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Deep dive time

I downloaded the data from the final run on Sunday, and I can see spikes in the water temp and air temp readings, which is a bit odd. And whats even weirder is that the spikes, the limp mode, and the engine cutouts, ALL occur on the same corner, across the different runs, on both days. Its Brooklands Hairpin. Where I'm standing on the brakes, and turning right. OK, so thats a sign, something is trying to tell me something here. Why, on that corner, did I have electronic issues?

So at the moment, without spending any time investigating on the car, I've got the wiring diagram that I produced, and the ECU Pinouts, to try and find whats common to all the issues. And I think I've found it.

There are two 5 Volt supplies provided by the ECU. Pin 63 is 5V Out #1. Pin 64 is 5V Out #2. The 5V Out #1 is used by the Chassis Split connector, which joins the engine loom to the chassis loom. And on the chassis loom, we have the Exhaust Cam Sensor. Now it should be wired direct to the ECU, like the Inlet Cam sensor, but dont forget we had to improvise with these cars, and IO is limited and we've had to repurpose various connections to do jobs they werent meat to do. In this case, the Rain Light output is used to drive the Exhaust VVT solenoid, and what was the Front Left wheel speed sensor, is wired to the Exhaust Cam sensor via a long shielded twisted pair cable.

Another sensor using the same 5V supply is the crank sensor!

5V Out #1 also goes to the Spare Inputs connector, which is used to monitor both front and rear brake pressures, and steering wheel angle. All of the connections for these are crappy sureseal connectors, which are next to the clutch and brake pedal, at the front of the chassis. And the same 5V Out #1, feeds the Inlet Cam position sensor. So I am wondering if there could be a problem with the sureseal connectors, which is causing the 5V signal to drop, under heavy braking whilst turning right?

It could all be linked. I will remove the body work and see what I can find. At the very least, the sureseal connectors could all be unplugged so I lose the brake pressure and steering wheel sensors, but it would rule out if one of those sensors was affecting the 5V supply. I am tempted to cut the sureseal connectors off, and use DTM connectors, as the sureseals are over 10 years old, and heaven knows what state they're like inside.

Time to go investigate :D


Pembrey report

Setting off from Leicester at midday, I was hoping for a decent journey across to South Wales, sadly the M42 and the M4 had different ideas, and I eventually arrived at around 5pm, to join a very short queue. After just a few minutes we were allowed in to the paddock, where we then bagged our garages for the weekend. I shared a garage with OMS driver Simon Wallis, there was plenty of room to spread out, and room was something I needed with all ten wheels in use over the weekend. After walking the course, I cooked myself some food, and prepared myself for the following days racing.


Only ten drivers were present, so qualifying was just going to be a formality. The Avon rears gave the car a very unusual feeling as I pushed around the quick corners. Hard to describe, it felt like the rear end had a push rod failure, as the car pivoted unusually. I thought perhaps the diff was on its way out, but for the first timed run, on the Pirelli rears, I broke the 1600T class record, finishing 2nd fastest. Back in the paddock, I suddenly realised I'd just used the rear run off tyres on the qualifying run. Idiot. The big 300mm rears were still sat wrapped on the garage floor! Right, out with the heat gun again, and I quickly cleaned them both and fitted the pirelli fronts.

On the next run, the first run off, I tried very hard again and improve the record again by another second, with a 95.11s, but everyone else also improved and I was down in fifth place, the win taken by Pete Goulding with a 94.25s run. Good effort. The top five were all within a second of the winner. Drat. But I'd knocked 4.2 seconds off my PB, it was a shame the car would later deny me from making that 5 seconds.

Run off 1

Never mind, put the avon fronts back on and the big rears, and for the third timed run I'd work on my braking points. So for T3 I again lead the batch of cars away, and half way around the track, the dreaded Limp Mode struck. I couldnt see why, the dash wasnt giving me any clues, so I dipped the clutch, turned the ignition off and on again, and tried again. All good, so I accelerated hard, and then, limp mode struck again. So I continued around the track, and completed the run, ensuring I'd qualified, albeit in tenth place.

