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Latest News

7Dec

3D Printing

I've sent the damper reservoir brackets drawing off for 3D printing. I've found a firm that can print in Onyx, carbon infused nylon, which I expect will be strong enough to support the weight of the reservoirs. Delivery is 3-5 days so I'm hoping to get them back soon.

We've lost Snetterton from the 2022 calendar. Not heard the reason why. I can only assume its cost related. We're told we may be going to Cadwell instead, which I've driven on several times, so if we do go, at least I do have experience of that circuit.

2Dec

Replacement rear suspension brackets

Kruger Engineering have done a great job of these complex upper rear suspension mounts for the Mygale. Copies of the original parts, these look great, especially with the black anodised finish. This week I've removed the rear suspension and I'm about to remove the gearbox, so I'll be fitting these back on when I reassemble everything. The front brackets I re-designed are currently being manufactured, I should have them back for Xmas.

Kruger Engineering brackets
I've also designed a bracket to support the Intrax damper reservoirs. These bolt to the sides of the gearbox, and will replace the heath-robinson brackets that I made. Hoping to get them manufactured and fitted in the new year.



I'm cleaning all parts I've removed, in an ultrasonic cleaning bath. Using Mykal degreasing solvent, nothing fancy. They just need leaving overnight to soak, then 15 minutes with the ultrasonic treatment and they come out looking as good as new. Of course, now they're clean, I can inspect them for cracks. Pete had a few failures this year, and I dont want the same outcome, so I'm making sure everything is up to scratch before refitting them.

Cleaned components

1Dec

Sensor fitted

I fitted the Deutsch DTM 3-way connector to the new hall-effect gearbox sensor, plugged it in, and made sure it works, which of course it did. For reference, pin 1 is 5V, 2 is the sensor output, and 3 is signal ground. I've also fitted a DTM connector to a spare hall-effect sensor, a Penny and Giles device, and that will be my spare for 2022.

My re-ground front brake disks are now back from Kruger Engineering, and they've also supplied a pair of rear suspension mounts, which are copies of the Mygale mounts. I'll get some photos up.

29Nov

New sensor

The hall-effect sensor turned up from Active Sensors. Just waiting now on the 3way DTM connector to arrive and I can fit it.
Active Sensors
I've redesigned the lower front suspension bracket for the Mygale. This has additonal webbing and is 5mm longer overall than the Radical bracket, so shouldnt flex or crack under braking.


22Nov

Gear position voltages

I've sourced a replacement sensor, just waiting for it to arrive in the post. The sensor I'm replacing is a Novitechnik SP2846-345-065-101, which is a mechanical sensor. I'm replacing it with a hall-effect device, to eliminate any future issues with noise. The gear voltages from all the drives in 2021 are shown below. Again I used the data in SQL to extract the min, max and average. The lines either side of each average gear voltage, are the min and max voltages seen on all the runs at that event.

The standard deviation does seem to increase during the year, but then you'd expect that to some extent with a mechanical device. The reason there are gaps in the 6th gear trace is because I didnt reach 6th gear on some of the shorter tracks. This is another example of using the data to determine potential issues. It's just a shame I didnt spot it before the false neutral at Castle Combe.

Gear position voltages during 2021

18Nov

Gear position sensor

Looking at the data from 2021, there looks to be an issue with the signal from the gear position sensor. This resulted in the first and only false neutral all year, at Castle Combe. With the trace from April compared to October, there is significantly more noise on the gear voltage (mV) seen at the last event, so I'll replace the sensor with a new one for 2022. The gearbox is coming out of the car anyway, as it needs a service, the diff needs shimming, and two gear ratios need changing, so I'll replace it when it's returned from MBR.

Blyton trace
Castle Combe trace

Looking at the data taken from the car, I wrote a SQL query to count the number of gear changes, and the figure is 2538 during 2021, all of which were trouble free, apart from one false neutral. Thats not bad at all is it?

SQL query using LAG to determine gear changes

17Nov

British Sprint Awards

I collected my 4th place award on Saturday. An odd introduction from Paul Parker, I was expecting at least a Well Done, or such like, but no, I got "I wish the exhaust sounded nicer, 4th place, Graham Blackwell". I wonder what the intro will be next year should I win it :D

Top 12 drivers present
Left to Right: Graham Blackwell, Rob Tonge, Terry Holmes, Pete Goulding, Graham Porrett, John Loudon, Matt Hillam, Mark Anson, Simon Bainbridge, and champion Steve Miles. Absent were Steve Broughton and Simon Wallis.

Congratulations to all the drivers on a great season.

Collecting my 4th place award

13Nov

2021 review


What modifications worked and what didn't

Changing to Yaw based traction control - Worked

This was the single biggest change for 2021, and one that made the largest impact, and took the longest amount of time to tune. Lots of experimentation with the settings, lead to it really starting to work mid-season, where I could finally build the confidence to apply the throttle earlier and earlier out of the slow corners. There is still some tweaking to do, particularly in the wet, during launch, however, its really paid dividends. I've not been working alone either, I've had the invaluable assistance of a leading Syvecs expert, and during the year we've honed the settings to make it better and better.

