Time for the long weekend at Cadwell Park. Thankfully this is the last of a series of three meetings which have followed each other rapidly. After this we get a rest for a few weeks.
It looked as though the day's weather would be OK. I got the care prepped and signed on at 8am. They'd got the day split up into three groups and we were going to get six sessions on the circuit each.
The evening before I'd sat looking at my records of last year's outings at Cadwell and my fastest lap there was a measly 1:44.91. Having looked at the logs I decided that aiming for a 1:43.5 would make sense. Not entirely sure why but it seemed to make sense at the time.
I went out for the first session, really just to see how the car was going and get an early check on tyre pressures and so on. FL was a 1:44.9. The car, though, did feel really good.
Only problem was I felt really green. This is a problem I have at Cadwell and I'm not at all unique. Chris Seaman doesn't do Cadwell any more for just this reason.
However, I sat around, twiddled tyre pressures a bit and decided to have a real go for it in the next session. Which I did.
The biggest thing about the car is that new diff really allows me to lean on the thing without feeling as if I'm about to land it in the scenery. Chris curve, in particular, was amazing in that if I got the entry right I could just drive round it flat with the car obviously rotated on the road but without feeling that it was about to shoot sideways. The lap times tumbled and I did a 1:42.5.
That seemed pretty good so I tried again and then started feeling really ill. Stupidly I finished the lap and then had to drive all the way round the circuit to get to the exit. (For those that haven't been there, Cadwell is odd in that the exit is half the way round the circuit from the pitlane.) I got back to the paddock almost convinced that I was going to lose my breakfast inside my helmet which would have been disturbing to say the least.
As it was, I just about managed to keep it together. I was quite pleased with the time though. I sat out the next session as I was feeling really horrible. What's more Colin C was having to fix his gearchange, an ally bracket on it had collapsed. I spent a good time then and over lunch helping him fix it with the aid of a lump of steel cannibalised from the bars that stop the drawers in my tool box falling open.
In the meantime Anthea went off with Adrian Chapman (Colin's Dad) to find some substance that could help the travel sickness. She came back with some mumbo-jumbo in the form of wrist bands, some travel sickness pills and some ginger nuts. (The chemist apparently said that ginger was good...)
So, I put these funny wrist bands round my wrists and had a cup of tea with some ginger nuts...
In retrospect I didn't really do anything constructive in the afternoon. The circuit was a lot busier and time was taken up with helping Adrian Moore who, after having a near terminal fire at this circuit last year had just about got his car ready.
After 3 laps it threw a rod which makes you sick really...
What's more, one session was drastically shortened after Ian Grey shoved his Phaser into the barriers.
Most importantly, I seemed to be less sick. :-)
The weather forecast had consistently improved over the last few days and the day looked good. After scrutineering we headed down to the assembly area and hence to the track. As the RGB classes were separated we wouldn't have the problems of class A cars catching up really quickly so I was able to manage my laps fairly well.
At one point I caught up with a huge gaggle of cars that were stuck behind Phil. Not sure why they were as there was lots of track so I just slowed down and put in a 2 min lap which got me away from them. In fact at one point I passed and got passed by Matt Rowe a couple of times, probably because he and I were doing the same thing, only out of phase with each other.
Late on in the session I caught up with Colin C. Colin regards Cadwell, in our private competition, as his circuit and has done some tuition there with Tim Harmer. He was very chuffed with his last result here which was 5th place.
So, I decided to just track him round which I did. The time was a 1:42.1 which I was aware I could improve on, especially down the Gooseneck and into Mansfield. So, I decided to try for another lap and slowed down a bit to get away from Colin. That lap was a 1:50 but then they put the sodding chequered flag out.
All the same, a decent session although all it gave me was two poxy 10th positions for the starting grids.
I was on the grid just behind Pete Rope who is a general pain. He's a nice bloke but he spins all the sodding time which means racing in close proximity to him is very dodgy. So, when the lights went out I surged forward, only to have Pete nearly stall meaning I had to get out of the throttle (the start lane at Cadwell is really narrow).
As a consequence I lost out in the run to Coppice and just as I was getting there Colin shot up the inside and nearly putting me onto the grass on the outside.
Still, I was in a large group on the way round to Park where, as I was rounding it Pete did indeed spin onto the grass and promptly shot straight back onto the track right in front of me.
Did I say he was a pain?
Lots of us took avoiding action and I ended up on the grass facing the wrong way and by the time I'd got back onto the circuit I was dead last. Oh well, time to do an Alain Prost and overtake everyone.
