Celebrating 21 years
Rear anti-roll bar fittedThe prep for Pembrey on June 1st is well underway. It's a relief not to have to heatgun the tyres though, they're looking very clean given they did 12 more runs from Blyton last weekend. The increased -ve camber on the near side front wasnt really tested as the majority of corners were left handers. Pembrey will show if the mod has really worked. I go well at Pembrey, theres really only two places where the brakes are used, so its very much a flowing and highspeed track. Unlike Anglesey, I hope to find some significant additional pace around the bends once the handling has been resolved.
The 20mm anti-roll bar is still away being machined, but in the mean time I've fitted the 10mm ARB and brackets back on to make sure the Geartronics pneumatic solenoids both fit above the ARB which they do, that means I dont need to reroute any of the plastic air hoses, which is good. The Mk4 front wing drop brackets are now ready, and I'm just waiting for Plays-kool to post them to me so I can fit the brackets prior to the drive down to Wales on Friday.
Another good points haul at BlytonThe Blyton weekend was not as successful as I'd hoped, with a very disappointing performance on Sunday. On Saturday I qualified 5th and finished 8th, and I relished the twisty Eastern circuit, and beat the track class record three times to score three bonus points. I reached 141mph on the approach to the final corner during my first run off, and outbraked myself recording 40bar brake pressure, but I still managed a respectable time. But on Sunday, again just like in 2018, I struggled to qualify for the Run Offs, and I only managed a pair of identical 59.52s runs to finish 11th, taking just one bonus point for breaking the class record on the previous second timed run. Even though we had a track walk with Alan Mugglestone on Saturday evening, I could only improve on last years’ time by 1 second, and failed to even put that in to effect in the run offs. I just didn’t capitalise on the advice, and I couldn’t get the car to turn left, which as it’s an anti-clockwise track, is a huge disadvantage. The extra power made the car very quick in a straight line, but that wasn’t enough, as the speeds in the corners were too low, and I just couldn’t carry sufficient speed to reduce my times.
The immediate plan is to relocate the pneumatic solenoids from the top of the gearbox, and refit the rear anti-roll bar, since the neutral handling is no longer acceptable, and the car needs to turn in under throttle, which it clearly doesn’t want to at the moment. Neutral is safe, but I need grip, and I'll make the changes before Pembrey on June 1st. I did try an even steeper front wing angle for the runoffs. But I also increased the rear wing too, which unfortunately, just produced more drag rather than front end grip.
I've a 20mm Mygale ARB that will need turning down to a smaller diameter, and that will then be fitted on the rear of the car, leaving the 16mm ARB on the front.
The ECU mods were working well, with a 2.05s 64ft time, but the use of the calibration switch on Saturday to reduce launch rpm because of the dirty track, I hadn’t realised would also impact on the automatic 1-2 gear change at 6000rpm. The engine rpm basepoints that I created had an upper level set for 6050rpm / 45mph. The LC calibration switch was set to reduce the launch rpm by 100rpm and the manifold pressure by -100 bar. So by reducing the rpm by 100, the upper level also dropped to 5900, which prevented the rpm from reaching 6000, therefore the automatic gear change @6000rpm couldnt happen. I was having to pull 2nd gear manually, and the next issue was LC wasnt turning off, and the rpm limit still appeared to be preventing the revs in 2nd gear from also exceeding 5900. And that meant the shift-bleep at 6500rpm wasnt sounding in 2nd, to prompt me to pull 3rd because the engine wasnt revving high enough to trigger it. So I was having to short shift from 2nd to 3rd. There was a lot not going on, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, for the two final run off runs on Sunday, with the LC switch set back to 0rpm, I changed the upper base engine rpm to 6500, it all worked properly. I also ran with TC off for the first time, and the car still accelerated well, and it wasnt restricting power on the twisty bits. PIT/LAUNCH events had been occuring right up to 78.5mph, which indicated that LC wasnt turning off at 40mph like it was set to. But this was also cured on the final two runs, with PIT/LAUNCH disappearing at a fraction over 40mph.
