Celebrating 21 years

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There is a hole in my piston! Cyl1 is definitely broken, I cant see very easily whats wrong with Cyl4, but with the sump removed I managed to get my phone to take a decent picture of the underside of the piston, and there is a hole in it. The cylinder liner also looks damaged. Det clearly took the piston(s) out.
Damaged piston


Engine out

The engine is out, its taken me three evenings to dismantle the rear of the car, and some of the bolts on the front of the engine were particularly difficult to reach. The next step is to remove the clutch and the dry sump pan, and then I can take it over to Area 6 for the strip down. Hard to believe that the engine was installed in 2013, and hasnt been out since.

Here are two of my runs from Knockhill. The sunday run was from the final run off when the engine failed. Cly1 to Cyl4 show the knock ign retard which the ECU is controlling. Lam is lambda.



I've run a compression test on the engine, and the news isnt good. Cylinders 1 and 4 have zero pressure, and 2 and 3 are around 75psi. The engine and gearbox will be removed this week, and then I'll take the head off the engine and see whats going on inside. Its either melted pistons, or the valves/valve seats, or a cracked block.



On Sunday, with the oil in the air feed in to the engine, the knock had risen from 4.0 to 10.0, and the ECU didnt appear to do anything about it. It can shut the engine down, but the thresholds must have been set higher. The engine eventually failed, leading to loss of boost pressure in 6th gear (vertical line on the graph). I usually see around 4.0, with no detrimental effects.


Turbo failure

I suffered a turbo failure on Sunday, with a very spectacular cloud of smoke at full throttle around 120mph as I passed the start finish line on my final run off run of the day. The turbo was fine on Saturday, with a good score of 10 points, and a great days driving. But Sunday morning, whilst queuing for the first practice run, suddenly there was clouds of smoke from the exhaust, and we found that the dump valve was throwing out large amounts of oil vapour, so I decided to skip P1 and Simon Waterfall helped attached a hose to the dump valve outlet so we could capture the oil, rather than it being thrown over the hot exhaust. P2 was fine, no smoke during the run, and T1 was also ok. Again, smoke when idling, but under load, no smoke. I had a spin at the hairpin on T2, and the first run off, I was pretty slow, with the engine feeling OK, but I needed to record a time. On the 2nd run off, again, just smoke when queuing, and I set off, recorded a very fast first lap, I was really on for a great time, but as I started the 2nd lap, the I felt the engine suddenly drop on to 3 cylinders, so I lifted and coasted, and was towed back to the paddock.

I've removed the turbo, and its as clean as a whistle inside. Yet the outlet from the turbo, the hose that feeds the intercooler, had a cupful of oil inside, and the dump valve is also coated in oil. No1 spark plug was wet, and all the pistons have oil on them. I shall perform a compression and leak down test to see if any of the cylinders has lost compression. If they havent, then I'll clean the intercooler of all the oil, and get the turbo back to Turbo Technics for a service. I'm hoping I havent blown a head gasket or melted a piston.



The round at MIRA is dead in the water. So the focus is back on Knockhill and to that end I'm getting the car ready. My Tow Van was fitted with a Leisure battery over the weekend, I bought a kit off ebay which included the voltage sensing relay and all the cables etc, and the battery is now fitted beneath my drivers seat, and the next step is to wire in the interior lights, and the 240V invertor. At Knockhill we have mains power, hopefully not at £25 for the weekend, so I can power what I need from the garages. The latest news is that Colin Calder wont be competing this weekend, which means only 11 drivers are going to be competing. I need to put on a good show as I really need good points to move up to 4th overall, and possibly creep in to the top 3 again. But that'll need some heroic driving, which if the weather isnt kind, might be a tall order.


What news?

I phoned MIRA on Tuesday, and spoke to their track manager who confirmed that they didnt have a Nat A license, and said MAC `got a bit ahead of themselves`, by announcing that there was one. It didnt sound like they really wanted to get a Nat A license either. Odd? The problem now is that the license has to be in place, 30 days before the event, so whatever happens now, we're screwed as the event is less than 21 days away. Meanwhile MAC has sent another email out, apologising again, but not really explaining how the situation arose in the first place.

So what can we do? Nothing really. Boycott MIRA? Not really, as I need to go there for the Sprint Leaders class in the HSA, and the track is only 35 miles away, so its local and I do like driving there. So I've no choice really. Survive Knochkill, then go to MIRA, and the final event of the year is at Anglesey in October where I'll be trying to salvage my position in the championship. Four wins in four events? Not likely. Worth a try? Absolutely.


