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2008 Archive

As the 2008 season is now over it’s time I said a huge thank you to all people who have helped me throughout the year and without whom I would not have got to the start, let alone the end of any of the races!

First a special mention for Mark Tucker aka ‘Tux’ – Mark has done a superb job at every single race, rain or shine, making sure the car wants for nothing despite my best efforts.

Derek Binsted, Mark Harris, Nick and Sarah Brown,  Steve Robbins,  Paul Daniels, Rob Clarke,  Jon White, Tim White, Katie and Hannah,  Ted and James from Powertec,  Amanda, Darren, Ben  and Jon from Radical, Rob Wheldon, Paul Steele, ‘Hamlet’, Bill and Rachel, Tim Porter, Gary Kane, Kieran and John Ali, Neil from  Corrinium Motorsport, Steve and Emma Burns,  and last but not least to Ali, whilst it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,  not having to ask at all makes all the difference !

The team are going to work on our 2008 battle plan and I will post details ASAP

Simon

Brands Hatch  - BESCR

We decided to end the season by entering  the inaugural Bike Engined Sports Car Racing  round  at Brands Hatch during the formula Ford Festival weekend. This is a new series and is open to any bike engine sports car. The turnout for the first two races was fantastic with 20 cars on the grid and the welcome and support from ‘JP’ and the Formula services team was excellent. The format was a 20 min qualifying session and a 15 min race on Saturday then a 25 min race with a pit stop on Sunday. We qualified well with a 46.8 sec lap being good enough for 2nd on the grid alongside the PR06 of Jonathan Wright. We had cameras fitted to the car by Chasecam UK as the races are to be televised, they will be broadcast on Sky Sports

Race 1 and 2 finished with Jonathan in 1st and me in 2nd place.  Being interviewed by Brands Hatch legend Brian Jones on the podium made my weekend complete. The whole weekend was a great way to get over the disappointment of Combe and end the season on a high. The BESCR format was very good and we will certainly be looking to race with them again in 2009.

Castle Combe Final round

Having spent a day testing on the Thursday before the race we were confident we would be up at the front of the class B field. Qualifying went according to plan as we qualified 2nd in class and 5th overall with a 1.05.866 less than half a second behind Andrew Shanley the Class B front man and most importantly 8/10ths ahead of Dave Williams my challenger for 2nd spot in the championship.

The car was running perfectly so once fuelled and checked we were ready for the race. As we formed up on the grid the rain started, the warming up lap was interesting on slicks to say the least and I fully expected the race to be postponed so we could all fit wet tyres. After an interminable delay on the grid whilst the officials seemed unable to make a decision the red lights came on – Starting a race on a fully wet track was one of the worst decisions I have seen in a long time – Everybody tiptoed around for the first lap as an heat we had got into our tyres on the warm up lap had gone during the delayed start.  The Escort of Nick Williamson was using it’s 4WD well and he was up  at the front. ON lap two there was a spinner at Tower, a Jade I think. On the exit of Bobbies I started to lose the rear of the car and could not catch it. I spun ever so slowly into the Armco and stopped.  The marshals were great and tried to push the car back on to the track but the splitter had got wedged under the barrier and we could not move the car so that was it. Season over.

Not the greatest of finishes to a long hard year but 3rd in class was a result I’d have been happy with at the beginning of the year. Congratulations to Dave Williams on his second place,  that is a great result for a car that was only finished in March

It’s going down to the wire

After all the rain recently it was great to see clear skies and sunshine for the penultimate round of the Castle Combe Special GT championship.  No worries about tyre choice or  wet weather set up meant we were ready  to go as soon as the pit lane opened for qualifying.  We had spent a lot of time on the balance of the car of the car since the last race and it showed, 1m 06.2s lap was our best time with this car to date. The problem is that the competition has got stiffer with more 2litre cars entering the class against our 1500 so our time was only good enough for 4th in class and 7th overall on the grid. After a better, but not great start (I need to work on this!)  I got passed by Mark Funnell in his supercharged Lotus. It’s a very quick car in a straight line but slow in the corners and Mark seemed keen to keep his place although we are in different classes. It took me half a lap to push my way past between Tower and Bobbies by which time the leaders were long gone... I gradually began to reel in The Yellow Prosport in 6th place,  by the end of the race was within a second of him but I ran out of laps and finished in 7th place, 4th  in class.  Class B was won by Josh Fisher in his Mantis and that win gives him the class B championship  - Well done Josh!

