Monday, 16 November 2009

2010 - a year of understeer?

MSA Categories
The MSA has decreed that all speed championships will run class structures based on a set of defined categories from 2010. I personally think this is a good idea as it moves towards standardization across the country, meaning that wherever you go, you'll know which class to enter.

However, it is raising a few questions, particularly for road-going cars like mine. The MSA have split road-going cars into two categories - Road-going Series production cars (produced in quantities of over 1,000 per annum) and Road-going specialits production cars (less than 1,000 per annum). Now, I'm pretty sure that my VX220 is a Series production car because the VIN database on VX220.ORG suggests that there were over 7,000 produced in 5 years. My own car has a chassis number greater than 1,000 and it appears to have been built in the first year (2001) but trying to prove this to a scrutineer could be problematic.

Some Lotus variants, like the Exige, appear to have been produced in quantities much less than 1,000 and so will fall into the specialist production category. In many championships (including the Scottish Championships), this will not matter as specialist and series production cars will run together but in some, it means that Exiges will run alongside Caterhams and Westfields.

I guess time will tell how this is going to pan out.

2010 Plans
I've decided to cut down the mumber of events for 2010 and will probably do no more than 15. My plans at this stage include a double-header at Ingliston on 1/2 May, the mighty Doune in April, Kames as often as I can, Forrestburn at least once, Harewood at least once and a foray up north to Fintray or even Golspie.

I've decided, for budget reasons, to keep the car fairly standard with just some wheels/tyres and safety critical mods (harness bar, harness and rear toe-links). This will give me a chance to get to know the car and get my driving up to scratch without spending too much. Hopefully I can still bag a championship award at the end of the year but my real aim for 2010 is an event class win.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The winter training regime

No. It' not what you're thinking. I'm NOT going on a health kick just yet!

I've been planning some track time in the VX to get my skills in shape for next season and have already managed a couple of great days.

First off was a trip down to Kames for a test day last month. The weather was awful but the car handled it superbly. Fresh from setting a new PB in the racingFive, I practiced my new found lines and discovered that the VX has much more grip, much more acceleration and much better brakes. So much so that I reckon I was lapping in the low 100s in the very wet conditions. Mid-90s in the dry is my target time for next year.

This week, I ventured all the way to Essex for a session with Lotus driving guru, Andy Walsh. I booked one of his famous 4-person car limits days and I have to say it was the best £200 I have ever spent on my car activities. I learned more in that one day than I've learned in 10 years of trackdays and 3 years of competiive events.

The theory covered in this introductory day was already familiar to me through my reading of 'Speed Secrets' and 'Going Faster' but I realised I had never actually had the opportunity to have it explained nor had the chance to try out sliding and drifting.

The infamous high speed bend exercises were great fun - I spun more times than I can remember but soon got the hang of catching the big slides, top gear stylee.

The best part of the day for me was the mini sprint circuit at the end when we got the chance to put all we had learned into practice. Andy takes you out first and sets a target time in your own car (55 secs for me). Then its your turn to show him what you've learned. I took it nice and steady and he gave me a few pointers for the next run.

He then gets you to take one of your fellow attendees out for the last run so that they can critique you. I went out with Steve, a nice Elise owner, on his first 'track' experience. He drove first. Nice and smooth, lacking aggression but a good effort given his experience.

Then he jumped into my car, I guess expecting much of the same. He got a bit of a shock when I braked a good second and a half after he finished shouting BRAKE for the first cone, turned in, immediately started a huge slide, caught it, power on and before he'd caught his breath we were braking for the next cone. He didn't say much after that! He just laughed all the way round as I understeered, oversteered, drifted and generally ruined my tyres on every corner!

At the end of the run, we got out and Andy was grinning broadly - "that was pretty good" he said - "you did a 60 second lap, not very smooth but very entertaining". "Thanks", I said, "I've been wanting to do that for years. Smooth is so yesterday!"

The VX? It was sublime - so balanced and controllable. I can't wait to drive it in anger again. The 900 mile round trip was ok too - I got a wee bit wet and the ABS light came on briefly but nothing fell off. Need to buy some new tyres though!

Anyway, I had so much fun that I'm already planning my next foray - possibly a Lotus On Track day at Rockingham in a couple of weeks. Watch this space......

Sunday, 4 October 2009

So near and yet so far......

Picture: Andy Low
The end of the season TJ Services Northern Speed Championship decider was at Kames today and I was in with a shout of the class win being equal top on points with Paul Rigg. The maths were complicated but I needed a full 10 points to have any chance but I also needed Chris Harris in his Elise to score 6 or less. That seemed highly unlikely but I had to focus on what I could do rather than worry about what others.

I had spent all week trying to recapture my mindset of 2 years ago when I did 100.99 secs on standard tyres. I'd never got close to that since - wallowing in 102-3sec territory and blaming the car set-up. The truth was, it was all down to me - I had lost the edge and needed to get it back quickly.

The weather was smashing to start although the track seemed a bit slippy for first practice. I only managed a disappointing 106.8 second run, albeit faster than Chris who did 107.5 secs.

Second practice was a bit better, with me posting 102.8 . However, Chris managed to do 101.8 secs which I knew was faster than he had ever been before. My task seemed nigh on impossible now.

There were some shower clouds gathering so I decided to go all out on the first timed run. I carried more speed into paddock and found a new line through the hairpin which saw me home in 101.15 secs. I was chuffed with that because it was as fast as I had been round Kames since about April 2008. Chris managed to spin off and although Dave Exton in the MR2 also spun, he beat Chris and it looked like I might be in for a very lucky day.

During lunch, the rain came a bit but it was never enough to wet the track and by the time we restarted, the track was bone dry and really grippy. I went out flying and managed 100.87 secs - a new PB on list 1A tyres. Chris did 102.35 sec and Dave managed 103.69. If only Dave could find another second and a half........

Third run and I shaved a bit more off posting 100.78 secs. Chris closed right in on me with 100.82secs. Dave 'the destroyer' lived up to his name and crashed out so it looked like it was all over.

Chris decided not to take his last run but I posted 100.73 secs and so shaved another slither off the PB. Dave crashed out again so this time it was all over and the class award for the championship went to Chris.

