March 22nd

This is getting ridiculous, I knew. again, that I shouldn't have gone to Mallory.

We packed up the motorhome on Saturday morning after going out to get a new number plate for the trailer. We set off for the circuit at about 3pm, not being sure how good the van would be at towing the car. The answer is OK, but not brilliant. Some of the steeper hills are a bit of a pain, especially as compared to the 3 litre, 24 valve engine in the Big Silver Barge (my normal road car).

When we got to the circuit we had to queue up outside for about 10 mins as the remnants of that day's track school left, which included various Porches, Lambos, etc...

Got fed, walked the circuit, went to the pub, and onto bed.

Sunday morning looked a bit grim and when we got up it was very dewy and damp. Hopefully it would clear soon.

Got the car prepped and drove it over to scrutineering. On the way over it was making a rather unpleasant grinding noise from the rear suspension. I ignored it and then the car failed on the brake lights not working. Luckily this was traced pretty rapidly to the brake bias being biased to far to the front and the pressure in the rear lines wasn't enough to activate the switch. Still, after I'd got the ticket I trundled back and it was still grinding away, but intermittently. I was wondering if it was something to do with the reverse mechanism which I keep having to adjust.

After I got to the assembly area for practice I decided that it really was the reverse unit so with a couple of spanners that Tom fetched from the toolkit I raised the reverse unit so that it wouldn't work as a reverse, but hopefully the car would go forwards properly.

Setting off for qualifying it was apparent that I'd fixed it, although if we got post-qualifying scutineered for the reversing I'd undoubtedly fail.

Qualifying was pretty horrible. It was still greasy and then Charlie has a big blow-up and continued all the way round Gerrards and into the Esses dropping oil all over the place and consequently we got pulled back into the pit lane while they cleared up the mess. This really screwed up the line and I really didn't feel like pushing too hard as more than anything else I wanted to get away from this place without bending anything. One odd thing about qualifying was passing a yellow fury which had doors, a Q reg and a screen. What's more, the wipers were going!

I ended up 18th out of 24, or something like that.

After practive I managed to adjust the reverse unit to a slightly better place, but it's still a heap of rubbish really, I'd like to find the time to compete re-engineer the way it fits into the car. What's more, there's a thrust washer which actually fouls the ring gear on occation which could do with being removed or at least changed in size.

After lunch we headed up for the assembly area again. By now it seemed a lot dryer. The sun wasn't shining but it looked fine really. In the assembly area I met Henry Carr. He's the chap with the Fury with the screen and wipers and he was actually ahead of me on the grid and this was his very first race.

We trundled round to the grid which I actually made this time, after blowing up on the green-flag lap past time. Once we got to the grid, though, there was a hold for about 10 minutes for some reason I don't understand. One of the marshalls thought they might have been rebuilding a tyre wall after an off in the previous race although Matt told me later that he'd seen a chainsaw being wielded to what they were up to is anyone's guess. If so, why they let up go round and get things warmed up and then let them cool down is anyone's guess, as we were not going to get another green-flag lap.

All the same, I think my protestations about just being happy to finish were getting rather thin. After qualifying, where I was about 5 seconds slower than my time from last year, I was really fancying my chances for a super-duper start.

When the lights finally went out I dumped the clutch and was rewarded with a very twitchy launch, I really must fork out for an ATB diff at some point, but I kept my foot in and launched myself between a load of cars and positioned myself towards the outside on the way into Gerrards. Past experience is that you can often pass a load of people round the outside of the first bend, you see. However, on this occasion something awry was happening at the front and cars were going everywhere. I tried to keep it together but I ended up being pushed onto the grass. Although at least half of that move was me moving out of the way as I didn't get biffed very hard.

However, the grass there is very bumpy and I spun and shot back onto the circuit. I was trying to avoid this but just couldn't hold it together. Next time, I'll try a lot harder. The grass there is pretty much like a ploughed field though and anything could happen.

As I went back onto the circuit I thought something horrible was going to happen as I managed to stall the car. I came to rest across the track and miraculously the field parted and went past without hitting me. Phew, I thought.

