On Wednesday evening I made a start on working out what went where with all the wishbones. Again everything is quite clear with a sequence described in the PDFs and the exploding diagrams to show exactly what goes where. The wishbones etc. use a combination of rod ends and spherical bearings, the latter of which are a press fit into their housings and are retained by circlips. Brian showed me the tool he made to do the job and I was going to make a replica for myself on the lathe but didn’t have a thick enough piece of steel or aluminium bar to match the housing on the wishbones. I ended up turning a piece of 3/4″ aluminium bar to match the bearing outer, recessed to avoid pressing on the inner so I could again use the woodworking vice to press them in.
Getting the 8 bearings pressed in and 16 circlips fitted kept me out of mischief for quite a while! It’s interesting that once pressed in they actually tighten up. When I first identified this I was worried I’d damaged it somehow pressing it in. I then turned up another larger piece of aluminium I’d picked up from our local metal supplier to enable me to press it out again which reassured me that it was in fact fine and it was just the compression of being in the housing that was tightening it up. Brian confirmed that this is normal and that firstly very little movement is required of them and secondly that they free up pretty quickly in use.
Work intervened in the form of an overnight shift on Thursday but never fear, work on the BDN continued! I took the ZX10R wiring loom in with me. It was a quiet night so I got all the terminals and spurs labelled, all the insulation tape off it and made a good start at stripping out the extraneous bits – lights, indicators etc. Also got a bit of kip so no need to waste time in bed once I got home for my day off
Once I’d worked out which wishbone goes where I got on with fitting them. The inboard ends have cups made out of what looks like acetal with nice turned aluminium centre bushes. These went together even easier than I expected. I’d eventually managed to track down some silicone grease during the week in our local plumbers’ merchants, it’s usually used to lubricate rubber seals etc. The acetal should be pretty inert but better to use silicone rather than a petroleum based grease. As expected everything was a perfect fit, because of the nickel plating the bush assemblies were a tight fit between their mounts on the chassis but I was still able to get them in by hand rather than having to whack or pry the mounts apart as I did with the Fury, and no washers required to make things line up right either.
The suspension works with pullrods which are made from aluminium bar with threaded ends for rod ends, right handed thread at one end, left at the other making ride height adjustments very simple as the pullrods have a flat machined into the middle of them. On the upper rear wishbone there’s also a similar turnbuckle arrangement to allow tracking adjustments. The pile of parts has been slowly getting smaller although it grew again on Friday when the box came from Andy at AB Performance. Set of 4 disks, master cylinders and handbrake lever. By the close of play on Friday I had all 8 wishbones and pullrods fitted.
My brother Andy arrived on Friday evening so on Saturday we spent a bit of time out in the garage. Andy’s a proper engineer, his day job’s with BAE Systems and I was interested to see what similarities there were between the BDN and Typhoon. Turns out not many He liked it a lot though for all the same reasons as me, the neatness of the design and the accuracy of the fit of all the parts. We assembled and fitted all four uprights, pedal box and steering rack. We then went on to the cockpit adjustable ARB. Like me Andy had assumed it worked as a sort of torsion bar but was really impressed when he saw how it really worked, by flexing the blade laterally and rotating it to alter its stiffness. I’m not sure what to do about this for IVA, I’m not sure if there are any rules about cockpit adjustable ARBs! I could either remove the whole lot completely or replace the adjuster rod with a shorter bolt so the ARB is there but not adjustable from the seat.
On Sunday morning there really wasn’t a lot left to do. I need to speak to Brian about fitting the master cylinders to the pedal assembly. We fitted the brake calipers but haven’t tightened the bolts as I don’t have the brake bells yet. We also loosely fitted the diff carrier – as expected the bearings are a very accurate press fit into the housings. The pic on the left shows the diff carrier. We cheated by heating the housing a bit and the bearing went in fine with finger pressure. The pile of boxes in the garage is now reduced to just the brake disks and pads, brake fluid, handbrake cables and lever and a few fasteners.
