Lockdown works

During the enforced lockdown, I have been busy working away on the ZR, whatwas set to be a few little jobs soon became a much bigger task. So over the last couple of month the following works have been done :-

  • Fully seam welded both front sub-frames, including sump guard mounts
  • Gearbox fully rebuild by the Rover Centre
  • New clutch
  • New lightened flywheel ~3.5kgs
  • Repaired cracks in the front chassis legs
  • Fitted new steering rack
  • Ported the exhaust manifold, removing all internal seam welds, then seam welded it on the outside
  • Fitted (yet to be plumbed in) hyd handbrake & bias valve
  • Welded up and plated the handbrake and hyd handbrake mounts
  • Removed the AC pump, and all parts from the heater unit
  • Removed the dash to remove sound proofing weight
  • Had the dash professionally flocked, and refitted the dash
  • Fitted lighter and more supportive seats
  • Fitted safety film to the side windows (one left to complete)
  • Fitted poly bushes to gearbox linkage
  • Fitted quick shift to gear linkage
  • Welded in bracing under the front wings to strengthen the front chassis
  • Designed and made my own rear ARB
  • Completely heat wrapped / lagged the exhaust manifold and downpipes to the cat
  • Converted the navigators electric window to ‘one-touch down’
  • Added a cooling fan to the injector rail
  • Relocated the horn to a more central location
  • Replaced (where possible) all nuts and washers to aluminium items
  • Front suspension struts have been back to Gaz for a rebuild

Thorough these works I have removed nearly 28kgs of weight from the car

The Final Three ????

When I started writing this blog post (I’m not very good at staying focused and writing them), none of our planned motorsport events were cancelled and the world felt slightly more normal….

 

After over two months of no competing it was time to get back out competing. January and February I was on the other side of the sport helping support events like the stage rally at Brands Hatch and the Bath Festival Rally.

After a long drive after work round the M25 to Kent, it was time for some good ‘pub grub’ at the start and then on to the event. The clues were soon on the map and then it was on out into the lanes of Kent. Kent has some great quality lanes, which has mostly been lost to the world road rallying, but a small scatter allows us to use them. The weather on the run up to the event and even whilst plotting was very very wet. The lanes were probably the wettest I have seen for a long time on an event. Many had large puddles and many had large flooded sections. Kevin (my nav) asked me at the start how good the car was in the wet, I said not really sure but we will find out tonight! Luckily the car performed faultlessly. It felt like a tough night as some clues were hard to find, and some we couldn’t find at all, and some we couldn’t get to as the road they were on were just too flooded. We got back to the finish quite early having given up getting to our final point due to flooding. As the results came in it turned out we got one more point than the second placed crew and we had won overall. This makes my third 7Oaks MC Scatter win in a row now as a driver πŸ™‚

After driving home from the Scatter I got home at 1am, which wasn’t the best prep for less than 24hrs later when I was out navigating for Suze on a Boundless (nee CSMA) 12 Car rally. The event was starting about an hour from home and we got there with plenty of time to spare. As a novice navigator I had to do plot ‘n bash navigation i.e. this is fine when I can get it to work but does often mean we have to stop to allow me to plot the route but this clearly costs time. The rally didn’t start well with us losing 10mins on the first section due to me mis-understanding one bit of navigation. This then set the tone for the rest of the night. We ended up OTL at two controls but we got all boards and were only OTL by a handful of minutes. Other crews found it a tough night (many others were OTL as well), though more sleep may have helped me get round it better. We ended up 5th overall and 2nd in class.

A week later it was on to a brand new event a South Oxon Car Club 12 car, this is a new club and their first 12 car. It had a full entry and plenty of marshals supporting the new club. I was out driving with Suze on the maps. The night really did ‘just click’ right from the start, the navigation was tough but do’able. Suze did a top job of getting it to work, and I did my share of ‘making back time’ where required. The lanes around Witney were new to me, but they are mostly open fast and flowing, which made for some really enjoyable driving and allowed me to open up the ZR. By the end I was just happy to get round, we made all our slots, enjoyed the roads and got all the boards and only dropped 3 minutes. As ever on road events you never really know how others are doing till the results come out. This time it was pleasing to find out we had come 1st overall Novices.

So within a week it had been two overall wins as a driver, and a mixed night on the maps.

When we were planning these three events, I could never have known that they would be the last events we would do for quite some time. We should have been doing a targa rally at Wethersfield with two new navigators, and then our first British Rally Championship round at Clacton. With all motorsport stopped until May (as of 17th March), we really don’t know when we will be back out competing or taking part in motorsport.

This will allow me time to get jobs done on both cars including some jobs I have bee meaning to do for a while (yes I have been stock pilling car parts!). I will try and do some car work progress updates (see ‘the list’ for what I will be doing) and we have bought a PS4 and DIRT 2 to keep our eye in, so watch out for us online!

Stay safe out there, and hopefully see you on an event soon.

Three at Christmas – Twelve in Total

The gap between Christmas and the return to work is often a chance for some time off and a holiday, however no break this time with three different events in three different cars planned!

First up was a autotest with the newly form South Oxon Car Club at Oxford’s Football ground car park. Although damp and cold there was a lot of grip on the tarmac and the tight tests showed up the lack of steering lock and effective handbrake with the ZR. This meant some reversing. However it was some good practice for tight tests in the ZR and by the end of the event I finished up 5th in class and 6th overall.

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The next day it was an early start for the Mini Tempest Stages at Rushmoor, this time I was navving for Suze. The Newton brothers had saved us a spot in service so we could be together and we unloaded, passed noise and scrutineering, signed on and we were ready to go.

It did help a little knowing the venue (we had some great results here just a month ago!), but conditions and the new bits were also an unknown. The organisers had recommended walking to see the split/flying finish/stop as they said it was tricky though it was simple enough to call it certainly caught out many drivers….

The next couple of stages went well, but then SS4 was a little interesting. We came off the start and through the merge and all was fine, but then I couldn’t see anything except white smoke. It then became clear there was oil down and we tiptoe’d round the bend and I spotted the car in front (on their second lap) was on fire. It wasn’t a nice thing to see as we were completely helpless to warn them, but it seemed to self extinguish and they pulled off albeit leaving their mark with a trail of oil!

Coming round for our second lap, a Fiesta came through the merge just in front of us. He of course did not know about the oil… so having dropped back ready to tip toe through the 90 degree right hand bend and hairpin left, we watched him sail straight off when his car would not stop. We found out afterwards they were fine and continued after meeting the kerb and a couple of pallets.

The Newtons in the Nova unfortunately had to retire with diff pin issues around this time, which meant we knew we were second in class; dropping a few seconds per stage to the class leaders but with a comfortable gap of over a minute to 3rd in class. Aside from a rather interesting tank slapper over a crest on SS7 (which thankfully came back), the rest of the event was fairly uneventful for us.

Finishing second in class and with over a two minute gap to third and just over 40 seconds off the class winners was a good way to end our 2019 season.

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Then just into a new year and new decade it was off to do a Car Trail in the Rover 25, this is our ‘freebe car’ which after the trial as destined for stripping for parts and the scrap man. So this meant we could abuse the car and have a bit of fun. Although a Rover 25 is not a big car, on Car Trails it really does feel big. The ‘red shed’ as we named the car performed faultlessly all day, taking all the bumps and bouncing off the rev limiter we could give it. We were never in contention against the seasoned crews who seems to just trickle up the hills with ease, but we had a great days fun.

During 2019 I competed in my highest number of events and disciplines, I competed on 32 events and 12 different disciplines, on my way to hopefully securing the Chelmsford MC Clubmans (All-rounders) Championship for the 12th time.

Over the year I competed as :-

12 Car Driver & Navigator, Road Rally Driver, Stage Rally Driver & Navigator, Targa Rally Driver & Navigator, Autotest, Autotest, AutoX, Sprint (Hill-Climb) and Car Trial

Results on these events varied, but clearly the highlight of 2019 was winning the Rushmoor Targa Rally!

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All results from 2019 :-

Boundless NWL 12 Car – MGZR – Driver : Suze Endean – 3rd overall & 2nd in class

VCRR – β€˜Bagger’ Road Rally – MGZR – Nav : Kevin Ablitt – 12th overall & 11th in class

VSCC Pomeroy Trophy Race – Silverstone – 19th overall & 2nd in class

7Oaks Scatter Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – 1st Overall

Bath Festival Targa Rally – Driver : Mark Peterson – MGZR – 11th overall & 8th in class

FDMC – Bramley Targa Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – MGZR – 37th overall & 8th in class

FDMC – Bramley Targa Rally – Driver : Suze Endean – MGZR – 29th overall & 7th in class

CMC – Wethersfield Targa Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – MGZR – 9th overall & 8th in class

CMC – Wethersfield Targa Rally – Driver : Suze Endean – MGZR – 24th overall & 13th in class

Bath MC – Kemble Targa Rally – Nav : Lizzie Pope – MGZR – 5th overall Nat B event (9th overall combined, 2nd overall of single drivers), 5th in class.

KL&DMC – Wethersfield Targa Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – MGZR – 8th overall & 6th in class

KL&DMC – Wethersfield Targa Rally – Driver : Suze Endean – MGZR – 15th overall & 11th in class

Bath MC – Long Newton AutoX – Micra – 13th Overall & 1st in class

WAC – Debden Targa Rally – MGZR – Nav : Suze Endean – 12th overall & 8th in class

WAC – Debden Targa Rally – MGZR – Driver : Suze Endean – 20th overall & 13th in class

BARC – Gurston Down Hillclimb – MGZR – 100th overall & 8th in class

7OaksMC – Brands Hatch Grass Autotest – MGZR – 3rd overall & 1st in class

Oxford MC – Grass Autotest – MGZR – 4th overall & 1st in class

MACA / Harrow CC – Bovingdon Autosolo – 9th overall & 7th in class

WAC / WSMC – Debden Targa Rally – MGZR – Nav : David Lobb – 3rd overall and 2nd in class

WAC / WSMC – Debden Targa Rally – Ford Focus ST170 – Nav : David Lobb – 8th overall and 4th in class

AMSC – Rix Engineering – Wethersfield Stages – Micra – Nav : Suze Endean – 23rd overall & 4th in class

MMKMC – Summer Slalom (Multi venue autotest) – MGZR – 5th overall & 2nd in class

MACA / Harrow CC – Bovingdon Autosolo – 3th overall & 3th in class

Chelmsford MC – Bonfire Targa Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – 12th overall & 10th in class

Chelmsford MC – Bonfire Targa Rally – Driver : Suze Endean – 24th overall & 18th in class

FDMC – Rushmoor Targa Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – 1st OVERALL!!!

FDMC – Rushmoor Targa Rally – Driver : Suze Endean – 5th overall & 2nd in class

SHMC – Harvest Road Rally – Nav : Suze Endean – 16th overall (8th Nat B) – 4th in class

WSMC – Foxborough Hills Car Trial – Rover 25 (Freebe car!) – 15th overall – 8th in class

SOCC – Christmas Autotest – MGZR – 6th overall & 5th in class

SCMC – Rushmoor Stages – Micra – Driver : Suze Endean – 28th overall & 2nd in cass

(32 events in 2019)

 

Foxborough Hills Car Trial

After effectively getting a Rover 25 for free (after a bit of Wheeler Dealer’ing selling cars), which was in a condition that it was running but unlikely to return to the road again (dreaded rust) it would make sense to use it on a car trial.

After a quick bit of work to make it usable and add a sump guard, it was off to the event. The weather leading up to the event was rain, rain and more rain and when we arrived and we saw 4×4 towing cars were having to be towed into the venue we knew it would be a high scoring day.

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For car trails the 25 is quite a big car, and in standard trim not best suited to the event or venue however it was great fun to use a car you didn’t have to worry about. So we spent lots of time using the rev limiter and generally thrashing the car around.

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As the car isn’t road legal we ended up with all the specially adapted cars, which meant a class result was never going to be great but it was all good practice in finding the grip.

Bringing in the Harvest

It was our third weekend of motorsports in a row, and this time it was a long way to the start down in the SW for South Hams MC Harvest Rally.

Growing up in the area, I have navigated a few times on events on the infamous Map 202, but never driven on one. So this time it was myself driving and Suze on the maps.

The lanes of Map 202 turned out to be very muddy rutted and many times it felt like we were on a white (no whites were used all night)!

After a tough nights rallying we finished up 16th overall and 8th overall in the Nat B rally, which is pleasing to take a top 10 result on a Nat B road rally.

Rushmoor Targa Rally

It was a return to Rushmoor which last year didn’t end well with an early retirement due to a snapped driveshaft.

As we are doing a stage rally at the same venue in December it made sense this time to use the Micra. The micra has roughly the same power to weight ratio as the ZR, and although it is smaller the handbrake really does lack any real bite so handbrake turns aren’t really possible. As ever in life it is swings and round-abouts…

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This event doesn’t allow List 1B tyres (and we didn’t have any!), the venue allows for some short and sharp challenging tests.

The day went smoothly and we found our way round all of the tests without too many issues. There were a few moments, like catching a kerb, a few slides and lock ups, but generally quite smooth and efficient. Throughout the day we were always in the top 3 or two positions. At lunch we held the overall lead by two second, after the next set of tests Ben Griffin had made back four seconds. This meant we had to find at least two seconds to tie for the win going into the final two tests.

The final two test were run in the dark and on the start line I found main beam wasn’t working, so I had to do these tests on dip beam. Luckily the micra headlights are good, so this wasn’t too much of an issue. The last two tests we pushed on as hard as I could and we had a few moments including a large tank slapper in the bushes but we got away with it. Over these two tests we made back seven seconds, which over less than two miles is very pleasing, in the end we won by 25 seconds as Ben missed a code board which carries a 20sec penalty.

It was very pleasing to finally win a Targa Rally and many thanks must go to Suze my nav for keeping me calm and going the correct way.

A collection of Andy Manston’s photo’s made into a GIF

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Wethersfield Targa Rally – November Edition

It was once again it was back to Wethersfield Airfield for a rally. This time for a targa rally in the ZR. In the build up to the event it was very wet, and the morning was wet and cold. So we opted for some List 1A tyres with far more tread than the sticker List 1B tyres we had to use up. The first sets of tests were good fun, and in places very muddy and gravely so you would imagine they were the best tyres. However the stopwatch doesn’t lie and it was crews on the List 1B tyres who were topping the time sheets.

The rest of the day was a lot dried and with a lot more grip available with us now using the List 1B tyres. The tests were good and flowing and good fun. The bomb dump test was my favorite as it was a good mix of fast and flowing and some technical sections and a chance to try and be brave. During the day I manage a few top 5/10 times which was pleasing. At the end I finished up 12th overall driving with Suze on the maps.

 

Bovingdon Autosolo

It was back to Bovingdon for what could be the last Saturday morning event, as the planning permission for the events has run out. The organisers are hoping to be granted with a new one but for Sunday’s.

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(c) Brian Catt

The day started off damp and cold, but with a clear sky and a fair wind the surface soon started to dry out. However it wasn’t quick enough drying for my first test which was running on the ‘driftworks’ area, where they pour vegtable oil on the concrete to reduce tyre noise and also grip…. mixed with the damp the oily surface on my first test was like driving on ice. The event split drivers up so those who got to run on this later on did gain a real grip advantage. That said by the end of the first set of tests I was lying 3rd in class and 3rd overall.

As the day progressed, I was mixing times with the top 4 crews on all the tests and finished up 3rd in class and 3rd overall which was an improvement from the last autosolo at Bovingdon.

The Late Summer Slalom

I had heard a lot of good things about this event (a multi-venue autotest) run by Maidstone and Mid-Kent MC. Once it became part of Ian Mepham’s Stag-Do weekend an entry was duly dispatched.

In the lead up to the event I did wonder what it would all be about, the few videos I had seen showed some tight looking tests on tarmac but very little other detail or info. So I ensured the handbrake was as tight as it could be and with plenty of air in the rear tyres, some ‘testing’ in the local lanes proved it should just about work well enough.

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The event was split into two groups with all of us ‘stags’ in one group there was a great social side to the event, sharing tales of how the tests went throughout the day.

The first test we went to is known as the ‘prison test’ as it literally runs down the perimeter fence of a prison! This gravel track was great fun, though it did mean the car floor took a hammering… With this out of the way it was on to the tougher tarmac tests. There is no time to walk or practice the tests, you arrive have a quick look and then get on with it, with no navigator either. The tests although they looked on paper complicated, were in truth all very flowing andΒ  easy enough to remember. Throughout the whole event I only got one wrong test, and this was on my second run and was down to brain fade rather than anything else.

The day was rather full on, with lots of driving between venues, and by the end of the day I was rather knackered. At the finish we had no real idea of how we were doing during the day as the results are all collated at the end of the event. So apart from a bit of comparing times with each other ,we all had no idea of the results. In the lead up to the event I suspected the nature of the event, and the lack of lock on the ZR would result in a poor result. However I was very pleased to finish up 5th overall and 2nd in class, just 10 seconds off the overall win. It was also very pleasing when reviewing the results to see I had taken two fastest test times during the day and was generally within the top 5 all day. Definitely an event to do again!

Wethersfield Stages

It was back to Wetherfield but this time with the Micra for a stage rally. This would be the first stage rally of the year, and my first time driving the Micra on tarmac since the end of last year.

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The entries in our class (A) was very strong with a number of high powered 1400 cars so we were in for a battle in our road rally spec car. The weather was glorious sunshine all day, although this did make it rather hot both in the car and for the tyres. The stage were all about 10 miles long, and made use of most of the airfield. This gave a great mix of twisty stuff in the bomb dump and really high speed flowing stuff. The twisty stuff really suited the Micra, and although we lacked ultimate power the flowing nature of the high speed parts meant it was a real challenge to keep the momentum and carry speed through the high speed parts. It was a great challenge dealing with the back end of the car stepping out round a corner when you are flat in 5th!

During the morning we built up our nice lead for our position of 4th in class, however a change of front tyres was required and the next set where nowhere near as good as the previous ones. So over the lunch break I went with a split tyre strategy to try and give better grip and confidence in high speed turn in. We went into stage 5 really needing to make back some time, as we couldn’t afford to lose as much time as we had in stage 4. We had a full-on charge in stage 5 with nothing left to give anywhere. Thankfully this worked and we started to increase the time between between us and 5th in class (another Micra). You can see on this stage below we were just a few seconds of the pace of a C2R2 Max, equal with a Fiesta R200 and faster than many other cars like M3’s and an Impreza!

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By the end of the day we finished up 4th in class (as best as we could have expected really) and 23rd overall. Our overall position shows us much higher than many other more high powered cars, which is pleasing and shows just how competitive the 1400 class is.