However, I then looked right and saw a car spearing towards me, all four wheels locked (I have this very clear picture in my head of tyre smoke pouring from all four wheels) and rammed directly into the side of my car. It was Henry again, at the first corner of his first race. There was the obligatory fountain of bits of GRP and then everything stopped. I hopped out, not realy thinking that I was OK, because I did just feel fine and jumped over the armco.

Apparently the ambulance had set off with lights and sirens and rather worried everyone but Henry and I were fine. The medic came to check me out but the fact that I vaulted over the armco to get to talk to him seemed to decide him that I was really OK and he just told me to go to the med centre to get checked over.

My complete race at MalloryThis picture here is the complete DL1/GPS map of my race. The big blob is the start in the assembly area and the single line all around is the complete circuit leading to a smaller blob which is where we waited on the grid. After that I set off down to Gerards and you can see the little blob where I came to a sticky end.

I sat in my car while it was towed back to the paddock. The side was all stoved in but it actually seemed to roll fine so perhaps it wasn't too bad. Once back I walked over to the med centre, and met up with Henry on the way. I managed to avoid strangling him, in fact I was feeling curiously equable about things. At least I was until he said that he'd seen the waved yellows and wondered what was going on before he saw me.... Grrrr... To be fair, it was his first race and I suppose this thing is bound to happen if you qualify so far out of position.

After the race I decided that I never wanted to go to Mallory again. However, the racing later was pretty cool and somehow I was thinking that it'd be a shame to let the place beat me....

T-boned!After getting the car back I eventually, after a day spent sulking, got round to taking it off the trailer and having a look. Perhaps it isn't quite as bad as I thought.

This is what the car looks like from the outside, which doesn't look too bad really.

However, the view on the inside is rather worse. You can see the sidepod is all crushed up withe brake bias adjuster looking a bit second hand at the moment.

The rear tub is yet again more bashed up and the gel coat has, as usual, departed for foreign parts. As usual, again, the matting beneath has not troubled the laminator's resin or consolidating roller.

On closer inspection a lot of the gelcoat here has snapped away from the matting underneath. This bit's in the middle of the race number and, as usual, the matting underneath has not attached itself in any way to the gelcoat itself.

Worst of all, though, is the chassis. The top rail of the chassis, to which I guess the loads were transferred by the side-impact protection gubbins, has bent and taken a couple of minor tubes with it. You can just about see the bend in this photo, bear in mind that the top of the chassis side is supposed to be straight.

I spoke to Martin Bell about this all in the paddock and he reckons that they could weld in a new tube or two to fix the damage. I was wondering about doing it myself, but right now I'm veering towards letting them do it.

For now, though, I'm going to strip as much stuff away from this area as I can as that will need to be taken care of anyway, whoever fixes it.

March 23rd

Dashless!Well, I needed to get on with stripping what I can out of the car. I've decided to get the car to Martin to sort the chassis damage. However, I'll do as much as I can stripping the car so that I don't have to pay for labour to do that. The first job was to take out the dash. This is itself a bit bent and while it's out I'll either make a new one or just try and flatten the original one.

The car looks very odd without this.

A see-thru car!I also removed some of the side panelling and took the sidepod off so as to improve access to the side of the car. I was originally thinking that was going to need a new sidepod. However, having looked at the broken one, I reckon I can probably repair it.

If I can now just remove the scuttle (easier said that done really) then the access to all the broken bits will be just about perfect.

I've also been having a look at the data logs from Mallory. This graph here shows the wheel speed, engine speed and both axes of acceleration for the entire "race". (Note that you can click on this and see the graph in a separate window.)

Interestingly, you can see how the car was stationary for about 1.8 seconds before it got hit. I reckon that's an age in a race car and it explains why I thought I'd got away with it before Henry piled into me. The wheel speed graph makes a little kick upwards at the moment of impact, I guess because even though it was sideways on there was some forward acceleration which turned the wheels round.

Note that you can see where the engine stopped from the battery voltage trace. This is just before the car actually stopped accelerating in various directions, presumably as it stumbled to a halt. Next time I must remember to try and de-clutch.

