October 2nd

Cadwell mapA week late, I'm afraid but it's time to talk about last weekend at Cadwell. It wasn't a very notable weekend really. I guess those have to happen occasionally. At least I didn't bend the car though, and after the beginning of this season that has to count as a success. There were a couple of other minor successes too.

Our race was on the Sunday so we left on Saturday so as to stay at the circuit overnight. I wanted to watch some of the racing as I'm still confused about the best way round Chris Curve and. Later in the in the evening we walked the circuit with a couple of other RGBers to remember what it was like. (Twisty, long and uppy-downy is the answer.)

Up early on Saturday for scrutineering at the crack of dawn. The weather didn't look to good and it was spitting with rain. The forecast was actually for there to be rain in the morning and to clear up later. As we were qualifying this could mean that we were in for a wet qualifying session again. After the last time I can't admit to looking forward to that.

Sure enough, come time for qualifying and it was again wet. Not as bad as last time though and there weren't huge pools of standing water as there were then. Still, I was determined to take it really easily, regardless of what sort of grid position I ended up with. As it was it was not actually raining during our session but it was really greasy and very slippy, especially on A048s. I had one huge moment coming over the top of the mountain which involved a rather extended trip onto the grass. According to the datalogs I got up to a yaw angle of nearly 50 degrees which is all rather dramatic.

As it was I ended up with a time of 2:02.11 which was my absolute last lap. By then the conditions were getting a bit better but I just didn't have the confidence, or desire really, to push that hard. Still, last time I didn't set a time at all. My fastest lap in the racing last time, when it was dry, was 1:46.16 so you can see how much slower I was this time. Mind you, this time still includes a peak speed over 105mph which really seems daft considering the weather. :-)

By the time the race came around the condition were still variable but it looked as though we might get a dry race. Sure enough we did although just after we finished it absolutely chucked down so we seem to have been lucky again.

I think one of the worst bits at Cadwell is the start. It's a very narrow circuit and consequently there isn't the room for the shenanigans that you usually get at the start. On most circuits you get a gap right in front of you between the chaps on the row in front but that doesn't apply here. (I guess the obvious solution to this is to qualify on the front row but there's a couple of problems with that.)

So, once the lights went out I tried to get around Steve in front of me but didn't quite manage it. As it was I ended up just behind Henry who had been one place behind me on the grid. (He qualified almost a second slower than me too.) We went around Coppice in a huge pack and I managed to get alongside Henry, to his left, on the long run down towards Park but he managed to outbrake me into the corner as he was pretty much in the right place. I must say, early in the season I didn't like running near Henry as he was rather unpredictable. However, he's now got on top of racing as I had no worries at all.

So, round the first lap and eventually out of the hairpin. I thought I might be able to get past Henry into Coppice but as we got towards Barn there was a frantic waving of yellow flags. Colin Duce had turned in too sharply and hit the apex kerbing really hard. He said afterwards that he'd been afraid the car was going to roll but as it was he came to rest against the barrier just beyond the corner exit. I assumed that they'd have to red flag it but obviously decided that the car wasn't in a dangerous place. Surprising that as I was very aware every time I went into the corner that if something went wrong Colin's car was pretty much in the firing line.

So as a consequence I wasn't as close to Henry as I wanted to be and went round another lap behind him. However, on the next lap I did manage to get the run on him out of the Charlies and got on his right which meant I got into park at the right place and got past him.

However, by now the field had gone and I essentially spent the rest of the race chasing after them. What's more, towards the end of the race I started feeling a bit green. I'm not the only one that Cadwell upsets, I've discovered, as lots of people take seasickness pills before racing here. So, after about lap 8 I stopped trying so hard and pretty much just drove to the line. However, on the way I managed to get a 1:44 which is my fastest time round Cadwell so I still seem to be getting faster.

So, not a very fun race really. However, going faster and not bending the car do count as successes. Also, I finished in the points which is the first time this year!

Next meeting is this weekend at Snetterton. Our race is on the Sunday but the club has decide to transmogrify the two 7s races into all-comers events. Good job too, as far as I can see. This series has a ridiculously low entry and tends to get a lot of track time. So, I might well sign up for two additional races on the Saturday. If nothing else they should provide some more track time in order to get up to speed on the circuit again. I'm sort of hoping that some of the additional time that I've been finding this year will also appear at Snetterton. Perhaps not though, as it's a circuit I already know pretty well.

