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2009 Archive

Combe GTs Round 9

Combe GTs Round 8

Combe GTs Round 7

Combe GTs Round 6

Combe GTs Rounds 4 and 5

Combe GTs round 3

Combe GTs Round 2

Combe GTs Round 1

Silverstone, Combe and Rockingham –  The first 7 days

 

2009 is going to be a busy season!  We started the year at a cold and wet Silverstone; it looks like a very different place to the one that hosts the Grand Prix.  After 5 separate track sessions over 3 days we didn’t get the dry tyres on once but at least we now have a good wet set up worked out for the car.  The BESCR races where pretty uneventful although four wheel drifting through Bridge corner in the wet at nearly 100mph with zero visibility is pretty exciting. We finished the meeting with a third in class, fourth overall in the first race and a second in class, third overall in the second race.

 

On Sunday afternoon we left Silverstone with the rain still falling and headed for Castle Combe, by the time we got to Swindon the Sun was shining. What a difference between the two tracks, Silverstone is a desolate place, Combe by comparison was gleaming  in the sun, the paddock was full and there was an air of excitement for the first meeting of the year.

 

Qualifying gave us the first chance to run the car on dry settings with new tyres and a warm dry track. The session was very busy with 31 cars on track, a large speed differential  between the fastest and slowest cars makes for some interesting laps. We finished the session with a 1.05.5 lap – a personal best and good enough for pole. Looks like the work on the car was having an effect…

 

…All that work was thrown away by me making a bad start, I lit up the rears and sat there wheels spinning and going nowhere fast.  Once I had got going I was down to fifth and caught behind the Class C Escort of Nick Willamson and Mark Funnell’s Lotus Exige – Boy can those cars move off the line! It took me a few laps to get past Mark, in the end I had to take to the grass at Quarry to make room to get through, a lap later I was past the Escort and could set off after Ed Moore in second and Andrew Shanley in first.   As I was catching them they started to lap the back markers,  that slowed them a bit. I caught them by mid distance and for a few laps we were all nose to tail. I was great racing and all very clean, it’s nice to be able to race so close without bumping and banging each other.  I got past Ed round the outside of Tower (with one eye shut!).  I caught Andrew but could not find a way past, he was holding his line and drove a great race, on the last lap I tried to around the outside at Quarry (with both eyes shut!!) I got my nose in front but could not make the pass stick as he had the inside line at the Esses. We finished the race less than 0.2 seconds apart but unfortunately the two tenths were in Andrew’s favour - A really great race and the consolation of fastest lap (of the day as well as the race) means we are tied on points after the first round

 

A phone call on Wednesday saw me travelling to Rockingham to share a drive in the opening Radical UK Cup race of the season at Rockingham Motor Speedway with Tom Leggett.  The UK Cup is series of  1 1/2 hour endurance races for two driver teams, with pit stops and refueling. Tom and I qualified the car in 17th place despite having no time to set up the car or learn the track. In a race full of incident; two cars caught fire and another one was badly damaged in a 130mph crash, we brought  the car up through the field to finish in 11th place overall and 4th in class despite struggling with gear selection problems for most of the race.

 

Four races, A pole, two seconds, a third and a fastest lap all in the first seven days of the season – not a bad start…

 

The preparations for the coming season are gathering pace.  We started with a trip to Powertec to map the new engine on the dyno. Standing next to the car with the engine running at full load and max revs is a pretty awesome experience; the assault on all of the senses is stunning. After a period of gentle running in and checks to make sure that all the temps and pressures were where they needed to be and that there were no leaks or other problems Richard, the dyno operator, started to map the fuel and ignition for all the different combinations of Throttle position, RPM, load etc culminating in some full power runs. After several hours it was done, and a great job it was too, Powertec have built me a superb engine – Great job guys!

 

I took a trip to Image wheels in West Midlands to get some rears widened to take the SR8 tyres.  Harry Nicklin, the guy that runs the company was really helpful and did the work there and then – Thanks Harry!

 

With the engine run in and mapped there were a few jobs to do then it was on to Silverstone on Friday 13th(!) for a day on the track to shake down the car and work on the setup.  It was a damp start but dry enough to run the car at a reasonable pace.  Over the winter the car has been totally rebuilt, every part and every nut and bolt has been removed, inspected and where necessary replaced, then refitted. The first session was spent bedding in brakes, suspension and the driver, it takes a bit of time to get your brain back up to speed after a 4 month layoff. The first session proved that the car was bolted back together in a reasonable fashion and that everything (apart from the driver) was working as it should. Rain for the second session meant a chance to run in the wet, it’s a pain when we really need dry track time but it is still worth working on an optimum wet setup given the British climate. The last session was just dry on most of the track so we bolted the slicks back on. We finished the day with a lap time that was equal to our best race lap from last summer. Given the temperature – Cold, the greasy track and old tyres we were very happy with the results for the day.

 

On Sunday 15th I took the car along to the Marshall’s training day at Castle Combe where I spent the morning taking groups of them through the safety points on the car so they are better able to help me, and other drivers in the event of an accident. I had a great time and it was really nice to meet all of them. It’s reassuring to know that all of us drivers are watched over and looked after by such a professional  team.

 

The car is getting a new livery this Saturday so I will post some pictures after that

 

We came away from the test session with another jobs list to work on before Silverstone on Easter Saturday. The truck needs a spring clean and a polish then we are ready!

 

 

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