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reddevil

Gone endurance racing

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OK so Spa 24hr is this weekend, and we're all packed up and ready to roll.

This is the big one, and our first with pay drivers, full report and write up when we return!! Wish us luck!

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Good luck buddy, keep it chilled and have a great time!

You got any twitter / instagram live updates on the go?

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Well that was an absolute blast.

Despite taking two spare engines, full front end and back axle, gearbox and an entire spare car we needed none of it - car ran faultlessly all weekend and didn't even use any oil (nearly 1700 track miles completed).

Qualifying was a joke we only managed 4 timed laps between 5 drivers due to red flags, P18 on the C1 UK grid was where that lottery put us.

By the end of the first stint Mike one of our guest drivers had us up to P6 and I think at one point we ran as high as P4. We were consistently hovering around the top end of the top 10. However a malfunctioning tuff jug meant we short fuelled during the morning and had a tow back, then we added an extra stop for safety so we ended up P15 out of 46 (I think) C1 UK entries.

This is a mental race with over 100 cars on the track and a thunder storm arrived at about 1am about 15 minutes into my own first ever racing stint (a) in the dark (b) in the wet and (c) at Spa. 

Here is a short vid of that stint, showing that madness including oversteer on the way in, and the way out, of Eau Rouge. And yes lightening in between.

Epic - who wants to come along with us next season? 2nd car in build.

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I was keeping an eye on this through Instagram over the weekend, it looked mega!

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OK, so our racing year did not end at Spa. 

Many of you will know that Rockingham has closed down as of this year, and we decided that we would go out with a bang and do the "Super send off" meeting weekend of the 24th November. There was a race on the Saturday followed by a friends and family track day on the Sunday. We loaded up the truck, tent and beers and headed off for both.

Ben and I entered the 1hr enduro which had a 1000cc class, with a mandatory pit stop/driver change. The Saturday did not get off to a good start, when I beached it in the litter on the exit of Gracelands on the quali out lap. Which made me very unpopular as it caused a red flag and reduced the already non-existent qualifying session to about 10 minutes.

After being forklifted to safety I returned to the pits with a bumper full of gravel and my tail between my legs, and thought it best to give way to Ben for the rest of the session. The car was handling badly in wet conditions which was reaffirmed by his quali time which put us at the back of the grid by about 5s.

We made a setup change on the rear axle to dial out some oversteer and lined up at the back of the grid. A few fast but late entrants, absent from quali, blasted past us at the start, and then I kept out of the way on the first corner to see what would unfold in front of me. I kept close to the pack knowing the best place to overtake at Rockingham in a C1 is around the bowl and sure enough I managed to pick off two cars by the end of the first lap. So we're up to 4th in class. 

The rest of my stint was spent battling with the Rockingham circuit sponsored car and the white GMP developments entry. I think I managed to do one and not the other.

Then the gift - safety car - and right in our pit window at the 25 min mark. SC rules are you must drive at full speed to join the back of the train because they want all the cars bunched not spread out over the lap, makes easier for the marshalls to deal with the incident. The advantage is of course if you have not joined the back of train yet you are making massive time, and if you can catch the train, pit, and then exit before the train comes around again you can make up massive time. This is exactly what we knew we had to do.

Unfortunately the go pro stopped recording after our stop, but the story is Ben exited after the driver change in 2nd place, the yellow peril car which was dead last seemed to be leading as they dubiously did not observe the minimum pitstop time whilst in the pits! All the class are bunched together at this point, and Ben quickly made short work of the yellow car to take the lead.

What then ensued was a lot of nail biting as for about 25 minutes our car flashed past the pits with the white GMP car literally on its tail drafting lap after lap. I was convinced he'd have us but Ben held on and we got our first ever win in the last ever race meet at Rockingham. What a way to end a season!  Here's our first trophy

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And some footage before the first pit stop:

The Rockingham staff put on a stiff upper lip and a free bar on the Saturday night, and we did a midnight track walk and party back in our truck awning till the early hours!

The rally car made an appearance on Sunday (not till about lunchtime mind) much to the amusement of everyone I took on a passenger ride, it oversteers a lot when the tyres are cold and when they are up to temp it's much faster around a track than it has any right to. We melted and then stripped to the canvas a set of fronts, and scandi-flicking it around the hairpins and using the fly off handbrake at Deene and Tarzan was a lot of fun! The rear tyres were trash too. Worth it.