Inevitably, I suppose, I've also been thinking about what I need to do to the car over the winter. There's a long list of potential upgrades and rebuilt opportunities and I need to decide what I've got the time to do as well as can afford to do. The current list is as follows, repeated here mainly because I need to think about things. Some of these are essential, some are just musings. Any suggestions or comments are welcome:

Engine refresh
Assuming the engine survives Snetterton, it's probably sensible to get a professional engine builder to have a quick look at it over the winter. I've spoken to Andy Bates, who does this sort of thing and is quite local, and I'll probably get him to do this.
I desperately need a limited slip diff. Combined with the issue about the ratio I'm really not sure what to do. Currently, I'm thinking that keeping as much weight out of the car as possible is a good idea so I ought to just get some ATB internals for the current diff. However, I could easily change my mind tomorrow and start looking into Ford diffs again.
The bodywork's put on a lot of weight this year and I really need to sort it. It does seem that at last Fishers have got on top of producing decent lightweight bodywork so it's probably good that I've left it until now. I could just buy a whole new set but it might be that just changing the bonnet would be the best idea.
New front uprights
You can now get nice aluminium front uprights from Raceleda. I'm not sure how much weight these would save but it might well be worth it. Obviously, I don't know how much they would cost either.
Relocated fuel tank
I keep wondering about moving the fuel tank to somewhere where it would be better from the weight distribution point of view. I also don't really like the way it hangs out of the back of the car in a rather vulnerable position.. The obvious place is somewhere in the passenger compartment area, although it would need additional boxing in so as to meet the various regulations.
Engine mounts
I really need to remake, or something, the engine mounts after the problems I've had recently.
Panel bottom of car
Although this will increase the weight it would be good to at least try panelling in the bottom of the car. Problem is, I think the engine would have to go still higher to make this work as the sump still sticks down a little bit. I guess that's really part of the engine mount issue.
I want to get back to the airbox issue and find out why my experience was so awful.
Ducted cooling
If I do panel in the bottom of the car, then it would make a lot of sense to add some ducting for the cooling.
Change brake fluid
This is just one of the things that's really an essential over the winter. In fact, I bought the fluid I need yesterday.
Chassis lightening
There's a couple of lumps of chassis that I can lighten. Most obvious one is the side-impact protection on the passenger side which is doing nothing other than support the silencer. Related to that is...
New roll cage
The roll cage is really too large, as you can tell in the photos. What's more, some of the weight is totally unnecessary, such as the side-impact extension on the passenger side. The problem is, I can't just go to Fishers and get a new cage as it really needs to be bespoke. However, it's occurred to me that some people have managed to get what's essentially the component parts of a cage and then tacked them together themselves. This sounds a sensible idea and I'll look into it. I also wondered about making the cage completely assymetric, so that it provides no protection for the passenger at all. The problem with this, of course, is that it makes taking people like Tim Harmer in the car completely impossible. (Unless, of course, I retain the existing cage to use in such situations.)
Rosejoint suspension
This is something else that might provide some small benefits. It's possible that I wouldn't see any advantages unless I welded up the front suspension at the front to make it all rather stiffer though. That is, to compensate for some of the inadequacies of the new chassis. If nothing else I'd like to make a bumpsteer gauge and check that aspect of the geometry rather carefully.
Pedal box
If I'm going to remake the engine mountings then there's probably an opportunity for moving the pedal box again so as to get even lower in the car. Problem is, I'm not sure I can face going through all that again. If i did do this it might be worth actually buying a proper pedal box, such as the Tilton product. They're bloody expensive though.

October 10th

Well, it's time for the last race report of the season. We went off to Snetterton at the weekend and, rather amazingly, didn't get rained on. This means that every RGB race this year has been dry. Mind you, that doesn't apply to the qualifying sessions...


I had signed up for the all-comers races on Saturday (2 x 30 min races) mainly to get some track time before the RGB race on Sunday. I must admit that the thought of a race that long was a bit daunting and I did wonder if I would get travel sick at the end of them. Seemed to work out OK though.

Qualifying was OK with no obvious problems and I posted a time of 1:22.45 for the first race and 22.96 for the second. Both of these are faster than my best previous race time (23.37 in qualifying at this meeting next year) at Snetterton so that's good. Out of the RGB class C contingent in the races I was 2nd, just behind John Goodwin who had got a 21.39. John's pretty quick so that seemed fine. Well, not fine but it would do.

The first race was pretty uneventful. I hung onto John for a few laps but he then got away somehow. I finished 12th, although the more important position was 2nd out of the RGB class C guys. Fastest lap was 1:22.23, faster than qualifying. Best bit was that I kept in front of Colin Chapman, something I've rarely done this season, although he did manage to post a faster lap than me.

One problem was that in the last couple of laps, when I was hoping that I'd manage to lap Neil Palmer, the single representative of RGB class B, the car started fluffing a bit in top gear on the Revett straight. At the end of the race I was lower on fuel than I've ever been before so I decided to put in a couple of litres more for the race. The Revett straight at Snetterton has a longer full throttle period than any other circuit in the country and I did wonder if the fuel system was just running out of puff somehow.

The second race was a bit more eventful. I got into a big battle with Phil Alcock which is a bit alarming. Phil writes the semi-official RGB race reports and this year I've always been quicker than him. (For example, at Cadwell I was about 3 seconds quicker in the race.) His car seemed to be jet propelled in this race and he could just pull away from me down the Revett straight. I know his car is a lot lighter than mine and I suspect it's a lot more aerodynamic so I guess that's it. Phil did go 2 seconds quicker in this race than the earlier one though which is one reason that he was such a surprise. His car was a real handful though. Through Coram I was flat in fourth and, as long as I got the line right, I just had a bit of understeer. Phil clearly had armfuls of oversteer though. In retrospect I should have been able to beat him into the chicane but I never managed to do it. Finally, I managed to get a decent exit from Sear and I was right behind Phil. This time I got a decent tow off him and I decided that I just had to outbrake him into the Esses and I could get away.

