THI MOTORSPORT
THI MOTORSPORT

2010

Race Reports

Round 1. Oulton Park

 

I’ve been meaning to write up about what I’ve been doing with my Exige for ages now and it’s been almost a year since I stopped using it, in order to prepare it for some more serious use. Since I was only really using it for track days, I thought I might as well go the whole way and make it completely track/race orientated. I then also decided to enter the car into ‘Time Attack’ so it could stretch its legs a bit more. I’ve still got loads more I would like to do but the most important bits are done.

The hard work’s all been done my Maidstone Sports Cars, Eliseparts and Simon Scuffham. I’ve done little bits of work here and there and have done the bodywork mods at the back of the car to make the wide wheels fit, basically copying Steve Guglielmi.

Andy and the guys at Maidstone Sports Cars have undertaken all of the fitting work and basically got the car back on the ground and rolling, with me spending a few days with them learning how things go together etc so that I have a better understanding of it all. This was all very helpful as I may now stand a chance of fixing/adjusting something at a race meet if required.

Geary has supplied all of the race kit, including his race-spec rosejointed S2 T45 wishbones, race-spec S2 billet uprights with upper and lower rose-jointed bearing mounts, race-spec steering arms, T45 wishbone toe links, 4 pot front and rear callipers and Pagid RS14 pads, Quantum 2 way race dampers, floating bells with 304mm AP discs, S2 wheel stud conversion kit, S2 driveshafts, AP bias valve along with various other little bits and bobs. The quality of all this kit is awesome and it’s already been proven to work brilliantly by the guys out in Australia.

Scuffers has helped with the design and testing out in Australia of most of the things above and has also designed the wheels which we have had made in Spain by Braid. 9.5" rears and 7.5" fronts. I’m running Toyo 888’s as they’re the control tyre for Time Attack. 255’s at the back and standard width fronts squeezed onto the wider wheels to try and stop side-wall flex as much as possible. Scuffers has worked out all the damper specs and general set-up and has been on the end of the phone the whole time for support.

Anyway, the first Time Attack event was held last Saturday at Oulton Park with a test day on the Friday. A friend and I set off on the Thursday morning and stopped en-route at Eliseparts where Geary and Scuffers very kindly helped fit some last minute parts and made some small set-up changes.

Friday was test day and again Scuffers kindly offered to come up to help with set-up etc (and rag the nuts off my car). I was pretty nervous as I hadn’t really driven the car for a year, had never been to the circuit and basically had a new, untested car which had finished being built on the way up to the circuit!!! The car felt good from the outset but gradually got better and better as the day went on, with Simon making changes here and there. We were all quite excited that it worked so well out of the box and that there was still loads to do to make it even better.

Basically, the Quantum dampers are simply awesome. The Nitrons I used to have were great and I can’t fault them whatsoever. However, there is something about the new set-up that feels a little more special. The way they make the car respond with small changes is unbelievable and I’m very happy with my choice.

Then there’s the braking. As on the Australian race cars, I have AP 4 pots at the front with Eptuning 4 pots at the back, RS14’s, floating bell discs, AP bias valve, AP master cylinder and RBF 600 race fluid. It’s in a completely different league to anything I’ve experienced/tried before and has to be felt to be believed. I was a little worried that some of the feel would go or that there would be a slightly longer pedal etc, etc. However, the feel is better, there isn’t a hint of fade, the stopping power is huge and most importantly I have 100% confidence in them.

The rest of the kit fitted must also be making a big difference to the way the car behaves because everything is pin-point accurate and confidence inspiring. The car is now ultra stable and I could feel that there was a massive improvement on what was before an already heavily track orientated set-up. In fact it was so good that for the first time ever, I managed to make myself feel really sick with my own driving and had to drive out to a pharmacy at lunchtime and buy some drugs to sort it. I think Scuffers also enjoyed the day and was very, very impressed with the way it went. I just about managed to learn the track by the end of the day but was a mile off Simons pace.

Saturday had arrived. Time for me to take part in my first ever Time Attack event in the ‘Club Challenge’ category at an unfamiliar circuit. Not ideal!!! I was bricking it and worried about being a dangerous mobile chicane, with most of the cars having considerably more power than me and the drivers more experience. Anyway, the time came for me to go out for the 15 minute warm-up and I used all of it to try and work out how to go quicker. The idea is to set the fastest lap time, so is basically like a qualifying session. I came in feeling a bit disappointed but was surprised to see that I was quickest in my group. My datalogger had been reading 4 or 5 seconds off!!!

