June 2011

Wednesday 29th June 2011
I went to Mallory Park today, to watch the revival of the old Thundersaloon race series, which I have an interest in because I used to follow Jim Mensley in his Honda Legend. Unfortunately, no sign of the Legend any more, but Baby Bertha, the 6.0 Carlton, and the Stars and Stripes Manta were out, together with the DAF V8, Ian Medcalfe's Fiat 500, and a plethora of other classic racing cars from the 70's, 80's and 90's. I bumped in to Joss Ronchetti, who was recovering from cracked ribs sustained at Mallory at the Classics race the weekend before. We had a chat about his exploits, and he knows Karl Norris, the owner of the 600BHP Cosworth Sunbeam I was up against at Aintree on Saturday. Karls offered to send me in car footage from his Sunbeam, so I can learn the right lines for the circuits we sprint together on.

Return of the Thundersaloons, Mallory Park, 29th June 2011

And here is a 2minute video I made from some footage I took.

Monday 27th June 2011
Aintree Sprint, 25th June 2011
5:20am depart
7:40am arrive
120 miles 34.5mpg
Fiesta Top Speed: 115MPH in 5th gear

64ft (seconds) 2.71 - 2.58 - 2.66 - 2.62 - 2.56
Bechers (seconds) 38.51 - 36.53 - 35.14 - 35.40 - 35.08
Speed (mph) - - 115 - 115 - 115 - 115
Time (seconds) 58.05 - 55.85 - 53.50 - 53.81 - 53.48

P1 Broke the lower gearbox/engine steady bar. Basically the nut that secured the rod end to the tube, had sheared off. The prospect of driving home again after just one practice run wasn't one I wanted to entertain. Malcom Evans, the owner of an immaculate red anglia, parked next to me, said to find Jon (the chap who did the drivers briefing) and say to him "Malc says do you know if Owen is working today", which I did. A Westfield owner standing talking to Jon over at the start area, asked what the problem was and I explained I needed to find a MiG so I could repair my broken engine steady bar, and he rang the local MOT garage to see if Owen was at work. It turned out that Owen was out for the day, but I was told if I could use a MiG I could use theirs. So I removed the broken steady bar from underneath the Fiesta, unhitched the trailer from the Subaru, and drove the mile around the corner, to Aintree Motors. I borrowed a new nut, used their bench mounted grinder/wire brush, to clean up the bar. And I quickly and very thoroughly MiG'd the two back together.

15minutes later I'd refitted the steady bar, and the spare top steady bar that braces the gearbox to the bulkhead. But having missed my P2, I joined the back of the last batch of T1's and was quizzed as to why I was running so far out of order. I explained to the CofC that I'd had to get some welding done to repair the broken engine steady bar, and he asked if I'd told anyone I was leaving the circuit. At which point Jon piped up "Ah, welding, broken engine steady bar. Yes he told me". Smiles all around, and I was allowed to make my 1st timed run. Lots of mechanical noises, however, and when I returned to the pits I remembered that the steady bar was supposed to pull the bottom of the engine rearwards, to prevent the gearbox hitting the passenger side suspension tie bar. But as I'd just bolted it all back together after the repair, the box was hitting the tie bar. And so I set about removing the steady bar again, jacking the rear of the box up to tilt the engine/box forwards, shortening the steady bar and bolting it all back together. No harm done, just paint missing from the suspension tie bar where it rested on the box.

I also removed the two rear bump stops that I'd made during the week, as it was apparent that over the bumps out on track, the rear end was crashing down on them, limiting the travel of the rear suspension too much. So after my T1 run, I removed the rear wheels and quickly removed the stops.

T2 Another better run, getting more used to the paddle clutch (day and night compared to a normal one), and my gear changes were starting to get easier.

T3 I tried too hard, very scruffy run, went slower than my second timed run, T2

T4 The final run of the day, I made my best start (0-60 in 5.4s, 64ft of 2.56s), and went quicker than I'd been all day, just a few hundredths off my PB from 2006, in cool conditions with a strong headwind on the finishing straight. Very Happy

Conclusions: Lots to do. There is a small brake fluid leak on the rear proportioning valve, that I need to take care of, and the fluid has lifted the paint, so it all needs cleaning up and respraying. The rear of the carbon bonnet lifts over 100MPH and I need to reinforce it to prevent that from happening. The exhaust tunnel is getting very warm on the short section where I haven't used the reflective heat shield underneath the car, and as a result, the fuel lines inside the car are getting warm through heat soak, which is raising the temperature of the fuel and costing me valuable BHP. The top gear of the car is too low for sprinting. On every timed run I crossed the finish line at 115MPH, which was 7600rpm in 5th gear. When I changed from 4th to 5th, the revs only seem to drop by 1000rpm, and the car quickly reaches terminal velocity.