What's more I did it! I got a good distance away around Coram and I thought I was ahead for the duration. Then I got to Sear and spun. Ho hum... I always seem to cock something up when I get into the lead in a two car battle. I guess there's some sort of message there...

Still, I again beat Colin so the world was looking up. Hopefully it'd be dry for the RGB race tomorrow. Also, the fuel problem didn't re-appear so hopefully the 2 litres had fixed it.


It rained overnight and the track was very slippy in the morning. Colin and I went for a walk round the circuit and it was very wet and unpleasant. Hopefully, it'd be OK by the time our qualifying came around.

When it did it was indeed a good deal dryer and reports from people in earlier sessions were that the circuit was close to completely dry. I ended up with a 21.46 which is nice and that means I'm now just about 2 seconds quicker than last year, in pretty similar conditions. Another 2 seconds and I'd be battling for the class lead. A likely story....

However, Colin was 0.26 quicker than me so we were side-by-side on the grid. Unfortunately, we were directly behind Steve Savage and John Cutmore who are notoriously difficult out on the track. (They're not unfair, just tough.)

In the All Comers races I'd got too much wheel spin on the line so I dropped the revs today and, when the lights went out, it promptly bogged down. All the same, I didn't lose out too much and I set off towards the first corner. As seems likely at Snetterton there were cars all over the place and apparently David Wale spun just behind me and sat there across the track waiting to be tee-boned. Luckily, he got away with it though. Past the Riches and down to Sear where I was greeted with Rob Baldwin sideways across the track. Somehow or other we all missed him and set off down the straight in a huge clump. There was an amazing amount of zooming around and picking up tows but we all got round the Esses OK and slowly things settled down. However, having outdragged Steve on the straight in a lap or so he got past me into Coram. Thereafter we swapped positions a few times, and probably slowed each other up. It was fairly easy to get past him but he tended to come back at me so quick that I lost the position again. I was rather surprised that I could out drag him on the straight almost with ease. In fact, the car seemed much faster on this day than the previous one according to the logs I was about 3mph faster than on the previous day. That doesn't sound much but down the length of the Revett straight (it went on for ages when we walked the circuit) that small difference mounts up.

However, eventually I put my vestigial stunted race brain into gear and worked out what to do. Again, I got a tow on the straight and easily pulled alongside him into the braking area for the Esses. This time, though, I took a nice wide line and forced Steve out somewhere he'd find it hard to get back from.

What's more it worked! He was behind and with any luck, as I seemed to have loads of speed down the straights today I thought I cound get away.

Then I spun at Sear!

There seems to be a pattern here. What an idiot. Steve was the only person to get past me when I did spin and that's the situation it ended in.

Oh well, it was a decent finish and I got some nice plaudits from some of the watching RGBers. (There had been a few retirements, including Colin who seemed to have cooked his clutch for the nth time this year.) I guess those retirements contributed to the fact that I was 7th in class which is my best result ever. However, it should have been 6th...

FL was a 21.46, exactly the same time as in qualifying. Mind you, the logger reckons the best lap was a 21.44 so I'm believing that for now.

One thing I was trying out at Snetterton was a new lap timer. having repeatedly failed with making an IR sensor. I realised that there was another way. As the Palm gets all the output from the DL-1 it's bombarded with GPS positional data.

So, I made it respond to one of the buttons on the front of it which just tells the software where the start/finish line is. Then it just measures the time taken to get back to the same place, within a certain error margin. I've made it display the best and last lap times at the moment but I reckon that there's lot of other possibilities.

First indications are that it works fine. I'm not sure yet about the accuracy so we'll leave it for a while to see what happens. Not that I'm going to get much feedback over the closed season of course.

I've been carrying on thinking about the list of things to do and I've narrowed it down a bit more. The current to-do list, which includes all the upgrades as well as general fettling, looks like this:

  • Sort bodywork
  • Refresh engine
  • ATB internals for current diff
  • Remake engine mounts
  • Panel bottom of car
  • Cooling ducts. This hasn't really been necessary up to now but probably will be if the bottom of the car is panelled.
  • Airbox. I need to put some time into seeing if this is a sensible thing to bother with. The engine builder I've got in mind for the engine refresh is probably worth talking to.
  • Change brake fluid.
  • Make a tonneau cover.
  • A new cage. I've been pleasantly surprised at a couple of the prices I got for what other people had paid for a "cage kit". So that seems a very sensible modification. I have asked Fishers for a similar price. I've even asked them for a price of the same made in T45 but that'll probably involve sitting down for a rest afterwards.
  • As a replacement for rosejoints, I'll look again at using poly bushes instead.
  • Redo brake lines in area of pedal box. This is something I meant to do last year and never got around to.
  • Lighten frame at rear of car.
  • Change the dampers for some aluminium bodied ones.
  • Sort out the Palm charger which doesn't seem to work quite right.
  • Replace some of the panels, or perhaps just the dash with carbon fibre. This should save a bit of weight.

 next page