Friday, 29 August 2008

Going Faster

I've got loads of time to think about how to improve my times before the season finale at Kames on 5 October.

I started with a test session at Kames last night, courtesy of East Ayrshire Motor Club. Despite arriving late due to a road closure, I managed about 8 runs all for just £10. I got some great tips from a Kames regular, Lesley Sheridan, who was kind enough to sit in on a run. She reassured me that my approach to Paddock bend was fine but I could carry more speed through Norrie's and Gemmell by taking a different line. I put it into practice and, boy, did it feel quicker!

I'll be back at Kames for more testing in a fortnight and by then I'll have my new tyres too............

I've ordered a set of Marangoni Zeta Linea in 195/50 15. These are ultra sticky List 1A tyres which, by all accounts, should save me a second a run! They cost a princely sum of £33 each fitted - so it's not a huge risk if they turn out to be rubbish. Time will tell........

The final piece of the jigsaw is to save a wee bit more weight by fitting the Elise passenger seat that's been littering my garage for 9 months. I'll give that a go in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Forrestburn Hillclimb

Forrestburn 24 August 2008
Photo: SkinnyDoug

Yesterday was my first outing on the hill Forrestburn since I had 'fallen' off the track back in April, ending just a few metres from a very deep reservoir. This was near the forefront of my mind as I sat on the startline waiting for the green light.

I eased myself in with a nice gentle practice run of 62 secs. I was hopeful I could get near my previous best time of 58.64 secs. However, my second run was in the 61 secs and I was still being very cautious at the first corner where I went off in April. The third run of 60secs was a bit better but still disappointing.

By the last run, I had managed to get down to 59.04 - about half a second off my best.

On the positive side, I had managed to keep it on the track and, as I was the only championship runner in my class, I get 25 points in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

This means the top 5 (unofficial) class R2 positions with two rounds to go are:

Kev Hamilton (me)Mazda MX-5157
Dennis HopeMGF VVC113
Andy SuterCitroen Saxo98
Paul RiggMGF VVC97
Chris HarrisLotus Elise80

This lead gives me a cracking chance of clinching the Class at the final round at Kames on 5 October.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Busy Weekend

Forrestburn Picture
Photo: Giles Guthrie

I'm all set for a busy weekend.

On Saturday, I'm at the Culzean Autoclassica show at the beautiful Culzean Castle in Ayrshire. My sponsors, MX-5 Scotland, asked me to attend to represent the club and I was happy to oblige. I've given the car a quick clean ready for the show....

On Sunday, I'm competing at the Forrestburn hillclimb. This counts as rounds of several championships including the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship and the Windowcraft Lowland Speed Championship.

I'm currently leading Class R2 in the Northern Championship and should bag 25 points on Sunday to consolodate that position. I'm not sure where I stand in the Lowland Championship but I'll need to get a good time to gain decent points.

My goal is to beat my previous best time of 58.64secs set in April.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Cumbria Classic Car Show

Yesterday I did my bit for Wigton Motor Club and helped out at their annual Cumbria Classic Car Show. The event, billed as the largest classic show in the north of England was indeed a big deal with apparently over 400 entrants.

I pulled the short straw and ended up marshalling entrants as they arrived at the entrance gate. These folk take their polishing seriously and some were a wee bit miffed at having to drive into a muddy field but there you go.

I managed to get my car displayed, pride of place, in the Wigton club display. Would you believe that out of 400 cars, mine was the only MX5. Lots of folk showed an interest and I even caught some kids taking photos of it!

Anyway, I took a few photos on my camera too..........

Cumbria Classic
The Racing Five

Cumbria Classic
Some MGBs

Cumbria Classic
A very unusual sight

Cumbria Classic
I'd love one of these

Cumbria Classic
Testarossa !

And finally......

What the hell is that noise??????? (could it be the snoring of a certain Wigton speed series competitor?)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Kames Sprint - 3 August

Kames 3 August 2008
Photo by SkinnyDoug

I just realised that I hadn't posted a report about my latest sprint outing. Such was the excitement of getting a trophy at Elvington that I plain forgot!

Anyway, there wasn't a whole lot of good news to report. The weather started very iffy but cleared up later in the day and I was up against the usual seriously quick competion of the Exige S of Graeme Bremner/Jennifer Clyne plus a very nicely sorted S1 Elise (Michael Stout). Making a welcome return was the Porsche Boxster S of Melvyn Hartley with the class being joined by a beastly TVR Griffith 500.

So, having the lowest power to weight ratio by a long shot, I didn't hold out much hope. I was hoping to get in a decent time close to my personal best of 100.26 secs set back in April at the first meet of the year.

Kames 3 August 2008
Photo by SkinnyDoug

However, it was not to be. The best I could manage was a low 102 secs which bagged me 4th out of 5 in class. Can you guess who I managed to beat?

