The Racers Edge

At the age of 40, I decided to go motor racing - The ultimate mid life crisis.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Another 24 Hours?

Looks like I'll be back racing soon :-)

Last week I passed my medical and promptly sent off my licence application to the MSA.

All being well, I'll be back in the seat for the Britcar Dunlop 24 Hour race on the Silverstone GP circuit at the end of April in the Chevron GR8 - the car we took to 3rd in class in 2012.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Second never felt so good....

On Sunday Nov 23rd, I had my first race since the Britcar 24 hour in Nov 2012.

And here's why...

Jan 2013 - Lost vision in my left eye (see previous post) - now back to 85% of what it was.
June 2013 - Started getting weird heart rhythms so went to see a cardiologist and had a monitor fitted in August.
Sep 2013 - Called into hospital - diagnosis of VT - not good.
Nov 2013 - Operation using RF ablation to try to burn away tissue in the heart that is causing a "short circuit" - didn't work.
April 2014 - Operation 2 - using Ballon Mapping and further ablation - so far, so good.


So after 3 Palmersport events in Aug/Sep 2014 and a few practice sessions at Scotkart@Clydebank, it was time to go racing.

Raceland in Edinburgh is where I learned my race craft so it seems logical to head back there to see a) How my ticker coped with the adrenalin that only racing can bring and b) if I was still competitive given over a year of training down time and the ever advancing years :-(

I managed to get Neil Purdie, Jamie Adam and Bernie Thear to come along and it was a pleasant surprise to find that Eric Wishart and Duncan Hume (both of whom I raced against in the early 2000's) were also competing.

The practice session was a real wake up call as I struggled with the new (to me) karts but my draw for the races gave me a decent chance of a good result in my first race with a start from P1 in the 3rd heat of the day. The next was a P16 in heat 5 and then P21 in heat 6.

My first race was pretty uneventful with a good start and a straightforward win, but the kart was totally different (much quicker) than the one I had in the practice session.

Heat 5 with a P16 start was great fun where I managed to get up to 3rd my the end of lap 1 and over the next 6 laps I managed to squeeze past the drivers ahead and take another win.

I didn't expect too much from my last heat as both Bernie and Jamie were near the front, and P21 is only 2 from the back, but another good start saw me up to 8th in the best kart I'd driven, and I quickly got up to 3rd. I could see I was catching the front 2 quite quickly (Jamie was first) but I got tangled up with 2 back markers on lap 5 and that lost me around 3 seconds - still, a 3rd from P21 was better than I anticipated.

As I got out of the kart and congratulated Jamie on his win, all he could tell me was that his kart was really bad and he had no idea how he'd won in it.

So for the final I had qualified on pole with Jamie in 2nd, Neil 8th and Bernie 16th - Bernie was having his first race in 11 years the day before his 67th birthday, so he was doing fine :-)

Given what Jamie had said about his kart, which I'd now be driving in the final, we had a quick chat where he told me what the problems were - the front tyres were shot, meaning you had to lift off the throttle on a few corner entries where in other karts you could keep the throttle flat. It didn't bode well, but I made a good start and Jamie slotted in behind me.

That didn't last long as the kart understeered everywhere, just like Jamie had said. By the time we got to the end of the 1st lap Jamie had got past and was pulling away.

I spent the next 8 laps fighting with Eric, his son and Neil and somehow I managed to cross the line 2nd having dropped down to 4th at one point as the kart was up to a second slower than the karts behind (and the times I'd done in the heats) - the kart was a real handful!

Neil's race was good until he got punted from 3rd to 6th with 2 laps to go, and Bernie made up a couple of place to claim 14th.

All in all, a fun day and despite being race rusty, a great result in a kart that shouldn't have been in the top 6.







Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting

Just a quick update.

I was hit directly in the left eye by a squash ball on Sunday Jan 6th - I lost all vision in that eye for about 10 minutes and it's been slowly improving ever since.

Yesterday, I was due to attend the Peugeot 'shoot out' at Bedford Autodrome where they would be picking drivers for their planned entry into the Nurburgring 24 hour race.


Don't get me wrong, I knew that it would be a very tough list of drivers to beat, but the MSA wouldn't issue my licence so I didn't even get the chance to try.

So, it's now a case of waiting to see if/how the eye recovers.


Current status is that straight lines are sill not.......





Monday, November 12, 2012

Britcar 24 Hour : Sep 21st - 23rd @ Silverstone

After many years of almost faultless service from our Integra, this year's car was to be a completely different experience.

Integra DC2 Type R                     Chevron GR8 GT
FWD                                        RWD
Stripped out road car                   GT Race Car
5 Speed H box                          6 Speed sequential with
                                                     flat shift system
1140kg (Dry)                                  750kg (wet with driver)
198bhp                                           255bhp
5 nut wheels                                  Centre lock wheels
No aero                                          front splitter, rear wing
                                                         and rear diffuser



I caught the 7am flight from Glasgow to Luton on Thursday morning and after a uneventful drive up to the circuit I quickly found our garage and a team hard at work.

The first thing you notice about the Chevron is that is incredibly low and about 30% smaller than expected - it looked brilliant!

For the first time ever, I was doing a test day before the 24 hour, mostly because I'd never seen let alone driven the car and we were on the new GP circuit, which I'd also never driven.

It was a bit of a shock when on my second ever lap, the rear right tyre exploded on the hanger straight at somewhere around 130mph! But apart from a new tyre, and my shattered nerves, no harm done.

As the engine was new, I was limited to 6k and 6.5k rpm for my first 2 session which meant short shifting and then lifting off on the pit, hanger, wellington and new pit straights - but it was a good way to learn the car and the new layout. On the 3rd session this was extended to 7.5k (still 700rpm from the peak power point of 8.2k) and the times started to look much more competitive.

On Friday we had 2 qualifying session - the day session of 1.5 hours where each driver had to complete 3 laps and an evening on of 2 hours with the same 3 laps/driver.

I drew the short straw and was out first. For the first qualifying session this meant a set of 'sticker' tyres (brand new) - which sounded great. As the green flag dropped, the rain started. I was convinced one of my 'team mates' had thrown a bucket of water over the car, just to wind me up, but by the time I reached the end of the pit lane, it was obvious that this would be a difficult session. But as we were limited to just 3 laps, I stuck with it and completed my laps without incident. The rain had pretty much stopped by the end of the second lap, but the tyres hadn't any heat, so a 2:24 was pretty decent. The rain stayed away and we clocked a 10th fastest of 2:18.089 (3rd in class).


For night time qualifying, we kept the same order, and surprise, surprise, it stared raining 15 seconds before the start of the session - this time it was worse, with sticker tyres, new disks and pads which was made worse by the auxiliary lights failing on the second lap. I convinced myself it was 'phsycological' rain (ie not heavy enough to make a difference) and I pushed on - the car was understeering everywhere but I managed 8th fastest of the first lot of drivers and despite changing to wets, the neither Darron or Chris could beat my time:-) But Bradley did, with a 3 seconds quicker 2:34.009.  It didn't really matter, because the forecast for the race was no rain 'till Sunday with around 3 hours to go.

As expected, the race day dawned bright and chilly and by the race start at 15:30, had only got a bit warmer. The order for the race was to be Darron, Bradley, Chris and me which meant that my first stint would be around 20:00, but I don't mind driving in the dark and it was either last or first which I didn't fancy - I haven't ever done a rolling start in a car!

So car owner Darron took the honour of the Chevron's first racing laps in the 24 hour. Thankfully, everyone was sensible and the first lap completed with no incidents and us running in 8th, 2nd in class.  Darron had a couple of close calls halfway through his stint, but no real issues and he handed over to Bradley in 8th place.

As the race wore on we gradually worked our way up the leader board and after 7 hours we were 5th overall, and a lap ahead of the second placed car in our class - things were looking good and then we got a black flag for excessive noise - for the race a blanket 100db limit had been enforced, which for the first 7 hours we met - then we registered 106dB - for those who understand the logarithmic nature of sound pressure dBs, it made no sense to us either!

