Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Kames - 22 May - First in Class !

The VX is giving me highs and lows in equal measure.

I was delighted to take a class win and get near my personal best at Kames on Saturday in Round 2 of the Brockbank Solicitors Northern Speed Championship.

Practice was farily uneventful - a steady 100sec run to start and then into the 98s to warm up. However, the dreaded clunk started in my first timed run but I still managed to chip a bit off. Second timed run was similar - no drama - but the clunk was getting worse.

Third timed run was getting much smoother and I managed to carry more speed through the tricky right hander, 'Norries' and posted a near personal best of 97.57secs. This was easily enough to win the class as my competitors (an Audi Quattro and a Subaru Impreza) were still not under 100 secs. It was also enough to be fastest roadgoing car on the day - beating even David Wiggins in his super wee 205 Rallye who managed to set his personal best of 99.93secs.

Final timed run came and I decided (as usual) to give it everything. This proved to be very exciting as my clunk was now affecting the handling of the car and as it slid through the lefthander after 'Norries', it suddenly clunked and slid round bit further than I expected. After a small excursion onto the grass and an overcorrection back towards the tyre wall, I managed to slam on the brakes and rely on the ABS to get me round the hairpin. Undeterred, I overcooked my entry speed to the paddock bend and managed another slide but kept it under reasonable control. Final time was 98.06secs and I reckon I lost a second or so through my over exhuberance so sub-97 secs is definitely on.

Unfortunately, the clunking had become too distracting and I was worried that something major was about to snap so decided to take the car home to inspect before the Sunday event. As it turned out, I couldn't get the problem sorted so decided to play safe and withdraw from Sunday.

So, the high of a class win (and fastest roadgoing car) followed by the low of not competing on the Sunday.

I still have to solve the problem on the VX and since I am severely financially challenged at the moment, it might take some time.

Watch this space.........

Friday, 21 May 2010

Clunk, clunk

Picked up the car from Eric on my way back from hols today. Car still clunking a bit but I'm going to risk taking it to Kames this weekend.
General consensus is that a suspension refresh is needed. It means that mys season will be reduced as I can't afford to compete and redo the suspension. So, I think I'll be missing Doune, Barbon and maybe even Forrestburn in June. :-(

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Suspension clunk diagnosed

The suspension clunk has been diagnosed as a failed wishbone bush. Vauxhall quoted £30+VAT for the part but said "it would have to come from Germany and will take 10 days". I tried an independent VX partsspecialist whosaid the same. Fortunately, I knew it was the same part as a Lotus Elise so I phoned a Lotus dealer who quoted £22+VAT and could have it by Tuesday and sent to me by Thursday. Hmmm - a bit tight for Kames.

So, my final call was to EliseParts.com. After a discussion about Ertalon bushes (a nylon like material - better fr track use), The helpful chap said he could supply the individual Lotus OEM bush I needed for the Lotus price of £22 + VAT. He had them in the workshop and would get it to me by the weekend. Result.

So, my friendly mechanic, Eric will be fixing the bush whilst I'm away next week and hopefully the car will be back to normal for Kames on 22 May.

It has made me think that I really have to do a full suspension refresh this sooner rather than later so if funds allow, I'll order up some Ertalon bushes and start the job in July.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Teesside cancelled

Just got the news that the York MC event at Teesside on 31 May has been cancelled due to a lack of entries. Shame because I really like Teesside and I was hoping for some valuable Northern Speed Championship points from it.

Still, it eases some of the financial pressure at the end of the month.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Ingliston Day 2 - Clunkarama

Not much to say. The VX developed a very nasty clunk from the rear end under acceleration after my first practice run. Decided to take it easy and was soundly beaten by Alistair Matheson's TVR.

I need to get the car fixed by Kames on 22/23 May but my recent expenditure on wheels, an impending family holiday and some unexpected house maintenance mean that there is a very strong possibility that I won't be back out in the VX until June at the earliest.

I'm punting as much crap on eBay as I dare to try and raise some funds but there's only so many AC/DC records that I can sell!

A pic from Saturday at Ingliston:


Saturday, 1 May 2010

Ingliston Sprint - Class win!

Day one of the double header at the revived Ingliston sprint venue went very well. The track, which was last used for MSA sprinting in 1995, is a real challenge being fast and intimidating in equal measure. There is a very long straight which allows 4th gear - this is quite unusual in sprinting - and unique in Scotland, I think.

As this was a round of the British Sprint Championship, the usual classes were split based on the grade of licence of the driver. As I upgraded this year (still not sure why!), I was in the National A class A8 along with fellow Wigton Club member Stephen Hemmingway in his lovely Porsche 911. The National B class A8 consisted of Jamie MacDonald (on his first ever sprint) in a nice S1 Lotus Elise and Dave 'the Destroyer' Exton in a new (to him) MR2.

Practice was wet but was drying by the third run. I clocked just under 57 secs on my third practice and was within reach of Stephen's porsche. Jamie in the Elise was flying and was down to 54 secs but I was reasonably happy because I knew there was more to come.

First timed run was a bit of a nightmare for me - I overcooked the hairpin entry and understeered very wide before getting some rotation to bring me back on line. So, despite havin gone much quicker over the rest of the course, I still only managed a 56sec run. Jamie by this time was in the low 53secs.

Final run and I nearly had a complete disaster! I went to the toilet, came back and was just chatting to Dave Exton when I spotted the other drivers in my class with their helmets on. I rushed over to my car only to discover they were returning from their last run! A quick grovel to the Clerk and I was allowed to take my last run.

I still couldn't get to grips with the hairpin - again I went in way too fast and understeered wide. But I must have been going faster elsewhere because this time I posted 54.63sec - fast enough to beat the Porsche and claim the class win. Jamie in the Elise didn't quite better his earlier time of 53.15ses but it sets a good record to chase tomorrow.

Overall, it was a great day and if tomorrow is half as good, it will be fabulous....