Launch control adjustments - Worked

During 2021 I made 83 launch control starts, with zero drive shaft failures. My quickest launch was 2.16s 64ft at Castle Combe in October. There's definitely a sub 2.0s launch in the car, and with constant improvements during the year, I'll continue analysing the data and adjusting the settings in 2022 until I get down to the times I'm happy with.

Redesigned rear wheel speed sensor pickups - Worked

I've run for the whole of 2021 without a single issue with the rear wheel speed sensor pickups. I designed the reluctance rings, and the 3D printed plastic GT101 mounts, and the system has worked perfectly all year. The rings and brackets are available in my shop, and can be seen fitted on several other cars in the paddock.

Dual fuel pump setup - Worked

My twin tank and twin pump setup has worked 100% all year, with not a single instance of fuel surge. Noticeable at Knockhill and Lydden before I changed the setup, this year I've been able to knock seconds off my PB's and the class records, at both circuits, where the car was previously prone to fuel surge. The only issue I have got, is with the fuel level sender unit inside the fuel tank. Its not giving consistent readings, however, that could be caused by the digital gauge I've sourced, so I may wire the sender unit in to a spare input on the ECU, so the ECU can report the fuel level via CAN on the dashboard instead.

Race Technology DASH4PRO CAN conversion - Worked

The CAN version of the dash replaced the RS232 version, and after some programming of the CAN stream and the dashboard layout, I've got a fully featured rich display of all the parameters that matter, and the dashboard never missed a beat all year.

VVT timing - Worked

I wired in the exhaust VVTi cam solenoid to the ECU, which had never been connected previously, and with the output enabled, the ECU has reported not a single VVT Failure all year. This means when I go back to the Dyno we can work on tuning the Exhaust camshaft timing, to see if we can get even more power from my Area-Six EcoBoost engine.

Powerlite battery upgrade - Worked

The PS-09 battery really struggled to start the engine during 2020, so I contacted Powerlite and they arranged for a free PS-20 replacement. I must say that the performance of the PS-20 has been brilliant. It starts the engine from cold, every time, and of the 83 runs this year, the battery never missed a beat.

Cold air intake - Worked

The CAI definitely drove the ambient air temperatures down. It does need insulating from heat soak though. I'll do that over the winter break.

Funk Motorsport Turbo blanket - Worked

The heat released from the turbo was kept under control by the turbo blanket, which in turn reduced temperatures under the engine cover.

Fast acting air charge temperature sensor - Worked

This has had quite an affect on the performance this year. On the one hand the ECU is able to react more quickly to temperature changes. On the other, had I not fitted the fast acting sensor, then the ECU may not have tripped at Snetterton when the ACT rose above 80C. But I'd rather the ECU trip, than the engine suffer damage because a sensor wasnt reporting temperatures quickly enough.

Alternator under ECU control - Worked

All year I've had the ECU turn the alternator output on and off depending on the throttle position, and battery voltage, and its worked really well, reducing the load on the engine on full throttle, when the conditions allowed.

Rewiring the X10 - Worked

I rewired the X10 expander unit to allow me to connect damper potentiometers, and to move the wheel speed sensors off the ECU and on to the X10, and its all worked perfectly all year. I did have a noisey front left sensor, which was a recurring problem, until I fitted a replacement at Kirkistown and that seems to have finally cured the issue.

Rewiring the chassis - Worked

At the start of the year, I removed the battery terminal posts from the cockpit floor, relocating the Lithium battery to the intercooler side pod, and this allowed me to remove the heavy duty copper cables that ran inside the car, and use shorter cables to provide power to the starter motor. This freed up space inside the cockpit, and I had no issues at all with battery power during the year.

Barge board removal - Worked

For Snetterton I raised the front wing angle to a new higher angle than I'd ever run before, and on the first timed run the ACT temperature exceeded 80C and tripped the ECU. After some head scratching, rather than lower the wing angle I tried removing both barge boards, and this transformed the ACT temperatures. The front end grip was phenomenal too, so since that weekend, the barge boards have been consigned to the garage roof, and the car has been incredible to drive. I had to trim the nose cone to allow the steeper wing angle, but by doing that I have a new Max Aero setting for the front, and this has been used to good effect at several circuits, allowing me to make huge improvements in my times. I'll continue to use the new settings in 2022.

Diffuser floor attachment - Worked

After several years of struggling to get the leading edge of the diffuser floor to remain attached to the underside of the chassis floor, I found a way of securing it properly, and this has made a big difference to the balance of the car.

All in all, its been a great year, with just a single ECU trip at Snetterton, and the exhaust pipe fracture at Castle Combe on the final run of the year, which given the abuse the car has had, and compared to other less fortunate drivers, I think is a fair return on the time and effort invested in preparing and racing the car.

7Nov

Numbers on

I've replaced the old number 8's with the new number 4's. And I've replaced the IGN switch with a new one, again, it's IP67 spec so its weather proof. Everything tests out ok. The next job I'll be starting is to check the chassis over. So all joints and suspension components will be inspected for cracks/wear etc.

I'm still getting to grips with analysing the engine data. I've tried a few different tools to enable Machine Learning, and I'm now looking at Orange, which is very easy to use, and is providing some promising results so far.

