Disk swapout contThe front disks were swapped for the Kruger's on Friday, and I noticed that the front pads were quite badly worn, so I ordered a set from DT for delivery next week, hopefully they'll arrive before I load the car up to go to Aintree on Friday. If not, its really only a 5 minute job to swap them over, so I could easily replace them at the event.
On Monday the Bristol Motor Club opened the entries for the Great Western Sprint on October 23rd. I just happened to spot the email when I checked my phone, it had arrived 5 minutes before. So I quickly opened the laptop and put my entry in, I think I was the 6th on the list. I was given a £20 discount from the points I was awarded for my finishing position at the last event at Combe, so £155 was the total cost. Thankyou very much.
36 hours later and the event is almost full. Its going to prove a great finale for the BSC this year. I certainly wont be holding anything back.
Disk swapoutThe Kruger brake disks are now fitted on the rear axle, and with the car on the skates I spanner checked all the suspension and other moving parts, following the long journey back from N.Ireland, and everything looks OK for Aintree. I'll fit the kruger disks on the front axle next. The disks I'm replacing have been on the car since I bought it in 2015, so they've had quite a hard life. Aside from some blueing, they're still looking OK, so I'll keep them as my spares.
Aintree Entry ListI am car 132 at Aintree, sharing the class 5E with Ian Rowlance and Daniel Williams. Fellow BSC driver Rob Tonge is also there in the Force TA (#125), as is John Loudon (#111) in the Force HA.
ECU FirmwareGood news; I can upgrade the firmware from 1.620 to 1.693, but only after Life Racing has had the ECU returned so that the BOOT CODE is updated first. Thats quite impressive, considering the ECU is almost 10 years old. And if I dont return it, I'm already on the latest firmware that the ECU will support. So I need to wait until the last event in October, and then I'll send it back to be modded.
To find out the current levels of code in the ECU, I had to connect the laptop and run LifeMSG, and save the startup data to a text file, which was then sent to Life Racing. I'd not run LifeMSG before, the program appears to just read the inbuilt config of the hardware, and is really only used by support.
Aintree sprintI need to get some more Sprint Leaders points to bolster my 5th place in the championship, so I've put in a late entry to Aintree on September the 4th. I've got a few changes to the launch control to test; I'm going to lower the launch control cutoff speed from 30 to 25mph, and then again to 20mph, to see how well the traction control copes with taking over from launch, and Aintree is as good a place as any to test it.
Looking at the data from Kirkistown, I was pretty consistent on Saturday and Sunday, recording 2.24 and 2.25s on Saturday, and 2.43, 2.41, and 2.42 to 64ft on Sunday. I even tried a lower launch rpm on Sunday to see if that would help, on the last two runs, but it made very little difference, so I think the way to go now is to reduce the cutoff speed for the handover to traction control.
I'm looking at upgrading the firmware from 1.620 to 1.693, as there are some features I'd like to have access to, such as CAN C frames, but I need to check first if the ECU can be upgraded to 1.693 as I read somewhere that the older ECU's aren't capable due to hardware limitations. I'll ping an email over to Life Support to see what they say.
Latest positions following round 22
Revolution August 2021 magazine out nowThe latest edition of the Motorsport UK Revolution magazine is out now. Page 78 has the results for the current top 3 in the BSC, and I also get a picture on their new Social Media Connected page 47. :D
Onboard video from Kirkistown
Overrun flamesI first noticed the overrun flames at Knockhill, so I've video'd all but one of my runs from Kirkistown, and compiled them in to a 90s video.
Kirkistown race reportDeparting Leicester on Thursday at 1pm, I drove up to Dumfries to spend the night (my first night in several years) in a hotel on the way up to Cairnryan. The Premier Inn was basic, and the food in the "Pub" in the carpark was nothing to write home about. I set the alarm for 4am on Friday morning, then left Dumfries at 4.15am to drive up in often torrential rain, arriving at the ferry terminal at 6am, for the 7.30am crossing. I was told that they’d most likely search the van and trailer for fuel, but they simply scanned me with a metal detector wand, and walked around the van and trailer with a mirror looking underneath for any suspicious, and I was told to drive down to lane 11 and wait for boarding.
So no paperwork required for travelling to N.Ireland, despite all the doom mongers saying it would be a red tape exercise to get across with a race car.
And it was a beautiful crossing, on mill pond smooth seas. My first time on a ferry for nearly 40 years, it was still exciting to be travelling anywhere at the moment.
The ferry arrived at 9:45 and I then drove off, heading on to the motorway network en-route to the Kirkistown track. After a trip along the A20 coastal road, I was the first competitor to arrive, (at 11am) and I then sat in the van for a couple of hours to wait for the rains to stop.