March 25th

Naked car!I finished off exposing the bent chassis by taking off the scuttle. It's really odd to see the car like this as it hasn't looked like this for ages.

Still, there's always a silver lining as this allowed me to tidy up a bit of the wiring under the scuttle. I've added some connections to this recently, especially for the logging inputs to the DL1 and it was always hard to get at the wiring.

With all that done I tidied up the loose ends and took the car off to Martin at the Kit Car Workshop. He reckons that he should be able to do the required repairs to the chassis within a week which would be great. (I have to admit that after a short while feeling really dispirited I'm now really looking forward to getting the car going again.)

While at the Kit Car Workshop I had a look through Martin's pile of paint colours. I found something that I think matches the red colour on the car rather better than the paint I found for the scoop. This was a "RAL" paint code, number 3000 (Flame Red) to be precise. I shall try to get some of this in an aerosol can to help in patching up the bodywork.

There is a problem looming though, as apparently there's a scrutineering problem with how exposed the wheels are by the Fury bodywork. Looking carefully at it it's apparent that just about no Furies comply with the letter of the blue book. Specifically paragraph E.12.2.7. (This is included as a service to all racers bemused by the structure of the blue book which has to be the least well indexed volume ever; it's just about impossible to find things sometimes.)

New mattingOnce I got back from Rushden I started on the bodywork. The normal approach for nadgered GRP, so I'm told, is to essentially hold the outer surface together somehow and then patch up the inside with matting (CSM, chopped strand matting, in my case) and resin. Then, once that's all set you can sort out the outside.

So, I ripped of a fair bit of loose gelcoat from the outside of the tub and then arranged for the tub to be about in the right place (that's what the clamp's for). Then I laid up a good deal of new matting on the back of the tub. You should be able to see some of it in this photo. The new stuff is the shiny bits on account of the resin not having gone off when I took this photo.

Later on it was much firmer and once it's all gone off I shall try putting a bit more resin on some selected bits on the outside and then using some (probably a lot) of filler to get a bit closer to the right surface. Then it'll be back to the the wet-and-dry again. (I did a lot of that a while ago when I was making the scoop, I thought I'd finished with it but apparently not.)

Finally, I originally thought that I was going to have to buy a new sidepod. However, when I tokk the broken one off it sprung back to just about the right shape. So, I'm going to have a go at patching that up too. First step here was to use a lot of gaffa tape to hold the outside together. Hopefully, I can get on to applying some matting tomorrow.

March 27th

Sidepod being patched upI've carried on working on the bodywork. Having stiched it all back together with matting and resin I've turned my attention to the outside and I'm slowly filling the various holes and rubbing it down to get a decent finish. I'm not bothering as much as I would if this was a road car but all the same it'd be nice to get it looking not too bad.

However, I think I've now done the rear tub itself. It'll take a while longer to sort the sidepod, which was the part that was most damaged. However, as long as I can get some decent paint this week then I should be able to get these bodywork components back in decent shape by the coming weekend.

March 30th

I sprayed the cleaned up bodywork components with primer and in the process highlighted some bits that needed a bit more work. Still I should be able to do that fairly easily. I also phoned these people and ordered some aerosol paint that will hopefully nearly match the colours of both the rear tub and the bonnet.

Fixed chassisMore interestingly, Ian at the Kit Car Workshop phoned me yesterday and told me that the car was done. Apparently as I'd taken lots off it it was easier to do. I went up there today and they seem to have done a pretty good job of it. I'm a little wary about whether it'll be as strong as it was but I suspect it'll be pretty good. In the photo you can see some little gussets that they welded in to support the new welds.

So, now I need to get it back together. Interestingly, the chaps at KCW mentioned that they'd noticed that the diff was loose. This is a known issue with the Freelander diff and I'd tightened mine over the winter. I put the car up on stands this evening and noticed that more than being loose it was completely missing a couple of the bolts! I'll replace those but I wonder if that explains some of the problems that I was having with the reversing mechanism?

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