 'just work'. I didn't even have to install any device drivers for the Firewire card.

At the moment, I'm researching the fitment of a camera system in the Fiesta. I've found some wicked 1/3" CCD colour cameras (pen-style), which cost less than £90 each, and provide a signal which can be recorded directly in to a camcorder with an AV-IN. Unfortunately, my new miniDV camcorder doesn't have one of these connections, so I need to find a VCR that will install in the car. However, not content with tapes, I've been searching round for Digital Video Recorders, as used by the US Police in their patrol cars, and I've come across all manner of devices that can be installed in a car. And they have the facility to record more than one signal. So I can have more than one camera on the car, and the footage is recorded directly to hard disk, for download and manipulation at home. Clever stuff, expensive, but clever. I'll look in to designing a system for the car, and I'll do a full write up on what's involved. Check out www.rfconcepts.co.uk for more details on their excellent range of cameras.
Sunday 11th January 2003
With just two weeks to go to the test session at Donington, I've started wiring up the brake lights, rear side lights, and a power lead to the DL90 data logger. By this evening, I've completed the wiring loom, so tomorrow I just have to plug everything in and we should have working lights, etc.

The DL90 is firmly mounted to the car floor, using the supplied brackets. I'll make a bracket for the GPS antenna next, as although it has a magnetic base, it needs to sit at the bottom of the windscreen for best signal strength, and theres no where really where I can locate it, without making a bracket to support it.

I bought a JVC miniDV camcorder (DVX-707) last week, for use at Donington. I'll attach the camera to the rollcage for some in-car footage. I'm not going for any records on the 26th. The aim is to put 2 or three hours running time on the gearbox, and chassis etc, so I can really bed everything in properly, to make sure we have reliability for the coming season. I'm using the 205/50 Yokohama A032R's on the day. These are treaded and will be used for wet weather events. I've not managed to get another set of Compomotive MO wheels and sticky 15" slicks yet, but will have done so before the first event in April.

Saturday 4th January 2003
Ran the engine for half an hour today, to get some more antifreeze in to the system. It's supposed to be -4 tonight, and I don't want the radiator cracking because the water froze. She's still running too rich at tick over. If I blip the throttle theres lots of black smoke from the exhaust. I think she's rich at tickover because the fuel pressure regulator doesn't have a vacuum hose attached, and therefore the pressure at tickover is more than is required, and she's over fuelling. Not that she's at tickover very much. I'll turn the startup enrichment map off completely, as cold starting is still a challenge, and if she's already running rich because of the pressure regulator, then she hardly needs any more fuel to start!

I'm really looking forwards to Donington on the 26th Jan. I just need to fit the datalogger and wire up the brake lights for safety, and take plenty of petrol.
Thursday 2nd January 2003
Happy New Year

I've booked a test session at Donington Park for the end of January. It's an all dayer (09:00 hrs till Dusk), so weather permitting we'll be able to get some decent testing mileage on the car. The gearbox felt tight at the last sprint at Silverstone in August, and it really could do with some more mileage on it. I'll get the DL90 datalogger wired in over the next few weeks, so I can get some test data downloaded showing the car's real top speed, acceleration etc. And I'll be able to test the brake linkage since I last modified it, and the datalogger will show if there's any improvement too.

Have you visited www.zetecturbo.com yet? Its a new site, run by Sunny from the www.fiestaturbo.com site. Bookmark them both for reference, particularly if you're in to turbo charging the Zetec engine.