It’s gone swimmingly well so far although I’m well aware there’s lots of tricky stuff ahead. I’m off on hols next week then hopefully can collect some more bits when I get back. Here are a couple of shots to show the uprights assembled onto the car. This first one is the left front upright. Everything is adjustable without undoing rose joints etc., mainly via turnbuckles. The camber is adjusted by shim plates which I thought sounded a bit odd until I saw how they worked and how nice and simple they are. As Brian says you don’t tend to need to adjust camber once you’ve got it set “unless your suspension’s made out of liquorice”. I have a horrid feeling he was talking about the Fury when he said that! To adjust it just means slackening 2 nuts, sliding the plate out then slide the new one in and tighten. I’m assured the 6mm shim supplied will give me the correct camber
And here’s the rear left upright. Again camber adjustment via shim, toe adjustment via a turnbuckle on the upper wishbone.
Brian and Ian were at Snetterton on Friday testing their Bikesports spec S3 and put it on the digital weighbridge there. The bad news is it looks like I might be needing to invest in some lead ballast for mine
First of all a correction – I mistakenly said the suspension parts were chromed. They aren’t they’re nickel plated which makes all the difference structurally!
During the day on Tuesday the stuff from Rally Design arrived – Wilwood Powerlite calipers, pads, handbrake cable and a few other bits and pieces. I’ve now got plenty to be getting on with.
The next step of the build is bolting the bulkheads onto the chassis. The trouble is even though everything is accurately and securely jigged for welding the welding induces stresses and as soon as you unbolt the MDF bulkheads the tubes spring out of place. It therefore took a bit of time persuading them into place but within a couple of hours I had both bulkheads bolted on and the floor and side panels bolted onto the bulkheads.Here’s a photo of the rear, you can see the slot in it to accommodate the chain.
Here’s the inside where the return on the floor panel bolts onto the inside of the bulkhead. The floor panel is made of a pretty hard grade of aluminium so it’s nice and rigid.
I managed to get out to the garage again on Wednesday morning before work. The front bulkhead was much harder to fit than the rear as the front section of the chassis is panelled and it was much harder persuading the chassis tubes back into position, the water jet cut end plates are also a very snug fit into the recesses on the bulkhead. But here’s a pic of it securely bolted on.
And on the inside the returns on both the floor and the side panels are secured to the bulkhead with 6mm bolts.
The next parts to go on are the front and rear subframes. Again post-weld flex makes them a bit of a struggle to persuade into place but as you can probably see they locate very positively into recesses in the bulkhead and are then secured by 10mm bolts from behind. This is the front frame with a closer shot of the lower central mount showing some nice TIG welding.
And here’s the rear subframe bolted into place.
With both subframes on I could make a start on some of the suspension components. The bellcranks at both ends of the chassis are cut/machined in halves out of aluminium with the sealed bearing a press fit inbetween. These are quite tight but using the woodworking vice kept them nice and square and they didn’t take long to assemble. All the machined parts – the mounts and the bushes to space the bearings – are of course a perfect fit and it was a doddle putting it all together on the chassis. This is the rear left corner.
And here’s the right front bellcrank which is very similar to the rear, the black screw in the lower bit is to mount the front ARB onto later.
In fitting the rear damper mount I encountered a slight problem in that the parts I had seemed slightly different to those in the drawing and I didn’t seem to have the bolts described. It was time to head to work anyway so I gave Brian a ring. It seems there’s been a minor design change and once he’d explained it I had the parts sorted within 5 minutes. So that’s all the parts bolted on to the bulkheads, the next job will be the wishbones.
The chassis has been sitting patiently in the garage in its greenness waiting for more parts to arrive. I’ve started ordering a few bits and pieces in the meantime so that I can get on with the build once I have the front and rear bulkheads and subframes. I ordered a set of 4 hubs online – the BDN uses hub units from a Vauxhall Astra and although this sounds a bit naff they’re a very nice sealed unit that bolt onto the upright and even incorporate an ABS sensor that I should be able to use to log wheel speeds.
I’ve been speaking to Andy Bates who is getting a batch of sumps made for the ZX10 and he reckons they should be ready early September. He’s also supplying me some of the braking stuff but doesn’t keep it all in stock so I’ll need to order the rest from Rally Design. He’s also going to supply chain and sprockets, I’ve done a spreadsheet to plan the gearing, of course changing the gearing is easy in a mid-engined application with a chain as you use split sprockets to allow swapping them without splitting the chain. Andy has recommended some hardened alloy ones that are already pretty expensive before he gets them cut. They can be hacksawed and having had a chat with Brian he reckons this isn’t an issue and doesn’t see the point in spending money on having them cut.
