With the Silverstone weekend behind me it was time to reflect on the weekend and think about what to to next. Obviously Colin has been testing rear aero modifications and has clearly gained more rear grip, to the extent that he’s both enlarged and lowered the front splitter. So I did briefly think about modifying my rear bodywork prior to the Donington weekend on 21st/22nd September. Apart from being time consuming I decided it risked having an unstable car with no time to test properly to get the front balanced and sort out spring weights etc.
I also think when I’m just starting to gain a bit more confidence in the car and get more of a feel for its handling the best thing to do is leave well alone! I’ll be quite happy running mid-pack for a while if I feel I’m going as fast as the car will allow.
What I do need to sort though is some way of stopping the bulkhead behind my seat getting so hot! My back was actually sore for a couple of hours after Sunday’s race. I’ve previously felt a bit of discomfort towards the end of a long session but it’s never been as painful as it was on Sunday, a pretty sure sign that I’m using more of the loud pedal. The definitive fix is to get new headers made – a 4 into 1 (as opposed to the current 4 to 2 to 1) with shorter tuned lengths will allow the pipes to sit quite a bit further from the bulkhead and probably eliminate the problem but that will need to wait till the end of the season.
There isn’t room to get any more insulation in the gap so after discussing with Ian (who was driving the recovery truck at Silverstone over the weekend) and Brian the idea is to get some air flow through there. Ideas include ducting some air from the rear offside sidepod just in front of the rear wheel, ducting some in from the front edge of the cover near the main air intake and finally fitting an electric fan to move air. The latter is the least favoured option for various reasons.
In my demotivated state prior to Silverstone I’d decided to just pitch up for the race weekends without any more testing but since I now felt like doing a bit more I provisionally booked an open pitlane trackday at Donington on 13th September. Trouble is it got booked up before I was prepared to commit my £299. Plan B was to see if I could fit in a day testing at Llandow – it’s only a small circuit but what I want is just the opportunity to practice getting the car moving around a bit. It turned out they had a trackday on the Saturday for the princely sum of £80 so I booked that.
The car didn’t need much prep, I changed the oil and filter and apart from a quick check over that was it. I also fitted my new camera. My old one has been a pain for ages, the hard wired supply failed ages ago so it relies on batteries and since it’s LCD screen is on all the time they don’t last long. They also have a habit of claiming to be fully charged then lasting about 3 laps. So about the only decent footage of the whole Silverstone weekend was the Sunday race. The obvious candidate was a GoPro but they’re expensive and again rely on batteries, they also aren’t switchable from the cockpit unless you shell out for the additional bluetooth kit. After a bit of asking around and some research I went for a Roadhawk Ride. It’s high enough resolution at 720p and is designed as an evidence camera for a bike and loop records, storing about 2 hours of video on the supplied 8Gb micro SD card. It comes with a hard wiring kit and basically will automatically record whenever it receives power, so it’s usually wired into the ignition circuit. I wired it to come on with the master switch otherwise it’ll stop recording as soon as the ignition is switched off.
The other slight problem I’d had was that the trailer brakes were completely absent when I arrives at Silverstone. It’s happened before when the brake shoes on one wheel completely disintegrate, this then results in too much slack in the cable so none of the wheels get braked. I have spare shoes so I discovered the dodgy set and replaced them. I absolutely hate drum brakes, especially the trailer variety with the autoreverse feature. Very expensive too – £108 for 2 axle sets of brake shoes whereas I just collected a complete set of Pagid pads for my Audi A6 from Euro Car Parts for £88.
I had a bit of fun at Llandow although it was pretty busy with 40 cars booked in. I was in the first session of 4 so we got to 15 minute sessions in before 12:30 at which point they switched to open pit lane. It’s only a short track and with 10 cars out at a time it was fairly busy. I didn’t bother with the data logger for the first session but had it on for the subsequent ones. I think my previous fastest lap round here is around 47 seconds and I got down to 46.19 in the second session although the logger reckons the fastest theoretical time from the sector times was 45.85 so reasonably pleased. Sadly early in the afternoon I noticed clutch slip down the back straight when I was in 4th gear (I only got up to 4th gear, like I said, it’s a short circuit, about 1415m!). I wondered if I might have been riding the clutch but when it happened next time round I came in. There was no point carrying on, once it’s slipping it’ll just generate lots of heat and damage the steel plates.
I had adjusted the dampers a bit, the car’s front end is very strong but I thought I could feel the rear dampers bottoming out round the right hander after the bus stop chicane. I thought first of all I’d stiffen the front by 3 clicks to see if it made it understeer more which it didn’t! So next session I stiffened the rear by 3 clicks as well then left it at that.
I was keen to try out my new camera and it does indeed work very well. The resolution’s double the previous one and it has a higher frame rate so the video is much better quality. The sound has suffered big time though as it’s sitting in the wind flow. The recording format doesn’t suit my Trackvision overlay software though which seems to think it can handle it until you try to output anything, when it crashes. So I tried a package called RaceRender, I was pointed towards it by Tim, one of the MR2 racers who’s friendly with us and who gave me advice on bulletcams. The free trial worked flawlessly with my video clips and the dash is easily configurable, much more so than Trackvision. And the full version is only $34.99, a quarter the price of Trackvision.
Here’s a couple of laps from the second session: