BTCC Mendip

It was forecast to rain – and it did. I don’t run in the wet, so I was just hoping for a few decent runs before the rain came. It was the end of the series, and it had a kind of “end of term” feel to it, there was a much smaller turnout than usual (8 heats, only 4 cars in blinky so I ran boosted instead which still had only 34 cars), the usual PA at the track was broken and the skies were grey… I got the sense that most people couldn’t wait to get home!

The track was damp first thing. First round I made the mistake of not warming my tyres – the track and ambient temperature was cold and the car was just skidding around for the first three laps. Even when it stopped skidding around it was quite slow, partly because I had forgotten how to drive the track. A middling 15 lapper was a disappointment although 19th in round was not far off what I would usually get.

Second round I warmed the tyres and the car was much better, I managed a fast-ish 16 lapper which left me 14th in round. Unfortunately, at the end of the round the rain started to fall, and although there was a dry spell during my race, the track was still damp. I gambled on going out on the slicks, and the car was actually very driveable, and could mix it with the wet-tyred cars until the last minute when (apparently) the drizzle started again and I started to drop back. Nonetheless, 10th in round was a positive result and rather like at Aldershot the wet-track run on slicks actually worked out better than any of my dry tyre runs!

The fourth round was far too wet with standing water on the track so I sat it out. The rain stopped just before the finals started but there were still a couple of shallow puddles by the time the 13.5 B came around. I wouldn’t usually run in those conditions but put the car down anyway – you never know how lucky you will get. But as I tiptoed around to 7th on the grid I could tell that I had no where near enough grip in the car, and that was proven at the tone as my car was the only one that couldn’t get off the line and I ended up sliding into the grass. After I was marshalled I tried to complete the lap but by that point I was already close to being lapped so I pulled over before I ruined anyone’s race or my own electrics…

Roll on the indoor season!


Schumacher BTCC Aldershot

I’ll carry on with the routine of a brief (personal) race report…

I can’t say I was feeling particularly focussed on the racing, 4.15 alarm may not have helped, and we’d had a nice day celebrating Natasha’s birthday the day before. I made driving errors in every race of the day which cost be 2nd place in the Blinky B in the end, but at least I had another trophy for 3rd to add to the collection!

The track was drying out at the start of the day and I had never been before, so round 1 was a case of getting my eye in. It’s a nice track with a good variety of corners that rewards neatness. The car felt a bit overgeared so for round 2 I went down a couple of teeth (or at least I thought I had) and the car felt a bit better on the infield but also seemed to be topping out too soon (which was unexpected). Driving mistakes meant I was only 18th or so in the round – so even a B-final place looked doubtful (despite only 25 or so entries)! There was a brief shower before round 3, and although I don’t run in the wet I felt the track was dry enough to risk a run on slicks. The first couple of minutes were pretty slippy (and they were slippy for the wet-tyre runners too), but towards the end the car was very driveable (on new-ish tyres) and was actually the quickest on the track in the last minute. Because quite a few people had chosen not to run, I managed eighth in round – which would save my qualifying!

I wasn’t entirely happy with either the car’s stability on corner exit or the power, so for round 4 I re-filled the rear diff with #1000 oil (from #2000) and followed another racer’s suggestion for gearing and timing of 3.2:1 and 2 notches advance on the Vampire motor (which had a new sensor board after some issues at the last Bristol club meeting). As I changed the gearing I realised I had put the wrong pinion on for round 2 and was actually at 3.5:1 instead of the intended 3.3:1! No wonder the car felt slow. Anyway, the new motor setup felt good and the car felt more positive (although that could just as easily have been the improving track conditions). Mistakes cost me a decent time so I ended up qualifying 15th overall, a bit below where I would have liked to be, but the A-final was always going to be out of reach.

The final started cleanly enough, and I was holding 5th after the first lap when 2nd to 4th got tangled up on the exit of the first hairpin and I managed to pick a clean line through the mess. Clipping a kerb and barrel rolling a couple of laps later cost me 2nd place (although the 2nd place car would retire shortly afterwards, lifting me up again), and then a stupid mistake on the last lap – going wide onto the grass after the main sweeper, a mistake I had made in every race at some point) cost me 2nd with no time to fight back. Lack of focus is the only explanation because the sweeper is not difficult in Blinky.

Once again I’m finding myself getting closer and closer to the kit ARC setup again after a few experiments with different springs and bars….

I’ve also decided not to “travel” for racing next year, The BTCC is well run, competitive, and fun, but I’m not quick enough to make the costs worthwhile, and I don’t like to run in the wet either. I’ll stick to club and local rounds of the big championships from now on.


