Round 3, Snetterton 200

– Another adventure!


After the disappointments of Croft and Cadwell, I came back from holiday in somewhat trepidation, really need to get on-top of the car and it’s niggles, or it’s goodbye to any hope of doing well in the championship.


Having got back home from Holiday late on Saturday already in the knowledge that Matt and Jamie were already on-route to Snetterton, all I had to do was get some sleep and get there early Sunday. I arrived at the circuit to find they had pretty much everything covered and all I had to do was sign-on and get my kit scrutineered.


After Croft, there were a myriad of small jobs that needed doing, from changing out the battery cut-out and cleaning though the pneumatics of the paddle-shifter, to various other bit’s of bodywork, wiring, etc and the guys had been working solidly through Saturday PM to get though the list (not sure they got much sleep).


Time marched on and 1st practice loomed up fast only for us to spot an oil leak whilst warming up the car. The oil feed to the turbo would not seal… goodbye practice 1! Turned out to be something under the seat of the - 4 fitting (actually looked like a shaving of the fitting itself?) All sorted once cleaned out (where does this stuff come from??).


Went out for Practice 2, started to feel my way round the car/circuit again but engine seems to have a mis-fire under boost. I could not stop to deal with it as the session is too short and needed the track time to asses the rest of the car, so I went round on part throttle to keep under the miss and spent the time feeling the handing though the corners and under brakes etc. As it happens, even cruising round like this bag me a time of 1:13.394 and top of the table, which was somewhat of a surprise…

Once back in, we spotted a small water leak from one of the turbo coolant lines, so that then took the next hour to resolve (why do they have to make the turbo cores so dam narrow making it almost impossible to get at the fittings?). The miss-fire was traced to a couple of the plugs which had opened up their gaps a little, so an easy fix. That done, we made some setup changes and waited to qualifying, this came round quicker than you think when you’re doing stuff…


As I went out onto the cct, I immediately noticed that I had a pretty bad vibration. I had had what I thought was a wheel out of balance earlier, but this was much worse, and I quickly realised that it’s the start of a tripod joint failing – great!  

Knowing that I probably only had 2 laps at the most before it would fail, I set about at least getting a time on the board, however, my only flying lap got somewhat wiped out when I got baulked at Coram, and the joint went at turn 2 next lap. Not good....... After being towed back in, looking at the timesheets, I had managed a 1:15.865 - this put us 7th overall and 5th in class – 10 points… not great.


Now we had the job of changing the tripod joint (on a car that’s still stinking hot) and just to make things worse, part of the tripod that had failed had spat out onto the under-tray, slid to the other side of the car, and off in front of the back wheel as I was being towed in, and then embedding itself in the back tyre – great, another new tyre written off! The guys got the joint changed and ready for the final and I was just praying I would actually get to ‘drive’ the car as opposed to nursing it round again.


Got out early for the final, only to immediately feel that telling signs of the (new) tripod failing. So once again, I had to get a time in before it failed, and once again, my only real flying lap was compromised coming into Coram. The next lap round, the joint let go at Murray’s, leaving me nothing to do but coast into the pit-lane with no time to change the joint and a time of 1:12.176 on the board, something I though would be trounced.


As the clock ticked down, it became apparent nobody looked like getting there, and as the flag dropped, I was somewhat in disbelief that my time was still at the top.


Whilst I did not want to win a round like this, a win’s a win, and with our current track record this year, I’ll take just about anything!


As usual, a massive list of thanks to all, not only Matt, Jamie, Josh and Sam for being the pit-team this weekend, but also to all the people/companies that have come up with all the parts and support we need:- – our title sponsor and primary parts supplier.

Pro-Alloy Motorsport – for all our cold-side pipework, intercoolers and just about anything else that needed fabrication.

Quantum Racing Suspension – for our 4-way 'X Series' dampers.

Torque Developments Int – for use of their dyno and for technical support.