4Nov

Exhaust repaired

The exhaust pipe is now fitted back on the turbo. It had to be Tig welded, and Nigel's done a great job. I'll make a support bracket for the pipe, so hopefully it wont happen again. Having said that, the weld was 9 years old, and the pipe had been through a very large number of heat cycles, so I guess it was just one of those things, and I should have checked it every now and again. I've also replaced all the plastic pipes providing air to the pneumatic shift system.

3Nov

Data analysis

With the dust settled on the 2021 championship, I've started looking through the data captured from the car, and I've discovered a potential issue with the wiring. Let me explain.

Over the weekend, I've taken every LRD log file catpured from the Life ECU during 2021, and exported them one at a time, in to CSV format. Basically, every time the engine is started and stopped, the ECU saves the data during that run, in the ECU's internal memory, for downloading. If you dont download the data, its eventually overwritten, so its best to download the data after every run at the circuit, so you have a record of the whole year.

When you export the data to CSV, you're allowed to specify the frequency that the data is exported at. It suggests 1000Hz, as that the highest sampling frequency used when the engine is running. However each log file would be 1000s of megabytes in size, and thats too much detail to wade through. So instead, I've decided on a 10Hz export rate, which results in files up to 10MB in size, which is far more manageable.

I've installed Microsoft SQL Server Express on my Desktop PC, and I've created a database called EHM. In the database, I've a table called mygale_data, in to which I have imported all of the data from the eighty three exported CSV files. Prior to importing the files, they were all modified with an extra column, which I've called eventID, and each file has been given a unique number which the eventID column is populated with. This allows me to group the imported rows in to seperate events, using the eventID. I've created another table called event_details, which holds the filenames, the corresponding eventid's, and the run order for that event.

That task took me around 6 hours to process and import all of the CSV files, and I've now got a table with ~320,000 rows of data in it. So what I can do now, is create SQL reports which interrogate all of the information from the car. The target is to use Machine Learning, so the computer can be taught what a healthy engine looks like, and as the data is analysed it can potentially pinpoint issues which could indicate impending component failure.

One thing that became apparent, was the engine died on me at Castle Combe on my T2 run off run, albiet briefly, and the cause was the ENGINE ENABLE signal went from OK to OFF to OK, at which point the power returned and I carried on around the circuit. So, had this happened before? At Curborough the week before I did experience the same symptons on one run, but at the time I didnt find the cause. Would a report in SQL find otherwise?


Yes. The results show that the ENGINE ENABLE signal also changed during the P2 practice run at Curborough on the figure of 8 course.

I've included the lat and long G forces in the results, the vehicle speed, and the throttle position, as well as the onTime (the time the engine had been running prior to the enable switch glitching)

So I've checked the toggle switch that provides the IGN on/off signal (ENGINE ENABLE) to the ECU. I cant find anything wrong with it. The wiring looks ok, again, all seems to be working correctly. However, to be on the safe side, I've ordered a replacement switch, as it is 8 years old, and I'll swap it out. I dont know if the G forces present during the glitches caused the switch to fail briefly. I cant find anything else in the data that would pinpoint the cause, other than potentially a faulty switch/wiring. Anyway, with the switch replaced I'll have to wait until I next go testing to see if the problem has gone away.


I'm now looking through the other channels in the database, to see if there's anything else I can learn from the information I've captured. I've installed Pytorch and I'm learning how to use Python to provide the machine learning element, which is going to take some time to master. What else could we learn from analysing the data? What other areas can we benefit from examining? Driver performance, maybe?

28Oct

Paddock Walk Videos

In case you missed them, I've been producing paddock walk videos this season, which gives a record of who's driving what, the weather, and the paddock layouts at the venues that we visited in 2021. Please like, subscribe and share.



26Oct

2021 Season

Looking over the results this year, on top of finishing 4th overall, I've had eleven new personal best times at Blyton Outer, Kirkistown (Record), Knockhill Clockwise (Record), Lydden Hill, Pembrey New (Record), Snetterton 100, Aintree (Record), Anglesey International, Curborough Long (Record), Curborough Figure 8, and Castle Combe.

I've had two FTD's this year, at Aintree in September, and at Curborough in October on the Long Course.

And I had one run off win, at Kirkistown.

And 13 Podiums

Thats one very succesful year.

25Oct

So close

There's something to be said for holding Castle Combe at the start of the year. Its usually just the thing you need for finding weaknesses on your car, after upgrading it over the winter, and if you can survive Combe, you've a good year ahead of you. Well now I know that holding it at the end of a good year, it has the exact same effect. It must be the combination of high speeds, the 3.3 miles of 1.75 laps, placing additional stresses on the car, and the bumps and yumps when the immense downforce is pressing the car in to the track, certainly reveals any weaknesses. We had engines blowing up and catching fire, oil spills, spins, crashes, break downs, it was a very action packed day.

Unfortunately, I didnt escape totally unscathed.