The final R2 Class placings for the championship look like this:

Chris Harris (Lotus Elise S2) - 64 points
Kev Hamilton (MX-5) - 62 Points
Paul Rigg (MGF) - 60 points
Dave Exton (MR2) - 51 points
Steve Palmer (Honda Civic) - 43 points
Dennis Hope (MGF) - 34 points

So, reflecting on the season, it was very competitive this year and could have gone either way. The high for me was smashing my best time at Teeside. The lows were getting brought back down to size at Barbon where Paul drubbed me and being beaten by Chris by just 4/100ths of a second at Forrestburn which cost me the championship. The craic at the Wigton MC events is second to none and everyone is really friendly and helpful. I hope next year is as much fun as this year.

Finally, I've taken the difficult decision to retire the racingFive and focus my efforts on the VX220 for next year. So if anyone wants a well sorted, track-ready, championship winning MX-5, drop me an e-mail. Otherwise, it's getting returned to standard and sold on eBay...........

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Saturday was my last visit to Harewood for this year for the penultimate round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

The weather was fantastic and the craic was even better. I was hoping to score ten points to keep my championship hopes alive but alas it was not to be.

I did, however, come second of the championship contenders - beaten fair and square by Chris Harris in his awesome Lotus Elise S2. I also managed to beat my previous best time at Harewood of 74.18secs. My new best time is 74.07secs.

The result means that it all comes down to the final round at Kames on 4 October. The unofficial points are as follows:

Paul Rigg 60 points
Kev Hamilton (me) 60 points
Chris Harris 56 points
Dave Exton 50 points

In theory, any one of us could win the class but Paul and Chris have the best chance due to the dropped scores system. The most I can score is 62 points if I win at Kames. However, Paul and Chris could still both easily score 62 and if its a three way tie then Paul would win as he had highest score in Round 1. It's all prety complicated but realistically, I'm aiming for third place now. I knew I would rue that 4/100ths I lost by at Forrestburn!

Photos will follow as soon as I get some.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The racing is interupted

Forrestburn 29 Aug 2009
Photo: Stephen Hynds

Forrestburn on 29 August saw the VX out for its first run. I managed a time similar to my MX-5 times (58.4sec) which was ok, if a touch disappointing. I think I need lots of practice before venturing out on the hills again in the VX.

I should have been at Ty Croes on Anglesey for the weekend of 5/6 September but due to my wife suddenly taking ill and me having to ferry back and forwards to hospital and watch the kids, I had to pull out at the last minute. I had been really looking forward to it but it can wait. Thankfully, the better half is now on the road to recovery.

For next year's campaign, I've acquired a small trailer to allow me to take the family with me and save some miles on the car. I'll be on the lookout for a cheap estate towcar soon - I fancy either a Volvo V70 (again!), a Skoda Octavia (again!) or a Vauxhall Omega (for the first time!).

Finally, I'm off to Bo'ness for the hillclimb revival on Saturday - I'll try and remember my camera! Then I'm off with my eldest (he's only 3!) on a run with the Scottish Fivers on Sunday - that should be a laugh.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Forrestburn - Saturday 28 August

Just back from a day at my least favourite venue, Forrestburn for a round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

Weather started pretty miserable with heavy driving rain but it cleared up by the time practice started at 10am.

I have struggled to get a good time at Forrestburn ever since I went off on the first corner in April 2008. I know the corners reasonably well now its just that I don't have the bottle to push it hard. I've been trying since then to break my personal best of 58.64secs.

Anyway, today I was running in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship against the MGF of Paul Rigg/Dennis Hope, the S2 Elise of Chris Harris, the Honda Civic of Steve Palmer and the MR2 of 'Diamond' Dave Exton.

Practie didn't go great with me getting a fastest run of 60.55 - well behind Paul and only just in front of Dave Exton. I knew I had to go quicker when the timed runs came.

With the changeable weather, I was surprised to see the sun come out for the first timed run and thought this might be the only dry run so I would have to go for it. I managed 58.29secs - beating my old PB and all the other championship class contenders except Chris Harris who posted 57.93secs.

I was sure that was the only dry run we were going to get as the rain came on soon after but it was only a brief shower and it soon brightened up. So the final run came along and it was dry!

I got a good start and kept the power on through more corners than I have before. I managed 57.88secs - I was well chuffed, having taken nearly a second of my previous best.

Again, it was enough to beat all the other championship contenders but Chris did 57.83secs - pipping me to the 10 points by just 5/100ths of a second. That could cost me dear at the end of the season. If only I'd kept the boot in a weeeeeee bit more..........

By my reckoning, the championship class looks like this with 2 rounds to go and dropped scores now counting:

Paul Rigg 60 Pts
Kev Hamilton 58 Pts
Chris Harris 46 Pts
Dave Exton 44 Pts
Steve Palmer 43 Pts
Dennis Hope 31 Pts
Andy Suter 13 pts
David Child 2 Pts

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Suspension grief

Old and new(ish)

One of the front dampers on the VX was leaking so had to be replaced. I decided to tackle it myself and bought a set of second hand dampers from a late model VXR. The pic above shows the two coilover units side by side - the one from my car is on the bottom of the pic.

It should be an easy job - jack car up, take wheel off, unbolt two bolts, remove damper, insert new damper and bolt up. Unfortunately, the monkey who built my car had put the lower damper bolt in backwards making it impossible to remove without either removing the ARB droplink or cutting it out. I chose the latter method on the basis that if I started farting around with the droplink, something else would break.

Suspension with no damper unit in place

Upper shock bolt in place

So, a 1 hour job ended up taking 3 hours but it is done and I've learned a bit more about the car.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

VX Back

I finally got the VX back tonight. My mechanic had some real issues to deal with after he picked it up on Sunday night.

First off, his wife crashed her car on Monday so he had to spend all day sorting that out. When he started work, he discovered that the bleed nipple on the front right caliper was seized so that had to be machined out. Then he had to source a bleed nipple. Then he bust the master cylinder seal and had to source a new master cyclinder - Vauxhall quoted a 10 week delivery - he got one off the shelf the same day by cross-checking against other cars - it's the same item as an Audi TT.

Anyway, it's now running sweet - no rattles. The engine oil has been changed to the right viscosity (10w40), the fuel filter done, coolant checked, brake fluid changed, new plugs (that was the rattle!) and a pre-MOT check done. The front left shock is leaking and you can feel it under braking - the car skips to the right, then left as the shocker fails to work properly but the brakes are working great now.