The Scythe returns…

Put some electrics in the scythe again after almost a year on the shelf, ran it in the finals after problems ruined qualifying with the ARC (motor overheating and stopping the lrp esc, solution was to turn the protection off). First run in blinky (55t spur!), car drove sweet-as and went from 10th to 3rd in both finals (with the shell squashed like a pancake in the second!). Result – 2nd in the B at the WLRC BTCC. Very happy!

Base tarmac setup for UK tracks

This is where I am now with my tarmac setup for UK conditions, so far I’ve only been to West London, Mendip and Cotswold with the car.

Generally speaking I’ve found the softer chassis to have a better flow in most conditions, I also prefer the spool in all conditions and a rear diff with #2000 in it. Suspension wise I favour Tamiya shocks (although the 2013 ARC shocks look like they will be a lot better) with either ARC Yellow all round (same winding as HPI silver) or ARC Green (same as HPI Blue) on the rear. The Blitz TSX seems to have more steering than the XFR so I have gone back up to 3deg rear toe for boosted. I’m still running a shorty LiPo forward as a quick fix for the cars relatively heavy weight as standard.

Interestingly, the 2013 ARC R10 has new shocks, a softer chassis and extra material removed from the aluminium parts which were my main concerns with the original car. It will also include all the fashionable parts like short shocks and an optional Yokomo-style motor bulkhead. Not sure whether I will be updating the car personally though.


Wall of Champions (1), Me (Nil)


Cotswold’s “Wall of Champions” added me to its list of victims today (not that I am the champion of anything particularly impressive). Just a case of two trying to fit where only one will go and both cars ending up in the heavy wooden sleepers. Result – a broken rear hub, my first breakage on the car in about 9 months of ownership.

It was “one of those days”, all in all. Last week the car had been superb, this week I rebuilt it with the flex chassis and the full-size LiPo and it wasn’t even driveable to start with. After a few changes, this is what I learnt…

– My new bottle of Nosram Carpet additive doesn’t seem to work on asphalt like the old one did (I wonder if the formula has changed because the LRP version claims to be “greener” now).

– You can only get so much out of old mix-and-match tyres. A change to a newer set solved all the cars handling problems.

– I can never get high enough operating temperatures out of Sorex 32s at Cotswold, so I dug out some LRP VTEC 27Rs that I had bought for an indoor series about 6 years ago. A thorough clean and dope and they worked really well in the finals.

– The full-size LiPo still fades after the first minute’s racing, and still gets a bit warm. Even though the car was 80gms heavier, my fastest laps were about the same as what I have managed with the shorty although my 5-minute runs were a bit untidy and slower. My engineer’s mind says that lighter is better so I’ll switch back again.

– I’m still not happy with the brakes on my car. I just don’t have confidence that the Hobbywing ESC will do the big stops when you want it to. The four-year old motor probably doesn’t help, I doubt the rotor is giving all the Gausses it could any more.

Thinking of going back to 17.5 Blinky again for the next club meeting. It’s slow, but so close and great racing to watch.


PS I just ordered my spare parts from the USA. Crazy that it costs me $2.09 in postage to get them sent half way around the world when the Royal Mail now want £3 to send them to the next street!

BTCC Cotswolds 21/4/13

First race of the series, and a good result by my standards.

I decided to enter boosted rather than blinky, simply because the boosted entry in the BTCC (effectively the national warm-up) is much stronger. I’d rather race in a field of 70 than a field of 10. I also think that 17.5 blinky is too slow on a big outdoor track, any class where you are at full revs for half the straight is underpowered and turns into a motor war.

Conditions were good with a dry track at the start of the day, cool temperatures and a bit of shade meant the first round times were a bit slower but I still managed a 17-lapper in every run and broke into the 17-second barrier for individual laps for the first time.  Made a small mistake on my fresh-tyre run in Round 3 which cost me a couple of seconds and a bit of track position, and I lined up 9th in the B-final – a result I was very pleased with. Finals went alright, I didn’t get a particularly quick start in either of them but managed to take advantage of attrition and mistakes to move up to 5th in the first leg (after a dramatic last lap that saw me up into 4th for the length of the main straight before I succumbed to a classy passing move) and 3rd in the second leg. That left me on 8 points overall – and would you believe that I was tied with the winner! Unfortunately all of the top 5 were tied with the winner, and with qualifying position as the tiebreaker I ended up 5th and out of the trophies. Again.

Good banter and a good day out was had by all (in the end)!

This is my setup from the day. I ran the car with the flex chassis and heavier damping at the club meeting the week before. The harder chassis and lighter damping seemed more responsive, perhaps more confidence inspiring, and the body change to a Blitz TSX from a battered Blitz XFR may have also helped – but I doubt the changes made any significant difference to my laptimes, I was still the best part of a second a lap off the fastest in the class. Frustrating, but I’m just going to have to learn to deal with it – I’ve always been about a second a lap off the best, and I doubt I’m going to get much quicker at the age of 37!