I got round to the mountain to see Colin on the grass and he got back on the circuit right in front of me causing me another moment... Still I was right behind him and managed to get up the inside of him into Coppice. (That corner is amazing. Get it right and the car just sticks like glue.)
Then we had a magic series of laps where we overtook a bunch of people in a high speed train, all the time battling with each other. Later Judi said "you guys were really going for it" and Martin said "just how do you do that?". This was Martin's third ever meeting and this means "how is it possible for two essentially identical cars to go shooting past me so bloody quickly?".
However, we eventually caught up with Phil Alcock. Phil is proverbially difficult to get past, although not in an overtly illegal manner. I did, though, manage to get up the inside into Coppice and just couldn't feel sufficiently confident that he wasn't going to turn in on me. I had though, slowed him up and could easily have got past him at Charlies 1.
Unfortunately, Colin had the same thought and went for the same gap.
Colin's left front hit the side of my car just in front of the right rear, spinning me by 90 degrees.
He then clouted the front of me as well (it took us a day to work this out actually) and I went off onto the left and he went up the bank on the right. Amazingly, both cars still worked alright and we set off again. This time, though, he was in front and we were still going at it hammer and tongs.
Luckily, on just about the last lap Colin made a little mistake at Mansfield, running a couple of feet wide. This slowed him just enough to allow me to get him into the mountain; and then we got to the chequered flag.
So that was it, an amazing race where my FL was 1:42.1. Colin and I had had a ball and there was just a bit of bodywork scuffing to sort out. We'd come close to last, of course, but I almost didn't care.
Monday dawned and it was absolutely pissing down. Luckily, our race wasn't until 1530 and as the day went on it cleared, mostly. There was a huge wind though.
We had a half hour race today so we all put a *lot* of fuel into the cars. Down on the grid we set of for the green flag lap but once we got back to the grid, they pushed Pete Rope's car off. It seemed as though the scrutineers had noticed some fuel leaking out from somewhere.
So, off we went. I got a better start and was tucked up behind Mike Atkinson. He's normally much faster than me and I was sure I was up with him but then there was a large coming together along Park and Mike's (I think) bodywork went shooting up in the air and I didn't see him again.
Then I was in a rather dead patch. For some time I was tracking the guys in front but after about 15mins I started to slow up for some reason. Some of this was just being worn out, I think. Some of it was the car just not seeming to work as well (tyres perhaps?) and some of it was the brakes which were clearly suffering and making some strange noises. A bit alarming that given how hard one has to press them down, say, the Gooseneck.
As a consequence Colin started to haul me in. He finally got past me at Park, although I made it really easy for him. However, his gearchange then expired and I very nearly ran into the back of him before going past again. (It was a different broken bit, not the bit that I had helped fix earlier.)
Right at the end of the race, Colin Duce appeared in my mirrors. However, I managed, somewhat brutally, to keep him behind me all the way to the line. I finished 8th, which wasn't wonderful, but good for me.
According to my lap timer, the FL was 1:41.7 but that hasn't been confirmed yet. If so, it means that I finished the weekend 3 seconds quicker than I arrived which has to be good.
Now I can have a bit of rest before Thruxton, which is in 4 weeks time.
I managed to leave the car pretty much alone all week, but I need to get back to it as there's still a lot of things to do. (And even more that I could do given half a chance and the dosh.) So, today I just did a couple of little things. First of all, I've been suffering from the new bonnet rubbing against the tyres. You can see the rubber on the inside of the wheelarch here.
I had this problem with the previous bonnet, until I'd got it in exactly the right position. Today I tried raising the bonnet as far as I could at the front to see if I could get sufficient clearance. It seems to be a bit better but it really isn't possible to tell without being on a circuit.
I need to fix this as it actually slows me down. Coppice at Cadwell, for instance, is a corner where you really lean on the right front and worrying about the smoke coming off the bodywork was slowing me down a bit. Well, that's my excuse anyway.
I took the brake pads out that I've got in at the moment. (If you're paying attention you'll know that this is an old set of 1155s that I put in after taking out the Ferodos in a fit of pique at Snetterton.)
As I suspected they are pretty much shot and I wouldn't like to use them again. So, this week I'll have another go at getting some 1155s. Last time I tried I couldn't find anyone who was selling them. They are, however, specifically listed on the Merlin Motorsport site. Although, as I write this, I do wonder about going back to 1144s. I was never convinced that the 1155s were actually better for feel (which is why I got them in the first place) and they're rather cheaper than the 1155s. The 1144s are much better from cold too which helps in the first corner melée at races.