Other than that, he reckons it's now sound as a pound. I've actually bought some secondhand shocks already (I had a feeling one was kaputt) and I should e able to get them changed over fairly easily myself. I just need to source some new nyloc nuts.

So, the car is entered for Forrestburn on 30 August and I just need to make up a timing strut and mark the battery negative cable and I'm good to go.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The racingVX ?

Took some more photies of the new VX after me and the wee man cleaned it this afternoon.



The car's off to get a good service. When Eric (my friendly VX tech) came round to pick it up, he reckoned it was no more noisy than most Z22SE engines so I guess I'm just paranoid. Car is getting a full monty service - oil, filter, plugs, brake fluid, coolant, fuel filter - and a pre-MOT check.

I'm already planning my mods for sprinting it. First on the list is a set of decent sized wheels! The VX comes with really odd front wheels - they are 17" diameter but only 5.5" wide! Only Bridgestone make tyres to fit and they are like hens teeth so a set of Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 are on the wishlist.

That will open up the sticky tyre options to include Toyo R888 and Kumho V70 - looks like they will be permitted in roadgoing production classes next year.

However, fitting sticky tyres puts greater stresses on suspension and the Elise/VX has a weak point in the rear toe links. These have recently been done on my car but a set of uprated motorsport items is on my list.

Last but not least, a harness bar and Schroth harness will be purchased and I'm swithering about an Exige style seat with harness cut-outs. Then I'll be ready for action!

If my plans come to fruition, a Courtenay supercharger kit is not out of the question. For £3,700 you get 210bhp and 195lb/ft torque - another £2k and you're up to 250bhp without modifying internals.

Might need to budget for a new number plate as folk at work have been slagging me for being an aRSE! ;-)

A year of coming second?

Three Sisters Aug 2009
The Elise of Chris Harris in front of the Wigton MC paddock

Three Sisters race track, near Wigan, was the venue of the latest round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship on Saturday.

My class, R2 (Roadgoing Production cars 1400-2000cc) had 5 entries - The Rigg/Hope double entered MGF, Chris Harris in his Elise S2, Dave Exton in hs Mk2 MR2 and me in the racingFive.

The weather was fantastic and I had my new racing boots (Sparco Top Driver mid) so I was sure to do well!

It all got off to an eventful start with Dave Exton going off in first practice and me having to sit on the startline whilst they cleared it up. Dave had put 'the man most likely to crash' on his commentator's sheet - all the startline crew thought that was really funny.

I took it nice and easy for the first run and came home safely in around 94seconds - 3 seconds off my previous best.

Second practice and I pushed a bit harder to get down to around 91 secs. Still slower than I knew I could go but heading the right way.

Three Sisters Aug 2009

Afer lunch, the real runs started and again I was lined up behind Dave Exton's white MR2. He set off and I was called to the startline. The light went green and away I went with a smooth, quick start. I got through my first lap very smoothly, taking some kerbs and sliding slightly round the bottom bend. I cam round for my second lap and was shown the red flag so I slowed right down and proceeded to clear the track (as instructed). I got to about 50yds from he finish line and there was Dave Exton's car in the tyres with an ambulance in attendance! Not the sort of thing you want to see, really.

Three Sisters Aug 2009

Anyway, Dave was ok but he had taken out the timing gear so there was a delay whilst it was all set up again. I got a re-run but I was a bit preoccupied and only managed a 91sec run again. Paul Rigg was in the lead with 89.80secs - I was a bit despondent.

Second timed run came round and I got a flyer in. Got back and checked the time - 89.84sec. So close but not enough to beat Paul who had gone slower that run. We waited whilst he organisers decided whether we could get a third timed run and eventually the news came through - we were on! So, final chance - I had to make it a great run because I knew Paul would find time somewhere.

Three Sisters Aug 2009

Unfortunately, I got a poor start and made a mess of the first two corners. That lost me a fair bit but I kept on trying and came in with a time of 90.49secs. Paul did find extra time and managed to get into the 88secs so I was well beaten.

Chris Harris struggled in his S2 Elise and only managed a time around 90-91 secs and Dave Exton did manage to get a run without spinning but was also in the 90-91 secs.

Paul's win opens up the championship and makes the run in to Kames in October interesting as we will start dropping scores now. I reckon I'll need to get two wins - I'm hoping that Forrestburn will intimidate the opposition and I can pull off a 100sec run at Kames to do the business. Even then, I'll still need a second place at Harewood - if it rains, I have a chance but if it's dry, I'm not so sure.

Next outing - Forrestburn 28/29 August.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

It's a long way to Wigan

It's been a week of variety and chasing rattles! I took the Skoda to work on Monday, the VX on Tuesday and Wednesday and the racingFive today.

I'm a wee bit worried because the VX has developed a tappety clicking noise from the head. I got the big screwdriver out and had a listen to where it is coming from - definitely not the cam chain - it sounds nice and smooth. No, the knocking is coming from the other end of the head - when I put the screwdriver on the coil pack it is worst. I don't know much about these engines but it doesn't sound clever.

Anyway, the car is getting picked up on Sunday night to be checked over by a VX tech I know. He reassured me on the phone that they are quite noisy engines but I'm not so sure.........

At work we have a serious seagull problem and I got well splattered on the way out of the car park tonight. I was quite lucky in that the poo landed on my roll-bar - just missing my head. I did get splashed though! Anyway, I've spent tonight cleaning the car of bird poo and it's all tickety-boo for the trip to Three Sisters tomorrow.

The main competition in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship are entered - Chris Harris in the Elise and Paul Rigg in the MGF. Three sisters is quite like Teesside so I hope I can push the limits of MX-5 performance and give them a fright.

Last time I was there was in 2007 and I managed a time of 90.67secs on this 2-lap layout. That was good enough for 16th place in a class of 27. This time there's just 5 in the class and as the weather looks promising, I'm looking to get nearer the 88sec mark.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Harewood Rain, Kames Sunshine and a new motor

What a busy weekend. I'm done in. Started on Friday with a trip on the train to Arbroath to pick up the new motor. It's a 2001 Vauxhall VX220 NA in silver. Needs a good service and a few bits and bobs but seems fairly straight otherwise. Much quicker than the five and a PITA to get out of. I've already got stuck in it once and I've only driven it twice!