We now go in to the last round still in 2nd place by one point so it’s going to be a close run finish. We had a good day’s racing and also had a personal best lap of 1m 05.8s  and there’s more to come – I can’t wait!

t's been a while since my last update do here is a summary of  July and August:-
 
19/20 July Castle Combe - This was a 5 race marathon in more ways than one. We qualified in the top ten for both the Combe GTs and the Clubman Cup and 13th for the UK Cup.
Race 1 Clubman Cup - DNF
Race 2 GT's 3rd Overall and Class win
Race 3 Clubman Cup - Stalled at start, DNF
Race 4 UK Cup - 12th
Race 5 UK Cup - DNF, Blown engine
We took the engine out before we left for home - not a fun time for anyone, still at least we won the GT race
 
2/3 August Castle Combe
With the new engine installed (Thanks to Nick for collecting it from Powertec, and thanks to Powertec for rebuildibng it so quickly) it was back to Combe for the double header.
Qualified in 6th overall, 3rd in class (very wet!)
Race 1 - 5th overall, 3rd in Class
Race 2 - 5th overall, 4th in class
 
24 August Brands Hatch
Bank Holiday weekend part 1 - Clubman Cup. I love Brands Hatch, what a great track
Qualified 11th in the wet on slicks
Race 1 - 9th overall, 7th in class
Race 2 - 9th overall, 8th in class
 
25 August Castle Combe
Bank Holiday weekend part 2 after a blow out on the truck between Brands and Combe at midnight - Fun...not!
Qualified - 6th overall, 4th in class
Race - 6th Overall, 4th in class ( made it difficult by stalling on the grid, again. I was in 14th place at the first corner. A pace car incident helped but I have to appologise to Norman Lackford for the gentlest of taps that sent him off - Sorry Norman!! 
 
So 10 races, 1 new engine, 1 new truck tyre and an awful lot of race fuel later...
 
Castle Combe GT Championship - We are 2nd in Class, 5 points off the leader and 3 points ahead of 3rd so it's going to be close!!!
 
Clubman cup - 4 consecutive DNFs put an any hopes of a good position in the championship
 
The next race is the penultimate round of The Special GT Championship at Castle Combe on Sat 13th September
 

Good times, bad times...

Croft is a long, long way away, six hours is a long time to spend in the cab of a seven and a half tonner....

We arrived at midday on Friday, got set up and had the car all ready for the Saturday morning  qualifying session. I had driven Croft 2 years ago and thought I would be on the pace pretty quickly – wrong. It took five or six laps to remember the braking, turning points etc. I was just getting into a groove when the red flag came out to stop the session. When we were let out again I went for it only to have a yellow flag at the hairpin and a car broadside across the track on the exit. So tenth place on the grid

Lesson number one – Testing is essential on an unfamiliar track

I love racing in the rain so I was quite happy as the heavens opened an hour before the first race. With 5 mins to go before we had to be in the assembly area I had to make the call – wets or slicks. The rain had stopped and the sky looked OK’ish - slicks . The warm up lap was ‘interesting ‘ (read spin) as there was still a lot of standing water. On the grid waiting for the start I could see the dry areas of the track, looking good for the second half of the race. I took it easy for the first few laps, I knew I could not keep on the pace the leaders were setting on wets but as the track began to dry my times were getting better, right up till the point when it started to rain again. I hung on for a few laps but as the leaders started to lap me I decided to call it a day rather than spoil someone else’s race with a slide at the wrong time, the gamble nearly paid off...