When I was unloading the car, after an awful nights sleep, the air bed had split, another winter upgrade, I'd just finished attaching the front wing, when a young lad walked up and asked if I'd need any help during the day. He explained he was a student on a motorsport engineering course at Silverstone, and was looking for some work experience. I'm always happy for any assistance, so I quickly signed him up, and got him up to speed with the tech on the car, changing wheels etc, and explaining the format of the day. Will was up to speed straight away, and was helping push me forwards in the queue, and unwrapping the tyres before the start line. I must say it did make things far easier for me, and I really appreciated his help. I wonder why more students dont do the same thing, its a good environment for them to pick up valuable experience and get involved.

Returning to the paddock after first practice, I noticed smoke appearing from my left and I could smell burning, I was greeted by Jane Loudon shouting "Get out, quickly", which I did, very rapidly. There were flames licking out the end of the exhaust pipe, which didnt want to extinguish. With the engine off, something was burning, and after 30 seconds the flames eventually went out. Not a fierce fire, just something had ignited and was burning. I checked the data on the ECU, and everything looked ok. The car had performed well on the practice run, I'd no idea what was going on. I restarted the engine, revved it, no smoke, no flames, nothing. Very odd.

I also had a lot of vibration from the front wheels on the P1 run, so Will swapped them over left to right for T1, and the problem went away.

So still on the practice tyres, I did my first timed run, and got to the second chicane, Bobbies, changed down from 6th to 5th, and the car was coasting. Oh no, not the engine! Fearing the worse, assuming the engine had gone in to limp mode, I coasted through the chicane, with 5 showing on the dash, and there appeared to be no drive. I blipped the throttle, and the engine revved, but I wasnt in gear. That was odd. I pulled the down paddle, the box jumped in to 4th, the revs shot up, and I then realised I'd had a false neutral, the first one all year. I carried on, but must have lost a few seconds, and recorded a 120s run, which was still slower than my 119s PB. Not good. Checking the data again, the voltage from the potentiometer on the gearbox, showed that the box was indeed between gears. It doesnt happen very often. Maybe it was the cold, and the gearbox wasnt running as warm as it could be, and it just got stuck. So I topped up the air in the paintball bottle, just incase the pressure was low, and didnt need to put much in to bring it back to 3000psi. So I think it was just one of those things.

False neutral gear position voltage

After lunch I bolted the fresh set of Pirellis to the car. I'd had them sat in the van for an hour, with a 1.5KW heater blowing hot air through them, which meant I'd at least have warm tyres for the first run off. Though I think by the time I'd reached the front of the queue they'd cooled down a little.



When I started the car in the paddock, there was a resonance I'd not heard before. The noise got more noticable when I revved the engine, but I just put it down to body work rubbing somewhere, or the diffuser floor had perhaps moved slightly, I had to ignore it, push on, and record a decent time on the first run off.

I'd tried a new launch control setup in the morning, lowering the base engine speeds even further to try and avoid excessive wheelspin. But I'd also adjusted the boost pressure to maintain a constant low boost until a set speed, and then ramp the boost up until launch handed over to traction. But the first two runs resulted in a very unsafe launch, with excessive wheel spin with the steeper boost gradient. So during the lunch break I reverted to the previous linear boost gradient, which just constantly increases boost during launch, and I was looking forward to see if I could make a good getaway without having to get off the throttle.

If you watch the video [below] I recorded my quickest ever 64ft with a 2.16s launch, maintaining full throttle throughout. The engine revs dropped nicely, and then climbed, which made a big improvement in the longitudinal G force during acceleration. I'll continue with this development next year, I reckon there's a sub 2.0s 64ft in there, with some more tweaks.

So the run itself turned out to be faster than I'd ever been around Combe, in 118.44s, I broke the existing record by 0.08s. But it revealed three problems. The first one was that the exhaust pipe had fractured, and the noise I could hear when queuing, was the end of the pipe rattling on the side pod. It still let me continue around the circuit for the 1.75 laps, but it did lead to a problem on the final chicane, where the escaping exhaust gas heated up the plastic pipes that carry the compressed air to the gear change system, and a pipe burst as I changed down from 6th to 5th at Tower on my final lap. I was then stuck in 5th gear, luckily, with just a short run through Bobbies to the finish line. It still cost me some time, but at least I wasnt stuck in 2nd gear. Because the engine has approx 400lbft of torque, accelerating in 5th wasnt as bad as it could have been.

The other issue was an odd one. The engine suddenly dies on me, after the Esses as I'm on full throttle around Old Paddock. The manifold pressure drops 1bar, for about 0.5s, and the speed dropped 3mph, but importantly, the issue resolved itself and I could carry on. Now I've looked at the data, and I remember having the same symptons at Curborough on one of my runs there. It turns out that the Engine Enable flag in the ECU quickly goes from ON (engine runs) to OFF, to ON again, when the boost pressure drops. So its looking like the Cartek Isolator switch is faulty, and my left leg touches the switch panel where the switch sits, and thats enough to cause it to glitch and send the OFF then ON signal causing the loss of power. So I've ordered a new switch, as its 10 years old, and is probably just worn out.

