As the Riley had held together at Castle, we moved on to Pembrey with a bit more optimism. When we arrived on Saturday the track was very wet as the rain had been torrential, and on Sunday morning it was greasy for practice.
The plan in the early morning session was to qualify and then put in a couple of quick laps before coming in (so as to protect the car a bit). So much for the plan. 18 laps later and I was still out there. But then it was fun! Remember to leave braking for the first hairpin as late as possible, don't use all of the track going through the infield bends and get the power down early through the last bend before the bottom hairpin. Take that turn wide as going in deep and trying to cut back in doesn't seem to work, and then keep the power in right back through the start / finish straight. Just watch the engine for over-revving...
In the afternoon the Handicap race went well, starting almost from the back of the grid and coming through to take 3rd place. It was a shame but Barry Foster and the other Austin 7 were just too quick for me, but that was my highest finish at a VSCC event so far.
My last race of the day was always going to be a lost cause, there being some very quick cars in the field. But I enjoyed pottering around and watching from the cheap seats at the back! At the back of my mind though was the Angouleme event down in France the following month, and therefore lap times were down as I wanted to save the car.
12th of 20 in batch
3rd of 16
13th of 14
Having rebuilt the gearbox after Cadwell, the next meeting was to be a shakedown for the Riley but it was also the first competitive event for Sara and Clifford in the Austin 7.
Sara and Clifford had the better of the weather on the Saturday however the track was still greasy. Its an uphill start around a bend so line up on the left hand side of the line to straighten the bend. As you come over the top of the hill watch for the series of S bends, and then don't brake to hard for the cattle grid turn - you can take it harder than you think. Full power on up the next steep incline, hang slightly to the right and then cut the left hander tight and keep your foot in - the gradient washes off the speed and will stop you sliding wide.
Clifford and Sara had a great time in their first event, and Simon took first place in a vintage field of 5 cars (which included a Lea Francis Hyper, 2 MG J2s and a Riley Brooklands) by a margin of 1.5s so was happy with that especially as it had poured with rain all day - very wet, and the marquee paid for itself on its first time out!
It's a long way up to Cadwell - 9 hrs - but it is worth it. If you get some time on track that is! We had a difficult start to the day and then it went downhill from there.
The front float chamber started flooding and that was traced to a flooded float (again!). We need to find out what is causing the floats to puncture. After that we went out for practice and after a few laps the car started to overheat so I brought it in. A head gasket problem was diagnosed, so we changed the head gasket during lunchtime.
The handicap race in the afternoon started well. I got away nicely off the line but I need to watch that I don't over-rev the
engine. I couldn't get past Norman's Talbot into and through Charlies but stayed with him down Park straight and then out braked him into the next bend. The line through gooseneck is tricky - watch the video next year and don't go all the way out to the far side of the bend half way round, straightening the line into the top of the descent down the hill.
Cut the tight left hander at the bottom of the hill tight and watch your line across the straight before Mountain - brake hard as you go past the gate on the right through to the other side of the track and turn in hard to Mountain, cutting the exit at the top and straightening the Esses as far as possible. Hard brake and downshift into the right hander after the Esses, up to 4th, back to 3rd and then back onto start finish straight. And it was at that point that the gearbox went.
It transpires that what had happened was that when I rebuilt the gearbox I used normal bearings (as opposed to needle rollers) and with the increased power output from the engine, it simply tore the smaller planet gears off their bearings on third gear.
So back to the drawing board - engine and gearbox out and gearbox rebuild. Again!
Temp - 14 deg C Tyres - 28 psi
An overcast, chilly but dry morning gave way to rain at lunchtime meaning that for most the practice times were quicker than the afternoon competition times.
We had a good start on Practice 1 with a new personal best time up the hill of 58.52, which was in spite of some really poor gear changes! The issue we now seem to have is that with the car running better, the gear change points all seem to be different to where they were before.
Have 3000 RPM on the engine to get off the line, into second, stay right over the bridge and then cut Wis corner tighter than you think possible - on the video it looks like a tight line but on the photos it shows that I miss the apex by a foot. Watch for the back end breaking away slightly then accelerate hard, into 3rd and possibly 4th before staying left for the gate and some heavy breaking. This now feels as if it is between 2nd and 3rd gear so have to experiment with that next time up. Cut hard right into the Esses accelerating hard and watching for the surprise final bend that always catches me out.
Usual break point, downshift to 2nd and line through Sawbench (seems to work OK) and then up Castle Straight to Martini. Next time up the hill make a concerted effort to stay out wide on the bend; as David F said, most of us cut that corner far harder than we think.