After a nice Italian lunch with my work colleagues (I made a special excursion to pop in to work on my day off), it was straight down the M6/A66 to Harewood for a round of the HSA/RIA Speed Championship. The weather turned out to be awful - all my gear got soaked and so did I. I did however come very close to beating the current HSA championship leader in his Mk1 Roadster - I was ahead on every split until the last!


It was also nice to see an old friend, ex-MX5 owner, David Horne out campaigning his Caterham Seven. I hadn't seen David since an epic road trip round the West Highlands in 2005. I almost beat him too - I was within a second of his time.

I made a real mess of my last run - outbraked myself on the second corner, locked up and ran out of room. I decided to just keep going straight on, into the field and went about 30 yards before stopping. Fortunately, no harm done and I even managed to drive out without the indignity of being towed. I didn't check the final times (I was too wet!) but I think I ended up second of the four MX-5s that were there.


On Sunday, I was at Kames for a round of the British Sprint Championship. I wasn't competing this time but I had offered my services as a marshal. Turned out to be a fantastic day. I spent the morning on post 2 (Norries corner) where I got to see the different lines everyone was taking up really close. I spent a bit of time on the startline too which was also an eye-opener. The event was really well run by East Ayrshire Car Club - they managed to get through 100 entries and two top-12 runoffs - a real achievement for the organisers. It made me really proud to be a member of such a well run club and I'm sure they'll get the big event again.

The usual Class A8 crowd were there - Alastair in his TVR, Graeme and Jennifer in the Exige and David Child making a return in the Mk3 MX5 but the class was won by Scott Cruikshanks in a stunning Lotus 211. It was a pleasure to watch - such a smooth drive - no drama at all and what looked like a touch of left foot braking into Norries. He came very close to beating Graeme Bremner's class record. I'm not sure the Lotus 211 is really in the spirit of a road going production car class (it's a pretty extreme machine) but it was a remarkable sight nonetheless.



Next outing for me is this weekend when I'm off to Three Sisters near Wigan for a round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Kames, Harewood and Kames Again

Kames turned into a bit of a damp squib with wet conditions for most of the day, a small entry and a shortage of marshalls. I ended up marshalling at the paddock bend both morning and afternoon and it definitely affected my concentration (that's my excuse anyway).

My class was quite big with 7 entries including the amalgamated R1 Peugeot 205 Rallye of Dave Wiggins. The wet conditions didn't suit me - especially with the Marangonis on - and the best I could manage was 108.68 seconds. This was only good enough to get 4th in class after Wiggins in first, Chris Harris's Elise S2 in second and Paul Rigg's MGF in third.

Most entertaining drive of the day came from Dave Exton who seemed to be intent of rally crossing his MR2. Either that or he is entering the Tokyo Drift Championship next year. It was a bit off-putting to see him launch over the gravel trap, tip up and nearly overturn at paddock bend. I've never seen anyone do that before! Fortunately, no-one was hurt and he managed to pick all the stones out and get a final run where he very nearly beat me.

Tomorrow, I'm off to pick up my new car and then rushing down to Harewood for a round of the HSA/REI Speed Championship. Weather forecast is wet so it could be interesting.

Then its back up on Saturday in time to get to Kames on Sunday to help out at the British Sprint Championship meeting. Hopefully they'll give me an interesting job.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Clunk Clunk

Ok, I'v been out and changed the wheels. While I was at it, I looked at the front nearside lower wishbone again. The front alignment bolt had loosened off again and that was the source of the clunk. I took the bolt out and it looked a wee bit bent so I replaced it with a new one.


New bolt in place

This bolt must take the bulk of the punishment on the events that I do - most of the circuits are clockwise and the front nearside wheel does most of the work.

Getting ready for Kames

Back from hols. It was nice to have a week with the wife and kids.

Managed to buy a new car too! More on that in a later blog.

Got to get the car ready for Kames on Sunday. I need to put my Marangonis on as the weather looks very wet and the Toyos have not much tread left. I also need to sort the clunk AGAIN!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Holiday time

It's just past the half way point in my season with 13 events completed and 10 more to go. My family rarely come to speed events because of logistics and with so many events this year requiring an overnight stop, it's time for some family time. So, we're all off to Argyll for a week.

In true racingFIVE style though, I'm taking a slight detour on the way back to look at a potential new car for the 2010 season.........more on that towards the end of the year methinks.

When I get back, I have to get ready for the Wigton MC sprint at Kames on 26 July. It's a crucial event for me because it could make or break whether I can defend the R2 class title. The opposition are tough to beat and although I have lots of experience at Kames, it's not really enough to beat the throttle bodied, nitron suspended Elise of Chris Harris unless it rains like last year. Paul Rigg is also quick in the MGF VVC and that car is well suited to the track.

The others are all capable of humbling me too - especially if I have one of my 'despondent days' but I'm hoping that the break will see me refreshed and raring to go.

On the techincal side, I found out what the 'clunk' was a couple of weeks ago. Turned out to be a loose lower wishbone bolt. I duly tightened it up and aligned the wheel by eye (how accurate is that!) and clunk gone. Alignment is all to pot now but the car feels stable and worked fine at Scammonden so I'm not too worried.

I've changed the oil and cleaned the very dirty air filter so hopefully it should all be running tickety-boo at Kames.

Looking forward, August is going to be busy with Harewood, Kames, 3 Sisters, MIRA and Forrestburn all on the itinery. I'm going to need this holiday...........

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Second at Scammonden


Scammonden Dam is an interesting place for a hillclimb. The M62 motorway goes right over the top of the dam and the hillclimb takes place on the service road. The start is at the base of the dam and the route, although short, is very steep.

This was round 4 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship and I was looking for 10 points to put me squarely in the lead. I was also looking to beat my best time from last year of 31.06 seconds.

The other championship class R2 contenders were Steve Palmer (Honda Civic), Dave Exton (MR2) and Chris Harris (Elise). The MGF of Paul Rigg/Dennis Hope was not there due to racing commitments. It was nice to see Chris back in the saddle after a long lay-off (although he is going to be tough to beat!).