Then during practice I knocked another second off my time and came out 2nd on the time sheets.

Nothing before had counted for anything but next was qualifying which I believe we get points for. I went out and took another second off my best lap. This put me 2nd overall again from memory and meant that I would go through to the final.

The final came later than planned, after some race trucks doing demo laps decided to smash each other to pieces, spreading debris and fluids all over the chicane. I nervously went out to start my laps and whereas previously there had been a fair bit of space to get a good run, there was now very little room and I was finding it impossible to get in a half decent lap. I came in after the flag went out feeling gutted and thinking that I’d be right down the list. I pulled into my pit garage and was greeted with a handshake and a ‘well done’. Somehow I managed to get first in rwd class and first overall and had taken another second off my last time. And that was with a really shite lap. 2nd and 3rd place went to last years winners which were 2 Supras with 800bhp and 900bhp. Christ, there is so much more to come from this car if I can learn to drive it properly. I’d love to know what time Simon would have done if he had been driving.

Steve Guglielmi in Pro Class driving his monster power Audi Exige also did very well coming second. He actually set the fastest time of the day but ran out of Nitrous Oxide in the final.

So all in all I had a great first outing and now have a lovely trophy sitting on my mantle piece. The weekend was a real buzz and it’s always nice to see such a wide range of cars competing. I’m really looking forward to the next one. It’s Knockhill on 16th May, so not long to go and no idea whether it will suit my car or the higher power ones. Again, I’ve never been there.

Anyway, all the write-ups and pictures can be found on the official Time Attack site and on Speedhunters. I’ll post up my results after the next event in a few weeks time.

Ta

 

Round 2. Knockhill

 

Thought I'd post up, reporting back from my 2nd Time Attack event which was held at Knockhill, Scotland over the weekend.

Well we left home on Thursday night after work and picked the car up from Scuffers early Friday morning, who had given the car a once over after its maiden outing at Oulton. All was well and we headed off up to Scotland.

After a nice drive up through all the hills we reached our destination with enough time to properly set up and fire up the barbie for dinner. Anyway, what a place!!! The view across the back of the circuit is amazing, going way past the Forth bridge and towards Edinburgh and armed with a few cans of lager, we walked out and then around the track to see what it was like. Very technical with kerbs, bumps, gradient changes and off-camber corners galore. And the straights were much, much longer then I expected and up hill. It looked like lots of fun but I wasn't sure how my car would cope with the bumps. The long hilly straights were also a worry when thinking about how much power the Supras had at their disposal.

Saturday. I had 6x 10 minute sessions to learn the track which wasn't enough. I was able to learn it but had no time to work out how to go fast as there were so many options available regarding lines. Anyway, at least it allowed me to see what some of the opposition was like. Barbie, beer and early to bed it was.

Sunday. First practice. Wet and I went round rather slowly with a 1.01 something. Around 3 or 4 seconds off the pace. Not good!!

Second practice, new tyres. Something clicked and I started to get quicker. Think I went straight down to a late 56 second lap, but I was still a bit off the pace.

Qually. Struggled to get heat into the tyres and went for a fast lap too early. I came through the chicane too fast, with a bad line and carried straight on into the gravel. I managed not to spin but it dented my confidence a little and my lap time worsened from practice. I then buzzed the engine going from 3rd to 2nd to make matters worse, so lets hope the engine isn't damaged. The session was then cut short when some mentalist ran across the circuit. I thought it was a marshall who knew what he was doing, as it happened in front of me flat out in fifth gear coming up to the hairpin!!

A quick check of the car followed and all was o.k. Time for the final then and time to grow some [Censored] and attack the kerbs as I was being much more conservative than the other drivers. This time we had lots of room to get a clear lap in as they split the group into two. I went out and did a couple of laps to warm the tyres, followed by a couple of fast laps. Then did a cool down lap followed by another couple of fast ones. This yielded the best times as the 888's go off very, very quickly indeed. I came in not knowing how I'd done but knew it was better than before. I parked up and a brisk walk up to the timing room followed. Nooooooooooooooooo!!!! I was pipped to 1st by 0.045 of a second with a 56 dead!!!! Sorry to let the side down guys. The Supra that beat me just had too much of an advantage up the steep straights for me to overcome that day. However, I'm sure I can get into the low 54's with more time.