Overall I'm very happy with the Fiesta. The box is great fun to drive, and I will get quicker at gear changes in time. The 2 degrees camber I'm running don't exactly help me get the power down away from the line, so I need to perfect my launches. My fastest 0-60 was 5.4S so its not all bad news. I may need to fit taller tyres to raise the top speed on the faster circuits, or get the gearbox out for a trip back to Quaife to have 5th gear changed for a taller ratio. Right now, the taller tyres is the easiest option, and I can get some wider tyres in at the same time.

Video of my fastest timed run, on only my 4th ever visit to the circuit (the last one being 6 years ago, on the same tyres)

Feedback so far has been encouraging. Apparently on the last corner I should stay out wide (take a deeper approach), to avoid the Grand Canyon dip on the apex, which should allow me to hold more speed around the corner. I've also been told that most quick drivers dont change down at all at Aintree, but they just keep pulling higher gears. So theoretically I should stay in fifth around the last corner (or maybe arrive in, or drop down to 4th) and avoid the dip on the inside, thus allowing more speed through the corner. My next visit there is on September the 3rd, so as long as its a dry meeting, I'll have yet another go at improving my times.
Wednesday 22nd June 2011
The Fiesta is almost ready for Saturdays sprint meeting at Aintree. I've reinforced the front bonnet pin brackets, as they were too flexible and I don't want the bonnet coming off at high speed.

I've wired in the in-car camera power supply, and charged the recorder, so I should get some footage of my practice and timed runs (assuming they're worth showing of course). The RT Dash3Lite digital display, that connects to the DL1 Mk2 Datalogger, I've re-flashed the firmware with the latest version, and it will be used to display the speeds I'm reaching (for the driver, not the in-car camera). I just need to make a bracket to mount it beneath the windscreen.

The rear axle, I've made some bump-stops from M12 threaded stainless steel rod, and they are adjusted to allow the wheels right up inside the rear arches without actually allowing the tyres to rub. I've made a pair of new drop links for the rear ARB, and the ARB is at least now horizontal when the car is sat on its wheels, so no more issues with the ARB hitting the underside of the car on hard cornering, and preventing the suspension from travelling any further.

I've re-adjusted the gear selector cable (again) after I found some issues with selecting gears. Hopefully it'll work OK on Saturday. The doors squares have the numbers 88 stuck on them, and I just need to fill the car with fuel, get the extinguisher refilled on Friday, and buy some Rain-X as the forecast isn't great, with rain expected for most of the day.

Classic Touring Car Racing Club meet at Mallory park, 19th June 2011

And if you are looking to save money on the admission fee for Saturdays sprint, to celebrate next weeks "National Motorsport Week", Liverpool MC has a special offer on two for one tickets for adults. Details here
Friday 17th June 2011
I am car 88 at Aintree, against some pretty stiff competition in class 4B. I'm using the event as a shakedown though, so no pressure. The Entry List can be found here: Aintree 25th June entry list

I've quite a few jobs to do on the Fiesta before she can be loaded on the trailer for the event. I need to check the engine mounts and suspension for any signs of distress after the rolling road session, and adjust the clutch pedal height, plus a few other odds and jobs to make her ready for the debut at Aintree.

Rolling Road session at ****, 14th June 2011

Wednesday 15th June 2011
I had a great day at **** yesterday, where **** worked his magic on the engine map. No overheating issues any more, no dramas, not even a drop of oil on the floor. All the care and attention has paid off.

Yet again we coaxed 199.8BHP out of the engine, and the red line is now set to 7500rpm.

Suspension also aligned as best as we could.
L -1°3 and -1°25 R Camber
L 2°48 and 2°56 R Caster
L -°01 and -°03 R Toe
So thats as close as we could get to 3° caster and 1.5° of negative camber

Here are the youtube videos I recorded, of various mapping and full power runs.

We had to stick some cold fuel in around midday as power was dropping off, and the fuel lines were warm to the touch. No other issues. Another successful day at ****.

On the way to Northampton I stalled the Legacy at a roundabout (with the trailer attached) and I couldn't get the engine to start. Took around 10 attempts before it started. The car is booked in at Heritage Leicester next Monday to investigate a loud clonking underneath the car. I had it on the ramps on Monday and noticed that the rear of the gearbox doesn't appear to be supported, so when the exhaust is wobbled by hand, the transmission jumps around all over the place, and this is allowing the exhaust and gearlinkages to hit the floor of the car. I hope the dealer doesn't come back with their usual 'they all do that' excuse.
Sunday 12th June 2011
Fitted the passenger side rear wheel spacer, and I now only have a one inch gap between the rear tyres and the edges of the trailer bed. If I go any wider with my rear tyres, I may need to get some tyres just to get the car on the trailer.