Well, it was the Griff! It was just a bit too much of a handful around the twisty confines of Kames and he had a hard time keeping it on the track (and failed on a couple of occasions). The Boxster managed a 101sec run so I wasn't far off him.

There was a good spectator turnout and it was nice that several folk came up during the day and asked about the car. A couple expressed an interest in getting MX-5s which is good to hear.

SkinnyDoug posted some good pictures on his web gallery. I've pinched the best ones of me for the site (hope he don't mind!)

I've been invited to a couple of classic car shows over the next two weekends - first up the Cumbria Classic Car Show at Dalemain, near Penrith on Sat 17th - then Culzean Autoclassica on 23 August.

Next competitive outing is at Forrestburn on 24th August. The end of the season approaches...........

Monday, 4 August 2008

Elvington Sprint - 2 August 2008

Round 8 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship was held at Elvington Airfield near York on Saturday.

I travelled down on Friday night to a lovely wee B&B called Trowthorpe Grange, near Market Weighton. The journey down was uneventful and I managed a good night's sleep before heading over to Elvington on Saturday morning.

The weather started damp and with heavy showers forecast, it promised to be a challenging day's motorsport.

The event was well organised and run by York Motor Club and had attracted a diverse entry of cars ranging from a fantastic looking Juno to a Volkswagen Passat Diesel Estate!

I was in a class of 7 which included 2 other championship runners (Andy Suter in his Saxo and Dennis Hope in his MGF). The rest of the field comprised a 2.0 litre Clio, a Fiesta ST and a couple of Focuses. Having done my homework, I knew that the main competition would come from the Clio and the Fiesta ST. My best time from last year (in perfect conditions) was 91.04 secs and whilst I'd beaten both the Clio and Fiesta drivers last year, they were both in new cars.

The first couple of runs were a bit of a wash-out and it was difficult to learn anything about the dry grip available. I managed to get the car completely sideways coming out of the last corner and I'm sure I crossed the line at a 'jaunty angle'! However, I knew I was on the pace posting times within a second of the Clio and the Fiesta at around 92 seconds.

The first timed run came along and as the weather had cleared, I decided to go all out to get a decent time - just in case the rain came back. I managed to get a half decent start and through the first half of the run without any major hiccups. Coming into the last corner, I overcooked it, the car understeered wide but I managed to correct with a slight lift and back on the power to slide over the line again. Result - 89.9 seconds. I was well chuffed. I was already over a second faster than last year, I was a second faster than anyone else in the class and I was over 3 seconds faster than my nearest championship competition (Andy Suter on 93.09).

Run 2 came along and after a cracking start, I chipped away another half a second posting 89.54 secs. The Fiesta was now down to 90.51 secs but the Clio had done a blistering 88.37 secs. I was stunned (again!) - he'd dropped 4 seconds in one go and I couldn't see me catching him.


As run 3 approached, so did the rainclouds. There was a mad dash for the start line to try and get our runs in before the rain but only 2 cars got out before the most horrendous downpour I've seen in years. I just missed getting out and I had to sit on the startline for over half an hour whilst the rain passed over and then the marshalls frantically made the track safe. Even with their efforts, the track still had large areas of standing water and the best I could manage was 96 secs. It was good fun though! With such a wet track, no-one could better their earlier times but by the end of it, the track was virtually dry again.

The officials then had a debate over whether a fourth timed run could be offered. eventually, they agreed that it was permissible and we were called to the start line. One last chance to clinch the class win but I would have to shave over a second off my time.

I got a poor start but quickly made up for it through the first couple of corners. I had picked up a wee tip from one of the other competitors to straigh line one of the chicanes and it worked a treat - hardly any need to brake. Round the final corner the car understeered again and I lost time correcting it but posted a respectable 89.16 secs. I knew I'd missed out on first in class but I was hopeful of second.

Back at the pits, I nervously waited for the results to be posted. I couldn't believe it when I saw the Fiesta driver had posted 89.16secs - exactly the same time as me. However, I posted the time first and I had beaten him on all the other runs so I was hopeful.........

Hopeful enough to hang around for the awards presentation and I was chuffed to bits when they announced that I had got second place and presented me with a nice wee trophy.

As for the other class championship contenders, the results went as follows:

Me (MX-5) 89.16 secs (25 points)
Dennis Hope (MGF) 91.21 secs (24 points)
Jon Lyth (BMW 325) 92.25 secs (23 points)
Andy Suter (Citroen Saxo) 92.26 secs (22 points)

I reckon than leaves me first in class with three rounds to go but the official positions have still to be published. One thing's for sure, it's going to be very close and it could go right to the season finale at Kames on 4 October........