MIRA Cancelled

When this year was already considered to be 'out of the ordinary', with mechanical issues, crashes, lots of WTF moments, and an EcoBoost engined car leading the championship for the majority of the season, suddenly out of the blue, with five rounds remaining, the HSA Chairman drops a bombshell, announcing on Friday afternoon that we would only be counting the best 9 rounds, not 10, as "MIRA cancelled".

That message on my post on Facebook started a furious debate on the BSC Facebook page, leading to a meltdown by several individuals and posts being deleted by admins (I was swimming with the kids so missed it all!). On Friday evening, SBD the championship sponsor also spoke their mind, understandably, as their championship positions also looked to be completely foobared by this last minute decision.

And on Sunday we still dont know the reason why the Japanese owned MIRA facility has decided that the HSA event can still run, but the British Sprint Championship are not welcome.

Yep, that means as a member of the HSA, and being registered in the Sprint Leaders Championship, I will still go and race my unlimited sports car class 1600T EcoBoost around their track. Like I've done many times before. And if others in the championship were registered in the Sprint Leaders, then they would also compete. But not under the banner of the BSC.

So on what grounds could MIRA have decided that the BSC cannot compete? And what does this do to my season?

Safety? Maybe after the accident in Ireland, MSUK and Japanese owned MIRA has inspected the circuit and decided that they cannot protect a driver from serious injury in the more powerful V8's? Unlikely. The same drivers in the same cars can still compete if they register for the HSA Sprint Leaders Championship. And on the short track the 2.0 and 1600T cars are not likely to be significantly slower than the V8's.

Top 12 run off, taking them beyond a curfew? Unlikely. Midland Automobile Club (MAC) run a very strict `two practice two timed run` event, and by 3pm everone is packed up and ready to go home, so allowing 30 mins at the end of the meeting, for the two Top 12 run offs, isnt likely to take them over a curfew.

Liability Insurance? The BSC can only run under a National A permit. Therefore, drivers can still compete at a National B event, and compete with their National A licenses in the big single seaters. However, if no National A permit is issued, then it cant be counted as a BSC round. So has MIRA stepped in and decided that it isnt a National A event? It sounds like it. When I spoke to MAC they said it was the `landowners decision`. Since when did a landowner have the power to decide which championships could run at their venue? And why has MSUK allowed MIRA to throw the BSC out?

So three weeks before the event is to run, the landowners, MIRA, have chucked us out, putting in to jeapordy many peoples championship hopes.

The impact on my season is huge. I had only done 9 rounds from 11, and had 5 scores I wanted to drop. With the championship now dropping to Best 9 scores, I have just 4 events where I can replace my low scores, leading me with hopefully 8 good scores, and one low. But thats now preventing me from moving back up the table. I dropped to 6th after missing both ireland rounds, and with just 4 events remaining, I'm now ruled out of the title race completely. I might end up 5th overall, but that one dropped event stops me trying to get in to the top 3. Season over. Whats the point in going to Scotland in two weeks time? And Anglesey in October? None at all if you look at the championship standings. And its not just me in this position. Drivers plan their seasons around family commitements and budgets, and for the late starters this year, they've not only lost a round, but with the 'best 10' dropping to 'best 9', with 3/4 of the season completed, thats the biggest kick in the balls.

And having just spent £2000 on new wheels and tyres for a strong finish to the year, I'm especially pissed off. Understandably.

We need MSUK to get involved, and reinstate this event, urgently. The championship coordinator has already thrown in the towel and declared the event cancelled, but thats not acceptable. We need MIRA to allow us back in.

More news as I get it.



The wider rims are built, and they'll be fitted with the wider Ultrasoft tyres next week. The car will need the ride height adjusting, and I'll need to measure the circumference of the tyres and update the ECU for launch and traction control. No big deal.

I've been busy recently working on improvements to the live BSC timing. I've created a MySQL database in the cloud, and I've built a page in PHP that interrogates a table in the database, and displays the results. Its working well, I just need to work out how to send updates from Excel to MySQL, for when changes take place in the spreadsheet. It'll be an SQL Update command, I just need to work out the most efficient way of capturing the changes and sending the updates, to keep network traffic down to a minimum.
My Wiggly lines graph that I produce for the championship shows that I dropped to 6th place after Ireland. I've only done 9 rounds from the 11, so following Knockhill I expect to rise back up to top 4, maybe top 3, since I can drop a low score too since Knochkill will by my 10th and 11th round, and only the best 10 scores count this year.



Colin Calder was exceptionally fortunate to walk away from an accident on Saturday at Kirkistown which destroyed the Gould GR55a. A rear suspension component failed at 150mph, which lead to a trip in to a tyre wall and several rolls later the car landed heavily. It doesnt sound like Colin was injured, but the car sounds very second hand, and wont be back out again this year. Our best wishes go to Colin, and Heather, on their lucky escape, and we hope to see you out again next year, possibly with a new car?