Finally I also managed an 11th hour (well 3:55pm) cheeky full oval lap in the Citroen as a "goodbye" to Rockingham, not the layout they were running but I drove through the cones and the fire crew (who we knew) cheered me on! What were they going to do, black flag and ban me?!

So next year we're going to step away from driving in the C1s and instead run our car and another we have in build for paying customers. We already have an entry in for the Silverstone 24hr in April, and customers committed for drives, and we've been running a series of popular taster days for potential customers at Donington.

As for my own racing next year, the rally car is getting tidied up and sold, then I am looking at a limited programme in either a Caterham (in the Grads series), a mk3 MX-5 (BRSCC supercup) or maybe the ultra-close BMW E36 Compact series. Cost-wise tending towards the BMW at the moment... but I do want to do something we could potentially hire out for arrive and drive in year 2. We'll see.

 

Edited by reddevil

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The End of another era within the UK for car locations, glad to hear it had a good last weekend!

I've always found it bit of an odd place to watch an event, difficult to take pictures but always well liked by drivers

 

Brilliant update Reddevil

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only just seen the spa footage :blink: was you in the little C1 doing that? must have been 'dramatic' in that weather but a lap must have taken an age dry or wet! :D

always wondered if I would get bored racing something so slow (being a big motorsports fan)  but guess once you are in the car the competitive red-mist still descends.

Those Ginettas have a huge speed difference at Rockingham! keeps you alert :huh:

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Yup it was me in both vids... I love my Eau Rouge double oversteer moment (with lightening) - it's not that slow, on the downhill we are doing 90mph (look at the speedo)! That whole session (2.5hr) I was constantly praying for safety car periods as whilst racing you couldn't see a damn thing and no-one wants to overtake, everyone wants to follow because no-one has any idea of where you are going. This is reinforced by my team mate Ben having our one accident of the race - note the car behind has the same accident - because he can't see the track he's just following!

Honestly the slow straight line performance is not at all a problem bordem-wise. In the series we have professional tin top drivers from WTCC and BTCC competing for fun, as well as many many ex-Caterham and other "fast" series. We're getting enquiries from all round Europe from karters up to GT racers! The genius is the close racing, equal equipment and the skill is in preservation of momentum and efficiency of line.

You'll notice from my vid at Rockingham the quickest way onto the oval is actually not the racing line it's the shortest line, as it is with other corners (piff paff being the chief culprit) and making sure you absolutely nail precisely your lines and exits because you don't have power to make up on the straights. The data tells you all this and it's great in practice runs comparing segments between you all and then going back out and stringing together a quali lap!

Track days are fun, but any kind of racing is another dimension. I honestly do not see the point on spending 100k+ on a track toy when you could spend 1/10th of that on a season's racing in something like a C1 and have so much more fun. I'm totally hooked!!

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Haven't updated this topic in a while, but we've just come back from Anglesey so thought it might warrant a check in!

After our year racing, we decided to turn the team into a business to support our own racing. Over the winter we built a second car, christened Zippy (car 341).

The season started with a trip to Croft for a double 3hr race, and with drivers of mixed abilities and a very wet meeting, a result in the race was going to be tough. Indeed our drivers managed to park both cars in the mud (requiring a tow back) in both races, but one highlight was Mike Hart our "team pro" driver peddling from P29 -> P1 in race two.

Onwards to the Silverstone 24h. We had 9 drivers signed up across the two cars. Car 421 had an early extended trip to the pits for an engine change due to a missed gear shift, so was circulating around at the back. The other car qualified a very respectable 16th and was still running in that position after 4 hours, from there our race unravelled.

First, a trip to the gravel trap for 341 from that 16th place just before midnight lost us time and brought a 3 lap penalty for a tow back, putting it in the mid 70's.

All was relatively quiet through the night, come morning I'd already been up for 26hrs when I made a mistake on fuel calcs and left 341, who had recovered to top 30, out too long and it ran out of fuel on his in lap. Tow back... Another 3 lap penalty.

Finally I decided to go for a sleep at around 8am and managed two hours... During which all hell broke loose.

Car 341 was rear ended at Village by a car with brake failure. He came into the pits and the damage was extensive, the boys fitted a new bumper and sent him back out and he did manage to finish the race in that state, but when we got the car back after parc ferme we realised how bad the accident had really been. The rear floor was ripped apart, the rear chassis rail bent and the fuel tank shifted forward. Still managed to set a time within 1s of the fastest lap of the race in that state!

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A massive recovery drive meant that the car actually finished in the top half of the race, the remaining 8hrs being a little quieter...