Engine enable Off/On

The good news was that I recorded a time quick enough to finish 4th. The bad news was that when I got back to the paddock, stuck in 5th gear, and took the engine cover off to see what was going on, I then discovered the exhaust pipe was cracked around almost the entire circumference of the flange its welded to, and that meant it was game over. I had spare plastic hose, so the air line could be replaced, but getting the exhaust pipe repaired wasn't something I wanted to tackle, so I retired and put the car away. I think now that the flames in the exhaust pipe after the first practice run, were the initial signs that the pipe had cracked and was letting air inside, which was allowing the soot inside to burn off.

So the good news is that I've finished 4th overall in the MUK British Sprint Championship. I've finished 7th overall in the HSA Championship, and 2nd in class L.

I had a 100% finishing record this year, with no DNF's, completing every single timed run that I started. No spins, no breakdowns. One engine trip at Snetterton, but I still finished the run under my own steam. Thats not bad going.



Thankyou to Devil Developments for the fantastic engine tune of my Area-six 1600 EcoBoost / Life F88GDI4 ECU. After the rolling road session in February 2020, the phenomenal power output (375bhp / 400lbft) has helped me progress throughout the year. I really cant think of another Syvecs/Life tuner that can do as good a job. Thanks to Area-Six for the 1600 EcoBoost engine. This is the end of the 2nd season with the rebuilt engine, and its just going from strength to strength. Thanks to Alan and Nick Mugglestone at Triple M Motorsport for the wonderful Pirelli tyres, and the coaching I had earlier in the year. Thats helped me more than anything this year. Thankyou to Opie Oils for the free engine oil. Thankyou to Anglo American Oils for the Sunoco race fuel, which has provided performance and protection of the engine. Thankyou to Race Technology for the excellent CAN DASH4PRO which has worked perfectly. Thankyou to Life Support for answering my questions. And thankyou to my Family for allowing me the time off to have a bit of a play at the weekends. I couldnt have done it without you.

Whats next?

Repair the exhaust pipe, replace the isolator switch, insulate the air lines so they cant burst again. Apply for my race license, since I passed my ARDS in April and I need to capitalise on the opportunity to drive on proper race tracks during the downtime.

21Oct

Latest standings

Click on the Class to hide/reveal each class. Click Play to restart the animation.

20Oct

Castle Combe live stream

The final round of the British Sprint Championship is being live streamed this Saturday, by Speed on Screen. Andy Laurence is working hard to bring the stream to both FB and Youtube, and the Youtube link is shared below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQhki8qFROg

The full Great Western Sprint 2021 entry list is here

I am ready for Saturday, I'm just waiting to load the van and trailer up for the trip down on Friday afternoon. My last time with number 8 on the car, but what number will I end up with next year? A 3 or a 4?

15Oct

Van repaired

It was a wheel speed sensor on the offside rear wheel on the van that had failed. This was producing the tyre pressure error, and the ABS error. A quick job, less than 5 minutes to replace it, and the faults have now gone.

The format at Castle Combe appears to be as follows. All drivers get 1 practice and two timed runs. Only the BSC drivers get a third timed run (Qualifier) followed immediately by a final run off run. We're told to take everything we need to the pitlane for the final pair of runs, which is easier said than done. I am the last car to run in the running order, so I need to let the car, tyres, and driver cool down, before the final run off, which should be in run off order, ie fastest last. And if there's a drying track, the temptation will be to swap over to the slicks, which is what SBD did at Pembrey during one of their timed runs, allowing Matt to win the timed run. Lets wait and see what happens.

14Oct

Castle Combe prep

All 8 tyres are cleaned and wrapped. Not much rubber came off the fresh set, but the practice tyres really gave up a lot of crud. At Combe, there's just one practice run, then two timed runs, and I believe there may be a final run off run at the end, unless the organisers offer a third timed run for everybody. I really cant see anyone catching Terry Holmes in the Lola V8, it depends on the weather. So the first timed run, will most likely be a combined qualifier and run off run. The second timed run may also be the same, to be on the safe side, its going to have to be a maximum attack on every run, and 100% fit the fresh tyres after first practice. At curborough I brimmed the fuel tank on Sunday morning, and didnt fill up again all day. I might do the same at Combe, or rather, just keep it topped up all day.

The Kruger brake disks have gone away for micro-grinding, which should cure the brake judder. I've only sent the front pair back, the ones fitted on the rear are working perfectly. I'm running the original disks on the front at the moment, and they're also working perfectly with the fresh PF11 brake pads bedded in at Anglesey.

Entry List:
Entry list for GWS

13Oct

Sunday Curborough Figure of 8 Course

On to Sunday’s layout then, the figure of 8, which again I’d never driven before. The weather forecast was even better than yesterday, and the sun was so bright for the first few runs I had to stick a strip of electrical tape across my visor to try and shield my eyes from the low autumn sun. Again I was running the older practice tyres for practice, saving the fresher tyres for the pair of timed runs. I hadn’t brought my heat gun with me, and after 5 runs (2 at Anglesey and 3 yesterday) the fresher tyres were already looking like they could do with a clean. Instead I was scrubbing the tyres between runs, using a rag and water, which cleaned them up a treat.

We were also wrapping tyres for the drive from the paddock to the start line (on both days), since there were so many leaves and twigs picked up from the run back to the paddock with hot tyres. I’d taken to driving down to the start area, actually getting out the car, and unwrapping them myself. The batch of classic Formula Fords were taking around 20 minutes to take their runs, so there was plenty of time to stretch legs rather than sit belted in to the car.

