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Diary 2010

I 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 'why not'?


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.

                                                                                       Video clip


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.
Sadly just a few weeks later when returning on the M5 from the open day at http://www.millwood-mc.com/ the gearbox expired.


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 welcome.


Start of Race 1 October 2010, Castle Combe

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.


Looked 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.