Things started to go downhill from this point with a front wishbone failure, followed by a rear stub axle failure which stranded Bradley at Woodcote and then the rear bodywork detaching it'self on the pit straight with me at the wheel. (when the stub broke the wheel jammed up into the wheel arch, which probably caused, at that point, some unseen  damage to the rear bodywork) - so all in, nearly 3 hours in the pits :-( But when we were on track, we were always at the sharp end of the class 3 cars.

With 8 hours to go, we were in 20th place, but  we kept at it and when it started raining, Bradley was the quickest guy on the circuit, so we double stinted him and let Darron bring the car home in a great 8th place overall and 3rd in class.

The car is fantastic to drive, and given that most folk gave us little or no chance of lasting the 24 hours, we were very happy with the car and how it performed. We learned it's weak points and it's strengths, and we had a ball :-)


The Dubai 24 in January hour is currently a 'maybe' - here's hoping !










Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Proper Kart


After last months Daytona event, I quickly arranged to test  Formula Blue kart at Larkhall's MSA circuit. 


Formula Blue looks like a great idea - the same engine for Juniors/seniors with a controlled carb restrictor depending on the driver weight - which means you could use the same engine from being a Junior through to Masters or even Veterans.

So on Saturday morning I headed out on another of this weeks 'blue sky days'.


I was running a day with KMS racing which is run by Keith Seager who had everything ready for me turning up at 10:00. The chassis was a 2011 Alonso ( a Tony Kart painted blue!) and I would be running tyres that had seen a good few laps - no point in wasting a new set of boots on someone like me who hasn't been on the circuit for over 10 years!


After having Keith run me through the on board laptimer/ temp gauge and how to get the best from the kart, I went out for my first proper kart laps in a long time - and it felt great! The kart was very pointy which meant I clipped a few kerbs that I shouldn't have, but nothing major and a best of 40.83. So Keith adjusted the castor/camber at the front to balance things up a bit. The next 3 sessions were all cut short by 2 throttle cable failures (traced to a loose stop bolt on the loud pedal), and a loose carb. Once these were sorted I had another 4 sessions where I finally got in to the 39 second (just) bracket. On the second last session, one of their experienced drivers followed me round on similarly old rubber, and he couldn't catch me.

But he did do the last session on newer tyres and found 7/10ths of a second whilst, despite the rear left now having no wear markers left, I managed another 39.99.


So, all in all, a great day in fantastic, if a bit warm, conditions. I now need to do another test with a set of newer boots to see if I can continue to get closer to race speed. But if it works out, it looks like I'll be back sprint kart racing next year.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Daytona F1 12 Hour Charity Kart Race

After months of doing absolutely no racing, it was back to doing something that was both physically and mentally challenging.

We had a team in this event last year, but I had to drop out due to man flu. Thankfully, I was fine this year and with teammates consisting off Martin Farmer, Declan McDonnell and Joe Wiggin, I was pretty sure that we'd be near the front.

Martin is the reigning UK Formula V champion, Dec has numerous championships to his name and is currently racing in Rotax Max, as is young Joe (only 16). I hadn't raced since doing a 24 hour at Daytona last October!

Dec picked me up from the airport and in no time we were at the circuit. Friday's track time was only 90 minutes, where every driver had to do a minimum of 3 laps, and the fastest time would also decide the grid positions for Saturday's race. We were all pretty close with, as expected, Martin putting in our quickest time which earned us 6th on the grid.


As with any endurance event, grid positions don't mean much, so we stopped with over 30 mins remaining, and we were quite happy with 6th. It's not your quickest driver, but your slowest that makes the difference, so given our lap time spread of less than a second, we were looking forward to the race.

Saturday dawned wet and blustery, but we knew that it would be, after all, it's summer :-)

Martin took his place on the grid and on lap 3 had just overtaken the gut ahead when the engine cut out. It took around 3 minutes to get the kart back to the pits, and after the std 10 minute fix window, he was sent out in a new kart, 10 laps down on the leaders.

To say we were disappointed  is putting it mildly. But, what can you do? Martin finished his 75min stint and handed over to Declan who got back into our own kart which had finally been fixed. The track was getting wetter, and Dec really shines  when it's slippy - he was easily quickest on the track for most of his stint. Joe then took over and kept out of trouble and was very consistent - in amongst the 3 quickest karts for his whole session.


Then it was my turn - I went to the re-fuel bay and the guys did their stuff, but then the kart wouldn't start. we had asked them to change the battery after them constantly trying to start it during the early race failure (which turned out to be the wiring loom), but they said it would be fine - it wasn't :-( So another 3 laps lost and all the good work done by the team wasted. Dec, in particular, was raging!

And it didn't end there, about 4 laps from the end of my stint, the kart suddenly slowed out of turn 5, which was another battery issue - the + lead had worked loose. I managed to attract the attention of a marshall and he out it back on and I finished my laps.

From then on that kart was fine and we just concentrated on lapping as fast as possible and staying out of trouble. Martin was usually the quickest on track with the rest of us in the top 3, so we had great pace, and by the end of the 12 hours, we were back up to 4th place, 8 laps down on the leaders, Mercedes F1.

We were naturally a 'bit peeved', as we think we could have won, but no matter, we still finished 3rd on the non F1 podium and that gives us £750 to donate to the charity of our choice.

Driving wise, although my time were OK, I am still sore 3 days later. So I need to get some more racing done...........







Thursday, February 16, 2012

Britcar 24 Hour - Sep 2012

After 4 events in our trusty Honda Integra Type R - DC2, we have moved on to something a little faster:-)




This is a Chevron GR8 GT, which we hope will be as much fun as the old Honda.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Plans for 2012

As you can see from the low post count for 2011, It was a bit of a wash out racing wise.

2012 will be a bit different :-)

Current Plans are:

Palmersport - May
F1 Karting Challenge - 12 Hour Race at Daytona - July -
Palmersport - Aug
Britcar - 24 hour race on the Silverstone GP circuit
Monaco Kart Cup - October
Daytona 24 - 24 hour kart race at Daytona - Oct

And there's a chance I'll be racing in the VLN series at the Nurburgring on at least one occasion with an outside chance of taking part in the Nurburgring 24 hour race in May.

But first, I need to pass my medical :-)



Monday, October 17, 2011

Daytona 24 Hour Kart Race

Even if we'd won, the weekends efforts were put into sharp perspective by the tragic death of Dan Wheldon in the Las Vegas Indy Car race.

I feel sick.


Monday, October 10, 2011

YouTube Links for the VLN race

The first one shows the upside down Clios and the second my quickest lap.



Sunday, July 31, 2011

VLN - Nurburgring

On Friday I got to do my first ever dry laps of the 'ring. This was a practice session for Saturday's 4 hour VLN race which as well as the the Nordschleife included the short GP circuit making a lap just over 14.5 miles.

The GP circuit os wide and fairly simple, and then it's onto the 'ring which was pretty scary - his wasn't helped by having to take a passenger with me - So I left the traction control on (which on the M3, was working on *every* corner exit:-() - but the first lap went without any drama. I then did 2 laps with my teammate, who has raced at numerous VLN races and a 24 hour at the 'ring in the M3 - He thought I was fast but dangerous :-) But I never felt out of control.......

So Saturday came and it was a wet/cold start - we did 1 lap on wet tyres each, and still managed to qualify to start in the first group (of 3) - there were 184 cars entered!

Luckily, the rain stayed away and the circuit dried, but it was still pretty chilly @ 12 degrees.

Teo did the race start and reeled of his 7 planned laps with a best of 10:29 and a worst of 10:53.

