June 2021


Lydden preparation

The next outing is a return to Lydden Hill circuit down in Kent in July. In the same way that I prepared for Snetterton, I shall be going through my data from the last visit to Lydden in 2019, working out the optimum gears for each corner. When I was last there, the old engine was suffering from fuel starvation on the bends, which I have 100% cured by fitting the Radium anti-surge tank, so I know I wont be affected in the same way. I'm also going back with significantly more power, better aero, better traction control, in fact better everything, so there is every much an opportunity for my first win. I'll certainly be trying my hardest. Matt Hillam will be there in the Dallara, which is very quick, as will Smiles and Pete, but I'm sure I can put on a good performance if the weather stays kind. I'm now going through the data from last weekend, to refine a few settings, and on the car I've got a modification which should raise the horse power by a few percent.

Fokus Media photographs are now online
Photos from the weekend are now available to purchase. We were in the INV 4 class.


My quickest Run Off Onboard video from Snetterton


Snetterton weekend

Event results: https://www.tsl-timing.com/file/?f=sprint/2021/212581.pdf

For the event this weekend, I had removed both the front wing elements, and trimmed them so I could run them at a steeper wing angle than I’d ever tried before. Both elements had been prevented from being raised that high, due to the proximity of the nose cone. So I either had to trim the nose cone, or the wing elements. The elements were easier to trim, and I was looking forward to seeing if the additional downforce would glue the front of the car to the ground. At the same time I ran a steeper rear wing, to maintain the aero balance.

I had also loaded a new Yaw based Spin Target map in to the ECU, to make the traction control more sensitive. On the steering wheel controls I was running an 88% multiplier. This multiplies the Spin Targets in the ECU by 88%, therefore reducing the Spin Target. So for example, if the Yaw angle was 36°, and the speed was 50mph, and the Spin Target was 6%, that would allow up to 6% wheelspin as the car accelerates. To this value, the 88% multiplier is then applied, which reduces the wheelspin allowed to 5.28%. The steering wheel control allows me to run from 120% down to 40%, so I can quickly alter the setting depending on the conditions.

The Spin Target map was arrived at by analysing in Excel, the yaw angles and speeds from the data gathered from Pembrey and Castle Combe, and this gave me an indication as to the shape of the curve that I would need.


Before first practice I decided to adjust the brake bias one click to give me more front bias. I’d had difficulty generating the brake pressures that James Abbott used to reach when he raced the car, and during the week I’d looked through the ECU data from 2012-2013, I could see how the pressures were split, with around 70:30 front to rear. I wasn’t getting that bias, so I thought the best thing to try was to adjust the bias to the front one click, or one half turn.

When our turn came, I then lined up for the noise test, and was asked to give 3/4 max rpm, which was around 4500 revs. I was quite surprised to be told I'd failed, and I was pushed back out of the queue, whilst others then took their turns. The Lola of Terry and Graham was also failed, and the day didnt appear to be heading in the right direction. I was asked if I'd like to try again when the engine was warm, so I sat for 5 mins with the engine running, at high rpm, and when the oil temperature was around 70C I moved forwards for another go. This time I was allowed through; alas the Lola wasnt so lucky, and the guys had to miss first practice while they attempted to reseal some gaps in their exhaust.

On the damp practice run the brakes felt terrible, worse than ever, which was puzzling. I then checked the pressures from the logged data, and I was seeing 30:70 front to rear, so the bias had in fact jumped to the rear. I think what had happened was the bias adjuster mechanism at the base of the brake pedal, had jammed, and me adjusting the bias had made it jump to provide more rear bias. So I removed the bonnet, and watched the mechanism as I adjusted full rear, full front, full rear, and back to full front again. And sitting in the car, with the dashboard showing the brake pressures, pressing the pedal firm I was seeing over 50bar of front brake pressure, and 40 bar rear. This was much more like the pressures that James used to generate, and it was taking me far less effort to achieve them. Result.

However on the first timed run, trying to qualify for the run off, with amazing brakes, the engine tripped in to Limp Mode at the end of the first lap. My first lap was 40.50s which was fastest of all drivers, how annoying. As I lifted and braked at the end of the straight, changing down for the left hander to start my second lap, as I pushed the throttle pedal, the engine lacked all power. I knew straight away what had happened, and there was little I could do about it apart from risk restarting the ECU and possibly damaging the engine. So I limped around on my second lap, heart sinking knowing I’d not qualified for the first run off. When I got back to the paddock I read the data from the ECU, and found that the engine had tripped due to the air charge temperature (ACT) reaching 80C. At the exact moment I’d lifted at the end of the straight, the ACT had just reached the highest temperature it’d have ever reached, and the ECU was set to trip at 80C. It’s a safeguard, so it was doing its job. Why though, why had the ACT reached that temperature? I couldn’t see any reason for it, and raised the ACT trip to 100C and tried again. On the second timed run, I set a time that would have put me 6th had I been in the runoff, and when I read the data the ACT had reached 89C. Something was clearly wrong.

