knew that 2010 was going to be a tougher year for
finding a racing budget. I also wanted to be fair to my
partner and not spend all our spare time and money on
the car this year (just most of it!). Having received
the necessary amount of upgrade signatures I took the
opportunity to upgrade to a National A license. Not
really sure why, but not much more to pay so thought
The biggest single change I would
face was a change of regulations in the Intermarques
series. In 2009 class D catered for up to 1400cc 16v
engines so was perfect for my car. In 2010 class D was
no more, so I would be up against 1600cc 16v cars and
bigger 8v engined cars in class C. I decided that
without spending some large amounts of money on my 1400
engine I would be uncompetative, so started looking for
1600 Rover K series engines. A low mileage 1600
Supersport engine came up on the Lotus Seven forum which had had porting and Piper verniers fitted.
Luckily I was first to shout I wanted it, as plenty of
people expressed a strong interest.
I collected the engine from
Portsmouth area in a van and stored it in my garage. It
would need a little modification to run in my car as it
was a newer (EU3) engine that ran on coil packs rather
than a distributor, and I would need to keep my old 1400
flywheel to make the ECU think it was still running a
1400 engine! I took some advice from Dave Andrews at
http://www.dvapower.com/ who sold me the correct
injectors to provide fueling to the right levels.
We gave the old engine one last
outing with a trip to the Loire and trackday to Le Mans,
where it performed reliably as always. Click on the
image below for a video clip. Understeer on my old, worn
Yokohama A539s was noticeable, particularly with a
passenger on board. The Le Mans Bugatti layout has a
number of long, medium-fast corners where it showed up
the 5 speed ratios as not being ideal for a low torque, revvy engine. Still, met some nice people, particularly
Graham and Laura from MLOC, in the white SC Exige.
Once back I needed to consider my options
with regard to gearboxes. The standard Ford type 9
gearbox used in most Caterhams of this era were original
equipment in some Ford Sierras. The ratios were
presumably ideal for towing caravans, but for a revvy
little 16v engine on the track they were poor! So, I
could either have mine rebuilt or find a Caterham 6
speed box. Seeing as every other car I drive is 6 speed
and reports are that the Caterham 6 speed is a lovely
box to use, I set to work finding one. I had no luck for
over a week on the owners club forum, Pistonheads or
ebay, and no way I was going to pay £4000 for a new one!
This did give me time to sell my Yamaha YZF600R
motorbike, which was a little sad.
I resorted to phoning race teams to
see if they were prepared to sell a spare gearbox and
after about 10 calls I had success and bought one from
http://www.hogarthracing.com/team.htm for £1300.
With the help of Beth we removed the
old engine in an evening, and set to work swapping over
all the ancillaries (alternator, starter motor,
manifolds, dry sump etc.).
We took a week of working
evenings to complete the work, which included wire
brushing the chassis in places the old powdercoating was
flaking off, and coating with POR15.
Always such a reassuring moment when
the engine fires into life for the first time. The first
drive was a revelation; where the old engine didn't
really start wanting to pull until 4000revs, the new
engine with better torque and gearing meant the power
was there almost from idle. It felt stronger at all
revs, well, maybe the same at high revs, but the gearbox
ratios were the biggest improvement. No more frustration
at being between gears and it was now happy to maintain
a drift and spin its rear wheels in second gear. 6th
gear had the same ratio as 4th gear in the old gearbox,
so touring any kind of distance was going be noisy and
thirsty on fuel.
Back it went for
repair and a refresh of other parts whilst it was in
pieces, meaning more expense and a waste of a few weeks,
but good service none the less.
The summer was passing quickly with
the usual trackdays for fun plus some instruction for a
number of clients from the Lotus Seven Club. An unusual
bit of practise came in the form of some drifting inside
a huge chicken shed. Owned by a friend of mine from the
Lotus Seven Club he kindly invited us all to have a play
whilst the shed was empty. Really good fun as can be
seen from the video of me driving Philips car.
I decided on entering just the one
meeting (two races) at Castle Combe in October with the
Intermarque series. The video can be seen below, not the
greatest performance ever from myself or the car. Just
too cautious and despite the extra power I only improved
my best lap time by a second. Still, I did manage to avoid a
spinning Tiger kit car at Camp corner, so to survive
another race with no damage or mechanical issue was
Much head scratching
about the missing performance and comparing data from this
to last years races led me to book in for a rolling road
session. This revealed that the fueling was too rich at the top end
which coincided with a sharp drop off in torque.
like the 1400 Supersport ecu I was still using was not
ideal for the 1600 engine. This left me with only one
real option, to choose a programmable ecu, but that
would have to wait until next year.