My two practice runs were not great - 32.96 and 32.34 - well down on last year and the other guys were pushing hard.

Timed runs got progressively better - I just couldn't manage the start very well - but I went from 32.21secs down to a respectable 30.71secs on my last (seventh!) run. That was enough to secure second in my class on the day - beaten by a Clio 172. It was also good enough to get 8 championship points with Chris bagging the full 10 points with an impressive 28.98 secs.

The best times of my championship competition were:

Chris Harris (Elise) - 28.98
Me (MX-5) - 30.71
Steve Palmer (Civic) - 31.12
Dave Exton (MR2) - 31.59

I was partcularly pleased with two things:
1. that I beat last year's time (by nearly half a second)
2. that my fastest run was my last run

I'll also be at the top of the championship class now, with 32 points, Paul Rigg on 26 points. But if Chris Harris turns up for the remaining events, he will have the class in the bag, I reckon.....

Next up - Kames on 26 July.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Gearing up for Scammonden

Scammonden Hillclimb - July 2008

The final instructions arrived today for the hillclimb at Scammonden Dam, near Huddersfield this coming Sunday. There's a fairly small entry which means we should get loads of runs if it stays dry.

For me, it's my second visit to the Yorkshire venue and I'm keen to beat my PB of 31.06secs from last year. It's round 4 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship where I'm currently sitting second in class on 24 points behind Paul Rigg (MGF) on 26 points.

There's 10 class points for a win and Paul isn't there due to racing commitments so I have to make it work for me! Unfortunately, I have the competition of Dave Exton in his MR2, Stephen Palmer in his powerful Honda Civic and the return of Chris Harris in is well sorted S2 Elise. I've beaten them all at some stage but at the same time, they've all beaten me - and I'm not particularly good on the hills!

The car was starting to feel a bit tired at Harewood - the dreaded suspension clunk is back and it really needs a full service. I might get some time on Friday to change the oil and look at the clunk but time is tight........

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Harewood Hillclimb Weekend

I'm just back from a fabulous weekend at the Harewood Speed Hillclimb for a round of the Richard Egger Insurance/HSA Speed Championship. This was my first visit to the Yorkshire hill and it exceeded expectations.


All set up and ready to race.

Arriving on Friday night, I set up my tent and proceeded to walk the hill. I was stunned to find that the first 300m is downhill! In fact it is more like a mini-sprint than a hillclimb. However, the second part of the course is pure speed hillclimbing a its best with blind over-crest corners, fast sweepers and a storming section through a farmyard. Mooo.....


The competition

My competion was in the form of John Gallagher - current HSA championship leader in his Mk1 1.8 Roadster, Tony Thomas - placed second in the championship with is Mk1 1.6 and Barbara Fogden - 2008 MX-5 Class champion in her Mk1 1.6.

As this meeting was also a round of the MSA British Hillclimb Championship, Saturday was purely practice with a further practice run on Sunday followed by two vital timed runs.

Practice went well with me getting quicker with each run: 77.62, 77.39, 75.05, 74.06. John managed a cracking 73.10 on his third practice but couldn't repeat it. Tony and Barbara were struggling to keep up with us - the 1.6 probably not having the grunt for the second part of the course. Their best practice runs were 76.19 and 76.79 respectively.

I spent hours on Saturday night analysing split times and walking the course again. I was sure I had it cracked and could take another 2 seconds off my time. Alas, it was not to be!

My Sunday practice run was a bit of a disaster - I had a couple of big lockups and got well out of shape coming into 'Orchard' which cost me a lot of speed on the exit. I only managed a time of 75.12. John did a 73.40 so was close to his best time from Saturday.

First timed runs came along and it looked like it might rain so I went all guns blazing in the hope that my competitors would get caught out later. I got a good start and held on through the first corner. I locked up coming into the twisty 'esses' which cost me time but I managed to get on the power early for the start of the uphill section. I had another lockup at 'Orchard' (guess what I need to practice!) and lost lots of time again but I managed to get a reasonable run through the final part the course to post 74.12secs.

John came in with a 73.51 so I was within striking distance. If only I could string together a smooth, error free run (the holy grail!). Tony did his best time of the weekend (76.01) and Barbara had a spin so was well down.

The final run came and I tried a wee bit too hard (for a change!). It was more aggressive and messy and I forgot all that I had learned from the split times and walking the course. Unsurprisingly my time was around 74.5 sec. No one else bettered their earlier times so John was winner again with me a close second.


Martin Groves (left) and Scott Moran (right) set off for the final runoff

Whilst all this was going on, there was of course the small matter of the MSA British Hillclimb Championship. It was the usual Groves v Moran tussle with Scott Moran just having the upper hand before I had to leave for my five hour drive home.

There were a few other scots there too - Drew Dawson in his bike engined DJ Firehawk and Nicola and Wallace Menzies - the latter with a brand spanking new DJ Firestorm with Cosworth V8 powerplant. That looks like it could be some machine............

Overall, the best weekend of the year so far (even though I didn't win!).

I'm off to Scammonden Dam near Huddersfield next weekend for round 5 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Foggy Forrestburn

Forrestburn 28 Jun 09 by Stephen Hynds

Photo: Stephen Hynds

Sunday was an interesting day at Forrestburn. Whilst the rest of the country basked in a heatwave, the microclimate of central Scotland cast a dense fog patch on the hillclimb venue at Forrestburn.

The event was a round of the Lowland Speed Championship but I was treating it as a practice for the August event which is a round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

I had been misplaced into the A6 class along with the Westfields and Caterhams so coming last was always on the cards. So, I set my sights on trying to get near my previous personal best of 58.64 secs, set last year after my rather spectacular off in first practice.

This time, I took it very easy in practice as the damp conditions proved treacherous. After lunch, the track started drying up an I managed a best run in the low 59secs - about a half a second off my best. I was quite pleased with that. The whole event wrapped up by 2.30pm and I was back home by 3.00pm!

Off to Harewood this coming weekend for my fourth round of the HSA/Richard Egger Insurance Speed Championship. Its also a round of the SBD British Championship so the spectating should be good - I'll take my camera!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Update time

It's a while since I posted because I've been away on holiday with the family!

Before I went, I had a cracking weekend of motorsport, firstly at Barbon and then at Kames.

