The heave spring is fittedAs soon as the FTR oil filler arrived, I fitted the o-ring from the oem item, and swapped the fillers over to make sure it fits. And it does, perfectly. With the filler fitted, the next job was to attach the pair of heave posts to the rockers, which took about half an hour, as there was a fair amount of dismantling to do. But with them both fitted, I could then attach the spring assembly, and sit back and admire my work :D.
Everything fitted as I'd intended. I have plenty of clearance from the Penske BR38 rubber spring, to the top of the oil filler cap. And with the dampers disconnected, as I raised both the rear wishbones, the rubber spring compresses really smoothly, so the signs are good that this is going to work.
My FTR Oil filler is readyI changed the crank sensor last night, which is my new least favourite job on the car, and the engine started first time and ticked over nicely. So thats the crank and cam sensors all fitted and tested with no issues.
The FTR oil filler is now finished, and in the post. Cant wait to receive it. Looks amazing.
Mallory Park sprintThere is talk of a sprint in 2024 at my local Mallory Park circuit. But the prices being discussed are teetering on the £200 mark. When does it become too expensive? For five runs, I reckon £40 a run is far too much. Lets wait and see what happens.
Force wheel centresAfter a lot of toing and froing, the second Force Racing wheel centre has now arrived, and it fits the hub on the rear axle, so I can now build the second of the wider rear wheels up, so the brand new Ultrasoft rear tyres can be fitted. It has a taken a very long time to get the issues sorted, and that meant I didnt have the fresh tyres fitted in time for Anglesey, which put me at a disadvantage compared to the other competitors. Not any more. :)
I've bought a pair of replacement Bosch crank sensors, and I'll fit one in time for Blyton. This is a belt and braces approach to ensuring there are no more starting issues. With the anti-gravity battery fitted, the engine spins around 20rpm faster on the key, and the battery voltage is around 0.25V higher, so that again should help the engine start.
Cam sensors replacedBoth the replacement cam sensors arrived today, and I quickly set about changing them. They're both held in by single 8mm bolts, and access is very easy as they're on the top of the cylinder head, at the rear of the engine. It took around 1 minute to replace each one, and now they're plugged in, I will spin the engine over again, this time logging camRaw data at 50Hz, so I can watch the data back to make sure its working properly.
I've also installed the Anti-gravity lithium battery that I bought last year, which has a higher CCA than the Powerlite PS-20, as well as being 625grammes lighter! I will again test this in the garage before the trip to Blyton to check the engine starts and runs without issues.
RIP Craig Breen
Starting issuesOn Sunday at Anglesey, whilst sat waiting for the third timed runs to start with my engine off, when I was given the signal to start, I switched on the power, pushed the starter motor button, the engine turned over, and then the starter disengaged as the engine fired, but it wouldnt run. So I tried again, same thing. And again, same thing happened. So I turned the battery isolator off and on again, and tried again, still nothing. Finally, after the fourth attempt, the engine started and I was able to take my run.
What would cause that then? Low battery voltage? Well it was definitely getting lower with each attempt, small lithium batteries dont appreciate rapid back to back starts. Could it be the crank or cam signals? When I returned to the garage after the run, looking at the Sync log on the ECU, it all looked fine. Of course, every time the engine is started, the Sync log holds the starting sequence, until the next time the engine is started. So the Sync log from the failed attempts was overwritten by the successful start. And its not like I had my laptop with me to examine the log when it didnt start. Thats the only way to really capture and diagnose the issue. However, there is a setting in the ECU to tell it to Log When syncState Is Not STOP, which is currently set to NO. Changing this to YES, will cause logging to be active whenever the engine is turning, regardless of the thresholds set, and without waiting for engine position synchronisation. This is particularly useful setting if logging of cranking and engine fireup is desired. I do have some logs from the failed starts, but they dont paint the full picture as to the cause.
For Blyton then, I will have this set to YES, and if there are any other startline drama's, I'll be able to diagnose the cause. In the mean time, I'm going to replace the Inlet CAM sensor (CMP), as both cam sensors are quite old (>10 years) and it might rule out any further drama's.
Blyton prepI'm not out again until the Blyton weekend sprint on May 13th, so I'm fitting the fresh performance friction front brake pads. I could get the car to stop at Anglesey, but there just wasnt the bite from the front axle that I used to have, and they definitely feel like they've deteriorated over time. I'm still waiting for the CNC FTR Oil Filler neck to arrive, before I can fit the third element. I am expecting it to arrive any day now.