So, all in all a great weekend for me with much fun had. And again, the car ran perfectly and felt brilliantly composed on a very twisty and bumpy track. I didn't even adjust a single thing all weekend and am really loving the way all my new parts have improved the way it behaves. Roll on Brands on 27th June when I'm going to show the Supras a thing or two (Hopefully)

Jonny in his S2 Exige unfortunately had problems with his oil filter coming loose and had to pull out.

Steve G in his Audi Elise easily took 2nd in Pro Class and looked extremely fast, but again looking at the speed traps I'd imagine the winning Evo with well over 1000bhp was too fast up the straights to catch.

 

Round 3. Brands Hatch

 

Yesterday saw the 3rd round of Time Attack take place at my home circuit, which I've been looking forward to for ages.

With no test day near to the event I booked up a trackday a couple of weeks prior, as I hadn't been to the circuit since rebuilding the car. Unfortunately it ended up being a busy day with lots of slowish cars, so I didn't get much space to see what was possible without anoying the usual Metro owners. Looking at the datalogger when I got home showed me my fast laps averaging at around the 52-53 second mark. However, at the end of the day when the track cleared, I managed a 50.7 with an 18 stone passenger and very worn tyres which showed promise. What also impressed me was the fact that my engine performed faultlessly after buzzing it to well over 11,000 rpm at Knockhill. Tough little buggers!!!

No improvements/changes as such were made to the car after Knockhill apart from replacing a few broken bolts, exhaust mounts, wheel arch liners etc, etc and doing a general check. Knockhill is a bit of a car killer it seems.

Anyway, we went to Brands on Saturday night and enjoyed a few beers in the Thistle and got up nice and relaxed on Sunday morning ready for a gut busting full English in the Kentagon. The normal sickly feeling of this lot sitting on top of lager reared its ugly head as we made out way down to the pits to get ready.

So, we fitted some new tyres and went out for warm up in the morning to scrub them in. These then came off to cool down ready for the final.

Practise. By this time it was 12.30 ish, the temperature was about 31 and my rapidly balding head had already taken a pounding. Went out on my worn tyres and did a 53 something. At this point I realised that it was going to be too hot to set any properly fast times as the tyres just died after only a few laps. Furthermore, the drift cars had left tonnes and tonnes of marbles all over Surtees and Clearways making quick progress very difficult. I could literally scoop handfulls and handfulls of rubber out of my wheels arches after every session!!

Qually. Again on the same tyres I did a late 52 second lap. This put me in 1st for qually points with the Supra boys hot on my heels along with the 4-wheel drive cars.

Final. After a bit of a pause watching the superb sounding and looking World FIA GT1 Skylines tesing we slapped on my now scrubbed in new tyres ready for the final. Out I went with loads of space to get a clean run and struggled a bit. Maybe because I had been made to sit in the pitlane for 25 minutes waiting to go out. Anyway, I came in thinking I'd done enough to take 1st to be greeted by my friend shouting at my to get back out. I'd only done a 53 with the Supra doing a 52.5 and there was only time for one more flying lap. Luckily I managed to find some grip with my now baking tyres and managed a 52.1 with the Supra not having enough time to better me. Coming down the pit straight on this last lap I heard a tyre noise I've never heard before which was something like a screaming/groaning child. Quite disconcerting really!!

So another 1st for the little Lotus although the lap times were nothing special. However along with the Supra, I'm now being moved up to the club/pro class because I'm less than 5% off their fastest times. In fact, yesterday my time would have put me 2nd on the podium in the class above.

Jonny in his NA S2 Exige also gave it a good bash but ran out of time to improve his times having never done Brands before.

Jeff Milelham in his NA Honda came a very repectable 3rd in class, pipping a Porsche by 4x100's of a second.

And Steve G in his Pro Class Audi Turbo Exige came out top of the board again this year but didn't manage to better last years time, again probably due to the massive heat out on track. Hopefully he can continue to dominate at the next event at Cadwell.