Turbo Dynamics – suppliers of the Garrett turbo and Tial parts.

Think Automotive – suppliers for the oil system parts.

The Wing Shop/DJ Engineering – For help with the design and setup of the aero package.

Geartronics – for gearbox the Paddleshift system.

Exon Race Engines – for building us a great engine.

Nortech Exhausts – for the fabrication of our bespoke exhaust system.

Pagid – for supplying us with our brake pads.

Anglo American Oil Company – for supplying us with Joe Gibbs Driven lubricants. 



And finally, Amanda (SWMBO) for putting up with me leaving her to clear up from our holiday whilst I rush off to play!


We now have another long jobs-list to get though before Oulton, and I pray we will have a decent issue-free weekend there!


PS. Once again, with everything else going on, we have very little video from the car, just the practice session and qualifying.




Round 2, Croft

After setting the car alight at Snetterton last Friday (something I really do not want to experience again), we were somewhat up-against it to get it back together for this weekend...

Once again, this would have been impossible without the help and support of others, Geary, Matt Bentley, Perry's bodyshop, as well as Jamie and his trusty mate Pete.

Without going into vast detail, basically, the car was a mess, the fuel filler breather pipe had let go, and come the left hand corner, some 20-30 liters of fuel dumped out of the tank onto the right hand sill, under-tray, floor, etc... then (I assume) was lit by the exhaust, at which point I had a pretty big bonfire in that corner of the car. Fuel then ran along the sill and also set the front on fire. So basically, that whole side of car was blazing and the harnesses burned off me, not pleasant...

The net effect of this is that even the wiring behind the dash got toasted pretty good, as well as the engine loom and most of the engine bay wiring, all the services in the right hand side of the engine bay, brake lines, etc etc...

With the bodywork off, Geary's mate Dave (plasticman) did an amazing job of re-glassing the rear clam (to be honest I though it was finished), it then went off with the door, roof, front clam etc to the painters.

Matt and I then stripped out the engine & box along with all the other stuff and Matt set about cleaning up the tub whilst I replaced and repaired the loom. We got the engine back in the car on Wednesday, only to find that the in-tank pumps were not right. Still running but no fuel? So, out with the tank, only to find that in the 'event' the feed pipe had blown off, (easy fix, just a PITA).

After this, Matt and I had half a day to bolt the painted body back on and get the car into a state where we could at least do a shake down run on it. This, we just managed to do on Thursday night (don't ask where or how, but it involved slicks, a wet track and no aero...).

This just left Friday to get the rest of the car together and then packed for the trip to Croft (some 3 hours up the road), at which point we had 5 of us working on it, along with a windscreen guy fitting another new screen.

I bailed out at ~3pm, leaving the guys to the last of it, (so I could try and get some rest and sleep - or at least that's my excuse).

Saturday morning I jumped in the car at 5AM to drive up to Croft and on arrival, the guys are hard at it doing the jobs that we ran out of time for. Fortunately, we were not due on cicuit till ~10AM.

First practice arrived and I got strapped in, only to have a problem almost immediately. I could not change up and so cruised round in 2nd back to the pit lane. The air-valve block was just hissing on up-change. Session over - bugger - still not really driven it (and whilst I am on excuses, I realised the night before the last time I drove round Croft was back in 2004!).

Matt and I stripped the valve block to find some debris in the exhaust port. No idea how or where it came from, but cleaned it out, re-assembled it and it tested out OK.

Great, one more warm-up session before qualifying (point scoring session), desperately need to get some running!

Second session came round and all was good. Only issue now was me re-learning the car and the circuit in 15 minutes. No pressure like...