First practice of the 8 and I remembered to drive the right course. I recorded a 56.23s run, about 3.5s off the 52.74s record, but it was just a sighting lap. No issues though, the drive through the X in the centre was quite challenging, not knowing how much speed to carry through. I’d changed down from 3rd to 2nd, but after reviewing the footage, decided to stay in 3rd gear through the X, and that made a significant improvement to my next run, which was a 53.13. On both runs I’d done an identical 2.32s 64ft time, which just shows how effective unwrapping the scrubbed tyres on the line was. I was actually quicker than Goulding on the 2nd practice run, so the signs were good for another record to be broken.

Now the fresh rubber was fitted, and wrapped, and on the start line I recorded a 2.23s 64ft, and improved again to record a 52.93s run, which was just 0.19s outside the record. Pete was a fraction ahead, with a 52.73, which was 0.01 under the record and FTD. Time for lunch, and time to review the video and data and see where I could go quicker.

For the final run, T2, I was going to carry more speed through the X, brake less, and get on the power sooner out of the final bend. So we drove down to the assembly area, and waited patiently for the Formula Fords to have their last runs. I was then lined up, sitting in 1st gear, waiting for the final driver to complete his run, and sadly, he fell off the circuit which brought out the red flag. Damn.

I was pushed back, turned off the engine, and tried to remain composed. But ten minutes later the red flags were put away, I lined up, and didn’t drive a particularly good run, and neither did Pete, we were both slower, and the results were decided on the previous T1 run.

I was quite happy with my performance though. It’s a harder track to get right than the Long Course, so to be within 0.19s of the record wasn’t too bad for my third ever lap of the track. The car was again faultless, just add fuel and drive it, which allows me to relax and enjoy the experience.

I have one more event, the Great Western Sprint at Castle Combe on October 23rd. In preparation I have a front lower clevis suspension bracket to replace, after I bent it loading the car back on to the trailer. I accidentally caught the front offside tyre on the tyre rack leg, whilst winching the car on with the electric winch. Doh!

I've already cleaned and wrapped the four fresh tyres which have now done 7 runs, and I shall keep the wrap on the tyres again for Combe, to save them getting dirty on the drive to the start line. It definitely makes a difference to my starts.



12Oct

4K video with data from my Curborough Long Course FTD

More time to be had here, lots of small improvements can be made with a few more goes.



11Oct

Curborough Long Course FTD and class record

I had never driven the Long course before, which consists of two laps, and I'd not been to Curborough since 2016 when I first had the Mygale. So I was hoping to at least stay with Pete, a curborough regular, who had set the record in 2019 at 52.12s. This was the penultimate round of the Hillclimb and Sprint Association championship, and I was 5 points ahead in class L. I needed two good performances to win the class, and was a little apprehensive about going to Curborough, as it was so long since I was last there.

On to Saturday, a dry and overcast day, with no rain forecast. First practice, I drove a mediocre 56.04s run, as a sighting lap, which gave me some ideas on where to gain time. Still on the practice tyres, I then tried harder, and dropped to 52.89, which was quicker than Goulding's 53.25s.

With the offer of the first competitive timed run before lunch, I fitted the fresh Pirelli Ultrasoft tyres, which I'd not cleaned after I used them at Anglesey twice, the weekend before. I really put the hammer down on this run, and recorded a 51.55s which was under the existing record. Pete did a 51.77s, which kept me ahead. We'd both gone under the record, but who would come out on top?

After lunch, we had another go, and I made a great 64ft of 2.28s, and recorded an even faster 51.47; however, Pete threw the gauntlet down with a 51.44s, to set a new record.

We were certainly entertaining the crowds with our battle, and so it was on to the last run, T3, where we'd need to really concentrate and try to go even quicker. It was still overcast, there was a hint of blue sky, but the track temperature was low, and the ambient air temperature below 20C, I'd really have to wind myself up for this one.

Sat in the assembly area, behind all the classic Formula Fords, we waited in turn as the final pair of cars to run. When they'd all finished their runs, I drove to the line, and waited in first gear, for quite a while, as the commentator built the tension. The light finally went green, I floored the throttle, waited a seond for the boost to built to the launch pressure, released the clutch. Half a second later, the clutch smoothly engaged, and I had another great launch of 2.30s, a first lap of 29.30s, and and a second lap of 22.10s, which gave me a new class record of 51.40s, which was displayed on the digital scoreboard on the return to the assembly area. Would Pete go quicker? Alas no, he recorded a 51.77s which meant I was FTD, and of course first in class, setting a new class record 0.72s quicker than the previous one.

I was over the moon with that performance. But could I do it again the following day on the figure of 8 layout? I didnt bring the heat gun with me, so the fresh tyres had now completed 5 runs, and had a layer of dirt built up on them. I'd just have to see how well they'd cope tomorrow. I still hadnt secured the championship, although I was still ahead, a poor performance tomorrow could jeapordise my lead. I'd actually extended it by 2 points today, but nothing was set in concrete until the final run on Sunday.