I managed to bag an empty garage, and unload the car and all the paraphernalia that she needs. I was then invited to drive around the circuit, which I did, in my van, about 15 laps altogether, to learn the lines and get a feel for the layout of the track. I even facebook live'd a few of the laps :D
By 3.30pm others had started arriving and the scramble was on for the remaining garages, just as the rain restarted. When Graham Porrett eventually arrived, he slotted in to the other half of our shared garage, with the beautiful 3500cc V8 Lola, and then left for his hotel, which was 30 minutes away. It was only while he was unloading that Graham spotted the number plate on the trailer was that off Terry's car, and it didnt match the plate on Grahams car. Oops. My evening was spent watching movies, chilling and getting ready for a possible rain interrupted weekend.
The morning started with a drivers briefing, which included a one minute silence for the marshal who lost his life at Brands Hatch a couple of weeks earlier.
Heavy overnight rain, and a very full paddock, meant despite the sunshine and light breeze on Saturday morning, a huge amount of breakdowns and offs during first practice, so many that the organisers abandoned 2nd practice altogether.
My first practice and first opportunity to explore this new track, was red flagged after I drove round debtors on my 2nd lap. So I had to complete the lap slowly, and there were no re-runs on offer. Not a great start, still, at least I had managed one quickish lap in the dry. The red flag was caused by Graham in the Lola, who set off behind me, and dropped a glove on the circuit! Cheers GP
Simon Bainbridge had a torrid time on Saturday, with a broken rod end in first practice, requiring a tow/recovery, followed by a broken propshaft in the first timed run, resulting in a retirement from the N.Ireland event, and the trip home a day earlier than expected.
Just before 12pm, it was the first timed runs and it was time to qualify for the first run off. I was still running the practice tyres on the gold rims. I drove a mediocre 119s time, but at least I had managed to get around with some pace this time. The chicane on the back of the circuit was particularly challenging. I was hitting the brakes at 130mph and praying it would stop, and this time, was generating 50 bar of brake pressure in the fronts, and the car just seemed to stand on its nose. The experience was quite surreal. You really have to just trust nothing goes wrong, as you try to drop 100mph in 50metres before the chicane. However with just 8 BSC drivers present, I’d qualified, and then put the fresher run off tyres on the black rims on the car for the first run off.
I lined up, it was still dry, but there was always that threat that it was going to drop at any point. After a really good run, I got back to the pits to check my time, and I’d gone 4s quicker to post a 115s. And as I watched the others post their times, I soon realised that I was quickest, winning my first ever BSC Run Off. Happy days. 25 points, and a coveted Run Off Winner sticker for the rear wing. Peter Howgate was less than impressed though, I hadn’t got anywhere near the class record, so his words of encouragement sat with me all weekend, “Rubbish, try harder”. More of that later.
On to the third timed run, back on the gold rims with practice tyres, and I again easily qualified. Goulding had a catastrophic rear suspension failure under braking for the rear chicane, which spat him off the track, flat spotting one of his brand-new Pirelli Ultrasoft tyres in the process and giving him a DNF. The upper rear wishbone was bent, and the car was 3 wheeling. He’d not qualified, so wouldn’t be getting any points in the second and final run off to follow. Pete had a spare clevis bracket so started the repairs, and spent the next 4 hours sorting the rear end of the car out. During the repairs he found a second clevis was also cracked, so that was also replaced. However, he didn’t spot the upper wish bone was bent, so that had to be removed and straightened out as he wasn’t carrying a spare in the trailer.
Meanwhile, our fourth and final run for the day, the second run off, was performed after everyone else had finished their final runs, so it was our first separate run off of the year, which I’ve not done for ages. A splash of fuel, back on the black rims, I again tried to improve but finished in 2nd place behind Graham Porret. It was also Graham’s first ever run off win, so we’d both popped our run off cherrys at Kirkistown.
Literally, 5 minutes after we finished, the heavens opened and heavy rain set in for the remainder of the evening. We’d been so lucky all day with the weather, not a single run was spoilt, and slicks were the order of the day. However that meant I now had 8 tyres looking like they needed another clean. But with the late 12pm start Sunday, I was putting it all off until the next morning.
I wandered over the to the control tower to join the awards ceremony and had a pint of tenants with Graham and Malcolm, and we applauded all the prize winners whilst it bucketed down outside. I placed my order for steak (medium rare) and a pudding for 6:30pm, then went and had a shower and got changed, looking forward to a well deserved pint.
The steak was fantastic, as were the facilities as the circuit. I can really see why people enjoy going to N.Ireland. I then went back to my garage, put the winners music on, and spent time going through the data and the video from the runs, and looked at the tyres, but decided to leave them till tomorrow. Later I was joined by Irishman Rob Dwane, a very knowledgeable driver, who watched my onboard video, and gave me some free pointers for braking points etc, and I was looking forward to the following day to see if I could try and break the current 1600T class record. Rob knew all about Syvecs and was interested in my Life Gear Control settings, so we spent an hour going through all manner of settings, exchanging ideas. What a great way to spend an evening. He had some very funny anecdotes, and it goes to show how much enthusiasm there is for the sport in N.Ireland.
Sunday morning, I was woken in my van at 5:30am by the heavy rain on the roof, which continued for several hours. Would we need to run wets today? It was looking like it. I went in to the garage, opened the roller shutters, and started working on cleaning the first tyre.
I use a 2KW Draper heat gun, to scrape the debris off, and after I’d just finished the first tyre, Gerard O’Connell from the garage next door produced a Greaves 3D Engineering professional heat gun, and gave me a demo of how to clean a tyre properly. It was amazing. The gun dragged far more rubbish off the surface, and when Gerard had finished, the tyre looked like it was fresh from the factory. He let me keep the gun and I then set about cleaning the remaining 6 tyres. It was still hot hard work; however I quickly got the hang of it. In a little over an hour, I’d completed the remaining tyres, and had a huge amount of rubber on the floor to throw away. I then returned the gun and Gerard was sat in his Red Bull Dallara World Series getting some tips from an F3 driver who he was going to be sharing the car with, to give him some advice to help reduce his times. Many thanks for the loan. What an eye opener. Next time you want to share the car, I’d love a go :D
First practice soon came around, on the cleaned older tyres, with a drying track, driving flat out from the word go, I put in a 113.75s run, which was just 0.5s off the record. The potential was certainly there to go quicker again. On Sunday we had a strong tailwind, which certainly helped me along the start/finish straight, as I was 8mph quicker all day long. Taking Debtors flat was exhilerating enough on Satuday, but the added speed made it all the more exciting on Sunday.
On T1 I tried reducing the TC Adder, from -3 to 0, and went round in a slower 116.94, which was disappointing, but it was clear I needed a bit more assistance from Traction Control than I appreciated.
On T2, on the fresher tyres, with the TC Adder restored, I equalled the class record, with a 113.27s run. Another 0.01 quicker and I’d have netted a bonus point. Urgh. Still I was second in the run off to Graham Porrett in the V8, so 24 points would have to do. I’d put the TC Adder back to -2 and the car was much happier.
On T3, again on a dry track, I finally beat the class record, with a 0.44s improvement, to record a 112.83s time. Wow, the Mygale was handling really nicely, and as my confidence continued to grow, I could carry more and more speed in to the bends, and that meant braking later to maintain momentum around the circuit. Graham Porrett discovered a problem with the Lola gearbox, which he tried to repair, but decided to take the final run off slow and steady to get 20 points.
On T4, which was the last run of the weekend, and our second run off, I posted a 113.46s time, and was beaten by Goulding by 0.01s. FFS, losing my second run off win by the smallest possible margin, I went and congratulated Pete on his first win.
And so the great pack up and run began, with the other garages very urgently packing everything up and rushing off at 5pm, for the 7:30pm ferry. I was booked on the 11:30pm ferry, so had time to get everything loaded, have a few more relaxed chats with the new friends I’d made, even had time for a shower and a change, and I was away at 6pm.
I arrived at the ferry terminal at 7pm, and chanced my arm to see if they could squeeze me in on the earlier crossing. Yes came the answer :D and I was allowed to move forwards to the check-in kiosks. They took £35 off me to move my booking, and then after a few phone calls, realised there wasn’t any space for me due to the length of the van + trailer. I wasn’t really that bothered. Computer said no, so they refunded me the £35, and we had a laugh about it. There really is no point giving these guys any grief. They let me do a U turn and drive back out, and I headed off in to Belfast to find some supper, and with a large car trailer in tow, I knew my options would be limited. However, heading along the Shore Road, I spotted a Chinese Takeaway, and bought their Ham Omelette with Chips and Peas, and once collected, drove back to the ferry terminal, and took my place at the front of the queue, where I ate the delicious hot food. And it was great too.
Searching for a takeway in Belfast.
With food in hand, arriving back at the closed terminal for the wait until 10pm for the 11:30pm ferry.
I then opened the trailer, and took off the engine cover and bonnet, so I could undo the suspension potentiometers. Leaving these connected, with the 300 + miles of driving ahead of me, would just wear them out, so I always try to remember to disconnect them. I then grabbed some sleep in the van, and the officials re-opened the check in at 9:45pm, so I moved forwards in to their shed, under the bright spotlights, again expecting to have the van and trailer searched, but they showed no interest. At 10pm when the check-in kiosks opened, I drove forwards, and it was the same staff again, and they again apologised for the earlier confusion, and I was given the slip of paper to let me on the ferry, and told to drive to lane 11 to wait.