Back in the garage I checked the data, and it said VVT Failure. Damn. What could that be then? The inletraw data was showing zero, so I quickly refitted the spare inlet cam sensor, and reset the fault code, refitted the cleaned Pirelli rears, and fronts, and got ready for the run. The engine started ok, and I drove to the start line, again first away. As I floored the throttle to enable launch, and released the clutch, and limp mode struck again, leading to a very very slow 160s lap of the track, placing me tenth and last :(

Run off 2

Back in the pits I again checked the data, and ran the engine, and every time I gave it full throttle to enable launch, it tripped in to limp mode with a VVT Failure. I flattened the exhaust cam map to all zeros and tried again. But it still failed. Cant be the exhaust sensor then.

Scratching my head, after getting some suggestions from Pete Howgate, I decided to swap both the VVT solenoid plug over. In fact the exhaust connector would reach the inlet solenoid, but not the other way round. So I reconfigured the IO to make the ECU drive the inlet solenoid from exhaust solenoid output, and in doing so disabled the exhaust VVT altogether. Then when I started the engine, and floored the throttle, the engine ran without going in to limp mode. I repeated this several times, with no more trips. Phew. So the fault lay in the two wire connection that fed the inlet VVT solenoid. Either there was a problem with the +12V connection, or the PWM connection, but either way, the connector probably needs replacing if I'm going to revert back to using inlet and exhaust VVT in the future. For Sunday though, it meant I could compete, and get points, a far better position to be in that packing up and going home. I'm glad all the hours spent learning the Life software paid off.


Today we were on the Clubmans circuit, which I actually enjoy more than the National, as its more time on track, more challenging and technical and I enjoy chucking the car around. I set the class record in 2022, with a 103.92s run on my last run of the day, which was a real thrill. It was cooler, with rain on its way, so I had to do my best and I finished 2nd in the run off to Terry Holmes. With the hot sunny weather forecast, would I get close to that time again?

Overnight I'd cleaned six tyres, and added fuel and air, so the car was ready (touch wood) to give me another chance of some run off wins. As I've already mentioned, the temperature was meant to be even higher, so it would be a real test of everyones ageing rubber. On the first practice run, I was red flagged due to John Loudons car becoming stranded with gear selection issues, so I only completed one flying lap. Offered a rereun, I chose to preserve my car and tyres.

The modifications overnight had worked, no limp mode. Then the first timed run came, and I was third with a 106.95s. Again, no issues. For the first run off, I put in a blistering lap, with the track warmer than ever, and finished second again, this time to Chris Jones, just 1/10th of a second ahead. Frustratingly, the car died on me half way around, I put it down to traction control, the engine burst back in to life a second later, but if definitely affected my time. I would certainly have won the run off had it not happened. Pete Goulding also had an ecu issue, and failed to complete the run, and that helped me close the gap on the championship leader.

Run off 1

So what was wrong now? I downloaded and checked the data, and it showed that although the engineEnable signal was OK, the runMode dropped from RUN to STOP, twice, rapidly, which I dont think was an engine trip, it was more like a missing crank signal. Hmm. Then I checked the data from the previous run, and it happened again, on the same corner, so it looks like its caused by high lateral G force when turning right. I will check the crank sensor connection, and made sure the connector is plugged in securely. (Ed: I am thinking now that it may have been caused by the original inlet cam sensor that I'd refitted on Saturday when I was trying to diagnose the VVT limp mode failures)

On to the third timed run, and I'm sat in the car, belted in, ready to go, press the starter button, and nothing. Again, nothing. And again! The starter motor was spinning, but not engaging. I knew it was on its way out, as I had removed it a few weeks ago and washed the mechanism in meths to clear all the crud out following some other starting problems. But no, it had decided it wasnt going to start the engine. So I had to get out, remove my helmet, then the engine cover, connect the jump start battery, and try again. Still nothing. So I had no option other than whacking the starter motor with something solid, and I chose a large socket, which after another try, did the trick. Right, helmet on, engine cover on, get back in, drive to the line and complete a run. It wasnt my best run, but I'd still got round, and I was third, on the old 300mm tyres, with a 109.00s, saving the run off tyres again for the last run.