I then took over , but after completing my out lap, the race was red flagged a quarter of the way through my first real lap - someone had crashed heavily at Atoniusbusche where even our road spec M3 was pushing 260kph. Luckily the guy was not too badly hurt, and the race restarted 40 minutes later. This means I had to do the full warm up lap followed by a rolling start - Which went pretty well and I ended up running 2nd of our group. But there were some really fast Porsches, Vipers etc and you had to watch your mirrors very carefully whilst maintaining as much speed as possible. I managed to run a good pace with only 10 seconds between my slowest and fastest to 10:08 and 9:58 respectively.

I was called to the pits but half way round my 'in' lap there were double waved yellow flags at Bergwerk - There was the remains of a white Aston (I think!) in the barriers but as I turned into the corner I came across 2 Clios on their roofs and another 2 cars which i didn't have time to identify - As I hit the brakes, it became apparent that there was oil down and I started sliding towards the crashed cars - somehow I managed to recover and squeeze through the gap - unlike the car 2 behind me which gracefully slid sideways to completely block the track - so I was expecting another red flag and it came a very quickly. And that was it!


The best the car has ever done on this configuration of the 'Ring is a 9:46, so there is a bit still to go, but as I've now done the grand total of 14 laps, I'm pretty happy with the pace.

Most folk reckon that you 'know the 'ring' after 500+ laps!




Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ManFlu :-(

Last Friday I was due to head down to the Daytona circuit in Milton Keynes to take on some F1 drivers (among other) in the Annual F1 Karting Challenge - but I had spent the first few days of the week suffering from full on ManFlu, and despite lots of rest and fluids, my temp was still way up on Friday morning and I had to admit defeat. Luckily, we had a more than capable Junior Rotax racer just itching to take my place, so I spent most of Saturday checking my text messages to follow the race.

The team (Declan McDonnell, Dave Morgan, Scott Mitell and Joe Wiggin (my replacement)) had managed to qualify 9th of 31 in a dry session, but with a very wet Saturday forecast, I expected them to move up a few places - which they did, running in 2nd for most of the race until a clip failed and the battery fell off, which lost them loads of time.

But they still managed to work their way back to 4th place ( 2nd of the non F1 teams) by the end of the race - a great result!

Now I have to look forward to the VLN race at the 'ring in 2 weeks.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just like Busses......

Thursday night saw the F-Sport karting team (Neil & Fraser Purdie, Dave Morgan and me) competing in the inaugural Colin McRae Vision endurance kart race at Scotkart's Cambuslang circuit.

We turned up not really knowing what to expect, but a quick look through the entry list told us it would be a very competitive event - we had multiple proper karters and even an ex BTCC driver (who was also a top 10 UK Rotax racer) - At least 60% of the drivers had their own racing kit which again pointed to a good race.

Grid positions, rightly so, were to be decided by the amount of sponsorship monies raised by each team which meant we started the race in 7th place (of 14).

In the 30 minute practice session we were 3rd quickest so we reckoned that a podium was possible.

Neil started the event and was obviously on a mission, quickly working his way up to 3rd place - the front 2 were running a fast pace which Neil was matching, but we were surprised when the second placed kart and then the leader pitted after 20 minutes or so.

Our race plan was simple. 4 drivers/2 hour race/30 minutes each. But Cambuslang is a very physical wee circuit and it seems some folk were finding it tough.


So I took over the second stint in first place with a lead of just under a lap. Again with the different pit strategies the race just seemed to come to us and despite being stuck behind the team in second place for 20-30 laps, I handed over to Fraser with a lead of 2 laps 25 seconds (2L-25s).

Fraser was very nervous before getting into the kart (so I'm told) but you couldn't tell as he was very consistent and just kept out of trouble throughout his stint maintaining a lead of 2L-15s.

So we told Dave just to drive to win and that's exactly what he did bringing the kart home with lead of 2L-01s.


Overall just over £6000 was raised and we managed to maintain our unbeaten record at Scotkart endurance races, but I'm pretty sure that with some smart pit strategies it would have been much more difficult.

Our strength was that there was less that 0.5s between our quickest and slowest drivers - and that's what endurance racing is all about - there were quicker drivers out there - the lap record was broken - but to win by 2 laps in that company really was a big surprise :-)

On Friday after work I flew down to Stansted where I met up with Dave, Declan & and Joe McDonnell who we were racing with in Team McAttack in 4 hour Pro-Kart enduro at Rye House on Saturday

Dave and I were still a bit sore from Thursday nights race, but Saturday's race would be in a kart with a seat that fitted us :-)

Neither of us had even seen the circuit so we left Declan's house at 7:15 on Saturday morning for the short trip to Rye House. The plan was that Dave and I would use the morning's practice sessions to get to know the circuit for the race at 14:00.

The circuit was still partially wet from the over night rain, so we just did stints of around 10 laps each but even when the circuit almost completely dry, the best we could do as a high 44s - which was worrying as Declan best is a 41.7! So, Joe went out and to our relief, he was much the same - so we fitted new tyres and did some setup work and by the time we got to qualifying, we had found a second or so, but we were finding that the circuit, which looked quite simple, had a couple of very technical sections which were proving difficult.

Anyway, Dec and Joe were both concerned as our best qualifying lap of 43.06, was way off the pace and put us 19th on the grid and 6th in class. So we decided to make another change and start the race hoping it would work.

As Dave and I had to catch our flights home on Sat evening, we were to do the first 2 stints of the race with me taking the start - I have done loads of starts at Crail, and pre race, I'm never keen on starting, but once you are in the mix, it's the best chance of making up places - I got a good start and jumped a few folk - after that I just settled into a rhythm and was up to 4th with 5 mins left in my hour when I took too much kerb at a corner and went off :-( No damage and I was back on in 8-10 seconds, but entirely my fault.

Dave then took over and did a very similar session, without the off track excursion and a good consistent pace.


Most of the other teams have 3 drivers and thus have to do 1 less pit stop than us, but 4 hours is a long race and during Joe's 3rd stint, we moved from 6th to 3rd as teams had mechanical issues or dropped off the pace with slower drivers.

So Declan took over and drove a great stint to bring us home in 3rd place, and from the team's perspective, ahead of the two other title rivals.

Dave and I were both pleased thet we found some pace - we weren't as consistent as Dec/Joe as they have done way more laps at Rye, but the fastest laps/driver again show that an endurance team is really only as good as it's slowest driver.

Dec - 42.57, Joe 42.60, DJ 42.71, Dave 42.80 - that just over 2 tenths - Not bad at all……

A great couple of days.

ps 30 mins at Cambuslang is way more physical than an hour at Rye house!








Friday, May 13, 2011

Ouch......

Tuesday May 10th 2011 - after 12 years of visits to Bedford Autodrome, I crashed:-(

It all started so well…….


A couple of months ago, Dave Morgan asked me to investigate the availability of a day in early May as he wouldn't be able to join us on Aug 3rd.

I couldn't let him go alone, so we settled on May 10th, booked our flights/hotel and off we went.


We were blessed with clear skies and pleasant temps as we arrived at the circuit and joined the Lauda team.


Our first event was the off road, which I've never been a fan of, but I was pleasantly surprised by the changes that made it much more challenging.

We then had the Caterham head-to-head (3-0 to DJ) on a half wet circuit (they have sprinklers to keep it that way)


We then headed off to the North circuit for the Porsche 911 and Clio cup racer.
I've always been reasonably quick in the Porker, and was again, posting the best time of the day with a 57.38.

The Clio was a revelation , which was entirely due to the instructor, Tony, who quickly spotted a very simple error which once eliminated, gained me nearly a second, giving me the fastest time of the day at 56.41.

Then it was the Caterhams - I love these cars and was immediately on the pace posting 4 laps in the 48 second bracket in the first 6 laps. I was catching another car and for some reason he slowed (lifted or braked ) on the way out of a corner when I was right behind him - broken nose cone and oil cooler for me and game over for that event, (nobody went below 49.36 all day - I had done a 48.33)

Then it was off the the South circuit for the M3 - a really fast car, but too heavy for a circuit (IMHO) - still great fun, but given the Caterham event, I didn't go flat out, still managing 6th fastest of the day.