Filled the tank with 30litres of Shell SuperUnleaded and the car is finally ready for Tuesdays RR session at ****. And torqued everything up ready for the test session.
Friday 10th June 2011
Fitted the drivers side rear axle spacer, which took a couple of hours, as I had to buy some longer socket head 12.9 screws to accomodate the spacers. The bolts supplied with the kit, of course have a hexagonal head on them, but the steel plate welded to the end of the Fiesta Mk1 axle, to allow the Focus hub to be bolted on, didn't have enough clearance around the circumference of the axle to allow the bolt to be rotated. Hence the requirement for round socket head screws. Anyway, lessons learnt, and the passenger side should be a quicker conversion. The width of the rear axle will be 41mm wider, however, I was running 5mm spacers on the hubs, which I've removed, so the overall increase will be 31mm as it was already 10mm wider due to the hub spacers.

Looking at tyres again. My Michelin N00's are quite narrow compared to the width I could be running. Mike Johnson (Beige supercharged Mk1) was running 235/45R13 rims at Classic Ford, and mine are 190/570R15. That means I'm running tyres 45mm narrower! And his diamater of tyre is 542mm, which is 28mm shorter than mine. If I change to 230/550R15 tyres, it'll lower the car by 10mm (which is a good thing) and make very little difference to the gearing. But the important thing is that I'll be running 40mm wider tyres than before. The question now is how wide a rim do I need? I'm running 7J at the moment, and I think I need around an 8J to accomodate the wider rubber. Time to do some more homework.
Monday 6th June 2011
Classic Ford, Santa Pod, 5th June 2011

Coordsport (Part-box.com) are supplying me with the following 20.5mm Puma axle spacers, which I can fit to my rear axle to space the Focus Mk1 stub axles out. This modification will also allow me to run without the 5mm wheel spacers, and will give me a wider rear track (30mm wider overall).

I've posted my entry off for the Llandow sprint on July 16th. Again fingers crossed I get accepted.
Sunday 5th June 2011
I drove the Fiesta for about two minutes today, in the empty car park at Santa Pod, just to see what the gear change is like, and I must admit it feels very alien to me. I went up through the box, 1-2-3-4 and back down again, and did a few laps at slow speed, and the first thing I will have to remember is to let the gear lever return after I've pulled it back to change up. I'm tending to hold it towards me, which isn't a problem, but I must remember to let go or I wont be able to change up to the next gear until I do. The car performed flawlessly, its just the driver that needs some practice. Classic Ford was a great show again this year. The SBR racing stand was where I ended up, next to Mike Johnson's amazing beige Mk1, that now has 235/45R13 tyres on the front, presumably to allow him to get his supercharged Zetec to put the power down. His car is an inch lower than mine, so I really need to have a rethink about sticking with 15 inch rims. Pictures to follow :D

I also spoke to Jimmy Neophytou, he runs a Mk1 Fiesta in the Blue Oval Saloon Series, and I sold him the driveshafts from my Zetec conversion. He'll be at Mallory park on June 18/19th, so I'll be going along on Sunday to watch him.

Friday 3rd June 2011
I've driven the car forwards and backwards on the driveway this afternoon, and the clutch bitepoint feels spot on. The gearbox went in to gear OK, and I managed 1st, then Neutral and Reverse, and back in to Neutral, which took some concentration as I've never driven a sequential before. I've also washed the car and given it a good clean for Sundays Classic Ford show at Santa Pod (I'm on the TurboSport stand in area T1), and its almost ready to be loaded back on to the trailer for the trip.

I've had two acceptances emailed to me today for both the Aintree events I entered yesterday. So June 25th will be the competition debut.

I tried out the Sealey fuel pump this afternoon to transfer the contents of a Jerry can to the fuel tank in the Fiesta, and couldn't get it to work. Turned out that the O-Ring inside the pump was shot, so I replaced it with an O-ring from a tap I bought as a spare last year, and it started working. To be honest, its a complete waste of time. It doesn't pump the fuel. It just siphons it off from one container to another, and the flow rate is too slow to make it of any real use. What I really need is a mechanical fuel pump I can turn by hand, that transfers the fuel, so I can quickly fill the Fiesta tank. I'll keep looking for an alternative.
Thursday 2nd June 2011
I have sent off my entry for the Liverpool Motor Club 'Aintree Sprints' on June 25th and September 3rd, and the Summer Championship Harewood meeting at the end of August. I've also entered the Midland Speed Championship, and decided to give the BSC a miss this year, as the few remaining rounds are too far afield for me to travel to, so I'll be focusing on tracks that I know, and places where I have set previous PBs at to see how much quicker the new car is. I'm also possibly doing the Llandow sprint on July 16th (finances permitting). Fingers crossed that I get accepted to run at the Aintree June event.
Wednesday 1st June 2011
Dropped the car back on to its wheels last night, and the camber looks good with the strut tops adjusted outwards. Tracking looks passable too, and I'll make some more adjustments in the next few evenings.