OK, so one more go, and would it start? Yes, it did, and I was able to take my run off with everyone else. Sadly, as I'd had to start the engine before 5 minutes before we were called, I arrived at the line, with a decent oil and water temperature, but the start line marshals kept me waiting five minutes, whilst someones gopro was recovered from the track. And I darent turn the igntion off as I'd probably not start it again. By the time I was released, the car performed perfectly, but I could only manage 4th, with Steve Miles taking the win, again I was less than a second from the winning time.

Run off 2

I couldnt complain really, I'd got a good suntan, and a decent haul of points, with no fails to finish, and I'd got something to write about, and deep dive when I got home. Speaking of which, the journey back was far better, and an hour quicker, despite crawling on the M5 for 10 minutes following the clear up of an earlier crash. What was a real surpise was the calory count on my Garmin watch. Ovcer the three days I'd walked 50,000 steps, and burnt 15,000 calories. That deserved a beer when I got home :D

The full list of finishing times for all runs can be found here.


Pembrey challenges

Quick summary, I'll find some time to write the full report in the next day or so. I knocked 4.2seconds off my PB on Saturday, on the second timed run, but then the engine developed an electrical issue with the VVT system, meaning I was last on the third timed run, and last on the second run off, scoring points, but far fewer than I would have liked. I fixed the issue on Saturday after the final run. On Sunday, with the car repaired, I was second in the first run off, setting the second fastest time of the day. However during the run the engine cut out twice, which we think may be the new crank sensor failing, so that needs a deep dive. And then the starter motor packed up for the third timed run, which I had to hit with a large object to coax it in to life, and I qualified. On the final run, starting the engine before I got in to the car, I was fourth. So just one podium this weekend, lots of points, and it could have been worse if I hadnt been able to fix the VVT problem. I am still second in the championship.

Over the three days, I walked 50,000 steps, and burnt 15,000 calories, it was exhausting, but fun, and the weather was a little on the warm side for the pirelli's.


Pembrey prep

I have cleaned all ten tyres, and given the car a clean since it was covered in dust and grit from Lydden. Thats a dustpan full of rubber crumb off all ten tyres.

I've made changes to the traction control, to increase the torque reduction, by increasing the base gain value. I'll see if this makes any difference on the first practice run. I've also been successful in getting the Dash4pro to display "BIG" when I adjust the tyre sizes through the traction control multiplier switch on the steering wheel. It also says "WET" or "DRY" for the other two tyre choices.

I've also changed the config to increase the logging rate for Yaw Angle and wheelspin, since these were logging too slowly to allow a full diagnostics of the wheelspin.

Paint has been applied to the heave spring mechanism.


FTD winner, Run off winner, two podiums, and a new class record at Lydden

The weekend went far better than I was anticipating, winning the first run off, with a time 1s below the existing class record, which turned out to be the fastest run of the day, bagging me my first FTD award of the year, and the first FTD for me at Lydden Hill.

I have reduced the points defecit to championship leader Pete Goulding, from 14pts to 7pts, and I am still in second place overall.


Arriving Friday afternoon, I bagged my usual spot in the paddock, and set the car up. Prior to leaving Leicester, I'd already fuelled the car, filled the air bottle, cleaned all the tyres etc, so that meant I had a relaxing afternoon, waiting for others to arrive. What was apparent when I arrived, was the amount of dust on the track, and in the paddock. One of the track staff was busy pressure washing the startline area, trying to clean it up. Clearly using the venue for rally-x, means, its always going to be a dirty track, but would it affect the grip levels on Saturday? Pressure washing the start line


Up bright and early, I moved the car behind the van and trailer, and got ready for scrutineering. Last year we discovered my seatbelts were out of date, and I broke the steering wheel on the first timed run, so with that in mind, I was quite happy to have the car checked, not expecting to find anything wrong. The scrutineer pointed out that my crash helmet expires at the end of 2023, then asked me to provide stickers with PUSH printed on them, next to the pair of blue push button battery isolator buttons. Er, ok. I got the label printer out, produced two labels, and promptly stuck them on the car. That was it, nothing serious, and a scrutineering sticker was provided and I was good to go.

