The RacingPug had its third and fourth outings of the 2011 season at the resurrected Ingliston sprint circuit, near Edinburgh at the weekend.
Saturday started well enough for me. I got my sighting run in and a couple of almost respectable (for an e-bay special with around 80bhp) practice runs - down to 58 seconds dead in my third practice. The car handles beautifully - Ingliston is a unique mix of high speed corners and a tight hairpin.
First timed run was going well until just before the final corner when I lost all power. The car just wouldn't rev and I coasted back to the paddock. My time was 58.92 so it would have been a flyer.
As is usual in these situations, a plethora of helpful people descended on the car and from my inane mumblings, a broken gearbox was diagnosed. I was pretty depressed at that thought and about to go and get the trailer when I spotted fellow Peugeot competitor, Gary McDermaid, sitting having a fag. I went over and told a tale of woe about the crapness of french cars and he came over with a couple of mates and set about poking and prodding.
After a good half an hour of jacking, running, testing, geachanging we deduced that the gearbox was in ok condition, the clutch was operating perfectly but the engine was sick as a parrot. All fingers were pointing at a fuelling issue but the pump was peeing out copiuos amounts of V power. Then some black magic was performed on the carb and it was made to run, albeit on half choke. So out I went for my last timed run with the car idling at 3,000rpm!
At the start line, I dropped the clutch and nowt happened. I pulled away at a crawl and tried tinkering with the choke but to no avail. By the first marshals post, I signalled that my run was over and by the time I reached the next post, the red flag was out. I took a shortcut back to the finish and hobbled back to the paddock.
The carb gurus descended again and after much head scratching, scoosing of carb cleaner and tweeking, one of the lads nearly lost his eye when a massive backfire shot out of the intake..... We all looked at each other..... Ignition timing?
Then the penny dropped. I'd had the dizzy off to change the oil seal and probably hadn't nipped up the nuts properly!. More fiddling and the engine was revving freely. No-one had a timing light so that would have to wait for Sunday.
Sunday came and John Roddick (another friendly Citroen driver) produced an old timing light so we set about the task. Unfortunately, try as we might, we just couldn't see any timing marks on the flywheel so I just had to run as it was.
The track had been shortened by around 100m due to an administrative error (long story) so comparisons with Saturday were not possible. On the first practice I took it easy but the car seemed ok so on second practice I pushed harder and managed a 53.42 sec.
In the morning, I made a bet with Dave 'The Destroyer' Exton that if he beat me in his e-bay special MR2, I would scrap the racingPug. Our times were fairly well matched so it seemed like a good challenge. I tried all my best mindgame tricks and it seemed to work when he spun out on his next run. However, he put in a good run after lunch and got 53.25sec so the pressure was on.
I went out for my final run and it was going very well until I decided to left foot brake at the last corner. I'm not a natural left foot braker although I have been practicing in my automatic Volvo of late. Anyway, I didn't quite shave off enough speed and pushed wide. This lead me to lift off and of course, being a Peugeot 205, the car hated this and decided that its arse should be leading the way. I managed to hold on to it but I'd lost valuable time and came home in 53.46 secs.
So, Dave won the bet and I was forced to humbly accept he is the driving god I could never be. I managed to wriggle out of scrapping the Pug by promising to buy my kids some sweeties which I duly did.
Anyway, it was a cracking weekend in many ways. Great weather (again!), great sport and most of all, great banter.
A special mention must go to Ben Lyons who, on his first competitive event, smashed the A8 class record in his beautiful VX220 Turbo. Apparently Ben used to have an MX-5 and clearly has excellent taste in cars. Obviously, it's all going to go downhill for him now and I fully expect him to be buying an old French car on e-bay any day soon. ;-)
John Stewart has posted some great photos of the event on his site at www.flatoutphotography.com
It is clear that the racingPug is no contender in class M1 against the very well developed machinery in that class. However, it does provide excellent fun at bargain cost (less than some of my class competitors have spent on tyres this season) and for that, I am truly thankful.
Next outing for the racingPug will be at Teesside on 30 May. There will definitely be some more news about the racingMetro before then and it might be different from the previously reported demise......