Good result at CroftI was fastest overall at Croft, with my 2nd timed run my quickest, some 2.5s faster than the next car. I was testing various changes to the car and ECU, and with the increasing track temperatures during the day, the Ultrasoft tyres just didnt seem to produce the same grip they did in the morning, and try as I might I couldnt get in to the 79s bracket at all in the afternoon, with three 80s runs. If you consider a car racing 6 laps back to back, I'm sure they'd be in the same boat, with the occasional quick lap and the rest within a half second or so.
The car was working really well, though the circuit was very bumpy, I tried as hard as I dare to push and was rewarded with a car that, as at Anglesey in the afternoon, just wanted to slide, despite the 33 degree front wing angle, an angle I've never run before. Anyway, a good day, a trophy, and I'm now ready for rounds 5 & 6 of the British Sprint Championship this weekend at Blyton.
Ready for CroftJust a few last minute jobs to do to the car, and I'm ready for Croft on Sunday. The weather forecast looks good too, so my old PB set in 2017 should be easily beatable. Over the weekend I fitted a WiFi facility to the car, using a TPlink device, which means I can now download the data and make changes to the calibration without having a cable connected between the car and tha laptop. I've set the AP up as a hidden SSID, with a secure password, so the connection is protected. I've tested it out in the garage and it works really well.
Sadly the replacement front wing drop brackets, the Mk4's, wont be ready for this weekend. But as I've raised the FWEP's anyway, I'm going to try more front wing angle to see if it will combat the high speed corner understeer. Adding more wing is always the first thing to try, before diving in and changing geometry. If that doesnt help, I'll increase the camber of the near side front wheel. Over the course of the day I'm hoping to iron the problem out.
Fan testedI ran the engine yesterday and tested the fan out, and it works really well now. In the graph below it shows the temperature is rapidly pulled down from 91 to 86°C and although the water temperature rises back (as you'd expect) to 91C, the fan just gets on with the job. The yellow line is the ECT with the new fan fitted, and the red line is the ECT from Anglesey with the smaller fan failing to bring the temperatures down.
Fan upgradedI've fitted the SPAL 10" fan (VA11-AP7/C-57A), having first removed the radiator. The new fan is only approx 30g heavier than the 9" fan, which is surprising considering it's size. I've wired it in, and refitted the radiator, and I now need to replace two smaller water hoses, which have gone brittle. They both lead to the header tank, one is 6mm ID and sits at the top of the radiator, and the other is 8mm and leads from the end of the cylinder head. I'll drive over to Parkers tomorrow to see if they have anything suitable in stock. Pete had a leak on one of his hoses at Anglesey, and as both cars are the same age, sharing the same type of hose, I'll not take the risk of leaving them alone. If I can get it all sorted today, I'll run the engine and make sure the fan works.
Javeline Croft SprintI'm going to Croft on May 12th for some testing, at my first Javelin Sprint. I'll get one practice and six timed runs, on the fresh Croft Tarmac. I'll be trying the Supersoft tyres, combining the Supersoft with the Ultrasoft, and checking out further changes to the launch control and the front wing angle. Good value for £169. Better value than the MSA events usually provide. I'm car 813 in Class T1, so I'll print a couple of stickers off to cover the large number 9's on the rear wing.
I've bought a replacement cooling fan for the radiator. The fan on the car is a 9" and pulls 625cfm through the radiator, drawing 8.1Amps. The replacement is a Spal 10" and is rate at 28% higher flow, of 802cfm, and draws slightly more current at 9.2A. Hopefully, it'll keep the engine cooler when its ticking over.
Nice to see a mention from the Motorsport UK Instagram feed today.
Anglesey National lap comparisonThis is my quickest run on the Saturday (47.76s), vs Matt Hillam's FTD run (46.07s), and although there was over a second between us, you can see he just carries more speed around the bends, as I have more power than the SBD car, and on the straights we're equal. So I need to work on braking less, and cornering. Thats all. I'll try again at Blyton when we next get to race against each other. My car did feel like it was understeering, so either I need to run even more front wing, or, add some camber to the nearside front to see if that increases the front end grip.
3rd overall in the BSCI'm 3rd overall in the Championship, and Pete Goulding is one place ahead in 2nd overall. Thats not bad is it :D
Here are the 360 degree videos from the National and International Circuits.