Tyre pressures 28 psi all round.
Wiscombe Hill Climb
Retired - broken half shaft
A superb event for what turned out to be our last race of the season. Qualifying for our grid was late morning and being a dry day meant that by the time that we were on track it had dried out nicely. No major issues in qualifying and having put in a couple of steady laps to gauge track conditions and get used to the racing line we then put in a couple of flying laps, then
backed off for a while to let the car cool down and get through traffic, and then a few more quick laps. We came back in a lap before the end of the session due to the car developing an ever more persistent misfire. Those laps were good enough for 3rd on the grid, however that misfire was a concern.
The race was scheduled for mid afternoon, so we used the lunch break to change to iridium plugs which were also colder; this solved the misfire, and was also important for temperature control too; it was turning out to be a really warm day and
temperatures were expected to being the mid 20’s for the afternoon. To aid cooling (and reduce weight!) we also too off the
headlights. The concern was that the cars which were 4th and 5th on the grid (TA/Q type and Austin 7 single seater weighing in at approx 280kg!) were both quicker on the straights, although the Riley was quicker through the turns, and therefore getting quickly off the line would be crucial.
The race itself went pretty much according to plan; the Riley was quick off the line helped by the fact that the Austin 7 had trouble finding first. The car ran in 3rd throughout the race apart from a lap or so when the TA/Q type came past on the start/finish straight, was slow on the corners and then broke on the next lap. Another TA/Q type also broke, dropping a lot of oil on the track and requiring a safety car; the problem is that behind a safety car the car tends to overheat, so that was a
concern. That said, the car ran well and we managed to hang on to 3rd place behind a Bugatti T51 (straight 8, 2.3l) and an
MG T type, both of which were simply too quick for the Riley. However the car really proved itself by showing that it could consistently lap ahead of the smaller T37 Bugattis (straight 4, 1.5l).
That result then put us through to the Final of Finals at the end of the afternoon. Starting 6th on the grid we were soon running
4th (mainly due to a couple of cars dropping out). Another TA/Q type overtook us – again this was simply straight line speed – and after that the Riley ran consistently for 10 or 12 laps. Running consistently ahead of T37s was again good news although really it was too much for the car and eventually the gearbox went. The Riley limped back to the pits and sadly that was the
end of our season for 2012, but we had a fabulous day and for us this was a great result to end the year.
Stay well to the right in the run down to turn 1, cutting the apex tighter than you think you should (the Armco looks good and
hard!). Take the bend in 3rd – it’s quicker than you think – and then cross back to the left into turn 2, dropping to 2nd and again cutting the apex tight but beware of the uneven surface on the inside. Stay to the left downhill to avoid paint on the road, briefly taking 3rd before back to 2nd and cutting turn 3 hard, but be aware of the deep gutter to the right. Quickly back to 3rd and then top, allowing the car to run wide on exit and then straighten the “wiggle” mid way down the bottom straight. Keep the foot well
in as you go over the crest on the bottom straight and pull left to straighten the very shallow curve (but again, paint and uneven surface right on the inside). Brake late into the bottom hairpin – later than you think as it is uphill so a good overtaking
point if you late brake on the right hand side – dropping to 3rd then 2nd, and change your line depending on the degree to which you need to defend. Note that if you take a tight line and slide the back around to get through the hairpin, then you are
exposed to the “wider entry and undercut” manoeuvre. Full throttle uphill, changing up then down again to 2nd for the middle
hairpin. Again full throttle up to top hairpin; watch your revs and consider staying in 2nd for the top hairpin. Take a very tight line across this apex, and note that the surface is rough on the far side of the exit. Once through the corner, back up to top
gear and pull to the right for your run back down to turn 1 again.
This was the inaugural Hill Climb at Pentillie and unfortunately the event was materially compromised by appalling weather.
We just about managed to get in 2 practices runs before the event was cancelled. A shame as that meant we didn’t have a single “official” timed run.
The paddock is a grassy slope and heavy rain made it almost impassable. The hill itself is good fun and assuming it is run
again next year, remember to take a small marquee.
The times were as follows:-
Pentillie Hill Climb
A standard hill climb start off the line, then keep your foot in around the gentle left hander and all the way to the brake point for the hairpin; pick this carefully when walking the hill. This year I used a particular bush on the left hand side as my brake point
but next year brake later assuming a) its dry b) the bush may have a gone and c) that the event is run again next year!
At the top of the straight after the hairpin be prepared for the sharp right which is the entry to the multi-apex bend across the
front of the house; its a long bend so don’t go for the apex too early. Once there, full throttle all the way to the line.