Lunch was next and as usual, it would have put most restaurants to shame.


Then it was the Formula Jaguar :-) I always feel at home in this car as you are on your own in a custom built race car. There were some *really* slow folk in my group taking over double my lap time, and most laps were compromised in some way by a car 'parked' on an apex, but it was still awesome fun - I won the trophy for best lap (closest to the instructor lap) which was surprising as there were a number of current GT4 race drivers in another team.

Then it was the new JP1-LM which was great, if very physical - My instructor reckoned that a new set of tyres would have gained me 1.5-2.0 seconds, but even on knackered rubber, I was 4th quickest (0.6s down).

And we finished with karts , where I got good one, and another fastest lap of the day.

So it looked good for overall driver of the day, but they took me aside to say that for the Caterhams I'd be listed last, along with the guy I hit as any collision voids times for those involved :-( So that lost me 85 points (there were 86 in attendance - first gets 86 - last gets 1).

Even so I was first in 5 events, plus quickest in the Caterham, and despite the 85 point loss, I still managed 6th place:-)

I was nice to be attend Palmersport without having to worry about the 20 or so folk who are in your group, and also fun to be able to go flat out, most of the time - for anybody thinking about doing track day in your own car - why bother? You'll go through a set of tyres, front pads and discs, an oil and brake fluid change plus the wear and tear on your car and a lot of fuel - makes Palmersport looks cheap!

So next is the Colin McRae charity kart race at Scotkart, Cambuslang on June 9th which is quickly followed by a four hour ProKart endure at Rye House on June 11th. Then a VLN race at the 'Ring in July with the annual Palmersport visit on Aug 3rd.



Friday, April 15, 2011

The truth will out.......

Not much racing to report, but lots to come with a 12 hour kart race against some F1 drivers in June, a 6 hour enduro at the 'Ring in July (in an M3)and hopefully another crack at the Britcar 24 hour in October. And of course, the Monaco Kart Cup.



Meanwhile......From http://www.financialpost.com/news/features/Climate+models+cold/4579652/story.html

David Evans, Financial Post · Apr. 8, 2011 | Last Updated: Apr. 8, 2011 9:25 AM ET

The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro-thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic. Watching this issue unfold has been amusing but, lately, worrying. This issue is tearing society apart, making fools out of our politicians.

Let's set a few things straight. The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now outrageously maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

Let's be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer the planet. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we emit warms the planet. But the issue is not whether carbon dioxide warms the planet, but how much.

Most scientists, on both sides, also agree on how much a given increase in the level of carbon dioxide raises the planet's temperature, if just the extra carbon dioxide is considered. These calculations come from laboratory experiments; the basic physics have been well known for a century.

The disagreement comes about what happens next.

The planet reacts to that extra carbon dioxide, which changes everything. Most critically, the extra warmth causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. But does the water hang around and increase the height of moist air in the atmosphere, or does it simply create more clouds and rain? Back in 1980, when the carbon dioxide theory started, no one knew. The alarmists guessed that it would increase the height of moist air around the planet, which would warm the planet even further, because the moist air is also a greenhouse gas.

This is the core idea of every official climate model: For each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three -so two-thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors); only one-third is due to extra carbon dioxide.

That's the core of the issue. All the disagreements and misunderstandings spring from this. The alarmist case is based on this guess about moisture in the atmosphere, and there is simply no evidence for the amplification that is at the core of their alarmism.

Weather balloons had been measuring the atmosphere since the 1960s, many thousands of them every year. The climate models all predict that as the planet warms, a hot spot of moist air will develop over the tropics about 10 kilometres up, as the layer of moist air expands upwards into the cool dry air above. During the warming of the late 1970s, '80s and '90s, the weather balloons found no hot spot. None at all. Not even a small one. This evidence proves that the climate models are fundamentally flawed, that they greatly overestimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide.

This evidence first became clear around the mid-1990s.

At this point, official "climate science" stopped being a science. In science, empirical evidence always trumps theory, no matter how much you are in love with the theory. If theory and evidence disagree, real scientists scrap the theory. But official climate science ignored the crucial weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up, and instead clung to their carbon dioxide theory -that just happens to keep them in well-paying jobs with lavish research grants, and gives great political power to their government masters.

There are now several independent pieces of evidence showing that the earth responds to the warming due to extra carbon dioxide by dampening the warming. Every long-lived natural system behaves this way, counteracting any disturbance. Otherwise the system would be unstable. The climate system is no exception, and now we can prove it.

But the alarmists say the exact opposite, that the climate system amplifies any warming due to extra carbon dioxide, and is potentially unstable. It is no surprise that their predictions of planetary temperature made in 1988 to the U.S. Congress, and again in 1990, 1995, and 2001, have all proved much higher than reality.

They keep lowering the temperature increases they expect, from 0.30C per decade in 1990, to 0.20C per decade in 2001, and now 0.15C per decade -yet they have the gall to tell us "it's worse than expected." These people are not scientists. They overestimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide, selectively deny evidence, and now they conceal the truth.

One way they conceal is in the way they measure temperature.

The official thermometers are often located in the warm exhaust of air conditioning outlets, over hot tarmac at airports where they get blasts of hot air from jet engines, at waste-water plants where they get warmth from decomposing sewage, or in hot cities choked with cars and buildings. Global warming is measured in 10ths of a degree, so any extra heating nudge is important. In the United States, nearly 90% of official thermometers surveyed by volunteers violate official siting requirements that they not be too close to an artificial heating source.

Global temperature is also measured by satellites, which measure nearly the whole planet 24/7 without bias. The satellites say the hottest recent year was 1998, and that since 2001 the global temperature has levelled off. Why does official science track only the surface thermometer results and not mention the satellite results?

The Earth has been in a warming trend since the depth of the Little Ice Age around 1680. Human emissions of carbon dioxide were negligible before 1850 and have nearly all come after the Second World War, so human carbon dioxide cannot possibly have caused the trend. Within the trend, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation causes alternating global warming and cooling for 25 to 30 years at a go in each direction. We have just finished a warming phase, so expect mild global cooling for the next two decades.

We are now at an extraordinary juncture. Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory that is based on a guess about moist air that is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only ways to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government -how exciting for the political class!

Even if we stopped emitting all carbon dioxide tomorrow, completely shut up shop and went back to the Stone Age, according to the official government climate models it would be cooler in 2050 by about 0.015 degrees. But their models exaggerate 10-fold -in fact our sacrifices would make the planet in 2050 a mere 0.0015 degrees cooler!

Finally, to those who still believe the planet is in danger from our carbon dioxide emissions: Sorry, but you've been had. Yes, carbon dioxide is a cause of global warming, but it's so minor it's not worth doing much about.

- David Evans consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change) from 1999 to 2005, and part-time 2008 to 2010, modelling Australia's carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products. He is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees, including a PhD from Stanford University in electrical engineering. The comments above were made to the Anti-Carbon-Tax Rally in Perth, Australia, on March 23.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Madness of the 'Ring

Us motorsports types speak with reverence and hushed tones about the Nurburgring.
Jackie Stewart christened it The Green Hell and for good reason it would seem. When I told friends (who race) that my first ever laps of the 'Ring would be in an RCN race event, they all said I was crazy. One even said he would never race there - too dangerous.

So as well as a very long and unknown circuit in an unknown car, I also had to deal with a track temperature of around 4 degrees and very changeable weather. And we also had the GP circuit as well!

The RCN events are for teams of 2 drivers - After an out lap the first driver sets a timing lap followed by 3 'fast as you can' laps. Then the driver pits for fuel and a driver change.

