Andy Bates and I were working on the car early on Sunday morning – with the race scheduled for 12.05 we had quite a bit of time. Andy was beavering away welding rods and brackets etc. and we had a cable Phil Alcock had donated and eventually we had a linkage we could test. Sadly we realised it just wasn’t going to be beefy enough to operate the Hayabusa clutch. So we quickly reinstalled the old system back again and bled it for ages to make sure thee as no air in there.
Next job was to deal with the misfire. It was on cylinder 3, so we sapped plugs round which made no difference, Swapping the plug cap which is actually the coil on these engines however did. So we borrowed a coil pack off Paul Rogers and it sounded much better but Andy reckoned it sounded out of balance. So he fetched his box of electronic trickery and we connected it up to the manifolds and he spent 10 minutes tweaking it with the result that it did indeed sound much smoother.
I then got the car ready for the race and eventually trundled off to the Assembly Area. On the way there I was suspicious she still wasn’t running right. We formed up on the grid, went round our green flag lap during which I realised she definitely was still missing. We reformed on the grid and were quickly on our way. I initially bogged at the start but soon dipped the clutch, gave her some more revs and dropped it again. We all got safely round Paddock Hill Bend and although she felt and sounded like she was only running on 3 cylinders I was able to keep up OK. I decided to keep going to see if the clutch held up, but the misfire got worse and worse and my pace was really slow. After a few laps I felt the clutch was going away again so I pulled into the pitlane at which stage it seemed to work again so I went down pitlane and rejoined the circuit. As I rejoined the red flags came out and I passed John Cutmore’s Spire half buried in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend. Checked the clutch out again coming into Druids and it was definitely gone so I went back into pit lane and back to the paddock.
I walked back up in time to watch the restart. It actually looked a cracking race with Paul in his new car first of all moving from 3rd to 2nd with a great move up the inside of Duncan Marshall’s Pheonix on the brakes into Druids. He then closed the gap an Steve Robinson before inflicting the same move on Steve at Druids. He then comfortably kept his lead to take the chequered flag for his first ever overall win. Not bad for the car’s first weekend out!
So, I’ve got a clutch to sort out although I think it has to be the slave cylinder seal. I also have a misfire to sort out but I think the best way to deal with that is to bring forward my plan to migrate the car over to the ancillaries for the new engine. At Oulton when we swapped the engine we ran the new engine on the old ECU, throttle bodies and injection system. Jack Frost had at the time said I should swap over ASAP as the fuel injection pump on the early ones is known to be iffy. This will mean I need to:
- Get an in-tank FI pump
- Get a new tank to fit the FI pump into
- Stick a new fuel line in
- Alter the loom for the new ECU and wiring
This will effectively mean I’m replacing all the suspect parts – coils, ECU, injectors etc. Andy checked the compression on the engine and all 4 cylinders were fine so I’m not too worried about it mechanically. Can I get it done before Cadwell in 2 weeks though?
At the post race awards presentation I was the clear winner of the wooden spoon. I’m not too disheartened – on the plus side I actually did quite a lot of laps in the car without making any real mistakes and feel I’ve learned a bit more, with 2 more race starts under my belt. The car’s also coming back with no damage which has to be a good thing.