Caste Combe Race Report 10/10/15
After a long winter of engineering and an even longer summer of testing and development we were finally ready to race the Rx7 with its new LS7 V8 engine package, hopes were high, as well as the nerves! We were all excited to finally see what it was capable of.
Earlier in the week when driving the car around the roads the clutch started to slip and 1st gear dog selector was so worn it kept jumping out and getting stuck between gears. With no time to change the clutch and gearbox a strategy was devised to try and make the best out of this disadvantage, a 2nd gear half throttle start and allow everyone to pass if necessary in order to get away safely and make those places back later in the race.
Having never launched the car from a standing start this was a risky but necessary strategy.
Straight away it was very apparent that the track was greasy and temperature was very low. With old slicks and a truck load more torque then I am used to my laps were scruffy.
Coming into Camp for the first time I lost the back end on the exit and span into the in field. But I quickly regained my composure and felt confident very early on to push hard and by lap 4 of the session I was already doing some of my best lap times in the 1.10’s and was in Pole position with a 1.10.1min lap for the majority of the session.
As the session went on the track conditions were improving along with my feel for the car. It was obvious the car had lots more in it but with the higher speeds of the car the windscreen wiper motor broke and the wiper was flapping on the drivers side of the screen making it very difficult to hit my braking points and apex’s so I decided to pull into the pits for my mechanic to remove it.
As I re-joined the session I was fighting to improve my time but less then a lap in and the session was red flagged. I had lost pole position when coming in for the repair by 1 thousandth of a second. But to put the car on the front row was an achievement in itself at this stage of our season.
With minimal work to be done between qualifying and the race we refuelled and did a full nut and bolt check in preparation for the race.
Sat on the front row I was staring at Quarry corner. I wanted to be the first in, but remembering my starting strategy it was more important to get away clean, not try and get away fast and risk damaging the clutch further.
The lights went out and im away with a little healthy wheel spin, trying to regulate the wheel spin with my right foot but still keep it rolling, it seemed like forever till I found some traction! Some how the clutch held amazingly and even span the wheels through 3rd gear as well.
On and off the throttle trying to find traction I hadn’t lost any places off the line, then Barry Squibb in the immensely powerful 4wd Mitsubishi Evo came from 5th on the grid and passed us all even taking it over the grass! Going into turn 2, Quarry Corner, I gained some ground on the evo in the braking zone, but so did the space-framed audi behind me closing right onto my bumper.
Squeezing the throttle gently I knew I needed all the traction I could get on the exit if I was to stay with the evo. He pulled me on the straights but I caught him more on the brakes. With tyres coming up to temperature earlier then expected I broke aggressively into the final turn of lap 1 closing in right onto his bumper for the pit straight.
Again he made a gap with the huge power of the evo but it would not be long until I would be able to make a move for the lead. Coming into tower looking for a dive I backed out thinking its a bit too risky at this point in the race to try a move there so decided Camp corner would be the place.
I would attempt for the lead but before we could battle Barry’s evo developed a problem and I passed with ease, not the way I wanted but I was in the lead with 21 other cars behind, something I was not expecting for my first race with a car with a totally different drive train then im used to!
Watching my mirrors I could see the 2nd place audi and the gap between us was not that comfortable! So I put in some of the fastest laps I have ever done, the fastest being a 1.09.5min which was the fastest lap of the race come the chequered flag.
The car felt amazing, all the hard work was finally paying off I was thinking, but don’t speak to soon, something was wrong, The engine was hesitating over 6,000rpms and I started loosing time. I started short shifting and braking a late as possible to try and combat the situation.
I keep the gap I had worked hard to create, but now I also had back markers to contend with, and was strategically trying to pick my places to turn back markers into an advantage, sometimes diving into corners sacrificing my line, other holding back to get a good run up the straight, anything to make my times faster.
But the engine problem was getting worse and soon enough after leading the race for 11 laps I was caught by a modified fully carbon Ginetta G50. I held him off for a few corners but his driving was aggressive and he forced me to make a mistake. Looking in my mirrors at him and trying to defend my position was a slightly rookie mistake and I out braked myself and had to abort the turn in point into the 2nd chicane and take to the grass.
I lost the lead just short of the final lap which was a irritating due to the great race I was having but 2nd place over all and 1st in class aswell as fastest lap was a great result regardless and more importantly I was able to show the potential of the car and myself.
Going into the off season with just a gearbox rebuild and investigating the mapping stands us in good shape to start the 2016 season and compete for a championship which is our goal for next year.
I would like to thank you for your support and would also like to invite you to continue to be involved with our race program for the 2016 season.