I checked the engine coolant temperature (ECT), and noticed that that was also running 10C higher than it would normally reach. The ambient air temperature (AAT) was quite low compared to Pembrey, where the ACT’s were only reaching 60C. What could it be? What had changed, apart from the front wing angle. I wondered, if the steeper angles were deflecting more air over the car and away from the side pods. So I either lower the front wing angles, to restore the airflow, or remove both the barge boards and see if that cured it. I opted for removal of both barge boards, and on my next run, I was 0.7s quicker, and the ACT’s were >30C cooler, and the ECT was also 10C lower. That was a very interesting discovery. Clearly the barge boards had been robbing both side pods of cool air, and coupled with the steeper wing angles, there was insufficient air flowing through the radiators, hence the rise in temperatures. So both barge boards are now consigned to the garage roof when I get home.

For the next two timed runs, I broke my PB, and qualified well for the run off with an 82.73, and finished 7th in the second run off, netting 19 points. Not a great result, but at least I was scoring good points again, and I was 6th fastest overall.


With the dramas of yesterday behind me, I woke in my van at 3:30am to the sound of rain. I don’t know if it was something I’d eaten, or the fumes of petrol generators again running all day, but I felt very unwell and after two trips to the toilets, I then threw up at 5am, and felt decidedly poorly. Avoiding breakfast seemed a good idea, and I sipped a Lucozade sport which stayed down.

I fitted the fresher cleaned rubber, the rears were bought in 2020, and the fronts in 2021, and driving to the start line I was once again tested for noise, and was quite surprised to be told that I had again failed, although for the second time no one told me the pressure level that had been registered. So I was pushed back, and sat revving the engine trying to get it warm, whilst officials buzzed around the car, listening to the exhaust from the turbo. I know she's quite loud static, but under load it's one of the quietest cars on the grid. I then moved forward for a second go, and once again, on the second attempt I was allowed through. For sprints and hillclimbs the revs are meant to be 2/3rds not 3/4, but the scrutineers were applying racing rules rather than sprint rules on us, heaven knows why. But its just best not to arque with them, just do as you're told and they normally oblige. I am thinking about removing the RPM readout from the display. I dont need one, I never look at it. I wonder how they'd perform a noise test without a rev counter?

On the first timed run, I flew around, with great brakes, and even better ACT’s, and easily qualified for the run off with an 84.16s putting me 6th overall.

On the first run off I took 0.6s off my PB and finished 6th again with an 82.12s.

On the next timed run, I took another 0.7s off my PB, and qualified 5th with an 81.43s. This had broken Pete's 1600T class record, but sadly Pete had lowered the record earlier so I wouldnt be getting a bonus point unless I broke his new record.

And on the final run, the second and final run off of the day, I took nearly another second off my PB, posting a 80.55s run, which not only placed me 4th in the run off, netting 22 points, but I was 4th fastest overall, beating Steve Broughton, Terry Holmes, and our current champion John Graham. I jumped in the air when I was told my time; An incredible result for the challenges thrown at me.

So I’m still second overall in the championship; Rob Tonge had a snapped chain on one of his run offs, and suffered repeated 1st-2nd gear shift issues on the run off starts, which means we both scored less points than we could have done during the weekend, but Rob retains his 3rd place overall, albeit with a larger gap between us.

My car was amazing, so much confidence in the grip, and the brakes, and the traction control was just perfect. The next event is Lydden Hill in July, which I am really looking forward to.

The replacement near side front wheel speed sensor behaved perfectly all day, so I had all four wheels reporting speeds with no outages. The data I've captured from the weekend, I'll analyse, and I'll be tweaking the torque reduction for traction control, as it was very noticable when TC took charge, and I think I can back off the reduction to make the acceleration even smoother. The fuel level sensor or gauge were both still playing up, so I was having to top up with a litre or two between each run, guessing the fuel level. I'll have another think about wiring the level sensor in to the ECU so I can get a more reliable reading via the dashboard rather than the seperate gauge.


20 BSC drivers at Snetterton

It's looking like a great British Sprint turnout at Snetterton this weekend. It will be several drivers first time there, and the weather forecast is looking iffy, so qualifying could be interesting. Only one practice run, we're all out in the first batch, and we know how slippery the track is when it's just the tinyest bit damp.