Anyway, enough preamble. What about the parts? I hot footed it straight from work on Monday evening and arrived to find Brian making his final checks over my pile of goodies. I know he’s put a huge effort into getting it ready on time. What was surprising was how little of it there seemed to be! The front and rear subframes looked tiny, I’d expected them to take up most of the boot space by themselves but they look much smaller off the car. Brian spent some time talking me through all the parts although to be honest many of them are labelled and most are quite easy to identify from the build PDFs they’ve supplied. The biggest parts are the two machined billet aluminium bulkheads and these really are a work of art. Despite Brian having pocketed them on the milling machine and removing I think 8kg from each in the process they’re still substantial pieces of metal and surprisingly heavy. The amount of work that’s gone into producing all the parts is very evident. The subframes and wishbones etc. are all nickel plated1 which along with the standard of the welding helps them to look really nice and the wishbones look incredibly delicate making those on the Fury seem positively agricultural. The uprights are water jet cut from billet then machined and simply bear no comparison to the pressed/bent steel items on the Fury. The steering rack is custom produced by Titan Motorsport (as was the one on the Ultima I built) and would cost a lot more to replace than the Mk. II Escort rack used on the Fury. The good thing is though that it’s less likely to need replacing – firstly it lives within the main chassis behind the front bulkhead thus being pretty well protected from a direct impact and secondly the links connecting it to the upright are fairly light and will fail before transmitting a lot of energy into it.
I could go on, I’m aware I already have a bit. The reason the Fury took me so long to build was because I kept coming across issues that needed solving, parts that didn’t fit, compromises that needed to be made. I remember going out to the garage when I was trying to make a start on the bodywork and coming in 6 hours later feeling that I’d got nowhere. This car’s been designed for the exact purpose to which it will be put; it’s the S3 version meaning the design has been refined through experience of the S1 and S2 although I gather the S1 was pretty much just a mule. Ian’s done some brilliant work on the design and Brian’s executed the production superbly. I’m really looking forward to getting spannering on it. Here’s a gratuitous pedal assembly shot for you
1Edited cos I mistakenly said the subframes were chromed when in fact they’re nickel plated
On Thursday when the ‘sending them out today first class’ parts from Powertec hadn’t arrived after 8 days I gave them a ring. They’d been waiting for a a part then reckoned my card had bounced. Tried it again while I was on the phone and it was fine. And the parts did indeed arrive the next morning – a new pushrod, 3 spacers and some bolts. For some reason these spacers were steel, they’ve previously been aluminium. Sadly they were the wrong parts, the spacers and the pushrod were too long. So I reverted to my previous plan which was to make some spacers up myself on the lathe. I worked out what lengths I wanted to suit my existing pushrod and found it easier than expected to get them accurately made to length using the calibration on the little wheel that moves the toolpost on the lathe towards the chuck.
The next part of the plan was fabricating a more robust bracket to support the 3rd mount of the cylinder which is normally bolted on where my oil pump sits. Although I made a start at this on Friday I didn’t get very far and had to abandon to take the Audi to the dealers to get the towbar electrics programmed. Yes, really. Last weekend I’d fitted a towbar to the A6 and the wiring module instead of splicing in to all the individual wires for lights etc. had 2 wires that connect into the car’s CAN bus. It then needed programming to recognise this and to alter things like brake distribution, park sensors etc. when the tow bar is plugged in. Clever stuff, and it even works!
So on Saturday I got going again on the clutch slave bracket. This actually took an inordinate amount of time as it’s all a bit tight around the oil pump and requires a bracket with multiple bends in it. Also my metalworking skills leave a lot to be desired I abandoned my Mk. 1 design and tried a different plan. I hope Brian Baldwin doesn’t see this or he might well need to go and have a lie down. I was eventually happy enough with it. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing but it should certainly give the slave cylinder a lot more support than its predecessor. Once I’d got it painted and the bolt heads drilled for the lockwire I got it all bolted up. Here you can see one of the new spacers and the new much heavier duty bracket on the left – in addition to being made of 3mm steel it’s actually bolted to each end of the oil pump and as you can see has 2 bolts into the clutch slave.