6th overall, twiceReally pleased with the way that the launch control worked over the weekend at Anglesey. On the Sunday I did two back to back launches of 2.07 and 2.09s for the first 64ft which is probably about as quick as it gets. I was nervous on Saturday when I did my first launch, but after a few goes and finding the car stayed straight and narrow, I relaxed and gained confidence and the whole weekend was a great success, with two new PB’s, broken records, and 6th place in the run offs on both days. The International circuit on the Sunday was very exciting to drive. It rewarded the brave, and on my 3rd ever lap I broke the class record by almost 2 seconds, but couldn’t break in to the 79’s. The car just didn’t feel like it had the grip, and it wasn’t a circuit to make another mistake on. Pete and I both scored 20 points each (he was 7th on Saturday and 5th on Sunday) and we both broke records both days. So that’s another good haul for the two EcoBoost cars. The next event was meant to be at Croft on Easter Monday, but that’s been cancelled, and the next time we get to compete is at Blyton in May, the venue of my first FTD last year.
The only issue on the car all weekend was the radiator fan wasn’t powerful enough to keep the water temperature below 90C when the engine was ticking over. I’ve seen this before, on a hot day, but wasn’t expecting to see the same issue at the weekend. Its only April! I’ll check the spec of the fan that I bought, and see if there is room for a second one, or a more powerful one, so the problem can be solved.
The Ultrasoft tyres didn’t fare too well on the Sunday. My first run off after lunch, as I crossed the line, the timing gear showed a time 4.5s slower than I was expecting, and sure enough I was given a rerun. But on the rerun (bearing in mind I’d only filled the car with 7l of fuel), the traction control started kicking in and the rear of the car was sliding around. I recorded an 80.68 which was slower than my T2 time, but before I knew it, it was my turn again, and the third run was too much for the now very warm tyres. The car was understeering and oversteering and the traction control was kicking in, and I was slower recording an 81. Not good. It looks like the tyres are not up to 3 back to back runs, without being allowed to cool down between. I did bring the Supersofts, but didn’t try them. Its going to be a tough call to decide, quite when, running the Supers instead of the Ultra’s for the run offs, is worth the risk. But a re-run, the Ultra’s don’t like.
Rounds 2 and 3Everything is ready for the trip to Anglesey tomorrow, and the weather forecast is looking good so we should break records again. Its a low turnout with just one V8, and 13 cars in total, so there are lots of points up for grabs.
ECU Calibration Speed Sensor changes and front wing discoveryI've found out how to increase the responsiveness of the front wheel speed sensors. At the moment when I launch the car, it takes up to a second for the front speed sensors to start generating speed data, and it turns out to be a setting in the ECU that basically says the wheel has to complete a full revolution to produce a speed reading. Thanks to Stevie Turbo on the Syvecs forum for the hint. I've now set the front speed sensors to 1 which makes them produce speed data the instant either wheel starts turning. The video clip below shows front right sensor at the default value of 0, and the other at the new value of 1 and spinning both front wheels together, at the same rate, you can immediately see the difference. The flspeed shows a higher update interval. This should make for another improvement in the launch performance, and safety, because at Combe the car was almost at the 32ft marker before the ECU could determine what the undriven speed was. So it would hold the rpm at 3000rpm until it realised the undriven wheels were at the required speed to allow the rpm clamp to be raised.
I fitted the front wing on the car in the garage, and with a GoPro camera resting on the wing, I flexed one end up and down to see if I could find out where the movement was that caused it to wobble so much. It turned out to be the pair of L brackets fitted to the top surface of the wing. The 4 bolts were all loctited, but the brackets were moving. So I removed the bolts, applied Loctite Blue 243, and a split washer, and tightened all four fasteners as tight as I could, and once the Loctite has cured, I'll refit the wing and repeat the test to see if the movement has gone.
2019 Round 1 Castle CombeArriving on Friday afternoon, the first job was to walk the track, with Pete Goulding, Steve Miles and Steve Brown, the first time I’d done so at Castle Combe. Once notes were exchanged, we returned to the paddock and moved in to our paddock locations, and I unloaded all the tyres and tools from the van in to the trailer, so I could bed down for the night. In the morning, the car was unloaded, and I fitted the front wing and nose cone, and the shiny new Pirelli tyres, which were still wrapped in plastic. I was a little nervous about the noise check, I’d tested the sound pressure from the exhaust at home, using a calibrated sound meter, and it registered 109-111 dba. I really had nothing to worry about, the sound check showed a border line 106dba, and I had permission to run. I’d even acquired a silencer just in case, but that’s now safely stored in the van for a rainy day. The scrutineer didn’t appreciate I’d attached the FHR to the helmet though, and told me they are meant to be presented separately. Note taken.
