Well, after a victorious 2012 championship I can reveal that we will be taking part again in 2013.
The car has now taken part in the Club Class category, the Club Pro category and will now be making the final step up into the full-fat Pro Class and running alongside some of the countries best tuners and race teams.
We will therefore be making some major changes to the car, developing it further and fine-tuning areas which are almost there. We have some exciting plans for the Winter months and I can also say that we have had some great opportunities crop up. We will reveal them as soon as we can and try and keep this section up-to-date.
I myself will be having a year out from driving and Simon Scuffham wil be stepping in for a season. However, I will still be attending all the events as part of the support team and will be driving on our test days etc.
Watch this space......
So, a few weeks have passed since I last updated this section, and to be nonest I don't have anything very meaty to say in terms of exact information, pictures etc. However, we have a number of things in mind for next season and are much closer to knowing exactly where we are heading and how we are going to achieve our goals. In the next few weeks everything will be firmed up so that we can get on and not have to complete everything the night before the first event, with zero testing. Unlike this year, next year will NOT be lastminute.com!!!!!
Anyway I've already said, we do have some major things on the list in terms of upgrades for the winter months and also have some more subtle changes planned. I'm sure some of them will be altered and that other little projects will also crop up along the way, but I can briefly outline some of them.
ENGINE- The current, standard Honda K20 engine, which has been utterly amazing for the last 6+ years, has given us as much power as it can reliably put up with. Therefore, we will be building something much stronger which will be able to deal with higher levels of power. Right now I won't go into the BHP figures that we are aiming for, but suffice to say it's a whole lot more than we have now and will elevate the cars straight line performance into a different league.
We have a few different options available to us to help us achieve the power levels we want and I will reveal more about this soon. One thing I will say, is that the focus will be on driveability and a very user friendly torque curve. Also, that the overall cooling package on the car is up to the job of dealing with enormous amounts of heat that will be produced.
AERO- This year has seen lots of changes made to the car in terms of aero. From the seat of the pants dyno it was obvious the the changes we made have all worked out of the box, as the cars handling behaviour has been very good. Aerodynamicist, Simon McBeath has kindly guided me through the various alterations we have made so far, but we have never known exactly what is going on and what the downforce numbers are. We don't know what the front to rear balance is or what sort of drag we are producing, all of which is very important.
I have become very interested in this particular aspect of the cars performance and find all the devices that can be used very interesting. And seeing as Time Attack is probably the only race series where there are no rules to adhere to, I am going to explore aero further for next year and try out some new ideas. Some radical and some very minor. Home-made ideas/parts of course, as I just don't have the budget to involve anyone in the carbon fibre industry with major bodywork alterations!
You may well wonder how we know that the current and proposed aero devices we are using really work and if in reality, they are not actually hindering the cars performance? Well this is where one very exciting oportunity that has arrisen, will tell us all we need to know. As part of several features in a well know magazine, we have been given half a day of aero testing in the full-scale Mira wind tunnel. Our time in the tunnel will be used very wisely by utilising a proper test plan. This will allow us to try out some new ideas which may or may not work, see what the maximum downforce is that we can produce and most importantly fine-tune the front to rear balance of the car.
After several weeks thinking about all the options with regards to our engine for this year, we have finally made a decision on the final spec.
We will be running a compound charged setup, with the current supercharger sucking through a large Garrett GTX3582R turbo. This setup is going to produce a fair bit of power, so we need the engine to be able to take the strain.
We would have loved to build a stoked engine for increased capacity, however in the end we decided to keep things simple and keep to a standard stroke. As we need a very strong bottom end for this build we have therefore dedided to fit a set of Darton MID sleeves to our bores. These can handle huge outputs and will give us peace of mind for our application. We will be boring these liners out from a standard 86mm to 89mm, which will give us around 2.15ltrs of capacity. Some lovely 89mm CP flat top pistons have been specced for this job too, along with some almost indestructable Manley I-Beam rods. ACL bearings will be used throughout the build and a Cometic .040 head gasket should give us our desired compression ratio. Paul from Exon Race Engines will be putting this lot together for us.
We will then have a standard head refreshed with a little bit of a tidy up etc, but the internals will remain stock to begin with as we won't really know what we're dealing with until the first dyno session. Then, if need be, we can start to think about cams and valves if we find that there could be benefits.
We will be keeping the sandwhich type intercooler between the supercharger and inlet manifold and also fitting a large chargecooler for the turbo.
These new units are a recirculating design and the oil passes around the outside of the shock absorber, as opposed to through the main piston as is the case with mono-tube shocks. In both bump and rebound, oil is compressed between the main piston and the valve head. The floating piston, separating the oil from the gas pressure charge, is behind the valve head and is never exposed to the high pressure on the ‘damping’ side. This means the shock can generate significantly greater damping forces than are possible with mono-tube shock absorbers, with significantly less gas pressure, too.
What sets the X Series apart from similar designs is the unique method of adjustment. In place of the traditional needle-and-jet, the X Series employs a trademark drilled bleed adjuster.
Every X Series low-speed bleed adjuster has exactly eight positions corresponding to eight drilled bleeds. At position one, one bleed is open. At position eight, all eight are open. Each bleed can only ever be open or closed and there is no in-between.
Four different bleed adjusters are available, ranging from fine to coarse adjustment. The design offers a significant improvement in usability, with almost ‘digital’ operation and clear and precise adjustment.
Final mapping complete:-
Just to bring things up to date here regarding the engine and mapping, I have attached the final power/torque graph below. This graph is calculated at the hubs and on pump fuel. Torque is purposely reduced lower in the rpm range and in gears 1,2 & 3 in order to avoid traction issues. We also have a thumb switch on the steering wheel which we can use to give us maximum boost down the straights.
During the first mapping session we found that we were asking too much of our original high pressure fuel pump and also in-tank lift pump. Therfore we have now fitted an additional in-tank pump, a Bosch 044 high pressure pump and also a double capacity swirl pot. This has cured the problem, however we are still on well over 90% duty cycle and cannot therefore increase boost and map for more power or race fuel.
Apart from a few minor teathing issues, we feel this is a brilliant start for what is basicially our first attempt on a quite complicated engine package. We have more than enough power now, however still have plenty of scope for development.
Check-over and head porting:-.
Our engine and gearbox were taken out for a quick check-over before the next event and both were looking well.
And as the engine head was coming off anyway, it would have been rude to leave it alone.......Therefore Paul, Exon Race Engines did a lovely bit of porting on the exhaust side which should improve our exhaust gas flow nicely. We were very pleased with the improvements from this porting alone.
Before and after, power at the hubs.
Unfortunately we've got some very bad news. I'm afraid that it's game over for us for the rest of this season and for the European event which were so excited about taking part in.
Yesterday, whilst testing at Silverstone ready for competition on Sunday, we had a fairly substantial engine failure in our second session of the day. Everything was going well and then without warning through turn 1, the engine let go. Until we pull and strip the engine we won't know the exact cause of the failure, but having checked the data from the session, the oil pressure went down quite dramatically just before the failure. Now it may not be the case, but this could be due to our new Accusump not working properly, but that's another story.
To say I and the rest of the team are all absolutely gutted, would be the largest of all understatements. Along with the rest of our luck this year, including the huge fire at Snetterton, it's the sort of thing that just makes you want to give it all up and find a new hobby. And with the budget we have, it's just not an option to do this again. The problem is though, that this hobby is in my blood and I know that I'll be lost without it. So I'll just take it on the chin......again, and just keep on telling myself that building probably the worlds fastest Exige, isn't always going to be plain sailing. Hopefully we'll be back sooner, rather than later though.
Over and out for now.
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