I was driver 2 and my teammate for the day set a lap time of 15:39 on a very wet circuit. As the circuit dried he improved his times by around 30 seconds a lap and by the time it came for the changeovers, many teams opted to switch to slicks as the re was a dry line just about everywhere. However, given that I'd never driven the track and the low temp, we decided to go with intermediate tyres for my stint.

The out lap was fine and there was a distinct dry line. I then started my first 'racing' lap of the ring and I arrived on the main straight nearly 4 minutes ahead of my target 15:39 - so it was into 5th and a slow drive back onto the GP circuit where I crossed the line at 15:36. A good start!

And then it started to rain again - not too much but enough to show me how unforgiving the 'Ring can be with numerous cars crashing as the conditions changed. It's such a long lap that some bits were still dry, whilst other were soaking - and it changed on every one of my 3 'sprint' laps as the rain clouds passed through. But I'm glad to say that I kept it on the circuit posting a best of 13:05 on my last lap - the biggest issue was the change in grip levels when the tarmac changed, which it frequently does. It doesn't sound quick, and it wasn't, but given the conditions and the added length of the GP circuit, I was happy.

When I started racing I had a number of circuits that I wanted to do: Monaco, Spa, Silverstone, Nurburgring and Suzuka - So I just need to get to Japan now!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monaco - Quelle Domage!

If there's one thing i've learned in my 10 years of racing, it's that you shouldn't make predictions.


This year's team for the 14th Monaco Kart Cup consisted of Darron Anley , Martin Farmer, Declan McDonnell and DJ - LCA Racing owner, Chris Hyman was unable to get out of a commitment to race in British GT. (where he didn't even get to race as his team mate was involved in a race ending incident :-()


This years karts were the same as last years, but with a change of tyres and brake pads. Overall, this increased the lap by just over 2 seconds from last years times. But Martin only lost 6/10th from his last years pace, whilst I lost a second - Which annoyed me, but I have to remember that i've done very little racing this year and see it as the improvement that it was. Plus Martin is a very talented driver!


Practice was fairly straight forward with Martin and I fairly quickly getting back into the Monaco grove, and Darron and Declan getting to grips with their first laps.


As expected Martin looked to be quickest and he posted our best qualifying time to put us 21st on the grid. The times were so close that another 0.5 would have put us 10th.


So Martin started the first race and didn't make it to the end of the first lap - he avoided a mid field crash, but the kart just cut out and he couldn't restart it - we managed to get it going again but had lost around 8 laps by that point. Still, we battled through and got back to 23rd by the end of the heat, 10 laps off of the leader. In avoiding the start of race shunt we had picked up a tiny bend to the rear axle, so we got that fixed before race 2.


Declan started race 2 and he was now on the pace and we were up to 15th when Darron took over. After about 10 minutes he got involved in a nasty accident that badly bent the rear axle and a front track rod. This cost us just over 30 minutes in the repair tent and another 32 laps. From then on it was a case of finish the heat and plan for Sunday's race. We were now 37th - 42 laps down on the leader.


Our goal for Sunday's race was to break into the top 30 but a mid race rain shower soon killed that plan. By the time they had fitted wet tyres to all of the karts, the circuit was almost dry - so in total we got 65 minutes racing in heat 3 and finished 32nd overall - a total of 43 laps down.


My pre race goal of a top ten finish was a distant memory and I was very disappointed. But as I said, predictions & plans in racing are not the smartest move…….


But plans are already underway for next years event - I will get top ten eventually!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Britcar 24 Hour - Oct 1/2/3

The Britcar 24 hour race has been one of the highlights of my racing year for a while now - it wasn't run in 2009 due to lack of committed teams, but this year saw its' return to the Silverstone GP circuit with 60+ entries. In 2007 & 2008 we competed in class 5, but with the new class structure in place, this year we were in class 4, along with cars like the Seat SuperCopa (300+bhp), BMW 130i, Ginetta G40, Civic Tyoe R, Integra DC5 - we were the lowest powered petrol car on the grid, and in the dry qualifying sessions, we were over 10 seconds off the pace - but with the weather forecast to turn decidedly wet for the race, we were fairly sure we would be more competitive.

This years driver line up was our strongest yet. Darron Anley , the car's owner, has had a successful season in the Radical Club championship, taking his first overall pole at Donington the week before the 24 hour. Joining Darron and I were British GT pairing of Chris Hyman & Dan Brown who normally pedal a Ferrari 430 Scuderia.

As expected, the race started dry with Dan staying out of trouble and handing over to Darron just before the rain started. And from that point on Darron made really good progress and he was up to second in class when we ran out of fuel on the pit straight. This lost us 30 minutes of track time while the car was recovered and put us last in class. From that point on, we all had pretty good sessions and the car ran without issue, but the 12 laps we had lost were just too much. We ended up 4th in class (again!) just 2 laps down on the car in 3rd. The pluses were that during the wettest sessions, we were as much as 10 seconds a lap quicker than the fast class 4 cars and we even managed to dice with some of the Astons and Porsches.


The Britcar 24 hour has now been elevated to be part of the MSA British Endurance Championship, and with the new class structure, we cannot really compete in our underpowered car (unless it rains!), so next year, it's highly likely that we will be in something a bit quicker.

For those of you with time to spare, the race will be covered in a 2 hour programme that will be aired on 10th November ESPN 11.30am and MotorsTV 13th November 7pm.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Busy times Ahead...

Well, after what feels like years (8 months actually) I have a few interesting events coming up.

On the 1/2/3 of October it's the Britcar 24 hour race at Silverstone, where Darren Anley and myself will be joined by Chris Hyman and Paul Warren (TBC) - as a group who first raced in FPA in 99/2000, we'll be calling ourselves XPA (i'm sure you can work it out!) and with the Integra undergoing a full rebuild last year, we'll be going for a class win.

2 weeks later, it's my 5th Monaco Kart Cup where Chris, Darren and I will be joined by Formula V hotshot Declan McDonnell.

And the following weekend, I head off to the Nurburgring for an RCN event in a BMW 325i. I haven't been to the 'ring before, but I've done loads of laps on the PS2 in GT 4:-)

I hope the car has a reset button............

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Palmersport 2010

As per usual, we had our annual visit to Bedford Autodrome to partake in a day of automotive hooning in a selection of fantastic cars on August 4th.

The format of the day is that folk are split into teams of around 20 and our group were to be the Piquet team. We couldn't help but notice that the Schumacher team contained a real F1 driver, in the guise of Martin Brundle and also his son Alex (current F3 racer). Quite a challenge! This was compounded by a forecast of showers, which made frequent visits throughout the day!

So, we headed off for our first event, which was to be the Caterham 7 on the twisty east circuit.

The first 7 headed out on a wet but drying track and a dryish line was becoming visible - I was in the second group and on my 2nd/3rd lap it started raining again so no fast time for me. Despite the rain, we all had some serious fun!

We then hit the South circuit which , new for 2010, hosts the BMW M3 GTP (4.2l V8) - In the wet it was a real challenge but was way better than the Jag XKR it replaced.

Then it was off to the North circuit for the Porches and Clio Cups. I was out in the first group in the 911's and by the end of the session there was the hint of a dry line - but my time was still 4 seconds away from a dry time - but as the rain stayed away each group were getting quicker and quicker - so much so that by the time I got into the Clio, it was almost dry, and I posted the fastest Clio lap of the day with a mid 58 second (I had only managed a 61 in the Porsche).

Just as we headed off for lunch the heavens opened and we were glad we were in a nice warm room eating some sublime food!

Post lunch, we headed for the off-road & Caterham pursuit area. The Caterham head to head is now a point scoring activity (which I lost to Craig Alsop who was on the dry side:-)) and the off road now includes some paint ball target shooting.

We then headed to the West circuit for the fast stuff - First it was the JP1 sports pototype - Thankfully the track was mostly dry and it was great to see the guys on their first Palmersport event getting out of the cars with "that" look on their faces……

We then had a quick blast in the karts before finishing the day in the Formula Jaguar - Big kudos to Dave Rooke who set the fastest time of the day in the FJ and beat the instructor's reference lap!