For Combe, the front wing was lowered to 21 degrees, and the rear 26, which gives a combined theoretical downforce of 475KG at 150mph. That was judged to be more than enough for Combe’s long sweeping bends.
First practice: I had reprogrammed the ECU with a new Launch and Traction Control configuration, but on the fresh Ultrasoft tyres, I really didn’t want to have another accident joining the circuit, so the first practice run saw me make a very cautious granny start, and a slow run around the circuit. I was worried that the new tyres wouldn’t grip from the word go, but after a few corners, I was pleasantly surprised by the traction.
First timed run: I made a more determined start, but getting the car off the line with the new light weight flywheel and twin clutch was proving tricky, but despite the slow start, I was soon up to speed, reaching 150mph on the 2nd lap on the approach to Avon Rise, but again, it wasn’t as competitive a run as I’d have liked. Disappointingly the new front wing was striking the ground over 140mph, so back in the paddock I raised the front ride height 6mm, to see if raising the wing would allow a higher top speed before it started moving.
Second timed run: I decided I had to try out the launch control, even though it was untested and the track leading on to the circuit was narrow, with barriers along the track on the left. Although the telemetry shows I backed out the throttle a fraction, the car just sat down and accelerated, with the rear wheels spinning at 20mph, the car rapidly picked up speed, as the engine revs were automatically raised as speed increased. I’m pleased to say, the ECU kept the car pointing in a straight line. My 64ft time of 2.55s was pleasing considering I’d not tried it before. The important thing for me was that the launch was safe!
I’d done enough on this run to qualify 10th for the Run Off’s, with a 123s run, and I was 7s quicker than my personal best from 2018. The front wing still wobbled, there was nothing else I could try, so I just had to ignore it during the run off’s and focus on my driving.
Run Off 1: At around 4:30pm we were sent to the start area, and after a short wait I lined up for my first go. Another great start, with a 64ft in 2.56S, and I was straight on the pace, recording a 121s run, again a 2 second improvement. Not as quick a time as I’d hoped for, but the new tyres inspired so much confidence, I felt safe, and my times were dropping.
A long break followed, after Heather Calder’s rear suspension collapsed during her first run off run, sadly the car had to be collected on a low loader and Heather and Colin scored no points. My next run was about 30 minutes after the first, and by then it was well after 5pm with the track and ambient temperature dropping all the time. Better for the engine, but not for traction.
Run Off 2: Again, the launch control worked well, though it was 2.60s this time, maybe it was the cooler tarmac, who knows. I threw the car in to the corners, getting braver all the time, and I recorded a 119.97s run, placing me 5th in the Run Off’s and a very strong 3rd overall in the championship. I had to lift on the approach to Avon Rise, at 149mph, which was like hitting a brick wall. The wing was really striking the ground very hard, and the titanium blocks underneath the end plates, were producing showers of sparks.
I thought I’d cured the wing issue, but it seems to have returned with the replacement wing and drop brackets. I didn’t want to risk damaging the wing, there was no point doing so anyway, it’s the first event of the year, with a long season ahead.
There were no other issues with the car. The 7.25” PowerTrain clutch worked great; the brakes were good with no leaks from the refreshed brake lines; the biggest revelation of the day, was the grip from the tyres. And after 5 runs at Combe, they still looked in great condition, with just a small crumb on the surface, but importantly, no need to clean them with the heat gun. The wheel speed sensors also all worked, launch control worked, and traction control worked really well too. I had it on the minimum setting for Dry tyre sizes for all five runs, and it just did its job, and kept the rear end planted on the exit from the chicanes. The gearbox worked well, with no missed gears or false neutrals. No oil leaks either; in fact, the only thing I had to do was add petrol during the day. The relocated exhaust is definitely louder when sitting in the car. I’ll have to try ear plugs at Anglesey to see if the loud sound can be silenced. It hurt my ears. The heat sensitive label on the top wishbone, which is closest to the exhaust, only reached 88C so at least I won’t have any issues with blowing exhaust over the top wishbone.