In conversation with the MUK scrutineer
Having walked the course on Friday, I walked it again with Pete Goulding, just to have another look at the lines. Practice was soon underway, and some of the drivers clearly needed it. One Porsche owner, decided to turn right on to the rally-x track, at Pilgrims, which brought out cheers and laughter from the onlookers. He promptly turned around and drove back towards the circuit, which then caused concern as another driver had set-off and was rapidly approaching the same piece of track that the Porsche was headed for. The ever alert marshals were soon waving red flags, and the Porsche headed back to the paddock, tail firmly between legs. A course car was then dispatched to cone off the entrance to the dirt section.

Short cut for the Porsche
On to our first practice, I set a good time, and got used to the speeds and g forces. I had recovered from Manflu from the weekend before, but still had a very dry throat after the first run. No dramas for any of the BSC team, and we were then readying for the first timed runs. Again, my speeds improved as did my time, and I was on the large 300mm rears, which were producing some good grip, despite their age. I'd programmed the ECU to use the Intermediate Tyre size for the 300's, leaving the Wet and Dry tyres sizes programmed for the smaller 250mm rears. One thing I couldn't get working was the Dash4pro to display the word "INT" when I had the Intermediate tyres selected on the steering wheel. I'll try and sort this out in the garage at home, when there is more time to focus.

Setup in the paddock
So on to the second timed run, which was the first run-off. I was back on the nine month old Ultrasofts, which I'd cleaned at home with the Greaves 3D heat gun, and I was fully focused on putting in a good run. I set off, got almost everything right, and the timing screen showed 66.13s, which was over 1.5s quicker than my T1 time, and over a second under the class reocord! Was it fast enough to win the run off though? Back in the paddock, the results were published very slowly, using a PDF based results system, so we had to discuss amongst ourselves what time we'd done, and it was apparent I was fastest, by over half a second to Smiley in second place. Once the results caught up, I realised I'd done it, and scored an extra bonus point for breaking the class record. 26 points, thank you very much.

Blanking plug in the oil tank Whilst checking the car, I noticed another one of the clear plastic sight gauges on the side of the gearbox had split, and was allowing engine oil to leak down the side of the gearbox. This happened before at Mallory Park when I was testing, and I'd bought an aluminium blanking plug off Mark Bailey, which I carried with me. So I quickly undid the pair of M6 fasteners, prised the Mygale part out the box, and pushed the blanking plug in, losing about 100cl of oil in the process. Warm engine oil gets everywhere when you spill even the tiniest amount, and I spent the next 5 minutes cleaning the mess from the diffuser. For this event I'd added an extra litre of oil to the sump tank, because I'd seen surge in the oil pressure at Blyton the previous weekend, and this obviously raised the oil level, cured the surge, but revealed the issue with the leaking sight gauge.

On to the third timed run, I was back on the 300mm rears, and set off at a good pace, but starting the 2nd lap, the rear end suddenly stepped out, and I had to get off the gas to catch her, but still recorded a 68s run, and it was just qualifying after all. I think I know the cause of the oversteer, it was me giving it full beans on 4 year old rubber, and the track surface changes camber quite rapidly, so I was just caught out. No harm done, and it got a reaction from the crowd of people watching :D

On the fourth and final timed run, which was the second run off, I was back on the 250mm pirellis, having cleaned them over lunch break, and I lined up behind the blue SBD DJ to take my run. The DJ set off, and I moved forward to the line to take my run. Sadly, one of the National B drivers was starting his second lap, when he tagged the steep kerbs on the apex of the corner, which launched the car in to the gravel, breaking the rear wishbones on both sides of the car.

This brought the red flags out, and I sat for 17 minutes, with the engine off, watching the recovery. When it was then my turn to start, I'd lost my focus, and did a low 67s run, which was only good enough for 2nd place, and 24 points. It was a quick run, but I didnt stick to my plan of which gear to use for the corners, and that cost me a few tenths. There was also oil down on the circuit, covered in cement powder, but you could definitely feel less grip in some parts of the track. Shame.

The next job was to load the car up, and wait for the prize giving, where I collected my trophy, and made a quick speech thanking everybody concerned. Then at 5:30pm after finishing loading all the gear back in to the van and trailer, I set off, arriving back in Leicester around 8:45pm.