Lesson number two – It’s easier to go fast on wets in the dry than slicks in the rain

Race two was the chance to have a good race and make up some points. Once again I took it easy into the first corner, Croft is rather narrow and you can only loose the race in the first corner. I settled in to a position behind Paul Steele in his SR3 after a good scrap with Garry Kane in his SR4. We were all turning into the hairpin line astern when another SR3 slid into the side of me with all 4 wheels locked up. The car span and I restarted but had to retire a lap later.  The hearing with the Clarke of the course after the race found the other driver in error and he received two points on his licence – I received £2k worth of damage, hardly a fair exchange I thought...

Lesson number three – Croft is even further travelling back with a broken car and two DNFs L

They say you have to have bad days to be able to recognise the good ones

Next outing is an extravaganza at Combe on 12/13th July  with 5 races in two days –  We now have 5 weeks to rebuild the car and regroup. We will be back faster and stronger than before, bring it on!!

Tilling Motorsport have had a busy seven days!

We started on Bank Holiday Monday with the third round of the Castle Combe GT Championship. Qualifying brought some of the worst weather I have ever driven , torrential rain and driving wind – Lovely!  We set the car on ‘rain’ settings; wet weather tyres, softer suspension etc and they worked really well,  I really enjoy driving in the rain and was happy to finish the session on pole by a fully 1.5 seconds. Nick Williamson put his 4wd Escort Cosworth in second place.  By the time of the race the rain had abated and the track was merely wet, there was even the beginning of a dry line round Quarry and Camp. Needless to say and the light went out Nick got a great start, 4wd traction is great in poor grip conditions – as I was about to find out! I was with him by the first corner and spent the next 11 laps trying to get by him, he has the widest Escort in the world... In the end I made up my mind to get past and drove around the outside of him at Tower. Once ahead I began to pull away and set about trying to Catch Josh Fisher who had taken the leader earlier on. Coming in to the Esses on lap 13 I got stuck in a gaggle of back markers and thought I had been left a gap, I went for it only to find the door closed on me, the result was a spin that allowed Nick passed again. With no time to pass him again I finished 3rd overall and second in class. This put’s into second place in Class for the Championship

 

I was away from Tuesday to Thursday so when Tux and I arrived at Silverstone on Friday evening we had to clean and prep the car ready for Saturday’s two MSVR Sports and GT races. Rob Clarke showed up early on Saturday and made camp with us.

Qualifying went OK and we finished sixth on the grid although I was not too happy with the set up on the car.  Changes were made to remove some of the understeer and increase the speed on the main straights. The first race was a 20min sprint . Rob was second on the grid and made a great start to lead b the first corner. I was up to fourth but as I turned in to Copse I was hit from behind by one of the 911 Porsches. This spun me round in front of the other 25 cars that were barrelling into corner. Somehow we all avoided each other and I restarted at the back of the grid. By about 10 mins in I was losing my brakes so I decided to call it a day before they went all together, only my second DNF in 4 years of racing.  Rob Led from Lights to Flag to take a well deserved win – Nice one Rob!!

Inspecting the car after the race we found that a rear wheel bearing had failed causing damage to the rear brake calliper and disk. Big Mark and Tux did a great job to get damage from the Porsche moment repaired and the wheel /brake problem sorted in time for the second race.

 

As we did not finish the first race we started from the back of the 30  car grid for the second race – It was going to be an interesting 40 mins...

I made up 13 places on the first lap and another 10 on the next 5 laps. The race had a compulsory pit stop so I decided to take it early and get the guys to check out the repaired rear end. Back out on  the track I got my head down and tried to lap as consistently as I could and not loose time in the traffic.  Excellent pit board work meant I knew how long I had to go at the end of every lap but I did not notice the ‘P’ number on the board till the last lap so it was a great surprise to see I was in 3rd place  -  That made it a careful lap!