In the mean time, I've just replaced the 95AH car battery in my F31 335D BMW, which wasnt without issues. Changing the battery was straight forward. But having done that, the driver and passenger door windows lost their settings, and the one touch close and convenient close had both stopped working. I had to recalibrate both windows, following a very simple procedure I found on Youtube, and both closure features have been restored. The next issue was that the iDrive system had lost my subscripton, and again, another simple procedure to reset the iDrive had to be followed, and that's also now restored. I havent found any other issues yet, and the engine starts much more rapidly when the car has been standing for a few days. The original battery was 4.5 years old, and had been gradually more and more reluctant to turn the engine over, especially after standing for a week at a time.
I had to remind myself how to drive the Anglesey International circuit quickly, by watching my record run from April 2022 on Youtube (on brand new Ultrasofts). Where I went wrong on my final and quickest run at Anglesey this year, was fluffing the 2nd to 3rd gear shift off the line, and then just not pushing the car hard enough in to the corners. I have really good braking data now, where I can see the pressure drop off as I trail brake to the apexes, but as the pads werent giving as much stopping power as I'd hoped, I had to brake earlier than normal and that cost me a tenth or two on each corner. At least my record still stands, and it was a time that would have won the run off!
Lets talk about tyres. At the moment, those drivers with the fresh Pirelli's are clearly at an early advantage, anyone holding on to a set of new Ultrasofts and keeping them for later in the year should clean up. Steve Brown was running a brand new set of Avon HC3's on the Saturday, and briefly held FTD until the following runs where he was caught by the top five. SBD were running 2022 Pirellis, and Matt Hillam was flying in their new DJ Firestorm running a 1440cc motor bike engine. Smiles was on 2023 Pirellis and took a run off win, and Goulding was on his best tyres on Saturday and Sunday, and took three wins. But I alternated between the 2022 Avons and Pirelli's, and I'm still not sure if this puts me at a disadvantage, as I dont find the HC3 rears work as well as the Ultrasofts. My best run on the International was with the Avon fronts and Pirelli rears. But changing to different compounds during the qualifying and run off runs, does take some adaptation. Ideally I would be running Ultras on the rear on every run. But for now I've only got one set. My best start was on the Avon rears, so they do give good grip at the start, but I find they soon start to drop off! Rob Tonge was running Michelin slicks on the Force TA, and he was finding more and more time on every run. Unfortunately he had a spin on one of his early runs, which isnt the best thing to do on new tyres. But he reports that they clean up well.
So for me, there is no difference between the HC3 and Ultrasoft front tyres. But the rears, I just dont think anyone can beat the ultrasofts!
Onboard videosNational layout
Anglesey SprintCold weather greeted the drivers when they arrived Friday afternoon, but at least it was dry. Straight in to scrutineering, everyone passed and once the garages were opened we put everything safely inside and settled down for a good nights sleep.
Saturday dawned nice and bright, and the track was dry, despite a small amount of overnight rain. We were first out, and I put in a very fast practice time, which is how its meant to be. Start as you mean to go on. First timed runs soon came, and everyone qualified for the run offs. The second timed run, our first run off, I improved again to finish in second place, bagging 24 points. On to the third run, and again another improvement, and finally, for the fourth timed run, which was our second run off, I dropped down a couple of places, finishing in fourth, scoring 22 points. I was presented with an award for third fastest time in class, which I was quite happy with. My quickest time was just 0.04s shy of my personal best.
By 2pm we'd all finished, however the organisers went on to run five more runs, giving a total of nine timed runs for those with an appetite for it.
In the evening, I walked the track for the Sunday International layout, and then headed over to the cafe for a good meal. Then it was back to the van to settle down for the night, watching movies and going through the data from the day.
Sunday was another nice day, not the promised blue skies, but cloudy, a little windier and certainly colder than the day before. We all struggled to get close to our class records and personal bests, and I was fourth fastest on the first run off. I was then demoted to 5th place for 20 points, when one of the drivers was given a re-run due to a timing issue, where they improved so much on warm tyres that they ended up in second overall!
I again improved on every run, each one getting quicker, but I was two seconds off my personal best from 2022. It was definitely too cold to set any records. On the final run off, I made a great start, but then missed 3rd gear off the line, but still improved, and I finished second again. So that was a good 24 points.
During the weekend I was alternating between the Avon HC3's and the Pirelli Ultrasofts, saving the Ultra's for the run offs as they are definitely grippier. On the final run I left the Avons on the front and just fitted the Ultras on the rear, and that proved beneficial to my final finishing position. I was second, ahead of Stephen Miles and Matt Hillam, who were both driving exceptionally well all weekend. I even had a handshake off Matt for beating him :D
It was just a shame the ambient and track temperatures were so low. Another 5 degree's warmer and records would have fallen.
I'm still second overall in the championship, and aware that I need a few run off wins to start to move up. Blyton is the next event in May where I will be trying very hard again, to get some more points and try to close the gap to the leader.
On Saturday the car used 4.659 litres of 102RON fuel and covered 10.9 km's. On Sunday the car covered 17.9 km's, consuming 7.016 litres.