Once that was done it was time to stick the engine back in the car. Within an hour I had all the mounting bolts done up and the prop reattached. I could feel the difference tightening the bolts, it seemed difficult to get them tight before whereas this time they hit that point where you know the bolts have clamped the two parts tightly together and you won’t get them tighter. This took me to close of play on Saturday. It’s likely that the interference between the flange nut and the prop yoke has been responsible for many of my problems, including bolts throughout the transmission keeping come loose and the vibration I’ve been aware of for ages. I cast my mind back to the Birkett last October and wonder whether this issue was responsible for the vibration I was aware of then.
I only had a couple of hours on Sunday as I was off to work at noon. I got all the oil and coolant hoses reconnected, reconnected all the electrics, the gearshift cable and the exhaust manifold then got the coolant and oil back in. There’s always something deeply satisfying when you’ve had the car in bits all over the garage floor and she springs back to life when you hit the starter button, and this time was no exception. I got her up to temperature and checked there were no leaks from the rigid pipes connecting the oil pump to the sump then it was time for work.
I gave Brian a quick ring in the evening to see how he was getting on with my next batch of BDN parts. The quite detailed delivery schedule had 16th August as the next landmark but I wasn’t sure whether having to redesign the bulkhead was going to delay things. It turns out not, the bulkhead is machined up and the other parts are ready so as soon as I finish work on Monday I’ll nip up to Hereford to collect them.
After the excitement of Sunday’s racing at Pembrey it was time to inspect the damage. The bonnet was pretty much a known quantity and frankly although there’s a fair bit of work involved in making it presentable again it’s straightforward enough. The clutch however was likely to be more of a challenge. So I got the bonnet and airbox off to find the slave cylinder more or less flapping in the breeze. It was originally retained by 2 long bolts into the engine and by a small bracket bolted to the dry sump pump. One of the bolts sheared at Pembrey last time and was replaced with a steel bracket. That was all that was left, the other long bolt had now also sheared and the little steel bracket had broken.
Not seeing any realistic way of extracting the sheared bolts with the engine in situ I made a start at getting it out. I managed to drain the coolant and disconnect the hoses, disconnect the electrics, remove the exhaust manifold and got the undertray off ready to drain the oil and disconnect the sump hoses by the end of play on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday I took the Spire prop to be repaired and took along the failed yoke. Andrew at BAR spotted a mark on the back of the yoke face and wondered if it’s been impinging on the nut holding the adaptor onto the gearbox output shaft. This would then flex the yoke as the bolts were tightened leading to its failure. In which case I need to carefully inspect the one I’ve currently got on. He was kind enough to let me take a couple of different yokes with me to see if they fit OK.
I also spoke to Powertec and ordered replacement bolts and spacers for the clutch slave. They reckon they just use spring washers and don’t seem to have problems with them coming undone. I plan to use plain thread lock (rather than the studlock) and will lock wire them. Assuming I can get the old ones out that is …
Thursday morning before work I continued on the mission to get the engine out. Once out I could see that the prop yoke had indeed been impinging on the large nut holding the flange adaptor onto the gearbox output shaft – as you can see in this pic at the top of the nut. You can also see from the surface rust where the yoke hasn’t been in firm contact with the flange. I need to consider my options now – one of the yokes Andrew gave me seems to fit fine, the other doesn’t, obviously swapping that over would mean taking the prop off and taking it over to have it done. Alternatives include having the existing yoke machined (but I’m worried about weakening it), filing the nut down so it does clear, or getting some form of thin spacer made up.
With the engine out I now had clear access to the sheared bolts and on Thursday evening I drilled them and although the first one came out pretty easily with an extractor the other one required the removal of the dry sump oil pump and the assistance of Mr. Blowlamp. By the time I’d reasssembled the oil pump and its rigid pipes it was close of play.
Friday morning was spent undoing the oil pump again as the gearshift mechanism was binding. By the time I’d sorted that out it was time to nip over to Neath for the prop. I took the adapter and the nut with me. Having discussed the options with Andrew we decided the best bet was to machine the nut down a bit. Andrew reckons this was the cause of the original prop failure ages ago and I’m sure he’s right. He bolted the adapter to a new yoke to check the nut was now not impinging. While I was out I called into Machine Mart for some lockwire pliers and got a new jockey wheel for the trailer as the tyre on the old one is goosed.