New how-to videos

I'm posting a series of how-to video's explaining how I use the brilliant Life Racing software tools, to examine data, configure the logging parameters etc. The two latest videos are now on Youtube. Please give a like and subscribe.

I've ordered more race fuel, 50 more litres, hopefully arriving on Wednesday. The race car is ready for the weekend, it just needs loading up on the trailer for the trip down to Snetterton Friday evening. The forecast isnt great. Now I've got a wet lap on slicks under my belt, I have a lot more confidence about driving on the ultrasofts, so if its wet, I'll be in a better position to push. Likewise, now the release agent is gone from the new Pirelli wets, having used them once at Pembrey, I'll be in a better position to use them in the wet if needs be.


Fuel sender unit issues

I've tackled the fuel sender in the Gemzoe tank, which was giving spurious readings on the digital fuel level gauge. One minute it was showing 70% full, then it would show Empty. At Pembrey I was never 100% sure of how much fuel I was carrying. I wiggled the pair of spade terminals that connect to the top of the sender, and then watched the gauge drift from 70% to 0% in around 20 seconds. There was my clue then, it was definitely an electrical issue. I removed both terminals and tried to remove the sender unit from the tank, but sadly where I've placed the sender, is below a chassis tube, so alas I cant get the sender out. So the next task was to simply fit it back, and with a split washer under the head, tighten the bolt up that earths the sender return feed, tighter than ever. And the gauge then read 70% full (ie 7 litres) and despite trying to disturb the wires, the gauge doesnt move. I'm hoping that this has now cured the issue, I'll find out at Snetterton. The car is now ready, I just need to check how much race fuel I've got, as I used a fair amount at Pembrey over the 20 laps I covered, and order another pair of drums if required.

My missing bonus point has been added to the points gained at Pembrey. I now have 173 pts, not 172, two new Personal Bests, and one new class record. Not a bad start to the year. Snetterton is showing 20 BSC drivers for both days. Rob Tonge is first reserve for Sunday, having chucked in a late entry. I fully expect him to get a run, people often drop out, mostly due to car issues. Rob was at Daytuner last week, getting the latest SBD MBE gearshift strategy programmed in. A different MBE user told me the ECU allows the car to change gear in 7mS. I think thats not the whole picture. The gearcut period is the time it takes to change gear. My gear cut is down to 130mS now, with another 30mS to be removed through some careful testing. But 7mS, nah, I dont think so.

Chris Jones will be out, in his Force, having repaired the brake issue he had which prevented him from going to Pembrey. No news on whether Terry and Graham are going to be out in their Lola following the big crash at Blyton. And Pete Goulding is still repairing his car, with further modifications to the fuel system, which might include an anti-surge pump setup like the one I pioneered.


Revolution magazine appearance

Good to see the results from the Pembrey rounds made it to the editors of Motorsport UK's Revolution magazine in time for the latest edition.


0 to 60 improves

My best 0-60 at Pembrey was completed in < 2.9s on Sunday afternoon, with just a few adjustments made to lower the launch RPM via the steering wheel controls. Thats almost 0.5s quicker than my best launch previously, so the changes I made for Pembrey have definitely improved the starts. The biggest change was dropping the LC to TC transition from 40mph to 30mph, so its clear a further reduction in the transition speed should reduce the times even more. The S curve I've programmed for the LC definitely worked wonders for controlling the initial wheelspin. I've now modified the Yaw spin target table, to make TC more aggressive for Snetterton. With the freshly cleaned tyres, I'm hoping for some even better results.


Tyres cleaned

I've cleaned my tyres following the event at the weekend. One pair, used since 2019, it was their first clean, and I removed around 1mm of dead rubber from the surface. I've now got 8 pristine looking Ultrasofts for Snetterton, where I intend to exploit the new found grip. It took around 90 minutes to clean them using the heat gun. Once cleaned I wrapped them back up again to preserve the rubber. The HSA is currently preparing the points for the championship, they still havent credited me with my bonus point, I've sent an email to the coordinators to let them know that I have 173 points in total. It doesnt make any difference to my second place overall in the British Sprint Championship, as I am 6 points ahead of third place. But it would be great to get at least some kind of acknowledgement to my email.

The 2019 rear tyres were particularly bad, with around 1mmm of crust removed using the heat gun.

Flat in 6th around Woodlands at Pembrey, which is 130mph
Flat in 6th around Woodlands at Pembrey, which is taken at approaching 130mph


2nd overall after rounds 9-12

Bonus points have been awarded for those drivers that broke records at Pembrey, which has given me 1 extra point for the new class record I set on Sunday on the first timed run, taking me to 173 points.