08Oct

HSA Finale at Curborough

I'm all ready for this weekends racing at Curborough. My car needed no attention following Anglesey, whereas the VW T5.1 does. It started showing an ABS Error on the journey back on Sunday, so its visiting a independant VAG Specialist today to see if we can diagnose the fault. I'm suspecting a wheel speed sensor, as I've had regular Low Tyre Pressure warnings, and I believe the VW uses the wheel speeds to determine if a tyre has deflated, due to the difference in rotational speeds when fully inflated. I'll find out today. I've also found I can no longer store the tyre pressures, which has only started since the ABS errors appeared ???

The ABS Error doesnt stop me towing, its just I want it working fully all of the time, not when the van decides :D


06Oct

2021 BSC Champion

Nottingham's Steve Miles was crowned British Sprint Champion on Saturday, after Simon Bainbridge took the first run off in the morning, which then guaranteed him the title by denying Matt Hillam any further opportunity to catch his very high score (445pts).

Its been a privilege to watch Steve compete over the years and his title is well deserved, and long overdue.

Congratulations Steve Miles

05Oct

Anglesey International 79.43s



04Oct

BSC Anglesey report

Leaving Leicester around midday, the trip over to Anglesey in North Wales, was relatively trouble free, until I came across a serious accident on the A55 which caused a 30-minute holdup and a detour around the closed section of dual carriageway. The rest of the journey was fine, and the drive across the space invaders bridge in to Anglesey was trouble free, if not a little breezy.


I arrived at the Tracmon circuit around 4.15pm, to be held in a queue where we were checked in, and was asked if I had hidden a dog in the van. Finally driving in to the paddock, Rob Tonge had booked a garage, 11-12, so I parked up opposite and reserved a space for Rob's van as he was arriving later. Once I obtained the key that unlocked the door to the garage, I unloaded the Mygale, and prepped her for the following day. The weather forecast for Saturday was grim, really wet and windy, so I made the changes to the antiroll bars, brake bias, fitted the fresh Pirelli Wets, and walked the circuit before the rains arrived.


Sleeping in the van that night was quite awful. The rain arrived around 3am, and never really stopped. For the first practice we were meant to assemble in the pit lane for 8.40am, but standing in the garage, the rain was coming down so hard it wasn’t sensible to drive even a saloon on the circuit.


I messaged the drivers group on whatsapp, to ask if it would be a good idea to delay the start, and our championship leader replied “woos, get on with it”. Not very helpful. Anyway, the Longton officials did a few laps of the track and appeared to agree with me, so the start was delayed until 9:30 and another track inspection was made. A further announcement was made that the event would start at 9:50am. Sure enough, as per the forecast, there was a let up in the rain, and we were able to safely start the practice runs around 10am.

Running on the lower boost all day (c.300bhp) and the S curved throttle pedal map, I had selected the new wet traction control settings, which I’d never tried before; As I launched the car, it transitioned from launch to traction at 25mph, and then the car promptly turned left, heading towards the barriers. Both near side wheels were on the grass, and I lifted off, applied opposite lock, and prevented the car from hitting anything solid. I then resumed my run, and tried to give the car some throttle in a few more places, but the rear end instantly lit up, so I soldiered on and recorded a relatively slow 69s practice run.


After the run I was directed to the scrutineering bay where, under cover, the officials checked helmets, overalls, hans devices, and just gave the cars a quick visual inspection.

After driving back to the garage I checked the TC settings, and found that I’d selected the wrong multiplier switch position on the steering wheel. Rather than 40% wheelspin (x 0.4), I’d selected the very generous 105% multiplier (x 1.05), and that meant that the ECU was going to allow a lot more wheelspin than I’d wanted, hence the car was a tad lively under hard throttle. I decided not to use launch control again, and granny started the car for the remaining runs in the wet.

I changed the steering wheel traction multiplier switch position back to 40%, and on the next run, I was red flagged as Grahame Harden had spun ahead of me, and on my re-run I was 10 seconds quicker with a 59.51s run, which qualified me in 6th place. We then had a lunch break, which would allow the poor marshals to get some food and respite from the dreadful weather.

I’d been suffering from brake judder, on the front axle, since I’d fitted the fresh Kruger disks at Aintree, and I decided to bring the original disks with me to swap back if the problem hadn’t improved. For the first two runs in the wet, the brakes were getting progressively worse, the whole of the front of the car shook under braking, and I was worried the brakes would snatch in the slippery conditions; so over lunch I swapped the original front disks back, and hoped the problem would be solved.

We were given a 5 minute warning for the run-offs, and I wanted to make sure the front brake disks were clear of the WD40 I'd sprayed on them to prevent them from rusting. So I drove around the paddock for two laps, in 1st gear at tickover, gently applying the brakes to clear the oil and warm them up.

Laps of the paddock
For the run off, the rain was falling again, and I managed a 59.49s run, placing me in 6th again and earning me 20 points, the brakes were back to normal again, so that was progress.



But I still wasn’t happy with the TC settings. So, I made more changes to the wet traction spin targets and got ready for the third and final timed run. It was taking so long for a batch of cars to get through, approximately 2 hours with people spinning and going off on the grass, that after lunch, the proceedings were far behind schedule, in part due to the delayed start, so our third run was to be the final run of the day. This meant it was our qualifier and our run-off run combined.

