Sunday, 1 June 2008

Wigton Motor Club - Kames Sprint - MY FIRST WIN !

My aim today was to get close to my 100secs best but alas, that was not to be. However, I also had the task of picking up points in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.
Last week saw me trash my trusty Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres so I had to get new tyres fitted during the week to stay legal. I plumped for Toyo T1-R in 195/50 15 as many other competitors use them and thay are cheap (£32 each). Time constraints meant I only managed to get them on the car on Friday.

I'd noticed clunks from both the front and the rear when I took the car for a spin after fitting the tyres so I spent much of Saturday trying to identify what it was. I narrowed down the front clunk to a loose ARB droplink but the rear seems to be the ARB moving about - more investigation needed. Anyway, I've had the tyres on and off about 4 times over the weekend.
I had a spririted run down to Kames this morning to try to get some heat in the tyres and to try to scrub off the greasy film that new tyres have. Weather was overcast but dry to start although the forecast was for rain.
I reckoned that my best chance was to get a couple of fast runs in early on and hope for rain before the competition had 'learned' the track.

My first run did not go especially well. The tyres felt very vague and 'squirmy' - no real feeling of grip or any idea of what was happening - especially at the front end. I managed 105.9secs which was well off my standard first run times of around 104secs. I checked the tyre pressures and noticed that I had the front tyres on back to front (they are directional!) . A quick change and all was sorted.
Next run wasn't much better though. The car felt a wee bit more responsive but still nowhere near as sharp as it felt in April. I managed 105.64secs. Someone suggested dropping the pressures so I backed them off to 26psi all round.
First proper run and the car was feeling a bit better. The tyres still felt a bit vague but there was definitely some grip there. I managed 104.00 seconds. My main competition, the Elise managed 104.14 and the faster of the two MGF drivers got was down to around 105secs. So I was in the lead for the moment but the Elise was getting into it now.

Second timed run and I tried a wee bit harder. It didn't really work though. I still couldn't get the confidence to really push on the fast paddock bend and as a result, I managed 104.12secs. I got back to the paddock in time to watch the Elise run. He was on a flyer and I was sure I was going to get beat but, luck was on my side as he outbraked himself at the hairpin and went off. The MGF driver had done 104.6secs so I was still in front.

Then my prayers were answered and the rain came on. The MGF tried to get out quick in the hope that he could get a fast run in before the track got wet but it was not to be. He managed 108secs before the rain really came on. Although I could have packed up there and then, I decided to go out and after a terrible start (I reckon I was at the startline, wheels spinning for 5 seconds - better to do a 'granny start'), I posted 114secs. It didn't matter, I'd already achieved my very first class win and a full 25 points!
So, a day of highs and lows. I need to find out why my car is so much slower than it was last year. Could it be the lack of the K&N Typhoon??? Could it be the suspension kit???? Could it be the fresh tyres (definitely a contributing factor)??? Could it be the knackered alignment???? Next event is at Barbon in Cumbria in 2 weeks. Hopefully I'll have sorted out the gremlins by then..............

(photo: D Hunter)

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