The spacers and bolts never arrived from Powertec and I didn’t have time to make any spacers up on the lathe although I did get some suitable bolts locally. Hopefully I can get the job completed the coming weekend. The next delivery date for the BDN is approaching although there’s been a slight hitch in that the ZX10 turns out to have a higher gearbox output shaft than the other engines so the rear bulkhead needs redesigning then Brian will need to machine one.
Back to Pembrey this weekend but with the 750 Motor Club and my RGB mates this time. I would have tested on the Friday as I really like the circuit and it’s good value but the circuit manager’s attentions last time I was here have put me off ever going there again. As it is for this weekend the 750MC and MSA officials will be in charge of the actual racing.
The Fury had been untouched since returning from Cadwell where it ran very well. The only issue was the bonnet impinging on the throttle bodies and causing an air leak at idle, also when Andy had balanced the throttle bodies it’s likely there was a small air leak so I wanted to rebalance them. One of the quirks of the Busa is that there isn’t a separate vacuum port on each throttle body so you need to disconnect a couple of the ones that are connected to the MAP sensor. At Cadwell this upset the ECU and caused it to stall. I do have a set of vacuum gauges but the rubber tubing on them turned out to be too big to fit on the vacuum ports so I had to abandon that plan.
It was quite strange leaving after 5pm but still arriving at the circuit before 6! Austen had saved me a space but we were on the grass which was pretty damp and quite uneven. Apparently the track had been dry during the afternoon but the rain really set in during the evening and it was pretty miserable. Saturday morning was pretty bright however and I got a few early laps in on the mountain bike. Some of the kerbs are truly ferocious and it’s well worth seeing them all up close so you know which ones you can use heavily and which ones to stay well clear of.
It seems the club had spare time in the programme so they offered us an additional untimed practice session so there were a few of us out for that. This went well, the car was behaving itself and once the tyres got up to temperature it was generally pretty grippy despite a few damp patches. It was easy to lock up at the hairpin and the exit was pretty squirrely. On lap 7 I got down to 1:05.14 seconds, just 4 hundredths outside my personal best from May. It took a few more laps to beat this again but I eventually got 4 laps in under 1:05 the fastest down to 1:04.43, so over half a second improvment on my PB already.
After refuelling and a quick spanner check we were ready for our qualy session at 11.55. It was still fine so as soon as the tyres were hot I could press on. From lap 5 I was putting in regular laps in the 1:04’s but not beating my morning’s time. Unfortunately the session was marred by a crash Lee Baverstock had been gaining on me in the mirrors and slipstreamed me down the straight and overtook me on the inside line just as we got into the braking area for Hatchett’s Hairpin. I hit my usual braking point and was just waiting for the weight to plant the fronts so I could lean hard on the brakes when Lee instead of keeping his inside line switched straight across in front of me leaving me no room at all. He was already on the brakes and his car started coming back towards me. I pushed harder on the brakes, my fronts locked up and I went into the back of him. It wasn’t desperately dramatic and we both carried on. I could see my coolant temp was fine and therefore knew the radiator must be OK so after a lap to be confident nothing else was wrong I pressed on again and indeed my last lap was 1:04.39 so a slight improvement on the morning session.
However as we came into the pit lane the Clerk of the Course called Lee and I over. He spoke to each of us individually then went off to check with his marshal’s report. I went over to speak to Lee but he walked away which surprised me somewhat. The Clerk came back and told me the marshal’s report agreed with my account then took me into the office and gave me a verbal warning! I couldn’t believe finding myself in there again and receiving what I thought was again a harsh penalty. Back at the motorhome I got my video onto the laptop to find that my recollection of the incident was pretty accurate. Obviously word had got round of the incident and reassuringly my rather more experienced friends agreed that I’d been pretty blameless and had had nowhere to go. I could see that I’d braked as normal and would have made the corner fine had Lee not pulled in front of me. Make your own mind up from the video. The damage wasn’t major but I was pretty annoyed that a fellow competitor had refused to speak to me and even more annoyed about the penalty.
