April 2004

Sunday 25th April 2004
Wow, what a day. Who'd have thought that the new suspension would have made such a difference to my times? My PB at Curborough was 39.39s from the 2003 season, with a car that wouldn't go round corners. And gradually today, lap by lap I managed to go from 40.07s, to 38.53, to 37.61s, and finally down to 37.29s. Thats a massive improvement over last year, particularly considering it is April, which isn't the warmest of months. Though having said that, we did see 21.5°C during the day, and had to keep an eye on the tyres as the warmth kept raising the pressures from the ideal 21.5psi. My first run was ruined by the old gear change problem though. I changed down from 3rd to 2nd, instead of up in to 4th, and I buzzed the engine, but yet again, she survived the abuse. I've a new B&M gear shifter to fit for the next event, which should cure my achilles heel, which has always been gear selection problems. The shifter (Part #45096) was ordered from www.summitracing.com and only cost £135 at the present exchange rate, cheaper than you can buy it anywhere in the UK.

I'm ecstatic. The XR2 is finally becoming a competitive car. I can carry so much speed through the corners now, and the clips from the video's show that the inside wheel is around 1 to 2" off the ground, which means the anti-roll bar is working, and the camber on the rear wheels is really helping too, as all the load is transferred to the outside wheel, the 1.5° of camber helps transfer even more grip through the tyre, down to the ground.

I was up against a space framed Fiat 500 all day, running a 1300CC engine from a Mini, and with slicks, he was just 1/10th of a second quicker than me. And I'm on road tyres don't forget, so with slicks I would have run rings round him. So, a 2nd in class, and a titanic scrap for first. An excellent days motorsport. And I've started to overcome this problem of the red mist decending, and getting more and more ragged. I think I can be very pleased with todays performance. Next event is a quieter outing, its Fiesta In The Park at Whicksteed Park in Kettering, on May 16th. I'm on the Performance Ford stand. See you there?
Curborough Sprint, 24th April 2004

Saturday 24th April 2004
In preparation for tomorrow at Curborough I've removed the handbrake lever and cables, to save some weight; fitted 20mm bump stop rubbers to the front shock absorbers to prevent the tyres from catching the inner wings on full travel; I've lowered the rear of the car by 10mm by removing the rubber caps that normally sit atop the springs; I've sprayed the front wheels with PTFE spray so the brake dust is more easily removed; and I've cleaned the car of all the iron powder, that had been deposited from the last event at 3 Sisters.
Saturday 17th April 2004
Following the last sprint, I found that the brake dust from the Hawke Carbon/Ferro blue pads, had bonded to the inside of the front wheels, and to the paintwork along the sides of the car. It turns out that there is a very high iron content in the pads, and the iron dust has reacted with the paint on the wheels, and stuck to them. I managed to clean the wheels, but it required the use of an abrasive cleaning compound, and a heck of a lot of elbow grease to get it off, and I've yet to finish polishing it from the sides of the car. I've bought a can of dry PTFE spray, which I'll coat the inside of the front rims with. It should act as a release agent, so any further dust will just brush off the rims. I'm going to invest in a set of Ferodo DS2500 pads for a future event, as these are supposed to be very good from cold, and don't make such a mess of your paintwork.

I'm currently lying in 1st place in the Sports Libre class in the Mid Speed championship, and with 20 points from the first round, I'm in 11th place overall. Not as bad a start to the season as I first thought, despite the fiasco with the timing at 3 Sisters.

I've to set myself a target for the next event at Curborough. Something to concentrate on, otherwise I'm not going to improve my driving skills. I think I'll chase a time below 39seconds for my first visit this year. I'd like to do a 37second run. If the weather holds out, it'll just be me that's preventing that from happening.

Easter Monday 12th April 2004
I competed on the Motor Cycle Club of Gt Britain's Lands End Trial over the weekend, passengering for my father in his 850cc 4cyl open top Liege kit car. We started from Popham Airfield on Friday evening, drove to the start at North Petherton, and setoff around midnight for Newquay, via the usual collection of hills. We didn't climb Crackington, just ran out of puff as we approached the top of the hill (too much ballast?), and there were a couple of restarts on other hills that proved too slippy, so we're not claiming for a medal this year. But the best news of all was that we cleared Blue Hills 1 and 2. Hill 1 was very difficult, with a deep muddy puddle which made the tyres all wet, followed by a rocky restart. But we managed to climb out, wheel spinning until the tyres dried and she just climbed out. And Blue Hills 2, which last year seemed impossible to climb, we just sailed up, and the restart was a breeze. Blue Hills 1 and 2 are probably the most famous of all the hills on all 3 different MCC trials (Edinburgh, Exeter and Lands End), and we managed to climb both of them. Awesome. We finished at 2pm on Saturday afternoon, and then headed for the B&B for a quick nap, then it was out for a celebratory meal, back to the B&B for the overnight stop, then on Sunday morning we had the 200 mile drive back to Popham, and then the 140 mile drive with the car on the trailer, back home. Its a very tiring weekend, with no sleep for 36 hours, but thats part of the challenge.
Friday 9th April 2004
There's something very fishy going on with the results from last weekend's 3 Sisters Sprint. The organisers have had a change of heart, and they've decided not to scrap all the times for my class, so the run off at the end of the day was in vain. Furthermore, the results haven't credited me with my 2nd timed run after lunch (the re-run of the 1st timed run which was lost due to a timing problem). Instead of giving me the 59.8s run, I only scored a 61.82s and a 65.25s run, which means I still scored 20 points for Sunday. I queried this with the organisers, and they said that the results for 4B stand, despite the anomolies. Deep joy! Still, there's plenty of time left to try to score some more maximum score's in the championship.
Monday 5th April 2004
1st in Class 4B and a trophy for the best prepared car. An excellent result for the 1st meeting of the year. The event was spoilt by heavy rain showers, and problems with the timing gear used by the organising club, meant my 1st timed run didn't record a time. (just my luck as it started raining as I finished the lap) And with other timing anomolies the organisers decided to scrap all the times for classes 4A and 4B, meaning we had a run off at the end of the event to decide placings. As Les Proctor had gone home with his OMS after his 1st timed run, I had no competition, and slid the car round the track to come 3rd in 4A+B. Rather chaotic, the event was spoilt by the bad weather, but I still had fun. The Fiesta is so much better round corners with the new suspension. There's no understeer in the dry, and the rear axle worked perfectly with the new anti roll bar. There's hardly any body roll even on the softest ARB setting, which I had to use because of the damp conditions. The new Piper camshafts have given the engine a huge increase in power. There's too much for the wet now, I had to feather the throttle in 2nd gear, otherwise the front wheels just broke traction. I could left foot brake to get the car to drift round corners too. Excellent fun, but I need to really start concentrating on taking the racing line, and I must stop playing. The XR2 is now capable of recording much quicker times. I just need to prove it.

The Audi is back in at the dealers. It's developed a strange noise coming from underneath the car, from just behind the drivers side front wheel, sounds like a crank case breather pipe is missing or has fallen off to me. The dealer has until Thursday to fix it and it only started after the thermostat was changed last week, so I'm not expecting to pay for the dealership to repair it.
Saturday 3rd April 2004
The Audi is now back from the main dealer. Both passenger door trims have been replaced, and the doors have been resprayed (FOC). The thermostat has been changed, and surprise surprise, the engine now warms up from cold in less than 5 minutes, and runs at 90° instead of 70-80°. See, it wasn't that hard to diagnose. They've also seen the smoke at startup, and have diagnosed a fault with the new air and water temperature sensors. Only changed the water temp sensor at this stage, the ATS is on back order, but I'll see if she's already cured in the next few days. They again confirmed my theory that it was overfuelling at startup. It's poor isn't it, you tell a main dealer what the faults are, and they ignore you, so it takes two visits (and a respray) to fix the faults.