There was a short wait until 11pm, and we were then driving in to the ferry. Once onboard, I grabbed my coat and phone and wallet and went upstairs to find a quiet area in the lounge to grab some shut eye, and manged almost 1.5hrs of sleep in the somewhat empty ferry. The journey time is around 2.25hrs.
It wasn’t as smooth a crossing as the one on Friday morning, but we were soon back at Cairnryan at 1:45am, and being invited to get back in to our vehicles, and after a short 15 minutes wait whilst the ferry docked, the doors were opened and the welcome cold fresh Scottish air was rushing in replacing the sweet smell of diesel, and I was on my way home. It was quite a sight, sitting in a convoy of dozens and dozens of 18 wheeler HGV’s, all illuminated with red and white lights. They must tread this route regularly, as they don’t hang around on the A75 down to Dumfries. Its not the best road surface in places, but you could sit on 60mph on the cruise control, and everyone just got on with it.
Driving non-stop from the terminal to Leicester was my intention, but the van and driver needed fuel. So the plan was to follow the M6 down to Penrith, and then follow the A66 across to Scotch Corner, and see how far I could get. Wetherby on the A1M was the next stop, and I must say, I’d never driven the A66 before, and it was a delight. The views across the hills in Yorkshire were breath-taking in the morning light.
Fuel and food bought, I just had the run down the A1M to the M1 to drive, and it was again surprisingly trouble free. Arriving back in Leicester around 8.30am, for a cup of tea, unload the van and trailer, and return them both back to storage.
What a cracking weekend. On my circuit debut, to get a run off win, and a class record, I’ll take that. And I won a trophy for coming 2nd in class behind Graham Porret, finishing 5th fastest overall on Sunday. And the journey there and back I covered 690 trouble free miles, in 16hrs and 34minutes, averaging 30.3mpg. The organisers put on a fantastic event, and we were blessed by incredible weather all weekend. Thankyou !
The 1st place (25pts), and trio of 2nds (3 x 24pts) and the bonus point for breaking the record, netted me a total of 98 points, which now I'm dropping scores, keeps me firmly in 2nd place, just 8 points behind Stephen Miles, and comfortably 33 points ahead of Goulding in 3rd. But I can still lose 2nd place, as others are also now dropping points. So this years final few rounds are going to make the results very interesting to watch. I'm not driving at Blyton, which will give others a chance to catch me, but I will be out at Anglesey and Castle Combe in October, where there are a few more chances to catch Smiley.
Finally a compilation of three drive by clips of me on Saturday, from a video on Youtube produced by Kerney, many thanks for taking the time to produce such a great video.
Destination KirkistownI made it safely to Kirkistown this morning. Setting off from Leicester at 1pm on Thursday, I arrived at the hotel at Dumfries at 5:30pm and was then back on the road again at 4:15am to arrive at Cairnryan ferry terminal at 6am. Straight through security, and I'm in lane 11 waiting to be allowed on to the ferry. It's rained a lot during the journey up this morning, I mean, a lot. Once boarded, the ferry left about 10 minutes late, arriving in Belfast around 10am. I then had the hour long drive down to the circuit, and the views along the A20 coast road were stunning. I was the first to arrive at the track, at 11am, and after sitting in the van for a couple of hours, found that I could have a garage for the weekend, which I opted for. The other teams arrived at around 4pm, as did the rain, and they soon realised the benefit of taking a garage. Before they had arrived, I was invited to learn the circuit, and I drove the van around the track, for around 20 slow laps, so I now have a pretty solid idea where I'm going, which lines to avoid in the wet, and yes, thats it really. Just stick the right tyres on tomorrow, turn up the boost, and have some fun. Hoping the rain lets up long enough to allow us to have a play, although I do love driving in the rain. Follow the Instagram account for updates during the day.
TC changedMade the changes to the TC system last night, then checked the car over ready for the trip up to N.Ireland. No issues found, so the next job was to brim the fuel tank in the car, and ensure that the Jerry cans were all empty. The Stena Line ferry company prohibits the carrying of petrol, even in sealed containers, so I cant take fuel over with me. Instead I'll be running Renegade TS102, as supplied by Motorsport Supplies, which is being provided to me at the circuit when I arrive. Its almost the same specification as the Sunoco RTF-R5, but with the fuel in the tank, mixing the two shouldnt cause any issues, though I will be keeping my eye on knock levels.
I've made some behind the scenes changes to the HTML code for the website. Its to make it easier to navigate from mobile devices, and includes new code for the menu's. Any issues, please let me know.