Please see the following link for the Sunday Independent article on the first Pentillie Hill Climb
It was good to return to Mallory Park this year – as a novice racer it makes a lot of difference when going to a circuit for the second time.
It was a little damp in practice (with a small river across the middle of Gerrards) hence the materially slower practice times, but
once it started to dry up later in the day the levels of grip returned.
No complaints during the Mallory Park Trophy Race however in the Handicap race later that afternoon I could see one of my cycle wings starting to weaken so I ended up staying with Hamish (who also had a problem I believe) and we both went round slightly off our best pace, which is reflected in the times below:-
15th of 21 in batch
Mallory Park Trophy Race
(2011 - 1m 12.82s)
(2011 – 1m 13.89s)
14th of 17
12th of 17
Brake in advance of Gerrards, set the car up and then get back on the power as soon as you can, but certainly before you get to the apex. Enjoy the long drift but watch you don’t go too far out as you exit Gerrards, and then think about the line through
the Esses; go in too far and too deep and you end up compromising the run up to Shaws hairpin.
At Shaws make sure that you don’t get caught out by other cars’ more aggressive braking, keep a tidy line and then full throttle all the way to the braking point for Gerrards again. Enjoy the long drift around Gerrards, but keep an eye on the cycle wings!
This was our first visit to Cadwell Park and now I can understand why so many racers rave about it! It’s a heck of a long way to get there but the effort is well worth it – the circuit has a little piece of everything and its easy to see why it is called the mini Nurburgring.
For our visit the rain held off and we had a pretty much dry day; it was windy but that helped to dry the track off from the rain the night before.
No issues with the car other than part of the exhaust trying to exit stage left during the second race resulting in us being
brought in early by the marshals for safety reasons (a fair call as it was almost dragging on the circuit by this stage).
Reading briefing notes and of course the drivers briefing itself certainly help, but nothing quite prepares you for actually driving a new circuit and Cadwell Park is one of the most demanding venues. In practice I managed to get the car well out of line
several times heading into The Mountain section, but by the end of the day had managed to sort myself out a line that worked.
For the Handicap race I was behind a Wolseley for most of the time; whilst quicker than the other car when circulating on my own, I just couldn’t get past him due to his superior straight line speed meaning I could never quite get close enough to overtake going into bends, even if the Riley could corner quicker. Ho hum - there’s always next year!
Being our first year at Cadwell we don’t have previous runs to compare against but times were as follows:-
Cadwell Park- 9 June
Melville Trophy Race
11th of 20 in batch
12th of 20
DNF – 4 laps completed (of 7)
Stay flat through most of Charlies 1 and 2 with only a minor lift between them – no braking required. Flat through Park Straight
and brake well within 100m board going into Park. Let car drift out for Chris Curve but I need to improve my line into
Gooseneck. Mansfield not as tight as you might think, but brake and turn-in earlier than expected for The Mountain. Make sure the car is pointing straight uphill after the first left-hander. Flat over the brow and into Hall Bends. Need to improve line through
the Hairpin and Barn – felt as if they were a surprise each lap, which is especially annoying as you know they are coming!
Tyre pressures – 28 psi all round
Fantastic weather on both days really helped us all enjoy a great weekend at the Wiscombe Hill climb this year, starting with the 500 Club meeting on the Saturday (the first time we had been to this, and it was excellent; very well organised) and the VSCC meeting on the Sunday (also up to its usual high standard).
No major problems with the car during the weekend although it was a little reluctant to start on the Sunday morning; this was
probably due to it being bitterly cold overnight.
The only minor issue that needed sorting was a flat battery - I really must get around to improving the performance of the dynamo. Leonard Lord, on the other hand, had quite a weekend of it with a head gasket change in the paddock on Saturday (a
number of us helped out but mostly this was courtesy of Allen Clear – Leonard and Barbara only missed one run!) and a
distributor cap change required on the Sunday.
Times this year better than last, when my best was 63.07seconds (still 6th in Class though!), as follows:-
Times in seconds
500 Club - Saturday
VSCC - Sunday
11th out of 18
6th out of 14
That last run earned me 1st on Handicap in Class 9, although I am still well off the times of the front runners (David Pryke setting a new class record at 49.83s). All the same not too bad given that my handicap was revised after practice on Sunday
(going from 63 s to 60s). Records tumbled throughout the day due to the good conditions and the recently renewed surface up the hill.
Try to get off the line with at least 3000 - 3500 rpm on the engine and quickly into second.