I got the bonnet patched up (rivets and gaffer tape of course) and tried to get my head together for the race. I was 14th on the grid of 21 alongside Tony Gaunt with a couple of drivers behind me who are often a bit quicker than me including Austen and Phil Alcock, with Doug Carter directly in front of me. I got another of my flying starts and got past Andy Grant and Lee who had a bad start. I was alongside Doug Carter around the outside at the hairpin behind Al Boulton and Tim Hoverd. Al ran a bit wide and baulked me allowing Doug to go up the inside. Tim locked his brakes round the next right hander and the big plume of smoke put me off a bit so I backed out and subsequently lost a place to Andy Grant before the left hander at Debeni. I tucked in behind Andy and had Lee in my mirrors … great. Lee went past at the scene of the previous crime so I just braked very early and kept well back. This meant I lost a place to Tony Gaunt as well as Lee and had Austen right behind me, then just after Debeni either Adrian or Doug spun, Andy in front of me took to the grass and I followed him. By the time I got control of the car most of the field had streamed through and I was behind Judi. By the time I got past her the others had disappeared into the distance and it was a bit of a lonely race, I was slowly gaining on Ben and Austen but didn’t think I’d have enough laps to catch them. I didn’t and what was worse was I felt a vibration in the car on the last lap. At first I thought I might be imagining it (again) but when I accelerated towards the Esses the vibration was bad enough to blur my vision so I backed right off and nursed the car to the chequered flag.
As I came up pit lane the CoC was pulling Paul over as he had won but he then signalled me over. I really was confident I hadn’t done anything wrong this time but it wasn’t a good feeling. He initially said “Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious” which didn’t do much to allay my anxieties but he then went on to say Lee had been back to see him again once he’d calmed down and accepted partial responsibility for the incident and had asked that my warning be rescinded which he had done. So I was a free man again. All very nice but it still left me wondering why he’d penalised me in the first place when he said he’d accepted that my account of the incident was accurate :-/
Back in the paddock we eventually tracked down the cause of the problem, the front prop yoke was cracked and looked like it would probably have let go very soon, probably when it got loaded up with the next series of hard downshifts at the hairpin. So, end of the weekend I thought. But I was of course wrong. I set about getting the prop off and Austen set off on a paddock prop hunt. Within 10 minutes he was back with a prop from Paul Nightingale at Spire Sportscars! I’ve never dismantled a prop but props and diffs are Austen’s dad’s business and clearly good old Austen has been paying attention as with the help of Andy Bates’ bench vice he had the yoke swapped over within half an hour. It was then a straightforward job slapping it all back together and we were on the beer by about 7pm
Sunday morning was again bright and I got 4 laps in on the mountain bike again before brekkies. Our race wasn’t till 4.20 so we had a lot of time to kill. Another project on my to do list has been setting up a TV aerial in the motorhome and I’d bought one on Friday morning so I spent a couple of hours connecting up the aerial socket that was already there and leaving a connector underneath the motorhome so I could just cable tie the aerial onto the bike rack and connect up. This worked nicely and at 1pm a few of us were ensconced in there watching the Hungarian Grand Prix. I’d already more or less got the car ready and after an hour or so of the race I lost interest and went back out to finish preparations. I also had time to start clearing up, packing the awning away etc. It was quite sunny and warm so were were all set hopefully for a good race. We were all sitting round chatting when they announced that the race before ours (a Stock Hatch heat) was cancelled and ours was the next race! So we all got changed quick and headed off to the assembly area.
Since we hadn’t been on track before on the day we had a green flag lap so we all got up to temperature and reformed on the grid where we were very quickly shown the 5 second board followed by the red lights. Another good start but I couldn’t really capitalise as I was behind Tony Gaunt but I still got ahead of Austen (who started ahead of me this time) and eventually got past Tony before the hairpin. For the first lap I had Lee in front of me and Tony behind but looking at he video Tony pulled off at the pit entry at the end of the lap leaving Colin Chapman chasing me. It stayed like this for a while, Lee got past Al Boulton and there was quite a gap to me then a small gap to Colin behind. My clutch pedal clattered to the bulkhead I think at the end of the first lap and I thought about abandoning but decided to press on. It meant I had to just bang the car down through the gears without the clutch so I stopped using 6th on the straight and hung on to 5th, the only problems were that it was reluctant to go from 3rd to 2nd for the hairpin and every time I changed down from 4th to 3rd at the Brooklands hairpin it was trying to step the back end out. Gradually I pulled away from Colin which surprised me somewhat, then even more surprisingly I started closing on Al who was all over the back of Doug Carter. Of course I’ve got more power than both Colin and Al but they usually have far more corner speed than me and generally leave me for dead. But not today!