1 Pole position

1 Second in Class

2 Third overall

2 Trophies

Not a bad week’s work J

 

As ever big thanks to Tux, Nick, Sarah, Big Mark, Katie and Hannah  for all the help – Thanks guys!

We’ve now got a two week break till the Radical Championship round at Croft – I can’t wait!

Combe win!

I Collected the engine and differential  from The Radical factory on Friday afternoon (Thanks to ‘Powertec Ted’ for turning it all around so quickly!!!) . Bolted them in Friday night (Thanks to Big Mark for the help!!) . Finished off the install on Saturday.  Drove to Combe on Sunday. On the grid for qualifying  08:40 am Monday Phew!

After a night of rain of biblical proportions it was no surprise to be on wets for the first qualifying session of the day. With 32 cars on the entry list it was never going to be an easy session and so it proved, a combination of the weather, the traffic and some strange handling meant I called it a day after 10 mins.  Despite this we ended up on the 3rd row of the 30 car grid.

Inspection of the car revealed two loose wheels and a wheel bearing problem. A couple of hours work had the bearings tightened up, a couple of suspension bushes replaced and the wheel nuts changed.

As the track had dried by the time of the race we were back on slicks and dry settings for the start. As the lights went out and we all started moving the 4th place SR3 of Richard Fearns appeared to stall so I was up to 3rd place by the time we got to Quarry.  Rob Clarke and his team mate Dave Williams in 1st and 2nd. This is the way we finished the first lap. I was expecting the Jade of Shane Marshall to come by at any time and sure enough he passed on lap 3 on his way to a very lonely race win as he was the only Class A car in the field. Rob and Dave now had a 5sec lead, I got my head down and began to slowly close the gap.  On lap 8 I came upon a stricken Rob Clarke still recovering from a spin at  Bobbies, the Norma squeezed past me at Camp so gain a place, loose a place.  Lap 10 sees Dave Williams taken out by an altercation with a backmarker so now I am up to 3rd overall and chasing hard to catch the Norma.  On the last lap I knew Rob was catching me so I was trying to drive defensively but also trying to catch the Norma, not an easy task! I knew if I held my line through Tower could hold Rob off, same for Bobbies especially as there was a yellow flag, the good news for me was that the Norma had spun and was just rejoining, the bad new s was that this had allowed Rob to close right up, The last corner of the last lap was going to be interesting. 

Flat out down to Camp, dab the brakes as the car begins to turn in, check my mirror and see Rob on the inside trying to get his nose in to the corner, I aim for a spot about 3ft off the apex to allow Rob ‘some’ room and nail it. The car took a little hop to the left as Rob let me know he was there but not enough to put it off line, I keep my foot hard in till we cross the line.

Our first Class win in the Combe GTs and 2nd overall – Nice job!

Huge thanks to all who helped, Tux, Steve and Nick for the spannering, Sarah for the Parts delivery and all the great food, Katie and Hanna for the tea and  most of all Ali for all the support and understanding... X

 

 

Radical clubman Cup race 1 and 2

The Radical Clubman’s cup started with rounds 1 and 2 at the Snetterton circuit in deepest Norfolk.  We were the first qualifying session of the day so it was an early start on the Saturday morning. The weather was good at last, warm sunshine and a dry track.   Bill Henderson scrubbed in a new set of tyres for me on the Friday test day  once the tyres were up to temp  I was able to get right on it trying to set a good time.  With 24 cars qualifying the session was busy and it took a while to find the right gap in the traffic.  Patience was rewarded with 5th place on grid, behind four SR3s and Jonathan Wright in his extremely quick PR06.

Inspection at the end of the session revealed a very bad oil leak from the differential cases, what seemed like a very long time between the end of qualifying and the first race at 3pm soon disappeared as we changed the oil seals and universal joints in an attempt to stem the flow of transmission oil. With the car back together we got to the grid with time to spare.