Here is the video of my FTD run.

Final results

Round 11
Round 12
Total fuel used was 6.364 litres of 102RON, over a distance of 9.5 miles (5 runs).


Results service

There is a mind boggling complex set of Google Spreadsheets that hold all the scores this year, written and managed by Simon Wallis, and they're excellent, accurate, and up to date, but, aren't exactly easy on the eye. So I've been developing a python program to scrape the results from the published Google Sheets, prettify them, and generate an html page with the more user-friendly results on. The Python code runs from a Raspberry Pi Zero, at home, and I can send it emails to turn the processing on and off, and also to change the configuration so it knows what web page to scrape, and the name of the web page to create. It was working up to a point at Blyton, but a bug stopped it on Sunday, which I think I've now cured. This page should be live on Saturday, so keep an eye on it and the results should appear as they're entered in to the Google Sheets. Fingers crossed.....

Graham's python BSC results scraper


Four Podiums and a run off win at Blyton

Suffering from a very heavy cold all weekend, and sounding like a poor Barry White impressionist, with a horrible sore throat, I soldiered through the weekend at Blyton to win the first run off on Saturday, and finish third in the other three. Four podiums :D

Arriving at the circuit we were told no parking on the grass, so race cars had to be unloaded, before the trailers were then reversed on to the grass, whilst keeping the front wheels of the tow vehicles safe on the tarmac. It was a bit fraught unloading everything, and I'm glad I had my waterproof steel toe caps on, as the grass was a total bog all weekend, your race boots or trainers would have been soaked through in seconds. The weather remained pretty good all weekend, allowing for all ten timed runs to take place in the dry, until we came to pack up on Sunday afternoon when the heavens opened, and the T5 run was abandoned. The rain was quite refreshing after the heat though :D

Saturday (Eastern circuit)

I tried the heave spring on the practice run, with three packing spacers. One of my old Gopro Hero's was stuck on the rear of the engine cover, to film the operation of the spring, and I felt the car was quite bouncy. Watching the video showed that the spring was being compressed before any real speed had been reached, so I removed one packing spacer, and tried it again on the first timed run. Again, the car still felt like the spring was operating earlier than it needed to, and the video again showed that that was the case, it was being compressed before any significant downforce had been built up. So back in the paddock I removed a second spacer, and got myself ready for the first run off. Adjusting to the softer 1100lb springs was taking some getting used to, the car definitely felt like it had more grip, but the 2022 Avons were still not giving me the grip I needed to drive faster. For the run off I had the Pirelli Ultrasofts, now nine months old, fitted, and I lined up and gave it my all for the run off. And I won it, which was a great result. With the Pirellis' on the car, I was two seconds faster, that is the difference between the two brands.

I refitted the Avons and qualified easily for the fourth timed run, and then put the Pirellis' back on again for the second and final run off, but could only manage 3rd. It had been a long and busy day, and I was definitely suffering. After the fourth run, I put the 300mm wide Ultrasofts on the car. These are four years old, and I cleaned them using the Greaves 3D gun during the week which seemed to restore the surface back to a tacky and grippy finish. I had to alter the tyre circumference in the ECU to make sure the traction control didnt have a wobbly, and drove over to the start to take my fifth run. Setting off, the acceleration was quite good, and corner after corner I found more and more grip, on the Eastern circuit layout. Returning the pits, it wasnt my fastest run of the day, but neither was it my slowest, and the car felt fine, with no vibration or wobble from either of the rear tyres/rims. A useful test.

After the prize giving, the FTD went to Goulding but was slower than my 2022 record, I decided against going to the pub, and instead ordered pizzas using the Justeat app, and we all sat and ate in Simon Bainbridge's bus. Simon had had a huge crash during the afternoon, after losing body work and downforce, and he was out as the damage was too bad to let him continue. Steve Browns Empire Evo dropped a valve on the first practice run in the morning, and he was out. Possibly for the remainder of the year, while he licks his wounds and tries to decide whether to continue with the current car. Its rare that the Empire finishes an event, its not been the luckiest of cars to own/run.