Now raining very heavily with wind strength increasing, I joined the queue for the third and final run, sitting sheltering under my umbrella. Once I set off, halfway around the track I was red flagged, as another driver had spun ahead of me. This shortened lap allowed me to see the volume of surface water on the corners, and get a second go at avoiding all the trouble spots. I re-joined the queue, then set off again with a granny start, and travelled around in 59.39s, to finish 2nd in the run off. Nice, 24 points.




As Pete Goulding had won FTD, and he was also sharing his car with John Loudon, there was enough of us in the 1600 forced induction racing car class to mean there'd be a trophy. And because Pete had FTD, that elevated me from 2nd to 1st place, which earned me a very nice glass tankard from Longton and District motor club.

My first real test of the Pirelli wets, I was most impressed. Although the top speeds were down compared to driving in the dry, the braking in the wet was the most impressive, staying off the racing line I could brake almost at the same point where I would have done if it were dry. I improved on every run, and my fastest run was my last one, in the wettest conditions we’d had to suffer all day.

After 5pm, the clouds started clearing, and I was able to grab a steak in the restaurant and head out for a track walk. North Wales really is quite breathtaking in the Autumn, and the setting sun gave some great opportunities for photographs.


Back in the van, I attempted to dry my gloves and crash helmet, and ran through the data collected during the day. The forecast for Sunday was cold, windy and very little rain. Fingers crossed we would get a dry run.

Sunday


Note: Now you have to remember that even though this is my third visit to Anglesey, I've only ever competed on the Sunday International circuit once before, back in April 2019. So I've only got 6 laps under my belt, from 2 1/2 years ago, so todays challenge is to complete 5 more runs, and improve on every run.

I was again woken early on Sunday morning, this time it was gale force winds blowing my van around, and I saw 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am etc. Not the best preparation for another days high pressure racing. It was at least dry, and that’s the way it remained all day. 40mph gusts of wind I could deal with, so the engine boost was turned back up to max, anti-roll bars reconnected, practice slicks fitted, front and rear wing angles reduced, and I waited for the first chance to drive the car in anger on the faster international layout.

We queued up again at 8:40 for first practice, and after a 20 minute wait, were released one by one on to the International circuit. This was only my 2nd event on the International. The last one being in the 2019 spring meeting, so with just 6 laps under my belt, it was a tall order to try and improve on my PB of 80.05s, especially with the strong winds. The track was very green for the first run, and the speeds were far higher than those reached yesterday, but at least all the rain water and puddles had cleared.

For the first timed run, I recorded 81.84, which placed me 4th qualifier. The omens were good, I was just 0.2s behind Goulding, and I was faster than Steve Miles. For the second timed run, our run off run, I recorded a 80.48 which was 1.4s faster, and that placed me in fifth place, netting 21 points.



Over lunch I started packing the van and trailer, and the wets were put away. I decided now was the time to try the fresh Ultrasoft tyres I’d collected during the week, and so I swapped the wheels over and got ready for the next qualifying run, timed run 3.

I recorded a 79.92s run, placing me 3rd fastest, which was very satisfying. I was again ahead of Goulding, by 0.7s, which showed how my extra power and fresh tyres were paying off.

And for the final run off the day, our 2nd and final run off, I tried a few different ideas out, and went another 0.5s faster, recording a 79.42s run. That placed me 4th overall, netting 22 points.





After that, it was great to win the 1600 Forced Induction class, beating John and Pete fair and square, finishing the day on a high, and I stayed on for the awards presentation to collect my trophy. I was going home with two glass tankards.

No issues with the car all weekend. Again, I’d finished all the run off runs (I've a 100% finishing record this year), and improved my times on every single run. However, I am now in 3rd place in the championship, and its now mathematically impossible for me to regain 2nd place. And I will be overtaken by Matt Hillam at the final round, so I will sadly only finish in 4th place this year. So close to a top three finish, and its not for want of trying. I’ll try harder next year.

The final round is at Castle Combe on October 23rd, and I'm at Curborough this weekend for the finale of the HSA Championship, where Pete and I will be doing battle for class honours. I'm leading by 4pts, so it'd be silly not to go to try and keep my lead.

The steeper front wing angle worked well, allowing me to run shallower wing elements. The front wing end plates did still touch the ground, on the final two runs, so I will add a further packing spacer to the front dampers for Castle Combe, which should prevent the car from dropping far enough to allow contact. The nlyon side skirts did their job, and show signs of bottoming out, presumably at the same point the front wing also appears to catch the deck, so again the packing spacer should resolve that. The oil change caused no issues, the engine ran perfectly well all weekend. The fresh Pirelli Ultrasofts worked straight away, despite some people saying they'd not had the same experience. I was instantly quicker, and another 0.5s faster again on their second run. But that was more to do with using the brakes less and allowing the car to carry more speed in to the bends, which is something I'm still working on. I've still only done around a dozen laps of the international circuit, so with some additional coaching I reckon there's more than another couple of seconds to be found. Traction control for the wet was working well when I finished on Saturday, though I think it can still be improved. All the other gadgets and gizmos worked really well too.