I got a really good start and made up a place on the first lap.  The race began to settle down after the first lap and I was running in 4th place for most of the race. The last two laps of the 20 min race got interesting though with the 3rd place car spinning out so I was up to 3rd. Paul Steele made a lunge (wild some would say Paul J) up the inside at Sear but overcooked it and span allowing Bill Henderson in to  4th place. 

Race 1 Result

 Jonathan Wright 1st overall and Invitation class.

Simon Fish 2nd Overall and1st t in SR3 Class

Simon Tilling 3rd Overall and 2nd in SR3 lass

Race 2 was a different story with  poor  start demoting me to 8th by the end of lap 1 The car began to develop a  gearbox problem that meant I could not get full power our of the Russell chicane and the Esses  this made the chase difficult. A pace car incident early on helped although not for team that  were sharing our pit as it was their car that went off into the barrier. On the restart I made up  a place and spent the rest of the race trying to get past the widest PR06 I have ever seen. Colin Wilmott drove a great defensive race and I was only able to get past him on the last lap by which time it was too late to catch up with Pauls Steele in his SR3.

 

Race 2 Result

6th Overall and 4th in Class

 

Returning to the pits we found that the oil leak had gotten worse and I already knew there were problems with the gearbox. Rather than take the car home and then work on it we decided to take the engine and diff out and leave it with Radical before we left.  Huge thanks to Mark Tucker as usual and also to Darren and Simon from Radical for pitching up and helping on a Saturday night – Thanks guys!

A great result for our first two races but plenty of work to do between now and the next race at Castle Combe on May Bank holiday

Castle Combe GTs round 1

After the wind and snow of the weekend it was a surprise to see that the track and the awning were still standing on Sunday night when we arrived at the track.

Qualifying was at 11:45 so that gave us plenty of time to enjoy a big breakfast at the café and to meet all of the people we had not seen for 5 months and more importantly to check out the opposition. There are some interesting new cars out this year including a Ford engine SR3 that has been superbly put together by Neil at Corrinium Motorsport.  With the new car polished to a gleam and everything set we took to the track on time – fist lap out and a spin on cold tyres, not a great start! 10 laps later it was all over. We finished with a qualifying time on 1:08:3 a long way behind the Class B leaders 1:04

We made some changes to the gearing and set up ready for the race but the danger is that you change too many variables and end up with a worse car. 7th on the grid was reasonable but that soon turned to 9th  after I lit up the rears on the start. Back up to 8th after passing a spinner at Quarry then back to last after a schoolboy error at Bobbies resulted in a spin. The rear brakes warm up more quickly than the fronts and I had not adjusted the brake bias to allow for this, so as I turned in to the first apex on the brakes round went the car. Now I had a mountain to climb and as I set about getting back some places. By the end of the race I was back up to 9th with a best lap of 1:07:1

Clearly we have work to do before the next race at Snetterton on 26th April. We found a second with the set up and gearing change and we know that there are a lot more changes needed to the set up and we’ve got plenty to work on. Not the greatest start to the season but a reasonable one with a new car. We will learn quickly !

Big thanks to the team for the Day, Mark Tucker and Kieron Ali – Nice job lads!

 

Combe Testing
 
The team had a busy day at Castle Combe yesterday (20th) preparing for the first race of the season on Easter Monday. First on the list was erecting the awning that came with the new race truck. Two hours later we has shelter!  Fist on the list for the car was to scrub in some new tyres as qualifiying on brand new tyres does not do them a lot of good and tends to make them wear much faster. Once the new tyres were done and the wheels changed the rest of the day was spend sorting through a series of tests to find the best set up for the car.  We finished the day with a time that would have put us 4th on last years Easter grid.
 
The forecast is looking interesting for Monday so we'll see what happens...

Successful shakedown test