Sunday (Outer circuit)

Sunday dawned cool and overcast for a second day, and soon everyone began preparing their cars for the outer circuit. I was still running the lower downforce configuration from Saturday, but would later increase the front and rear wings to try to get some more grip. I was again third in the first run off, and third again in the second run off in the afternoon, which was held in much higher temperatures than the morning. Indeed when I got home sunday evening and looked in the mirror, I was quite red from sunburn. In all it was another good, if not tiring, day. Whilst packing the cars away after the final runs, the heavens opened, and we had a very heavy downpour which was actually quite refreshing to stand in. I stayed for the awards, and collected my glass ware from the weekend, eventually arriving back in Leicester around 7.00pm

Conclusions: The heave spring was a great success, however I now need to tune the chassis to make the most from it, and am considering dropping to 950lbin springs at the rear, to see if that gives me even more grip. Grip is key this year, and me running a set of Avons and Pirellis is definitely hindering my performance. I wonder how we'll all cope next year. The automatic gearshift from 2nd to 3rd worked really well. Off the line my best start on Sunday was a 2.1 64ft, and I've got the ECU changing up at 6000rpm in both 1st and 2nd, as the engine runs lower boost in 1st and 2nd so it makes sense to get in to 3rd gear as quickly as possible. Coming out the wiggler on Saturday in 2nd, the car does of course change in to 3rd gear automatically as I accelerate, which took a little getting used to, but it certainly didnt hinder me.

This is a video taken from Sunday on the Outer circuit of the heave spring in operation.


Morning runoff Afternoon runoff Morning runoff Afternoon runoff
Total fuel used Saturday, 6.547 litres of 102RON over 9.6 miles (6 runs)
Total fuel used Sunday, 5.455 litres over 7.5 miles (5 runs)


Oil filler cap revised

I've made a few minor changes to the oil filler cap, to allow it accomodate the 5mm thick o-ring and to improve its appearance. Two are on order with 3D People, delivery is expected next week.


Setting up the heave spring

I had some setting up to do before I can run the heave spring. I had to determine the minimum length of the telescopic shaft, to ensure that it doesnt bind when the suspension is fully compressed. To do that the weight of the rear of the car is supported by the trolley jack, which allows the two spring platforms on the Intrax dampers to be fully undone, which removes any load from the springs when the car is placed back on its wheels. Rather than fitting the wheels, I placed wooden blocks below the ends of the rear wishbones, and then gently lowered the car back down until the dampers were fully compressed, sitting on their silicon bumpstops and packing spacers. Measuring the length of the dampers, they only close 20mm under full load, and this is reflected in the data that I have captured when the car has been driven, since all four dampers have a position sensor fitted which returns their displacement.

With the dampers compressed I then adjusted the length of the telescopic shaft, so that it still had some 5mm of compression left. I then locked the locking nuts on the two M8 rod ends, and marked the positions for reference. With the car then lifted back up by the trolley jack under the gearbox, I wound the spring platforms back again, and measured their lengths to ensure that the same preload was applied to both 1300lbin springs. Next I could remove the telescopt heave spring shaft and fit the BR38 black Penske rubber. With the car then lowered back on to the wooden blocks, I could add a few spacers next to the rubber spring, to force the spring to work earlier in the compression of the rear suspension. The spacers can be easily added or removed, and this provides fine tuning for the operation of the heave spring.

I have purchased all four grades of the Penske bump rubbers, so I can easily switch to a softer or harder rubber, if I dont feel that the heave spring is providing enough assistance. I have also ordered some Eibach 4inch long springs, in 1100lbin and 950lbin, which I will try at Blyton. The reason I've gone for shorter 4inch rather than 5inch springs is two fold. First the 4inch springs are obviously lighter, and I dont need the travel of a 5inch spring anyway, as the dampers compress less than an inch. Sadly Eibach dont sell 3inch springs, otherwise I'd have bought them in that length.
Here is a video showing some of the work in adjusting the heave spring to allow it to fit and operate safely.


The heave spring is fitted

As 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 ready

I 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 sprint

There 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 centres

After 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. :)

Force Racing wheel center

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.

Bosch sensor


Cam sensors replaced

Both 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 issues

On 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 prep

I'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 videos

National layout

International layout


Anglesey Sprint

Cold 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.