That's it for now. Ta

 

Round 4. Cadwell Park

 

Last Sunday, the 4th round of Time Attack took place on the Cadwell Park full circuit. Since round 3 at Brands I’ve been moved up a class into Club Pro due to being consistently within 5% of the times of the top Club Pro cars. Having never been to Cadwell, I arrived at the circuit very late on the Friday night hoping that I’d get a slot on the track day on the Saturday, which I had forgotten to book and which was sold out.

Anyway, at around 2 o’clock on Saturday some of us were allowed on for the remainder of the day. After re-mounting the ECU which had decided to fall off, out I went with a friend to see what the hype was all about. What can I say!!!! Awesome track. Lots of camber changes, big drops, steep hills, blind corners, longish straight and a tight wooded and quite greasy section with a beautifully flowing layout. However, the fun didn’t last long and on about the fourth lap I started to feel very, very sick and pulled in. This year I’ve somehow managed to develop some sort of motion sickness which reared its ugly head with real vigour during these few laps. Apart from a couple more half-hearted laps, that was pretty much all the practise I got, as the sickly feeling kept coming. As usual, a few beers and a lovely Barbie followed in order to round off the day nicely.

Sunday. 6.30am and a motion sickness tablet was washed down with a bacon/sausage/egg sandwich in the hope that it would fend away any more near vomiting experiences. 9.45. Feeling a little worried about being out at the same time as all the Pro cars, i.e with Steve G in his Audi turbo Exige and a host of other very fast machinery with equally impressive drivers, I made my way down to the pit lane for the warm up session. I managed to roughly suss out the circuit this time getting in at least 10 laps without r-decorating my cockpit. This gave me a bit of a boost as I found it quite easy to get the hang of and now all I had to do was try and work out how to go lots faster. I was doing 1.45’s ish I think.

Practise followed a little later and the times came down to 1.42. BTCC cars apparently do 1.38-39’s.
After a bit of lunch I was due out for qually. We were split up here in order to give us some space out on track with it being very difficult to get a clear lap in without being held up at some point. This worked well and I got down to a late 1.39. Meanwhile the Steve G was down in the 1.33’s!!!!! My only ‘moment’ of the day was in this session, gunning it down to the gooseneck without braking. I now know this isn’t possible, as it took me at least 6 or 7 attempts to catch the slide going down to the hairpin, using both the grass to the left and to the right of the track in the process. Eventually I caught it and with a little round of applause from one of the marshals and with a change of underwear required, I made my way back to my paddock.

As three of us had been put up a class and were all rear wheel drive, the organisers had decided to give us our own group in order that we could still compete against each other for the rest of the year without mucking things up for the others in our class. These being the 2 Supras. One was ahead of me by half a second and the other had a hole in his bottom end as big as my fist, so I would be on the podium regardless which was a little boring. However, my aim of course was still to be competitive in Club Pro as a whole, as next year I imagine the format will be back to normal.

The final arrived and with some slightly newer rubber, we all left for the holding area. After a long wait due to a large oil spill we eventually got down to the pit lane ready to go out. It seems Cadwell is an engine/gearbox killer due to all the circuit changes and we were now about an hour behind time. Again, I was a little nervous about getting in the way of the Pro cars as the straight line speed differential is unbelievable. Put it this way, it isn’t often that you don’t even have to lift off the throttle in a chargecooled SC Honda in order for another car to get past like your standing still, on a relatively small straight and without upsetting their line into the next corner!!!!!!!! Anyway, after a couple of hot lap and cool down lap attempts I got down to a 1.37. I reckon with a few more goes I could have been down to a late 1.35, as I could still see lots more potential around the back section and was also being very cautious due to rather a lot of cement down the long straight and corner . Regardless, this was enough to give me the win in my RWD class and by over 2 seconds. I think overall, I would have been 5th in Club Pro which I find quite acceptable for a newbie.

 

 

So, an excellent day and a real treat to be at such a stunning circuit. My car performed faultlessly as usual and was an absolute joy to drive. Steve G got down to an almost unbelievable late 1.31 in the final, smashing the opposition. As far as Jonny in his NA S2 Exige and Jeff in his NA Honda are concerned, I really lost track of how they got on, as I was busy crapping myself most of the day.

O.K, this is enough writing for now, but here are a couple of Vimeo links. One from the Cadwell final and one from Brands back in June. Enjoy.

Cadwell.http://vimeo.com/13834871

Brands.http://vimeo.com/13836463

 

Round 5. Snetterton

 

After a test day at Snett a few weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about my chances this weekend gone, mainly due to being a complete fanny in the braking areas and not getting to grips with the Esses. I was 20 points ahead of my rival up until the weekend, meaning I basically had to come 2nd to win overall. However, with both of my rival Supras having way more than double my power and torque at a circuit which need lots of poke, I didn’t think this was going to be possible. Not for me anyway.

Well, we arrived at Snetterton late Friday just in time for a few beers at the pub, followed by the usual hassle of setting up our tents in the dark, ready for a day of learning on Saturday.

Saturday went o.k and I did lots of laps judging by the amount of fuel I got through. However, my confidence did take a bit of a blow after going into turn one early on in the day and hitting some freshly dropped oil on the second apex and sliding off onto the grass backwards. Close call, but no damage done apart from to the inside of another competitors pants, who had ging asked for a few passenger laps. Annoyingly, I did have top spend the whole day short shifting due to being on the drive-by db limit, after only having done one test day on my freshly repacked silencer. At the end of the day, we actually had to do our first bit of repair work after no damage whatsoever this season. The high speeds reached on the back straight had caused my front splitter to come loose and rub on the tarmac. So after a late night in the pits armed with a rum and coke drilling out old fixings, replacing them and adding in some additional support brackets on the ends for good measure, all was well again.

Sunday was going to be an absolute beauty of a day, what a relief. After the morning warm-up we whipped the old tyres off and put on some nice new ones, ready to scrub in during practice. I’d been struggling for grip here because of the tyres and was only managing 1.17 laps. However, even just scrubbing the new tyres in was a pleasure and the difference was amazing. Qualifying was next and I suddenly realised that if I could get full points for going quickest I could win outright by only coming third in the final. The pressure was on!!! Anyway, my confidence grew with my new-found grip, but I kept getting stuck behind cars on their warm-up or cooling down laps and my tyres were getting worse and worse. I pitted to give them a rest and was told I was in 2nd. Bugger!!! There wasn’t much time left now so I went out again for another pop at 1st. At this stage I think I was the only car out on the circuit, so there was no excuse and after one flying lap I pitted again. 1st place was secured. Wicked!! I’d done a 1.14 and I could feel that there was another couple of seconds to come off that at least.

Feeling much more relaxed as the final drew closer we just chilled out doing absolutely nothing, watching loads of other teams franticly stripping engines, suspension, gearboxes, you name it. A while later we all lined up for the final. To begin with, I basically just did a full lap to make sure I would get a finishing result to put me first overall by one single point, however I really still wanted to beat the two Supras in the final for good measure. This just wasn’t going to happen though as I’d taken the goodness out of the tyres in qualifying and I was pushing harder only to go slower. The result was that my rival had piped me by 0.037 of a second!!!!!! More annoyingly, my fastest time was achieved on a lap where at Corum, I had to go around the outside of a cooling down Steve G in his Audi Elise and the fastest Evo. Quite scary!!!

Overall though it was a 1st place for me in my Class and I got a lovely big trophy as a result. Steve G got down to a very, very impressive 1.09 lap but was just beaten by the super powerful orange Evo which did a 1.08. Quite amazing on road tyres really. Out of interest the orange Evo was clocked at 164mph down the start/finish straight and at about 180mph on the back straight!!!!!! I believe Jeff in his na Honda got fastest time in his class and a place on the podium, which is good for the Lotus crew. Jonny in his na S2 Exige was struggling with a couple of problems and was just too far down on power at this circuit to get up the list.

 

 

So all in all it’s been a great first year which I’ve enjoyed very much. The guys that organise the events and all the competitors are a real good bunch and a joy to be around. My car’s been faultless, even after all its changes over the winter and all the stick I’ve given it this year, thanks to a sterling effort by Maidstone Sports Cars, Eliseparts and last but not least Scuffers. Sadly for me though, I won’t be competing next year due to a couple of other things going on in my life. However, this does mean that I get to let Scuffers and MSC come up with some special mods for my car over the next year to make it much faster, so that I can compete again in 2012.

Short clip of my fsatest lap in qualifying

http://vimeo.com/15746547



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