The other little thing I did today is to move the fuel tank breather so that it's underneath the rear deck. I did have it placed up one of the "legs" of the roll cage but a scrutineer at Cadwell complained about it being there. At least like this it's actually a bit neater.
One thing that I've been wanting to try again is the standard Honda airbox. If you remember I fitted one a while ago and the results were terrible. This is probably because the rejetting to suit the sausage filter does not work with the airbox. I've not done anything about this, although I would like to try the airbox again, as fiddling with the carb jetting is not a particularly easy thing to do. (Why can't all carbs be like the Weber DCOEs which are specifically designed to make life easy for changing jets?)
However, I've just bought another set of carbs from eBay. I've been looking for a set for a while. Actually, they haven't actually arrived yet but I have high hopes. However, in order to use the airbox I am going to have to chop a bigger hole in the bonnet. So much for having decent bodywork...
It's been ages since an update! I haven't actually been doing that much really, although I still never seem to have any time...
One thing has been looking at the brakes. I changed the pads for a new set of 1155s, having cast the Ferodo DS2500s into the mess that is my spare parts collection. Last time I tried to buy some 1155s it was a bit tricky but this time it was dead easy. The removed pads, which if you remember were an old set that I refitted at Snetterton, were pretty much complete shot, as you can see in the photo.
I also had a look at the rear shoes. I've got some spare ones for those too but they seem to wear really slowly and every time I take the drums off I just end up putting them back on again.
I had a go at completely lifting the front part of the bonnet to try and solve my clearance issues. I think that I've been fairly successful at this but it's difficult to tell without having the car on a circuit.
These are the spare carbs that I bought. Since I last wrote about them I've been cleaning them up. They'd obviously been sitting around for a long time before I bought them as the fuel that had been left inside had all evaporated and left the nasty deposits that unleaded fuel does leave in this sort of situation. With the addition of a lot of elbow grease and a lot of carb cleaner I've got them about OK, although it remains to be seen what they're actually like. Before trying them I shall ask Andy Bates whether I should be changing the jets at all.
However, for now I'm concentrating on the coming race weekend. One of the problems with Thruxton was always going to be the impossibility of testing there. However, there's a solution to this in that they've opened up the (very poorly entered) BikeSports race as an all comers race and promptly half the rest of the people racing there have piled in so as to get an extra qualifying session and race. The only problem with this is that scrutineering is at the crack of dawn, as is qualifying, and it's going to be very hard to fit in with having to attend the first time drivers's briefing as well. I need to attend that as I've not raced at Thruxton before, although it was there that I did my ARDS test a very long time ago.
Back to the car and it's time to repair the other bit of scraped bodywork. First of all I took off the number roundel which was a bit mistake as I got left with a lot of horrible glue that took ages to get off. However, I did eventually manage it and the damaged area looked like this.
After a certain of cleaning up, paint mixing, spraying, respraying and re-applying roundels and numbers it looked like this.
Of course, the paint'll probably fall off soon but what the hell?
I next did a couple of safety related issues. First of all I've been a bit concerned about the flexi-hoses on the front brakes bashing into the uprights so I bought some Spirap (helically cut plastic tube that's really intended for wrapping wiring) and put that round the pipes to give them a bit of protection.
Secondly, I got hold of a second strip of FIA roll bar foam and used that to replace the one remaining bit of old-style foam on the cage. While I was at that I also put some more edge trim around the edge of the seat (you can just about see it in the photo). The scrutineer at Cadwell asked for this and who am I to disagree?
Lastly, I've put a lot of work into updating the Palm Pilot software. The DL1 has a new facility in that it will do lap timing itself. In fact, it does this with one of two different sources of track information. One can be a button that tells it where the track marker is. Alternatively you can download a file of marker data to it from the analysis software. This means you can get sector-based lap timing in the car but I don't think I'd ever be able to assimilate that.
All the same, I modified the car to have a dash button that tells the DL1 where the start line is, and I modified the Palm software to display lap times based on the DL1 data. However, I'm not completely trusting it yet and the Palm software actually displays two different sets of lap times at the moment: the original direct GPS derived ones and the DL1 generated ones. I've actually been testing all this by putting the DL1 in my road barge and driving round and round the village lots. It's probably set a lot of net curtains twitching!