So then it was back for the prize giving. Despite Dave R setting the fastest time, the FJ prize went to Marin Brundle who was more consistent. His son Alex took the JP1 prize so it was looking bleak for us, but apart from the off-road and the Caterham Pursuit, we then took the rest with Andrew McDonad (Porsche), Me (Clio), Dave Rooke (Kart) and Craig Alsop (Caterham 7) taking the honours.

We also won the team prize and the biggest shock?

Driver of the Day standings:

1st David Rooke - Doctor and Crail Karter
2nd Dave Morgan - Company Director and Crail Karter
3rd Martin Brundle - Ex F1 Driver and BBC F1 pundit
4th David Joseph - IT Geek and Crail Karter
5th Andrew McDonald -IT Geek and occasional Crail Karter
6th Alex Brundle - Racing Driver (F3)

OK, the weather had an impact, but David R showed that he was the man to beat - Alex must be really pissed off! (He instructed at Palmersport for a year or 2!)

Of the guys new to Palmersport, Ryan Farley was the top dog managing a creditable 12th of the 60 attendees. But everyone had a great time and I know we'll be back next year!

Things look a bit more interesting over the coming weeks/months with the Britcar 24 hour in our trusty Integra (Oct 1-2-3) and the highlight of the year, the Monaco Kart Cup 2 weekends later :-)

Friday, April 02, 2010

2010 - The year of Endurance?

Despite, my best efforts, I just couldn't find a Formula V race car to buy for this season. So, it looks like it'll be a year of 24 hour races. Dubai seems like a distant memory, but I'm really trying to get to the point where I can join the guys at this year's 24 hours race at the Nurburgring in May. Having never even been there, it's going to be tough to persuade the organisers that I should be allowed to race, but if they take into account the Britcar 24 in 2008 and this years Dubai 24, it might just be enough - more later.

The Britcar 24 is once again taking place on the Silverstone GP circuit in October and we have paid our deposit, so the Integra will be there - looks like we will have our strongest ever team so a class win is our goal.

And the year wouldn't be complete without the Monaco Kart Cup - Which clashes with the Donington round of the British GT championship - So Chris and Piers may have to miss it this year.

In between times I'm hoping to make it up to Crail a few times and I'm sure there'll be some other races that I'll scrounge a drive at......



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dubai 24 Hour

The journey to Dubai was not much fun. BA cancelled Sunday's 09:05 flight from Glasgow to Heathrow but managed to re-book us on the 16:00 which they then cancelled on Sunday morning, so we ended up catching the 14:00 to London an then had the Dubai flight delayed untill 22:00. I could have coped with that but upon arrival in the hotel, I found that my bag had been opened and one race boot and the back piece of my rib protector had been taken. I managed to buy a new pair of boots, and I'm waiting on BA's response.

So we spent a couple of days aclimatising to a balmy 25 C and even manged to meet of with a friend of mine who moved out here a couple of years ago, Paul Healy. We did some karting with his kids of 7 and 4 who both have their own karts, as does the 2yo ( but he's too young for the circuit!).

On Thursday it was time to meet my team mates and see the car. The car is a standard BMW M3 which has been stiriped out and had a roll cage installed. They use it to race in the VLN series in Germany, so the only other changes that are allowed to make are racing brake pads, and racing springs/dampers. The rest of the car is bog standard - unlike our competitors :-( There were 2 BMW z4 coupe's in our class driven by the Japaneses GT champions for car one and the runners up in car 2. The cars have carbon fibre roofs and bonnets for weigt saving, full race brakes, 100 litre race fuel tank (our's is the std 55), racing suspension that is cockpit adjustable, fully mapped ingnition giving them 400+bhp (ours is 320) and areodynamic splitters and wings and a pit crew that can do a full tyre change and a driver change ion arround 45 seconds (that's with 5 bolts per wheel). In all they are over 150KG lighter than us and even in a straight line they leave us standing. They were joined by another Z4 coupe of similar construction, a fully race prepard M3 and a Porsche 911 (964) again with pro Japanese drivers. It's pretty much the same throughout the field with only 2 other 'road spec' cars in a field of 81 cars, so on raw pace we are slow. But we shouldn't have any reliability issues. We've already seen a Mitsu Evo blowing an engine and a few other having issues during practice and qualifying.

After 9 laps in the car I was a second away from the fastest lap time in our team in the day light and I was quickest in the night practice. So I was reasonably sure that I could get some more pace as I got used to the car.
The car is owned by Tefilio Massera and Lorenzo Rocco, with Didier Denat and me making up the team of drivers. The car is run by Jaco's Paddock Motorsport who are based at the 'ring. Both the other drivers and the team were really great to work with and deserved a better result, but while it's a good car, it was up against some serious race cars - it's really soft compared to a pukka race car, but it is what it is.

Race day was the usual Dubai January weather, a very pleasant 24 C and no wind to speak of. Didier Denat started the race for us from our starting position of 64th (we only did 8 laps in qualifying to preserve the car). We had also decided that allthough the rev limit on the car is 8.5k, we would limit ourselves to 7k as finishing was our main goal. we then rotated in Lorenzo, Tefilio and me, an order we kept untill the end of the race when Lorenzo took over from me to take the chequered flag. We had a few issues, with the worst being a front left hub failure for me near the end on my 19th lap of the daybreak session, which resuled in the wheel parting company with the car. We laso had a front right wheel bering fail around 3AM and we constaltly suffered from fuel surge on the long left hander - race tanks have a compartmented bag type construction so that in long corners, the fuel doesn't all go to one side - It's not an issue until the standard tank gets down to around 10 litres remaining, but it meant that we couldn't run more than 80 minutes without pitting, even though we had fuel left. The only other issue is that with the soft suspension, we were burning up the rear tyres really fast. and by the second stint, the car was very loose (lots of oversteer).

So we finished 5th in class and 38th overall, beating the 911 but way behind the 3 Z4's and the other M3, which despite being stuck in 4th gear for the last 8 hours, was still faster than ours :-( But plenty of more exotic cars failed to go the distance, and we really enjoyed the race. There is already talk of a modified tank and suspension for next year.

I did find some more pace posting our fastest night and day laps at 2:24.564 and 2:22.894, so given I'd never driven the car before, I'm happy I did the best I could.
I really hope I can somehow manage to give this event another go - On paper the circuit looks reasonably simple, but it's deceptively tough - a real challange that I need to try again!

Edited to add: There are some pics on FaceBook.....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bedford, Crail and Dubai

Now there's a title!

On Nov 14th, David Rooke and I had a day at Palmersport in mostly wet conditions. Between us we won all bar the Caterhams and finished first and second overall - I even managed a perfect 50 on the off-road course:-)

Then on Sunday 15th, I partnered Grant Murray in the ProKart endurance races at Crail. The track started wet and never got fully dry - Grant's kart is his father's own design and is very different to drive. Even so, I adapted reasonably well and we managed a 2nd, 4th and 3rd in the 3 races to finish 2nd overall.

And so to Dubai - I'm now confirmed (subject to getting my license upgraded to Inernational C class) to be driving for Jaco's Paddock Sport in a BMW M3 at the 24 hour race on the 14/15/16th of January. Should be fun :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LCA Racing at the 13th Monaco Kart Cup

This year we managed to put together a strong team for the 6 hours of racing on the streets of Monte Carlo. Chris Hyman and I were joined by Formula V front runner Martin Farmer and 2005 British GT champion, Piers Masarati.

All looked good in practice with me, Martin, Piers and Chris all posting similar times.

In qually, Chris did a 52.7, Piers crashed on his 3rd lap so only managed a 55, I did a 52.5 and Martin a 52.4 - even our fastest time was way off the pace so we spent some time fixing the brake balance as we felt it wasn't right.