Hang out to the right across the bridge and then swing in across Wis corner; watch for the unsettled back end of the car as
you accelerate away. Into 3rd then heavy braking and down to 2nd for the Gate; cut the corner as tight as possible and keep as much momentum as you can for the Esses. Back into 3rd then brake late and into 2nd for Sawbench, then back up to 3rd on Castle Straight.
A clear area for improvement is Martini – at present I am braking alongside (if not after) the sleepers on the right of the track
and taking a wide line, but I still get too much wheel spin. Try cutting in tighter to the apex and carrying more speed up the
steep incline on the inside of the bend – but watch not to unsettle the car and plant it in the opposite banking.
Weather – warm sunshine but cold and damp first thing in the morning
5.22:1 final diff ratio
Tyre pressures – 28 psi all round
Check that the car has anti-freeze in the coolant if low overnight temperatures forecast
A fantastic day which fortunately was not spoiled by weather.
The car went well throughout the day with the exception of the practice session; a fuel line leak (tighten banjo links every time!) curtailed practice and resulted in a slow qualification time (1:41.32) whilst barely qualifying to race (only 3 laps completed).
Times this year significantly better than last (up to 6 seconds a lap quicker) and we have now managed to eradicate most of the front axle tramp although this does return when cornering at speed, especially if the car is unbalanced by running across
rumble strips or curbs. Otherwise flat out for much of the lap, changing at 5 – 5,500 RPM, but still not able to red line in top
gear due to insufficient power. Oil pressure strong (60psi when racing, 20psi at hot idle in pits afterwards) but engine temperature stayed lower than I would have liked at approx. 160 deg F.
Finally - always a good idea to bag a pit garage beyond the start/finish line….(this year we were in 10C)…it assists with the “how many qualification laps did you do” question. Remember when Schumacher won a race sitting in the pit lane? After all,
per the Blue Book the pits are parts of the track!
30 minute regularity trial which includes a pit stop and a change of a spark plug (thanks to the pit crew – Sara and Clifford!).
16 laps in 29mins 08.38secs
Fastest lap 1min 35.17
(2011 – 16 laps, fastest lap 1min 39.81)
Result – 9th of 28
5 laps, 8 mins 35.0 secs
Fastest lap – 1min 34.82 secs
17th of 25 (2 non finishers)
5 laps, 8 mins 21.82 secs
Fastest lap - 1min 33.93
Some hail at the start of the race and as a consequence everyone took it a little easier than normal as the track felt slightly greasy at points.
Weather – chilly start (overnight frost), sunny spells, gentle rain / hail showers for last race
Tyre pressures – 28 psi all round
Track dry, but greasy for last race
Started to take end of start / finish straight flat (runoff area beyond rumble strip is tarmac) but struggled to put together a decent line through the complex. That said, lots of drift overtaking around the outside onto the start / finish straight
Another great event at Angouleme. Highlights on the Saturday included trying to get Bernie's A7 running and a rather splendid dinner at the restaurant next to the Hotel de Ville.
The practice session on Sunday went well. Our slot was mid morning and the track was dry, which was good news. I peeled out of the pits behind Barry Foster and after a few laps circulating together he kindly waved me through. The only snag was that I managed to find myself a gap on the circuit in which to put on a few quick qualifying laps on my own with no cars overtaking or traffic. Great. Not so good was overworking the brakes and cooking them. When I came in at the end of that session, the Pompiers wandered over to have a look at the car as there were fumes coming off the front wheels. Note for winter - improve cooling for the brakes! However I manged to get 5th on the grid (out of 22).
In the afternoon the race started well with a good clean getaway from the line and up into 4th at the first corner. Coming onto the start finish stratight I was having problems with the car "bogging down" on the Cathedral hairpin, and that was where the 5th placed man in an Austin 7 passed me (fairly easily ot has to be said). After that the race settled down however I was running with fairly poor brakes, which meant that I slipped gently down the order.
At the end I thought that I had taken 6th place however it turned out that at a traffic jam on one of the hairpins a Nash had got by me (whilst I was stationary!) pushing me down to 7th.
But a great weekend, a good result for us in a strong field (we were never going to trouble the top 3) and best of all the car was still running at the end of the day. Result!
Sommer practise - 1m 10.735s
5th of 22
With Angouleme just over a week away, we dediced to run the Austin 7 only at the Wiscombe MGCC event with Clifford and Sara driving and Simon as mechanic.
Being their second ever event and the first time at Wiscombe, Clifford and Sara clearly needed to learn the hill, however both of them managed to significantly improve their times during the day - which was dry, for a change!