Whilst all that was going on, the live results appeared to work, most of the time. There is an issue whenever the internet connection from the laptop is iffy, and thats something I need to work on. All in all it was interesting to watch from afar, and I'm pleased it mostly worked. It'll be in use again at Knockhill, and without the Calders, there are more opportunities for points for the rest of us.


New rubber

Not to miss out on any more points opportunities, I've ordered another set of Ultrasofts, which will go on the black rims, so I'll have a set for qualifying and for the run offs.

I'm working with the championship coordinator, to bring live timings to the internet. The results page will be hosted on my website, at the following URL: https://results.zetecinside.com

I'm confident the system will work, I've been testing it over the past week, with no major issues. As times are entered in to the scoring spreadsheet on-event, the spreadsheet renders the worksheet in to html, and I'm using wput.exe to push the file over FTP to my site. Ireland will be the first time the system is used.


Lydden Sprint

I really enjoyed my day at Lydden. The weather was dull and overcast in the morning, and it stayed cloudy most of the day, but that meant the temperatures were manageable (for July in England), and I could focus on my driving. On the first practice run, I launched the car quite hard, allowing the increased boost pressure to shoot the car up to the first corner, but as 2nd gear engaged the car tried turning right just as the camber changed, so that was a little bit of a wake up call. For the rest of the day I launched, then pulled 2nd early, and paid the first corner a little more respect. My first practice run was a slow 73s run. Not the best of starts as that was 3s off my PB.

The first timed run was a lot faster, with the front wing still at the steeper angle, I added a little rear wing angle too, and on the Ultrasofts with the TC at 1%, I managed to not only break my PB, but I also broke the class record set by Goulding in 2018. Thats better. The 2nd timed run, I again set a new PB and broke the record, but Pete went 6/10ths quicker, making up for his DNF on the first run due to a mistake leading to a spin. And he'd been at Lydden the month before for some cheeky practice too. I'd done enough to qualify 7th for the run offs, with Pete one place ahead (a familiar theme this year).

For the run offs, I drained the tank, worked out the fuel consumption, and filled it with 10 litres of 102. It was a track where I knew fuel surge was an issue, and I wasnt taking any chances. The car used 1.3l for the two lap format, or about 5mpg, and with 10l in the tank, I'd have enough for three goes in case of a rerun. I lined up, tried my best, and again, beat the class record and set another new PB with a 68.06s. That was a good improvement over my 2018 PB of 70.25. I was still 7th, and drove back to the trailer to park the car in front of the cooling fan I'd taken with me, which was blowing cold air over the intercooler to bring its temperature down. 10 mins later and I'm back on the start line for the 2nd run off, and again, I tried harder, but the traction control was complaining, with the engine being strangled coming out of the corners. I only had it at 3% but the rear tyres were not gripping at all, so I wrestled the car around the track, and went quicker surprisingly, with a 67.95, which sadly was only good enough for 9th! I know right, the level of competition is increasing so much now, that four of us were on 67s, two on 66, with Matt Hillam on 65s in the Dallara, John Graham on 64s in the Gould, and Colin Calder the outright winner on a 62s.

Goulding and Miles both bolted brand new sets of Ultrasoft rubber on for the run offs, and they were both on the same 67s as me, but obviously the new rubber was worth the few tenths that they both beat me by. Speaking with Matt Hillam, he said that the SBD car noticed a drop off in performance after 60 starts, and when I put my results in to my spreadsheet, low and behold my rears have now done almost 60 starts. So I've had to order a new set too, and we'll see at Knockhill if they're any better. Thats not until September, so I've plenty of time to make a few more modifications to the car in that time too. So yes, very pleased with the weekend, I scored 7 points, and hold on to my 3rd place overall. Thats a good end to my birthday week.


Lydden targets

The target time for Lydden, is 66 seconds, which is 4s quicker than I went in 2018. But with the Pirelli tyres, and working launch control I reckon there's at least 0.5s a corner per lap, which should be easy to do if the weather holds out. The forecast for much of the country is wet this weekend, so I'll take the wet tyres just in case.


More boost

I've increased the boost during the launch phase, to give the car a bit more urgency as it accelerates. The LC is working so well, keeping the wheelspin under control, that it's time to increase the boost during launch to see if I can further reduce the 64ft time. The Manifold Pressure Target table raises the boost pressure as the car reaches vehicleSpeed breakpoints, and I've been quite conservative, so now I can increase the targets and we'll see at Lydden if it helps. Ultimately, with launch control, its the amount of power being produced by the engine that limits acceleration. So more boost = more power, therefore the car should accelerate more quickly, and the wheelspin will still be managed by the ECU.

Manifold pressure targets


Aintree T1 video