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.