Car 421 also had it's own incident whilst I was asleep. A car had gone off at Stowe and come back onto track in front of our driver, who hit it square on in the side. This badly damaged the front end of our car breaking the engine block where the mount attaches, finishing off the rad and many other parts. Worryingly the driver of the other car needed to visit the medical centre but was thankfully OK.

Back in the pits the crew worked hard and gave 421 it's third engine of the race, a new cooling system and some gaffer tape "ballast", and had the car out in 40 minutes. Sadly this engine perished a few hours' later too due to an over rev and the car was out in hour 22 - we ran out of engines!!

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So a difficult meeting.

It was a short month until the Anglesey 4hr meeting, and with two broken cars we were really on the back foot to get something in place.

Car 341 was a definite re-shell, so we decided to concentrate on 421. I spent a morning stripping him down and removing the broken engine. Amazingly the damage was largely cosmetic and the engine had taken the bulk of the impact, the geometry was good but a new slam and rad support panel was required, along with crash bar and all the external panels. Amazingly the washer bottle, tucked up at the front right corner, a survivor of no less than 3 front end smashes now, was still good!!

We sourced another good low mileage engine, bought all of our panels, made sure he was nice and straight on the jig and commenced the rebuild process.

He was finished on Thursday morning last week, and we polished then  loaded him up for the trip to Wales, and testing with our customers on Friday morning (minus livery on the front!)

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In between sessions we finished off the livery and our drivers Geoff, Greg and Jonny rewarded us with a P4 quali on the grid of 25 cars.

 

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Yesterday was race day. After the first corner the boys were up to P2, and by the end of the first lap they managed to snatch the lead, extending a gap of 25s by the first round of pit stops. So the rebuild went well then!

At the first stop, unlike other teams, we elected to change tyres and long fuel, knowing others would need to do so later and the race would come back to us at the end. We were back out in P7 and once the first round of pit stops had ironed out, we were P4. Stop two at the 2.5hr mark for us was a quick splash and dash, only dropping us a couple of places with many ahead of us still to make a second stop.

The races have a mandatory 3 stops, so with 3 drivers, the plan was to do a "joker" stop right near the end of the race, unless the SC came out. This was the same strategy as the cars we were racing, most being 2 or 3 driver teams. However, with about 35 minutes to go we had the driver in the pits reporting a clonk on gearchange, he was worried something was loose or about to imminently fail on the car, after a quick safety check of the suspension and driveshafts etc. we sent him back out, telling him just to go for it until the car broke if necessary - we wasted about 30s or so compared to a normal joker pit stop.

Having completed all of our stops and back out in P7, everyone in front of us needed to make at least one other stop. Luckily for us the race did come back to us, there was no SC (allowing others to take a "free stop") and after everyone's final stops with 10 mins to go, we were P3 - only 5 secs behind the P2 car. Greg our driver put in his fastest laps of the race to close to 0.7s at the flag, with the winning car just another 25s up the road.

So we had to settle for the small step on the podium, thinking what might have been without a little more time spent in the pits, but our little car had come back from the brink and lead the most laps of the race, the sun was out and the drive home via Conwy on the coastal A55 spectacular as the sun went down. And no contact to the car, our drivers really looked after him.

We're back out in two weeks' time for the double 6hr race at Pembrey!

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Meantime the 205 rally car has been sold and the next Majestic Motorsport car is here....... Also an endurance racer. I picked it up week before last. Needs a few bits doing and a livery but we hope to be racing it in August. I can't wait, it's epic and has a few tricks up its sleeve. A step onwards from the little C1s.

 

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First track evening in the MX-5..

I'm going to need to find about 3 or 4 seconds to be in the top 10 of the Supercup, but this time would have put me P2 in class in 750MC Club Enduro according to the best times when they last visited Donington on the national layout!!

 

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Quick update on this one.

We'll be entering Britcar (Dunlop Endurance Championship) this year with the blue MX-5, we'll be driving that one ourselves in a series of 50 min races (2 drivers). We've also bought another MX-5 for customers to hire. Both will eventually be done in tribute Rothmans/Williams liveries so we've name them Frank and Patrick.

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42 minutes ago, World Citizen said:

I like everything about this post! 😎

Best of luck with the racing 👍

Thanks for the encouragement! Much appreciated.

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Yup, all good stuff. I'll come down to Pembrey and cheer you on when you're there next. Or if you ever need a spare nutter to chuck in a car :) 

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