The grid for race one was based on the average of your 4 times, so we started 24th.
Martin started the race and re-fueled after 36 mins of good pace with only 1 incident where he was punted and took 40 seconds to get going. I had worked out that this would be the optimal strategy as from practice we knew that the kart would do around 50-55 mins on a tank.

Piers then went out but unexpectedly came in after about 8 laps as his ribs were too painful for him to drive (turns out he cracked a rib in the qualifying shunt!). So Chris went out for around 40mins and a fuel stop and I finished the race. With Piers coming in and Martin and I getting punted once each, we finished 26th in the heat. Not the best start!

This gave us roughly 10 laps of fuel for race 2 which Chris started and managed 12 laps before fueling :-) Martin then took over for a planned 45 min session but had to come in after 36 mins as a bolt had come out of the radiator and fuel was also leaking onto his leg. They refitted the bolt but we had to fuel 6 laps early as we'd lost that much petrol. Chris then did 15 mins and I closed out the race in a much better 10th place despite a short pit stop to get the radiator bolt refitted again.

For the start of race 3 we started 20th, but with 10 mins less fuel than planned, so Chris pitted after only 3 laps as the engine was coughing. Martin then did 40 mins before Chris did another 15 and a fill up. This left me with 58 mins to do on a tank. I tried to save fuel in the last 15 mins but the kart stopped 10 yards from the finish, but I pushed it across the line in 9th (had been 7th), but it made no difference to our final place of 13th overall.

Martin and I both gained over 2 seconds once we got the brake balance fixed and consistently ran in the mid/high 50 second bracket with a best of 50.470(Chris reckons that was my time, but Piers thought it was Martin - I should get the official times in a few days -UPDATE - It was martin who did the fastest lap, with me jsut behind with 50.486) Bottom line is we both pushed each other and there was nothing in it. We were the only team to do our best laps in the last race when the tyres were going off as we became more used to the kart and circuit. I did nearly 2.7 hours of racing in a 35hp kart with discs all round, and I'm sore:-)

In race 3 we were around 0.5sec of the pace of the fastest guys (who were all young and very small!) and a tenth off of Nelson Piquet. There were at least 12 various world/european karting champs, numerous F2/GP2/F3/FR racers and 6 pro teams.

So 13th overall was great result.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sick

On the Tuesday after the Silverstone race, I managed a 7:46 for a 2000m row at the gym. I felt pretty good, but that night I felt awful, and spent the next week suffering all the symptoms of flu. This was followed by 10 days with a chest infection and feeling like someone had given me a good kicking. So for the first time since I started racing, I had to miss a race (Oulton Park)

The last race of the season was at Snetterton, where I'd had my best results at the start of the season, so despite still feeling a bit knackered, I turned up at the circuit on Saturday morning and promptly had my worst qualifying - ever. I just had no strength and only managed 17th, 4 seconds off the pace I'd managed in March. I considered not racing as I felt as bad as I was when I called off the Oulton Park race 2 weeks earlier, but as it was the last race of the season, I decided to drink lots of water and get some sleep before the race.

I got a decent start and got myself up to 9th, where I then had a race long duel with Pete Belsey, Steve Ough and Steve Glasswell, with each of us slipstreaming the others down the back straight. I'd pretty much settled for 11th but as the fatigue overcame the adrenalin, I lost the car through riches corner at the start of the last lap and dropped to 12th. There was a bit of a scuffle just ahead of me going into the last corner and I ended up back in 11th. My race pace was over 3 seconds a lap quicker than in qualifying, which is where the race was decided for me. I was absolutely shattered at the end of the race, and with hindsight, I shouldn't have raced, but what's done is done.

My first season in Formula V was a real mixture - qualifying ranged from 6th (Brands & Silverstone) to 17th at Snetterton, with 1 DNF and 3 races where I wasn't there (Anglesey x 2 and Oulton Park). So I ended up 12th. Considering I was in a rental car, did no testing and 25% of the season was at a circuit I'd never been at before, it's not too bad, but I'm not happy with it!

So there are a number of decisions to be made for next year - One thing's for sure, I'll be racing, but in what? If it's FV, I'll be buying my own car and doing some testing. But Formula Ford at Knockhill is also in the picture - But theres' no rush :-)

As the season comes to it's end, I'm now preparing for the Monaco Kart cup in mid October, in which Martin Farmer (3rd in FV) will be joining Chris Hyman and myself along with a yet to be named 4th driver in our annual trip to race on the front half of the F1 circuit.

There also the slim chance of a drive in the Dubai 24 hour race in January in a BMW M3 - More later!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Formula V - Silverstone

Saturday's Formula V race was on the Silverstone National circuit, which meant another new track to learn, although I have done loads of laps on the GP track. So that meant I knew the first and last corners:-)

After a horrendous 6.5 hour drive down on Friday afternoon, I got to the track just after 7 on Saturday morning, and met up with Alan. A quick catch up told me that guest driver Nick Tandy had managed to lap in the 64 second bracket during Friday's testing, which was way under the lap record.

So around 9:30 it was straight in to qualifying and I found a decent rhythm and managed 4 laps in the 66s. I wasn't best pleased but turns out I was only 9/10ths off of pole, set by Sam Olivera with Nick Tandy second and Martin Farmer 3rd. So 6th place was a decent result!

I missed the official entry date and was told that I was on the reserve list (2nd reserve) as they couldn't run a heat and a final at Silverstone. However, a couple of days later, I got a call saying I was in. I didn't really care why, but as there were 39 cars t the track, it's plain that they changed their mind for some reason:-)


So with the top 3 going straight to the final, I lined up 3rd for the heat. I lost a couple of places at the start but managed to stay with the guys in front. I made it back up to 4th when Danny Hands had a sideways moment at Beckets and that's how it finished.


I then had to hang around 'till 17:00 for the final where I lined up 7th. An even worse start saw me entering the first corner, Copse, with Peter Studer on the outside and Steve Ough on the inside. I'm sure Peter and Steve will have their own views but I ended up sandwiched between a sliding Steve and Peter and we all went off. I managed to get going again in last place and in a lap made up 10 places before Ian Foley spun in front of me and managed to hit me on the left rear as I passed him. This broke the rear wheel, deflated the tyre and dumped me in the gravel trap. On closer inspection, the LHS drive shaft was also slightly bent. So that was it for me, Really frustrating, but as they say, that's racing :-( Roll on Oulton Park!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Palmersport

Wednesday saw 20 of us head to Bedford Autodrome for our annual event. First timers were John Harte, David Rooke, John Smythe, Mandy Cunningham, Graydon Malcolm and my 18yo nephew, Graham Joseph.

Given the crap weather we've been having, we were expecting wet tracks, but we were lucky and it stayed dry:-)

For the newcomers, it was a bit of a shock, as we were in at the deep end with the JP1 sports prototype. But the grins said it all:-)
We then had a brief respite in the karts before we were let loose in the Formula Jaguar - 250bhp and some downforce makes for a quick car. We had a few spinners but no real dramas and it was a happy bunch who then headed off to the North circuit to get to grips with the JP3 Porsche and the manic Clio cup car. The Clio constantly amazes folk- for some it's quicker than the Porsche!

It was then over to the off road area which dovetails with the Caterham pursuit - this is a best of 3 head to head autotest started by GP lights. Dave Morgan and I had a really good 2 races , but at 1 each, DM kicked the instructor out of the car and found half a second (wish I'd thought of doing it!), so I lost 2-1.

After a great lunch, it was of to the South circuit and the Jaguar XKR - a fantastic sounding V8 with a supercharger for added impact. A really impressive car, which for me is ruined by an intrusive traction control system. Still, it was better than working even though it was my worst event.

And finally, the Caterham Superlight on the twisty east circuit. 170bhp and 888 tyres makes for awesome fun.