After a few laps Duncan Marshall had a problem and pulled over just after the Woodlands kink and in avoiding him Doug and Al got slowed a bit allowing me to close right up. I was fairly amazed to be in their company, I don’t normally see them apart from the start and when they lap me! I could even still see Tim Hoverd a few seconds ahead. By now though I’d got used to having no clutch and was feeling more confident, determined even! I’d been experiencing turn in understeer on Saturday and had thought about altering the suspension a bit but chatting with Derek in the evening he suggested trying to turn in while I was still on the brakes and the front was therefore still heavily loaded. This worked very nicely giving me more speed particularly round Honda.
Not only did I stick with Al and Doug, I could see that Doug was braking earlier than me particularly at the Brooklands hairpin and at Honda. This I think was backing Al up a bit and I could then use my power to get a run at him down the straight. Eventually after a good exit from Honda I took a deep breath and pulled out alongside Al down the finish straight and got the inside line into the hairpin on the brakes. Of course he’s pretty wily and hung out wide while I was going into the hairpin on a very tight line and he retook the place on the run to the right hander at Spitfires. I was feeling determined by now though and was right up behind him again into Honda next time round and did the same manoeuvre. This time it stuck and I stayed ahead of him. By now Doug had got away a little bit but I gradually closed the gap and got right back behind him. I think Doug’s Genesis is more streamlined than the Fury so his ZX12 seemed to be giving him a little more speed than me but I was closing on him at Brooklands and Honda and managing to keep up round the crucial complex through Dibeni, Paddock and the Esses. We caught Judi to lap her and I was worried Doug would get away or that Al would get back past me but when Doug overtook her coming into Hatchett’s I stuck to him like glue and got through with him.
I saw the last lap board and throughout the lap was very close to Doug, I knew I was going faster then I was used to because I was very near the limiter in 3rd gear round the left handed Dibeni. I was really close out of the Brooklands hairpin and hoped I might be able to try to get past on the drag to Honda but Doug’s car was too fast and that wasn’t going to happen. I stayed really close and knew I could brake later than Doug into Honda so I pulled to the right and did get partly alongside him but the last thing I wanted to do after a whole race without making a mistake was overcook it and take us both out! So I crossed the line just behind him. I really couldn’t believe it, this was far and away the best racing I’d had and although I didn’t really know where I’d placed I was confident it was my highest finish.
Back in the paddock I found Al – I was feeling a bit guilty as the only reason I’d got past him was because I had more power. He was very magnanimous though and said he’d been pleased to see me going well. He was also well clear as the leading Class C car and was happy to let Doug and I in our Class A cars have a battle. He also commented that my car had looked very stable which was nice, certainly I was very happy with the balance of the car and I guess it must mean I was driving it OK too! I got the results sheet and found not only had I finished 9th but my fastest lap was 1:03.89 so another pretty big chunk off my PB – 1.2 seconds quicker than when I was at Pembrey in May.
Here’s my vid from Sunday’s race:
So, I’ve got a bonnet to repair and presumably a clutch slave that needs sorting out (again!) but I can’t really say it worries me, I’ve made huge progress this weekend and can’t wait to get back on track. I’ll be missing Silverstone in 3 weeks time as we’re off to Florida on hols so my next outing will be at Snetterton. There are only 2 more rounds for me then for this season apart from the Birkett and it seems strange that I’m finally getting to grips with racing the Fury when I’ve only got a few more races left in her then it will be more learning curves with the BDN. At least my driving might now do the BDN a bit more justice.
So why was I faster? Some might surmise it was greater familiarity with my local circuit but in fact I’ve driven Brands Hatch lots more times than I have Pembrey! The main thing I think is confidence – I’ve got used to both braking later and going into corners a bit faster, developed a greater appreciation of just how much cornering G the tyres will provide when up to temperature and I’ve also got used to the car moving round even in some of the higher speed corners. Derek’s tip on turning in helped along with Al’s observation that what he looks for in peoples’ videos is how early they get on the power out of a corner. I still have a long way to go but I’m seeing some light at the end of the tunnel