Did not take long to get into it. Car felt good and the engine's epic. Biggest issue was learning to re-calibrate my brain to the speed at which you need to pull gears. The session ended all too early, but at least the car is running well... only downside is that in the fire the lap-timer receiver got melted so I had no idea what times I was doing. No worries though when the timesheets came out:
(to put this in context, GT lap record for Croft is a 1:24.879 (Simonsen in a 430 - he qualified on a 1:23.019)

Next up was qualifying (point scoring session). The car still good and I am starting to lean on it more, using the over-boost button almost all the time now, still making a bit of a pigs ear of some parts of the cct as well as contending with some interesting traffic. Once again, session ended all too soon for me...

 Things are looking good! Car is FAST, I just need to drive it better, but apparently I'm fast enough!

Matt and the guys went over the car, whilst I thought about any setup changes I could use, as well as looking at the tyres for wear patterns etc.

Up came the final, only 10 minutes to get a time!

Went out with the single mission of getting to the front and putting in a lap before the traffic spread out, only for the car to die on me as I got into the first timed lap! - Bugger, cut-out dies and would not re-set, game over....

As you can imagine, we were all somewhat let-down considering what was on the cards...

Olly Clark took the win:
Very impressive time, although I would like to think I could have made a challenge for the win

Along with some pictures, courtesy of Rich Sams:-





Round 1, Cadwell Park

Simon's first report:-


picked up the engine on Tuesday night, installed it on Wednesday, made up all the new plumbing etc, filled it with oil/water/etc, and off she went!



then packed it onto the trailer for the dyno first thing Thursday....


9AM on the dyno:




at which point I had 3 hours to run in, map etc a new engine, with a new setup..... (less than ideal!)


All sounded good, engines seriously lively from the off, did ~1 hour at lowish revs/load to try and give it a chance to bed in, then started on some low-boost site mapping, at which point it became painfully obvious how much boost it wanted to make, and just how fast the turbo can spool up.


at this point, I realised that we had a problem, the wastegate just did not seem to be able to slow the turbo down.


took it apart to check it was opening, it was, it's just unable to dump enough exhaust...


At this point, I used the SC's bypass to dump some boost, this then just about made the boost controllable on the wastegate, so I could get some more mapping done and at least limp though the weekend...


next issue was the fuel pump is maxed out at ~550Hp, no matter, only need it to run for the weekend, I don't need more power (yet).


anyway, 3 hours disappeared fast, with all too little running still...


this is what it looks like on load:



Back in the workshop, we then had the rest of the car to put back together again, not a trivial job with so much new aero parts to bolt on and make fit, Jamie spent the friday with Matt and myself, then came back on Sunday Morning to finish off and load up the car etc.


Monday by the time I had swan'ed in, they had the gazebo up (no garages at Cadwell) and the kettle on (I could get used to this!), so all I had to do was sign on, get some bollocks talked to us (Drivers Briefing!), suit up, and head out for ist warm up.




basically, it all went downhill from here!


did a couple of gentle laps to warm stuff up, then the first time I pressed the throttle, the engine just did not want to know...


After a couple more laps of gentle pushing, it's clear somethings not right...


brought it in for Matt and the guys to take a peek, nothing obvious, did a couple more laps, not right, pulled in (end of session).


pulled the plugs to find one had lost it's electrode and another cylinder was steaming (water).... err.....


so, had to quit, packed up, went home somewhat dejected...


looking though the data, it became all to clear what happened, the SC bypass valve actuator had failed, closing the bypass, boost then when through the roof (think 3+ bar and climbing fast!), engine instantly went into det, eating the plug and breaching the HG between 1&2...


come Tuesday, I pulled the head off expecting the worse, only to see 4 nice shiny pistons all good, and a small lift on the HG...


to say I was somewhat relived is an understatement!, new HG ordered, and then the conversation with the turbo guys about wastegates...


New 60mm Tial is heading our way, then off to the exhaust fabricators to get that welded in, and also change the silencer arrangement (it's just not cutting it noise wise).


once that's down, back to the dyno.... this time I Have 2 days booked and will probably book some more if that goes OK.


I guess was going to catch me out one day!




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