Its been a busy few weeks, hence the delay in writing up my report from the recent Chelmsford MC Targa Rally at Wethersfield. The last few weekends have been taken up giving passenger rides in the MGZR at both World RallyX at Silverstone and then MotoFest in Coventry. (Pictures and video of this you can see at the end of this).
Wethersfield; After six months away from the drivers seat in a rally, it was good to be heading to a rally to drive and navigate. The event had a very high quality entry, and seeded at Car 6 I thought I would do well to match my seeding by the end of the day.
The first set of tests all ran fine, with no major dramas or issues. Next up with was a seat swap and on to navving for Suze. After this the tests were changed and Suze was driving first this time. Again these all went fine, the second set of tests were good fun with some challenging section in the bomb dump. It was then my turn to drive, by now it was approaching midday and the weather was getting rather hot. Previously I had done a lot of work to prevent issues which had shown up before with fuel vapourisation, so I was hoping the car would behave. The first few tests went well, and I was pleased with my run through the bomb dump test which was nice and fast and flowing. However in the queue for the next test the engine cut out with the dreaded fuel vapourisation issues. To say I wasn’t happy was an understatement. In the end I missed two tests, giving me maximum times on these tests, meaning a good result was now out of the window.
After a tow back to the paddock, the car had cooled down and ran all ok for the rest of the day. Although at any chance we put more cooler fuel in the tank, and then also sprayed the tank with water at any chance to further cool the fuel. This worked to get round, although on some tests we struggled with a lack of fuel pressure / power.
The mean that the afternoon tests were a chance to have some fun, and this photo shows this up very well on one of the gravel tests. By the end of the day we finished up 15th overall, not a great result but we had fun in the afternoon and set a 2nd fastest test time proving that the pace was there when it was all working right.
After the Targa rally, I really wanted to avoid the fuel vapourisation issues. So I carried out the following modifications to try and deal with the issues. New OEM fuel filter, unplugged the vacuum feed to the FPR, improved fuel pump wiring, cut x4 holes in the bonnet to vent out hot air. Luckily the weekends at Silverstone and Coventry were both hot, and Autosolo/test demo rides were an ideal chance to test my mods. Thankfully the issues didn’t show up once during these weekends, even during some very hot weather and long runs.
However that wasn’t the end of the work in the evenings…. during the last part of the runs on Sunday at Silverstone I noticed a few bangs. I thought this was a tired engine mount, but on closer inspection it was the gearbox mount had undone both mounting bolts. One of which is still somewhere on Stowe Corner where we were doing the demo rides! A few evenings were spent, sorting out the mount, finding new bolts and locating a missing support bracket. This was fitted back with lots of loctite and spring washers. During the runs at Coventry the bolts didn’t move at all from the witness paint marks.
Then it was on to Coventry…
During my final runs at Coventry I noticed a lot more understeer. At the time I put this down to the tyres (Umbongo’s finest) getting too hot. However back in the paddock looking at the angle on the NS front it was clear the front strut had snapped where it clamps to the hub. Luckily I carry a spare with me, so I was able to fix this in place and get home ok. Now both shocks are at Gaz for repair, service, rebuild and upgrading to prevent this happening again. At the same time the shock oil leaked out onto the CV joint causing the CV gaiter to split, which meant everything was coated in oil and CV grease (lovely to clean up…!) So before the next Targa Rally at Debden which is coming up very soon, there is a fair bit to do. See ‘the list’ to see the work that needs to be done.
It could be said these demo events are hard on the car (driving sideways to impress the billies) but overall it is better for these things to come out on now competitive events. Lets hope for a smooth event at Debden and of course at Abingdon this weekend where I am navving for Suze in the Micra.
Silverstone – World RallyX Demo Rides
Coventry MotoFest Demo Ride