However, the signs are good for a great season this year. We’ll have to keep our eyes on the V8’s still, but the Pirelli tyres, and the extra point scored for beating records in the earlier timed runs, may produce a few unexpected results this year.
The next round is Anglesey on April 6th, where with more determination, the results should come again.
360 degree videoThis is a video taken using the Kodak Pixpro VR 360 camera. I'll raise it up for the next round so the footage is more useful.
A great result5th in the Top 12 Run Off's and I took 11seconds off my PB from 2018, so a good solid start to the season. I'm joint 3rd overall in the championship and Anglesey is the next port of call in two weeks. There was nothing to do on the car, just add petrol and drive it, just how I like it. Even my new launch and traction control settings work, and the car is far safer departing the start line now, with everything nicely in control, and the ECU doing what I programmed it to. Very happy.
All ready for CombeSo with the car now finished, and ready for the first event, its time I stopped worrying about car-prep, and diagnosing faults (though I do enjoy doing that), and started focusing on my performance. So to that end, I'll be going over my notes from last year, watching some on-board footage, remembering the rise in performance as the year went on, and hopefully, I'll be in a good place when I line up for the first practice run. To that end, thats the last of the updates for now. Its time for some mental preparation.
Front wheel speed sensor fixedThe issue with the front left speed sensor was simply it had too large a gap to the trigger wheel, its meant to be < 2.5mm gap, but it was around 3mm so it worked some of the time. I've reduced the gap and its testing out OK now.
Speed sensor wiringI've wired the rear sensors in to my X10 harness, and they both now work 100%, so no more issues there I hope. I'll see how it goes at Castle Combe, and may use connectors again, but if they work, I'll probably just leave them alone. Speaking of Combe, I've been told I will wear my championship number 9 on the car, so the entry list will be reissued in due course with the right numbering.
Combe finalsThe entry list is out for Castle Combe Great Western Sprint, and the organisers have put me down as car 16, and Pete down as 15, even though we finished 9th and 11th in the BSC. We've both emailed the organisers to let them know their mistake. I wonder how that even happened?
Fault foundI've traced the wiring fault that caused the rear speed sensors to fail, its the 3 pin ITT mini-sureseal connectors which are playing up, so I'll remove them and wire the sensors directly in to my harness to the X10 expander, which will cure the issue permanently. The Driven Speed is set to the maximum speed from the rear axle, so that'll mean if a sensor does fail in the future, the axle still returns the driven speed, as I doubt both sensors would ever fail at the same time. I'll regularly check the ECU for errors from now on. I destroyed one sensor at Blyton when the CV bolts sheared, as the sensors are positioned just below the CV bolts, and the breakage meant the sensor was hit, shearing the end off.
I've also found the source of the oil leak on Wednesday, it was the Mygale oil level indicator, which is a threaded clear perspex cap that screws in to the side of the sump on the gearbox. It had split, and was allowing engine oil to escape, quite a bit in fact. Just as well it didnt fail on a sprint when I'd have been pulling some serious lateral G. Oil would have gone everywhere! I'll either replace it, or swap the oil level indicator out for a blanking plate, which would mean it wouldnt happen again. It took me half an hour to clean the oil up, it was all over the gearbox and the diffuser. At first I thought the catch tank had overflowed, but both the gearbox and oil bottles were in fact empty, which made me have another look for the cause of the leak.
Testing at MalloryTesting went well, with a very wet but drying track, and just 3.5 hours, the time soon went by and I completed around 30 laps. Mechanically the car was perfect, with no issues. However, I've now got three wheel speed sensor faults, which hampered traction control testing, so I'll work on resolving those issues this week. Apart from that, it was great to get back behind the wheel again, and running on 3/4 power due to the lack of grip, the car performed really well, with huge grip from the Michelin tyres and the revised diffuser made a big difference. Brakes were good, the new clutch worked perfectly, the replaced suspension stood up to the tests, and the front wing just grounded out at 130mph, but thats because the Michelins are not as tall as the Pirelli's so the wing was running 10mm closer to the ground than was ideal. Not a issue. Shame I didnt get to sample the new supersofts, I'll have to leave that for Castle Combe in a fortnight.