When I'd been down at the Pistonheads event in March (which I won :-)) I'd managed a 47.48 and I thought I'd never beat that time, but in 10 laps I managed 9 under 48 with a best of 47.27 (1.56 seconds quicker than anybody else) - Every time I go to Palmersport, I come away thinking that I want to get a Caterham - They are just soooo good. The car just seems to suit me.

As the organiser, I try to make sure I don't win the Driver of the Day, but Dave Morgan, who won last year, had a couple of 'iffy times, so despite my usual poor off-road and Jag XKR times, I still won. But it worked out OK, as I gave the trophy to my nephew to take back to the USA - He'd won his own battle by beating his dad by a couple of points. I'd taken his dad (my brother) to Bedford in 2001 for his 40th and was asked by his then young sons if I'd take them when they were old enough - Iain joined us 2 years ago and this year was Graham's turn.

Kudos also goes to John Harte and David Rooke who, despite being first timers, took the Caterham and Kart trophies. And Paul Gillen drove the JP1 so hard he made himself sick! He sat out the single seater but then managed to recover and thrash everything else :-)

In all, the only event our team didn't win was the off road :-)


If you ever get the chance to go to the Palmersport event, don't miss it - It may seem expensive, but for the same cost as a day's club racing where you get around 30 mins on circuit, you get at least 3-4 times more seat time, plus the value of instruction from some top class drivers. Even compared to track day - When you factor in tyres, pads, and maybe discs plus the fuel and wear and tear, it's excellent value - and much faster :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Dark Day

The tragic death of Henry Surtees during Sunday's F2 race at Brands hatch reminds us that the sport we love, has it's risks.

I really don't know what to say.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fomula V - Cadwell Park II

I guess that with 25% of the Formula V championship being at Cadwell, I should have expected that the results here would have had a huge impact on the championship. It feels like I'm going backwards, when in reality I know what the issue at this visit to Cadwell was.

I arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning for an unusual 20 minute un-timed practice. The car's setup had been changed to try and get the handling more to my liking, and at the 95% I ran in the practice session, it looked good with a time only a tenth slower than I had managed at May's meeting.

Then it was into qualifying where, with 32 cars on circuit, getting a clear lap was very hard. Most of the field are covered by 6 seconds, but there were four cars that were between 10 and 18 seconds off the pace, which made things difficult (oh for the 107% rule from other formula). Even so, I managed to post 10th quickest with a 1:39.42, which was a disappointing 0.5 sec quicker than I managed last meeting. I had hoped for a second plus.

Because there were so many cars, the top 5 from qualifying went straight into the final with the remainder having a heat,in which I started 5th. I had a great start and was running in 4th place, but with a car that was suffering from being a bit tail happy (oversteering), which on lap 5, resulted in a spin on the exit of Barn corner. I managed to do a 360 and rejoin only losing around 7 seconds on the lap, and finished 5th.

This put me 10th on the grid for Saturday's final. We made a change to the car to try to fix the oversteer issue, but from the very start of the race, the car was worse, and I struggled to bring it home in 12th.

We spent ages going over the car and eventually found an issue with the front suspension, in that the left hand anti roll bar adjuster would move through it's full range with just hand pressure. So we fixed that and decided to try something a bit different for Sunday's heat, where I would start 9th. I made a great start, but the race was red flagged after half a lap due to a nasty collision between Ben Anderson and Jake Olivera. We were sent back to the grid and after 15 mins or so the race was cancelled as another 3 cars had dropped out so there was no need to run the heat. Both Ben and Jake are OK.

So for the final, I lined up in 12th and made another good start, until I couldn't find second gear - I lost 6 places by the time I got going in third gear - Over the next 3 laps I managed to get past them all, despite Paul Taylor putting me on the grass halfway up the hill to Park corner. It was going well and I got up to 7th. And then I threw it away by dropping a rear wheel on the grass at Chris Curve - for the first time of the weekend, I was fully flat in through through here and I got it wrong :-( So I lost all the places I'd made up, but I managed to get some of them back over the remaining 3 laps finishing where I started in 12th - I really need to get some testing before the
race weekend. I can't see this happening this year, but there's always 2010.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spa!

About a week ago I got a call from Dave Beecroft of Xero Competition asking me if i'd limke to race a VdeV car at Spa! I couldn't say no!

Thursday was a whirlwind of just making flights and wrong motorway exits, and but I still managed to get to Spa in time for the drivers briefing at 16:00. After that it we had an hour of testing on a wet, but drying circuit. My team mate for this event , Joe Tuckey went out first and found the car to be nicely balanced. Because of the sheer length of the lap (7.2km), 30 minutes goes by really quickly and I was surprised to see the checkered flag. I too had found the car well balanced, but felt that the wet tyres were going off , which was shown to be the case when I got back to the pits. The front left in particular was worn right down and the tread blocks were a mess. Still, no damage done and all looked good for Friday.

Friday's weather was fantastic with not a cloud to be seen. We had decided that Joe should do a minimum of laps in qualifying which would allow me to post some sort of time. We also decided to use old tyres and save the new ones for the race. Joe did his 3 laps and reported that the car was "a bit oversteery" - A phrase I found to be the understatement of the week - It was awful, with the tail just not willing to stay in line under any sort of power on corner exists. One of the guys in our sister car, Toby Newton, followed me near the end of the session and he said I was leaving huge black lines on the corner exits as I struggled to get the power down. On the last lap the car wouldn't down shift on the way into the bus stop chicane so I nursed it into the pit lane stuck in 6th gear. The car has a flat shift paddle change that uses quite a lot of electronics, so the guys changed a potentiometer that monitors the gear selector position and hence tells the ECU what gear you are in.

So we qualified 13th with 1 2:36.4 - not great, but Dave B assured me that on new tyres, we would be fine. He was right (about the tyres).

Joe started the race, and the car was clearly much more stable, and Joe quickly got up to 7th right behind the sister car posting a best of mid 2:32. But the it all went wrong. Joe appeared in the pit lane with the car again stuck in 6th gear. The guys got the car back into neutral and sent Joe back out, but he was straight back in next lap and then spent around 30 mins tying to get it fixed. He managed another 10 laps or so and came back in again with the same issue. The guys had got hold of one of the 'laptop guys' who then spent some time tweaking the ECU settings, and the it was my turn.

I managed 19 laps with a best of a 2:31.4 before the same issue reoccurred and it was over - A frustrating yet enjoyable experience, and in a world of ifs, buts and maybes we could have finished in the top 6 quite comfortably with the pace we were running, but it wasn't to be.

Cars like this are addictive and Im now trying to figure out how i get to race one again - more begging letters it seems :-)

Crail ProKart Endurance - Summer Series Round 2

What a day (Sunday 17th May) - I was again driving with Fraser Adam in his MS kart in the Crail Summer Endurance Championship.

I managed to take pole and was leading race 1 - after about 15 mins I got a horrible vibration through the in-field, and as I entered pit bend, the kart swapped ends and I saw my left rear wheel bouncing over the pit wall. I looks like 2 of the 3 wheel bolts had worked loose hence the vibration, and then when I turned in, the studs sheared. Still, we got it fixed and and Fraser went back out to finish 17th.

I started race 2 from the back (reverse grid) and somehow found my self leading after 3 laps! Young Scott in the SA Racing kart got past me when I made a hash of the roundabout, but I then just sat on his bumper 'till it was time for Fraser to take over. He was running a close third when the front 2 tangled with 2 laps to go and we took the win and the fastest lap for me. This put us 7th for the final, and I spent the first 4 laps getting up to 3rd. Scott and Grant (MBM) were about 5 seconds up the road and I set about catching them, which I was doing, but then the left hand engine started mis-firing. A quick trip to the pits found the ignition lead was shorting against the casing, and once fixed, I continued to finish the race in 5th, with Chris Miller beating me to the quickest lap by 0.002 on the second last lap :-).

So we had the pace, but not the luck!