It was my third visit to Barbon and I managed to thrash my previous best time by over a second posting 32.56secs which I was very chuffed with. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to gain maximum points in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship as Paul Rigg humbled me with a blistering 31.72secs on his first trip to the venue. Paul kindly said it wasn't much of test of skill - I guess he is right as the course has just three corners - but it was a good time nonetheless.

Kames the next day was interesting - conditions seemed good but the track wasn't particularly fast. I tried a bit of grass cutting on the first practice run and got a stern telling off from the Clerk of the Course - I did consider arguing but thought better of it! My best time was 102.09secs which only saw me come last in class as usual!

I'm off to Forrestburn this Sunday. Hope to beat my best of 58.64secs set in April 2008.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Weekend Washout

Don't you just hate the British weather. I do. Especially after last weekend at Curborough Sprint circuit.

I was there for round 8 of the Richard Egger Insurance/HSA Speed Championship and had set my sights on a class win to give me a fighting chance of staying in touch with the class leader, John Gallagher.

However, the gods of rain (and my fear of crashing) put paid to that!

I drove the 300 odd miles on Saturday and arrived at the track around 7pm expecting to see a few folk camping. Turned out that it had been raining cats and dogs all day so all the sensible folk had decided to stay at home. Anyway, I pitched my tent (on what I subsequently found out is a bog) and was about to settle in when a guy in a Subaru appeared. He introduced himself as John Palmer, a fellow competitor who lived local. We got chatting and agreed to go for something to eat. He was a class record holder with lots of intimate knowledge of the track and when we got back, he gave me some tips which I was sure would give me the edge on Sunday.


Sunday morning came and I emerged from my tent - still dry and no rain! I went to the toilet block and when I came out, it was tipping down. It would stay tipping down for another 8 hours!

My class had three other MX-5s, all championship runners - John Gallagher (current class leader), Tony Thomas and Barbara Fogden (2008 class winner).

I was worried about the rain as I have a track record of doing badly and it was starting to prey on my mind as we lined up for first practice. I took it nice and easy and posted 53 seconds. This proved to be about 4 seconds off the pace of John and Tony and 2 seconds slower than Barbara. My rain phobia was starting to kick in big time now - especially as I had to sit in the car for 10 minutes sheltering from the hail and thunderstorms.

Second run came and the weather was no better. I really struggled to get any grip away from the line and had a couple of 'moments' which dented my confidence even further. I managed to keep it together though and did a time of 49.96secs - more in line with the others on their first runs. However, John and Tony had improved to the 47sec level although Barbara only managed 50secs - so I had moved forward a wee bit.

Third run and it was still raining, albeit a wee bit lighter now. I still couldn't get a clean start - no matter how gingerly I eased the throttle, the wheels spun. I changed to second and the wheels spun half way up the start straight - way beyond the 64ft timing beam. This was going to be my downfall. Once going, I was getting into the groove and keeping it nice and smooth. I still only managed 49.98secs - worse than before and now a good 3-4 seconds off the pace of John, Tony and Barbara.

Final run came and I was thinking it was a long, long way to go to come last. The rain had stopped by now but the track was still a bit greasy. I had spoken to John Palmer who gave me a tip on the start line position to maximise grip and I duly lined up the car ready for the off. This time, I got a better start and a little more grip as I changed to second......except second didn't come.... instead, I got that crunching, grinding noise you get when you muck up a gearchange. Much stirring the 'box later and I was off up towards the first bend. I kept the boot in and managed to get round in 43.51 seconds - a whopping 6.5 seconds faster than before. I thought I would be nearer the pace with that.

However, John and Tony had other plans and posted 41.30 and 42.93 respectively. Barbara was less than pleased at being squeezed into fourth with her 43.63sec run.

I had plenty of time to think about what ifs on the 5 and a half hour journey home........

Come back soon for some in-car video action.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Curborough Coming Up

I've been preparing for my second trip to Curborough which is this coming weekend, Sunday 7 June. The event is round 8 of the Richard Egger Insurance HSA Speed Championship although its only my third outing in the championship this year.

After the tyre damage at Kames/Teesside, I'm getting one of my spare Marangoni's fitted this week so I'll have a full set again. I haven't decided which tyres I'll take to Curborough. The experience at Teesside made me think twice about the Marangonis which seem to be prone to overheating. I'll wait and see what the weather forecast says before deciding.

I've bought a new tent so I'll be camping on Saturday night for the second time this season. The tent is a Vango Beta 350 which I got from Craigdon Mountain sports in Perth. Got a good discount which is always a nice thing. The tent has a big porch area which means I can set up my chair and sit inside if the weather is dodgy - a huge improvement on the old tent!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Triumph at Teesside

Today at Teesside was interesting! First thing to say was that the weather was fantastic!

I was up against the Honda Civic VTi of Steve Palmer, the double entered MGF of Paul Rigg and Dennis Hope and the MR2 of Dave Exton, who won the class back in April with a 'magic' lap!

Unlike in April, it was the two-lap format they ran today and last year, I managed to do 117secs so that was my target time for today.

First practice went well and I posted 116.67secs which I was chuffed with as it knocked more than half a second off last year. This put me in the lead which made me even more chuffed.

However, closer inspection of my front tyre revealed some severe delamination and exposed cord! There was no way I could continue to race with that. :cry:

The damaged tyre

Not to worry - Steve (of the civic) had a couple of spare wheels with him and after a bit of umming and ahhing, they were fitted to the front end of my MX-5. Honda Civic wheels are a direct fit it seems! :D

So, with two ropey old Toyos up front and delaminating Marangonis at the rear, I set off for my second run. Needless to say, the car felt a bit weird and I only managed 117.19 secs. Still, it was faster than last year! The competition thought I was out of it - Paul was down to 116.79 and Steve did 116.35. Dave in the MR2 was proving that his win last time was a fluke as he only managed 136.

First timed run and I pushed on a bit. This time I managed 115.63 which I was very pleased with. I was quickly disappointed as Steve did a 115.57 and Paul a super quick 114.25. Paul was lining up his victory speech at this stage.

Second timed run and I tried some different lines and really had it on the ragged edge. I nearly lost it twice but I also fluffed a gearchange - losing lots of valuable time. To my amazement, I posted 114.34secs! :lol:

Paul and Stephen were going backwards by now posting 114.50 and 116.31 respectively. I was sitting in second and we got confirmation that we would get a third and final run.

I blasted off the startline, slid round the first corner, barely braked for the first chicane and got sideways up the hill. I got two wheels on the grass round the top corner and floored it for the straight - boy that felt quick! Braked VERy late for the second chicane and cut the kerbs on both sides - more like grasstracking! Screeching all the way round the 180degree bend, I floored it again and changed up to third. Braked late for the third chicane, snatched second and planted the throttle. Lots of kerb later, I was heading back down to the first corner for my second lap. More of the same and I managed to make all my gearchanges. Screeching round the last corner, I saw the clock....................

113.75secs ! 8) :D

Back into the paddock, I quickly got out the car to see Steve post 115.36. Paul was next and I was biting his nails as he crossed the line in 114.48secs.

I couldn't believe it. After such a disappointing day on Saturday, I had won convincingly and bagged a valuable 25 championship points. All on borrowed Honda wheels :lol:

Roll on the next event................

Monday, 18 May 2009

Preparing for the weekend

I've got another busy weekend with testing at Kames on Saturday, the Machars Car Club sprint on Sunday (a round of the Lowland Championship) and then down to Teesside for Round 2 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship on Monday.

In preparation, I'm replacing the front brake pads since the MOT tester said that they were 'worn down to the squeelers!' I've already done the offside and it's the first time I've looked at the front brakes for a year and it shows! The slider pins are gummed up and the caliper seals are starting to perish but they should last another few months. I'll order up some new slider pins and look at getting refurbed calipers later in the season. The good news is that the discs seem to be ok.

The new pads are Axxis Ultimates from - I've been on Mintex 1144 for the past year and I've never been that happy with them so it will be good to see if the Axxis pads are as good as I remember.

Friday, 8 May 2009

MOT Passed

After a nervous wait, the RacingFive passed its MOT today with no real problems. Only brake pads and uneven tyre wear were raised as advisories.

I've already got a new set of Axxis Ultimate pads to fit and the uneven tyre wear is to be expected given what I use the car for!

I had the car up at ProGrip in Bonnybridge to have the geometry adjusted last week but John had real problems adjusting the rear due to the sticking bolts. So, I am stuck at -2 degrees until I re-bush it. John did manage to add a bit of toe-in whch should help the tyre temps in the short term. I am now thinking of getting re-conditioned wishbones to save having to pull the old bushes out.

Next competitive outing is the Machars Car Club sprint at Kames on 24 May but I might try and get a test day in before then.

I'm also thinking of buying a Mk2 RS as a starting point for the RacingFive replacement. Just a thought at the moment........

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Scarborough Success

Great day at sunny Scarborough today. I won the battle of the MX-5s by 1.6 seconds and just missed out on the class win to Stephen Palmer's 180bhp Honda Civic - he beat me by 0.25secs.

Interesting hill - the first half was flat out slightly downhill (hitting rev limiter in third) to a hairpin and then very steep up, with a wee chicane at the top. Its on a public road (closed for the day) which much be pretty unusual (if not unique).

I really need a limited slip diff - I was having trouble getting the power down out of the hairpin.

There weren't many cars there but there were LOADS of motor bikes. That's the first time I've seen a bike hillclimb and it was quite exciting.

Next hurdle is to get the car through its MOT before Kames and Teesside at the end of May.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Scarborough Here We Come!

A busy couple of days ahead.

This afternoon, I'm off to see John at ProGrip in Bonnybridge for some tweaks to the geometry at the back end. Tyre temperatures indicate that I need to reduce the amount of negative camber on the rear wheels.

Straight after that, I'm heading down to Scarborough for Round 5 of the Richard Egger Insurance/HSA Speed Championship at Olivers Mount.

I forgot to book any accommodation so I'm pitching my tent when I get there!

Three of us intrepid MX-5 competitors are there including the current HSA Championship overall leader, John Gallacher in his Mk1 1.8 Roadster.

The MX-5 class table currently looks like this:

John Gallacher (4 rounds) = 35 points
Tony Thomas (3 rounds) = 23 Points
Barbara Fogden (3 rounds) = 15 points
Kevin Hamilton - me (1 round) = 8 points

So, I have a bit of ground to catch up!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Doune Hillclimb 19/29 April

I took the family up to Doune to watch the hillclimb last weekend and what a superb couple of days it proved to be.

Doune is known as 'The King of the Hills' in the UK, being the longest and arguably most challenging climb in the country. The facilities are pretty good - with full access to the hill and good spectating.

The weather turned out to be fantastic and several class records were broken - including the Class A8 record (the class I compete in) - taken in spectacular style by Graeme Bremner in the mighty Exige. Graeme seems to have developed the car pretty nicely over the winter and it looks unlikely that there will be any serious challenge to his position in Class A8 this year.

I took the opportunity to practice my photography with my free digi-SLR that I got given for my birthday. I need to get a decent, fast tele lens but I did manage to get a couple of nearly half-decent action shots using the crappy kit zoom lens.

Doune Hillclimb 18 April 09

Doune Hillclimb 18 April 09

Doune Hillclimb 18 April 09

Monday, 13 April 2009

Kames weekend

Kames 12 April 09
Photo: Douglas Hunter

Just had two fantastic days at Kames Sprint circuit in Ayrshire.

Saturday was a club sprint run in the anti-clockwise direction. Weather was sunny but with a cool wind and the organisation saw us get 6 runs through the day.

I've only done anti-clockwise once before (May 2008) and had managed a 95.04 second run. I was therefore very pleased to do a 93.27sec run on my fourth go. It was a good workout for the Toyo T1-R tyres I had put on to see if they can match the Marangoni's I've been using since August last year. The jury's still out on that one!

Sunday was the first round of both the Guyson Scottish Sprint Championship and the Lowland Speed Championship. I was in a class of 6 mostly super fast cars (Lotus and TVR!) so it was always going to be a race against myself.

It was nice to see some of the Scottish Fivers turn out to support me and we had a surprise visit at lunchtime from Jonathan Rarity, the current Scottish Hillclimb Champion, who has recently bought his new wife an MX-5. I made him promise never to enter it in a competitive event!

