When I got back from Llandow David and I had a bit of trouble getting the car off the trailer – with the engine running I couldn’t get it out of first gear due to the clutch dragging. Once I got it off I started it up to drive it up to the garage but there was a horrid noise coming form the engine so I shut off and we pushed her up the drive.
With the clutch cover off the problem was obvious as a broken clutch spring was hanging out of the clutch cover plate and the bolt looked loose. The 6 bolts holding the clutch springs screw into posts which in turn screw into the back of the clutch hub and in fact one of these posts had sheared off right at its base at the start of the threads. Not good. I pondered trying to get the clutch hub out but have found the Kawasaki nuts very difficult to move and with the engine in the car didn’t fancy my chances at all. So I drilled a hole in the middle of the sheared stub and tried a stud extractor which failed – the thing was bottoming out in the hole before it’s ‘threads’ were getting any purchase. Plan B was to use one of my Torx bits – they have pretty well hardened splines and after tapping a suitably sized bit onto the hole the remnant of the post came out easily.
I then had a bit of a clean up job to get rid of the swarf etc, then replaced the broken post – fortunately I have plenty of clutch spares. The plates look OK and I think the slippage was due to the loss of the post but I don’t trust them and got a new set from M&P. No time to order genuine Kawasaki ones so got a set of EBC heavy duty plates, about half the price at £60 with my trade discount. With the clutch refitted and the cover back on and slave cylinder reconnected I took her out for a quick blat to check everything was OK. Which it was. The last plate had been a little tight going into the basket and although I’d deburred the bits that must have been damaged a bit it still dragged a bit making selecting neutral difficult. I decided to leave it and fettle it after qualy at Donington if need be. It’s been a while since I drove the car on the road and you forget just how fast it is!
It was then decision time – with a 3 day conference in Stratford finishing on Friday afternoon I decided to take the motorhome and trailer so I could just nip the 50 miles or so up to Donington on the Friday evening rather than coming all the way home first. So the BDN sat in the Holiday Inn car park for 3 days.
The weather forecast for Donington was good but when we got up on Saturday morning it was dull and drizzly. The drizzle stopped a little while before we went out to qualify but the track was still very greasy in places although bone dry in others. I was actually more confident on the corners I knew were slippery and ended up losing loads of time on corners I should have taken as dry. I was disappointed to be 24th and 23rd for the two races although I was just behind my mates Dave and Steve on the grid so not way off. Interestingly the DigiDash log analysis software said my fastest theoretical lap (i.e. combining my best sectors) was 1.4 seconds quicker than my fastest lap!
Here’s a very short clip towards the end of qualy when much of the track was dry but it was still very slippery exiting Coppice. Probably got Dave Watson’s attention as he was right behind me at the time!
By the afternoon it was bright, sunny and warm and completely dry. My plan was to be a bit more aggressive than I’ve been of late but not overdo it and end up in a first/second corner incident. As it was I got off the line quite well with less wheelspin than at Silverstone and slotted in behind Dave and Adrian as we headed down Craner. Adrian and Dave were a bit stuck behind Ed Scotney who has a lot of confidence in his car in the wet but wasn’t quite so quick in the dry. Adrian got past him on the way up to Macleans but Dave was stuck for quite a while. After a few aborted attempts and a few near misses when Ed was turning in on him Dave got past when Ed went too deep into Goddards. Dave then nearly collected Duncal Horlor who had decided to do yet another of his trademark pirouettes! I was then a bit stuck, missing an opportunity when he made a mistake at Goddards but ended up right on my line in front of me at the exit. I almost got alongside but on the wrong side to make a move into Redgate. I got my chance soon after when he missed the apex of the Old Hairpin by a mile and spun on the exit. Trouble is that by then everyone had gone and I ended up a bit on my own. My best lap time was 1:20.42, only 0.4 seconds quicker than my previous fastest, a bit disappointing, finishing 21st of 30 starters.
Here’s race 1. You’ll want to turn your sound down!
What I think limits my car is my exit speed from corners, getting the power down without losing the rear end. The front end’s completely planted but I’m simply not using the grip, going into corners too slow and not turning in hard enough. So I gave myself another talking to!
Saturday was the annual RGB BBQ where we feed and water the marshals and very pleasant it was too. I didn’t partake too heavily as we were racing Sunday morning. It was a splendid morning, sunny and warm again. I’d already pretty much prepped the car on Saturday evening so gave it a bit of TLC with some polish on Sunday morning. I then decided to start her up to check she was OK only to find she wasn’t, she was making a horrible noise. I decided it was the manifold blowing so with about an hour and a quarter to go whipped out the seat and the bulkhead and tightened up the manifold nuts. Well, I tightened 5 of them because the other 3 were missing! So I replaced those and tightened two of the Mikalor clamps on the manifold that were also loose. By the time I’d got everything back together it was time to get changed and head for the assembly area.
I was one place further ahead on the grid for the second race, right behind Steve and Ed and got a great start and just shot between them then just kept the inside line round Redgate and was behind Dan Bromilow going down Craner. I was annoyed with myself when Ed came past me up the inside at the Old Hairpin but got past him when he had to avoid Rob Gardiner recovering from a spin at Macleans. I soon realised Dan Bromilow hadn’t been joking the day before when he said he’d been braking much earlier than everyone else so after a lap behind him I outbraked him quite easily at Redgate. I think it was something to do with him sometimes hitting his brake pedal and finding nothing there! I was then behind Andy Grant who was quicker than me so I gradually lost ground on him. Shortly after avoiding Austen who was parked facing the wrong way at Macleans we were red flagged.
At the restart I was gridded behind Andy Grant and Scott Mittel – Scott had blown an engine after about one lap of qualy, gone home, changed his engine then come back and started from the back of the grid! I had another good start and followed Scott round Redgate. Dave Watson came flying past me into Craner but down the back straight I slipstreamed then got past into Goddards. I was behind Andy Grant again and as on Saturday slowly lost ground while watching Steve Malyon get ever larger in my mirrors. Steve was gaining on me big time down Craner and the Old Hairpin but I was doing OK everywhere else. Before he had chance to move in for the kill we were red flagged again as Mark Sammland had spun and was in a dangerous position at the exit of Coppice. That was the end of the race.
And here’s the footage from race 2 – if you watched the footage from the first race you’ll have spotted some insect committing suicide on the camera lens towards the end of the race. Unfortunately I hadn’t spotted it so it’s there for the duration of the second race.
I was much happier, fastest lap was 1:19.48 so about a second quicker than Saturday finishing 16th and I’d certainly felt better in the car. We were held in parc ferme for post-race scrutineering and after watching the scrute peering around my wheels I asked what he was looking for. “Wheel spacers” he said. “Wheel spacers?” I asked, “I’d have thought there were more interesting things to look for than wheel spacers”. He actually agreed and said he thought checking we had split pins in hub nuts was more important but he’d been told to check for wheel spacers. Hey ho. Anyway, not a wheel spacer in sight on the BDN so I was eventually good to go.
The engine’s still making a bit of a racket and I suspect I just have a knackered exhaust gasket which will cost me about £1, three hours and some skinned knuckles to fix. I’m not too worried, it’s very unlikely it’s anything more serious and I have three weeks to fix it before Cadwell. As an added bonus we had a morning race and I was actually home by 5pm!!