I've replaced the XS608B front left wheel speed sensor with another one that I've used before, but I think its from the rear axle, so it was definitely working when I last had it fitted. The faulty sensor that it has replaced, exhibits the same symptons when I connect it to my bench PSU. The amber LED comes on when it detects the presense of a metal trigger disk, but the LED sometimes doesn't extinguish when the disk is removed.

Looking at the data I captured at Pembrey, I can see an imbalance in the aero, which lead to less lateral grip than when we were last there in 2019. For Snetterton I shall address that with higher front and rear wing angles, and I shall focus on carrying more speed around the corners. Having the suspension travel logged is proving very useful, however I must inspect the data at events in order to diagnose grip issues.


Pembrey Rounds 9-12

After a pretty dire journey of around 5 1/4 hours, we arrived to a warm and sunny Pembrey, hoping for some decent weather over the weekend. Only my 4th ever time at the track, just 15 BSC drivers were entered, including Dave Cutcliffe's first outing since 2019. News soon came of the retirement of Chris Jones' car, with brake issues discovered when testing at Llandow the day before. Chris was double driving the Force, with MBE man Chris Price, so neither were to score any points this weekend. That left 13 drivers. This was also the first the appearence of the SBD team with their impressive Dallara F399, wearing yet more new aero which, looking inside the rear diffuser, had grown some channels and louvres to help increase downforce without increasing drag.


Dave Cutcliffe managed one practice run until his new clutch broke, ruling him out from further competition. That left 12 of us to score points. Sadly the dry weather rapidly turned to showers, more of a sea mist to be honest, which looked to be saturating the track surface. The remaining timed runs and run off runs were interspersed with rain, then sun, and it was a case of never being on the right tyres at the right time. We all changed to wets for the first timed run, but that was a mistake, as the rain then ceased, and by the time we were all in the queue, it was rapidly drying. Steve Broughton was double driving with Matt Hillam, and during their driver change over, they drove back in to the pits and fitted the slicks on. So when Matt went out, he set a blistering time compared to the rest of us.

In the run offs, I managed a 5th place (see unsafe release below), and an 8th, earning 39 points. Prior to the 2nd run off, we'd had more rain, but the track was drying. This time everyone was on slicks, but I didnt want to fall off trying, and its a score I can drop at the end of the year. At least I now have the experience of driving on slicks in the damp, so I know I can try a lot harder if those conditions are repeated. The points scored kept me in 2nd place overall. I'd had more intermittent front left wheel speed issues, which I was going to swap out on Saturday evening, but 30 mins after we'd finished, the heavy rain arrived, and everyone disappeared in to their motorhomes, and that was that. In the morning I had reduced the gear cut duration by 10mS and 2°, to see if we could reduce the wheelspin during gear changes, and it didnt have a negative effect, but then it didnt really reduce the wheelspin either. Try again tomorrow.

Waking up with a headache wasn't ideal, the smell from the exhaust fumes of generators next to me was overwhelming, but we werent allowed to use the 240V hookups, nor the new garage complex, so people had to run gennies to charge batteries etc. Not much you can do about that. Take some tablets and keep drinking plenty of water, especially with the warmer weather forecast for the day.

Word quickly spread about a cam belt issue on the Dallara, and sure enough the SBD car was being prepared to go back in to the trailer. On Saturday evening, Matt had spotted damage to the cam belt whilst he was inspecting the dry sump belt, and the car was instantly withdrawn. Steve transferred the number 5 on to Zoe's EcoBoost Westfield, so he was now double driving with Zoe, who is also in the British Sprint, running in the ModProd class. So that took us down to 11 drivers.

With a further change to the gear cut timing, I just had to fill the fuel tank with some petrol, and go out and have a play on the new circuit layout, which includes a 90 left after Dibeni's, which then spits you back out on to the Senna Esses. I was practicing braking later and harder, and was reaching 40bar pressure, I dont think I can actually achieve much more, I'll have to work on it. It was paying dividends though, and on my 1st timed run, on the fresh Ultrasoft tyres, I broke the class record and set a new 107second PB even with a sideways moment out of Brooklands. On the first run off I was 4th, netting 22 points. Whilst we were waiting for the third timed run, the sun was beating down and we were trying to stay cool by not getting in to the cars until the last minute. As we stood around chatting, we heard a car skidding on the track, and looked over to see Steve Broughton bringing the Westfield to a stop, backwards. The car had lost the floor in a crash which started when he managed to get on to the grass. Steve was towed slowly back to the pits, the westy looking very sorry for itself, wires and pipes dragging on the ground, where it was then retired, as was Steve and Zoe, and that meant two cars for SBD to repair. Kim said she wasnt looking forward to the drive home. That left just 9 drivers remaining.

On my third timed run I was slower with a 110s, struggling with traction out of the corners, in the rising temperatures. John Graham beat me by just 0.06s so it was very close between the two of us. On the second run off (4th timed run), I was 4th again, with a 109s, and the tyres looked extremely dodgy. I'd made some adjustments to the TC settings via the steering wheel, to try and find a happy medium, but I just wasnt able to step on the throttle like I could in 2019, so I'm toying with going back to LatG for Traction Control rather than Yaw. I'll sleep on it and decide in the next few days.

Still I was 4th fastest overall on Sunday, which was quite pleasing :D

So I'm still 2nd overall, with 172 points, just ahead of Rob Tonge in his Force TA on 166 points. We are all trailing behind Smiles on 199 points, with his 7 firsts and 1 second place. He said his car neither understeers nor oversteers, and I'm really struggling to keep my car planted when I'm on the gas. The rear end is very lively, and during the day I softened the rear ARB, reduced the bump rebound on the front dampers, and even increased the rear wing. But looking at the telemetry compared to 2019, despite producing a quicker time than last year, I'm no where near as early on full throttle as I was with less power. Simply because I'm still not able to. I have to run with TC on, and it needs to work, but the slip targets are too high, so I'll reduce them again at Snetterton until such time that I have the confidence to stand on the pedal and let the TC take care of the grip.

Unsafe Release
So on Saturday, during my first run off, I was building to 140mph on the pit straight, flat in 6th, when John Graham was released from the pitlane exit in front of me. I instantly hit the brakes, and aborted my run, and headed back in to the pit lane to have a second go. It was annoying, and hair raising, and I vented my anger when I was approached. Apologies were offered by the CofC, but that wouldnt have covered the costs had I hit John or taken avoiding action on to the grass to avoid him. Less than a second later, and he'd have been released straight in to me. Simply inexcusable. On my 2nd attempt at the run off, the tyres were too hot to get the maximum grip, and the car squirmed around the corners, losing time. I still managed 5th, but I was on for a far better time had I not been baulked. When I got back to the paddock, the oil temps were around 115° and the tyres, engine and turbo were extremely hot. Not ideal for producing maximum power.

So not a bad weekend, could have been better, but consistent finishing and points is whats paying dividends at the moment. I have stacks of data to go through. The fast acting air charge temperature sensor was paying dividends, I've never felt the engine pull so strong. Coupled with the ITG cold air intake forcing ambient air in to the turbo, the air charge temperatures remained very low compared to previous events, so thats a big tick as far as the development of that aspect goes.


Brown upgrades

Steve Brown is selling his JKS Speads single seater, to make way for a new car. Knowing Steve, whatever he buys, he'll be very quick in it. I'm looking forward to seeing the debut this summer, and good luck with the sale.

I made a couple of changes to the dashboard, one to sort out the change lights, and another to make the corner heights appear correctly on the diagnostics screen. Since I'd zero'd the damper pots in LifeCAL, the movement was coming back as a negative rather than a positive value, so I just had to change the min and max values on the bar graphs. I also swapped the left and right dampers over in the ECU pin assignments, as they were still reversed from when I refitted the pots on their new brackets. A quick clean, and a spanner check, and I'm now ready to load the car in to the trailer.


Goulding out

Pete Goulding's 5th trip to the rolling road in 2021, was again without success yesterday. Having blown up the standard EcoBoost he was running at Blyton two weeks earlier, the fully forged Area 6 EcoBoost engine was refitted and another attempt made last night to calibrate the Life ECU, and again the engine mysteriously lacked power, a boost leak and more fuelling issues are suspected. This means I'm on my own at the weekend, flying the EcoBoost flag. Its a shame Pete wont be there, it'll leave just me and John Graham fighting over the above 2.0 class.

On my car, the modified air charge pipe is refitted to the intercooler, so I now have the fast acting air temperature sensor fitted, ready for testing. I've been looking over my data from the venue from 2019, the first visit there on the Pirelli's, and I was braking in a couple of places I needn't have been (Honda!), and I was not on the power early enough exiting several bends. So I have a plan, and assuming the traction control changes have improved the setup, I shall be trying very hard to get on the gas earlier, and capitalise on all the available torque. So primarily I'll be working on adjustments to TC to allow me to be more aggressive on the throttle. I've also changed the throttle maps again, to give me 100% throttle from 95-100% pedal position rather than 97-100%, and I've swapped one of the 3D printed plastic speed sensor brackets on the gearbox after I spotted two cracks in one of them. I'm not taking any chances.