This time it was run in the clockwise direction which I am much more familiar with. My times were fairly consistent throughout the day as follows:

P1 - 102.72
P2 - 102.27
P3 - 102.26
T1 - 101.93
T2 - 102.03

This consistency is beginning to annoy me because it suggests there is not much left that I can do. I'm either consistently bad or I'm pushing just about as much as I can. I've come to the conclusion that my fastest times at this track (100.26 April 08) are down to tyres - I used well worn Goodyear Eagle F1s and Toyo R888 to get down to 100secs.

Maybe as the Toyo T1-R and Marangonis wear down I'll get nearer the magic 100secs again (towards the end of the season).

I've got a couple of weeks off now before Oliver's Mount in the HSA Championship on 2 May.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Terrific Teesside

Phot: Martin Peacock

Just back from Teesside in Middlesbrough for the first roound of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship.

There was a good turn out in my class (R2) with 7 entries including another MX-5. Running a single lap format, we managed two practice runs and a total of 8 timed runs. Yes you read that right - 8 timed runs. Fantastic value for money.

I am getting really consistent (which is good). I managed three consecutive runs of 56.21, 56.21, 56.20 which proved to be my fastest time. It was good enough for thrid in class, the winner being novice Dave Exton in his MR2 who did the lap of his life in 55.16 secs. Second place went to Paul Rigg in the MGF with 55.48.

The class is much closer this year and I think it will be a close run thing all season. Next outing in this championship is Teesside on 24 May.

I got home in 3.5 hours and spent the evening changing the ARB droplinks which had finally given up the ghost today. I've also changed to my Toyo T1-R tyres for the weekend's activities at Kames..........

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Curborough Virgin no more!

My first competitive trip to Curborough near Lichfield in Staffordshire proved to be a good start to the season.

After a 5 hour drive (not pleasant in a Kirkey seat!), I arrived at the B&B to be told they'd had a robbery the week before. Crikey! Anyway, I managed a good night's sleep and rose early to get to the circuit by 8am.

It's the first time I've driven Curborough for real (only the second time I've been there) and didn't really know what to expect in terms of times etc.

The pleasant surprise was that there were 4 MX-5s competing - myself, Barbara Fogden (2008 class winner), John Gallagher (a seasoned competitor but first season in MX5) and a guy called Rob who usually drives a single seater but turned up in his MX5 ('cause the race car was broken).

Format was the double-lap layout so two goes at the twisty bit and an excruciating hairpin.

First couple of runs were fact finding missions. I reckon it takes about 4 visits to a venue to get a good idea of where the corners are - never mind how to tackle them! Anyway, I posted around 75 secs on my two practice runs. Barbara was around 79 secs and John Gallagher was around 74secs. Rob was down at 72 secs!

I had a chat with Rob at half time and he and the guy next to me in a super quick S2000 gave me enough hints to get my first timed run down to 73.16 secs. Barbara was now around 75 secs and John did 72.58secs.
Rob was out of sight at 71secs.

Final run and I nailed the twisties but missed 3rd gear out of the hairpin and sat stirring the soup for at least a second (racing excuse no. 352). That cost me big time - I posted 73.06secs. Barbara posted 74.47secs and John 72.56secs. Rob did another 71 sec run.

So, championship honours go to John Gallagher but I'll get him next time!

Biggest surprise of the day was the speed differential between the different cars. The finish line speed trap consistently showed 69mph for Babara in her Mk1 1.6, 74mph for John in his Mk1 1.8 and 77mph for both me and Rob in our Mk2 1.8. BIG difference. This is the first season that anyone has entered a 1.8 in the championship and I think it will be the only way to go.

I'm off to Teesside on Friday and back on home turf at Kames on Saturday and Sunday.

Yee Ha.........

Friday, 3 April 2009

Teesside is on!

Great news. Wigton Motor Club has confirmed that the opening round of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship will run at Teesside on Good Friday.

I've also received the entry list for the Guyson Scottish Hillclimb and Sprint Championships and guess what - there is another MX5 entered this year! That should make for some excellent competition.

I'm off to get the car ready for the first round of the Richard Eggar Insurance/HSA Speed Championship at Curborough this weekend.

I'll have a full report when I get back on Sunday night.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The season begins on 4th April

I've had my entry accepted for the first round of the Richard Eggar Insurance/HSA Speed Championship at Curborough on 5 April. I'm lucky because lots of others had their entries returned as the event was oversubscribed.

I've had the geometry set up at ProGrip in Bonnybridge and my initial testing session at Kames indicated that I was running too much negative camber at the rear. However, I don't have time to get it sorted before Curborough so it'll just have to do.

The first Teesside sprint on Good Friday is teetering on the edge as they are struggling to get entries. They might have to cancel and that would be a real shame as Wigton MC is a great club and Teesside is a great venue. If you want to enter, get over to the Wigton site and give the entry secretary a ring before 2 April.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The preparation begins!

After a long winter layoff, I've started working on the car again. I've bought a new trickle charger to get the battery in tip-top condition and I've just fitted my new Kirkey seat:


It makes getting in and out of the car a real pain but once inside and strapped in, it is more comfortable than the old Elise seat I ran last year. Should be safer and has the added bonus of being very light.

I have lots still to do before the season kicks off with a test session at Kames on 14 March.

My first competitve outing will be in the HSA Championship at Curborough on 5th April. For the first time, I'll be competing against other MX-5s this year in the only national championship with a class for the marque.

I'll also be defending my class titles in the TJ Services Norther Speed Championship and on the Windowcraft Lowland Speed Championship

Can't wait!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Winter testing

Happy New Year!

I haven't made any changes to the car yet but I did manage to get down to Kames between Christmas and New Year to blow away the cobwebs.

East Ayrshire Car Club ran a test day on 28 December and I thought I'd get some practice in. Little did I know there would be an artic freeze overnight!

I arrived at the track around 10.30am and it was still covered in frost. The first couple of hours were 'interesting' to say the least - I felt a bit like a scandanavian rally driver at times!

By about 2pm the track had cleared up nicely and I was able to push a bit. I really need to re-learn how to drive though - I still feel much slower than this time last year and I think it's my driving style which has become too aggressive.

Off to Autosport show next weekend and I'm picking up the new head and a spare shortblock on the trip too.