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Double duty (again)

After the disappointment of last weekend in the Micra, this weekend was all about the MGZR.

The first event was a targa rally at Debden airfield. The tests are Debden are all quite short, but the mixture of surfaces makes for a good fun day. The lead up to the event had been a bit wet, so in places there was a lot of standing water, and a few muddy sections. The ZR is now fully guarded under the car, so this would allow me to attack a little harder on the rougher sections of the venue.

The 2017 Bomb Along Targa 29

For once I was the second driver, which allowed me to see the tests as I was navving for Antons in his 206. The tests were the same as last year, which made my navving a bit easier. By the end of the first set of tests I was leading overall., the positions were still the same at lunch after a second attempt at the tests, but with a reduced lead.

After lunch the tests were changed, and the running order changed meaning I was first out this time. The tests were similar but a few sneaky changes made the running order advantage in the morning a bit more even. By the end of the 3rd run of tests we had dropped to second overall, by just 8 seconds. Going into the final run of tests, I probably got too worked up and tried a bit too hard. Moving a cone on the first test wasn’t a good start, and I over drove the car a few points. In the end I finished up 13 seconds off the win. This was still a pleasing result in what is essentially still a pretty standard car on an event where having an LSD would be a real advantage..

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Then it was off to Brands Hatch in a rather muddy car for an autosolo. I had seen before that they run one of their tests in the rally school part of the venue which looked good fun.

However the day didn’t start well with me getting a wrong route on the first paddock test. This meant the next two runs had to be a bit conservative to ensure I went the right way, but this did mean I dropped some time.

After this I was back into the sort of times I would hope to be achieving in the car. The tests were fun (especially) the rally school test, which you can see below. By the end of the day I finished up 12th overall and 5th in class.

 

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Wethersfield Stages

It had been quite a while since the last stage rally in Micra, during this time. A fair bit of work had been done on improving the front brakes.  All parts of the front braking system were replaced, and new custom made new Mintex (F4R) pads were fitted in the hope that it would solve the issues from previous events.

As a bit of fun and a pre-event shakedown we did a track day at Castle Combe the weekend before. This was good fun, running on some List 1A tyres it was good to experience some proper high speed running and a good test of the brakes which worked fine. It was also good fun to ‘beat’ many other faster cars including Clio’s, Elise’s and even an Evo 7 which I kept behind me for a whole session 🙂

One issue did occur during the track day which was the lamda sensor failing, so in between events I fitted a new sensor.

Driving the rally car to scrutineering it became clear that there was still a sensor issue as the car was drinking fuel and running very rich. Scurtineering was fine, but the rich running proved to be an issue at the noise check. Luckily we setup service next to Ian Mepham and the Newton’s who swung into action and with a SuperTrapp fitted we got through noise. Oddly the car was no louder when flat out, but at 4k revs and part throttle it wasn’t so good.

On to the event, it was a very hot day so it would be a good test of the brakes. Luckily all the new parts and improved ducting worked and the brakes worked fine all during our running. The Supertrapp on the back of the exhaust clearly was sapping some power and make the engine harder to rev. So we were running around mid table overall and 4th in class.

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During the middle of stage 4 is where it all went wrong during the first lap of the stage the clutch started slipping. Luckily we were able to limp the car back to service, but it was clear when back in service there was a lot of oil coming out of somewhere and it was likely that this oil leak was the cause of the clutch slipping. This now means a fair bit of work….

There is no video allowed on the venue so on-boards from this event, but here is some from the track day.

 

A muddy day

Last Sunday we headed off to the Oxford MC annual grass autotest in the MGZR, on the way down it looked like a nice summers day…. However this England, and sure enough some dark clouds soon gathered once the event got started.

I was lucky and got one run on test one in before the rain started. The field being used was damp and soft before the event, so when the rain came in heavy it turned the grass field in to a real mud pit. This made just getting moving hard work at times.

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(c) Harvey Warner

The event was a good social afternoon, with a BBQ half-way through the proceedings. The wet and muddy conditions, did mean that it was good fun and it was a great chance to practice slow speed four wheel drifts, and abusing the handbrake. The downside was having to spend a fair while at the jet wash on the way home removing all the mud & grass from the wheel arches and all under the car.

By the end of the day I ended up 8th overall and 2nd in class.

In Micra news the next ‘event’ out in the Micra will be a track at Castle Combe later in the month. This will be a chance to get some high speed running and a chance to do a bit of car and driver development.

After that the next event is Wethersfield Stages, an event last year where we took 3rd in class after a tight battle. Hopefully this year with a faster  start to the event we will be able to improve on last years result.

However before then there are still quite a few jobs to be done, see ‘The List’ for details of work still to be done.

A busy weekend

This time it was a busy weekend working on the cars, rather than driving them.

As ever there is always a list of jobs to be done (see ‘the list’ in the top menu to see what), a rare weekend at home meant it was a good chance to catch up on jobs on both competition cars.

The MGZR was the first up, with some DTM mirrors to be fitted, these are much lighter than the OEM ones, and a smaller profile to reducing frontal area (aero drag) and also they make the car narrower which is handy for those taller cones… 😉

Then it was on to trying to stop the fuel vaporising issues which came up whilst running Car 0 on the East Anglian Classic. A new fuel pump relay had already been fitted, so the next jobs were to heat wrap the fuel lines and coolant pipes which run very near each other. I also heat wrapped the fuse/relay box as this got very hot too. The MGZR doesn’t have any heat guards around the exhaust which runs close to the fuel tank, so this can’t be helping either by heating the tank by radiant heat. Some additional heat wrapping (with two lots of adhesive) , now see’s the fuel tank protected from radiant heat from the exhaust.

Whilst working under the car, I treated the floor and sills to a quick coat of black spray paint to try and keep the rust at bay.

As a way of removing weight, and prep for an upcoming sump guard fitment, I removed the sound proofing from the front floor pans. The drivers side was very easy with it coming up in large pieces, the navs side was lets just say a lot more work….! However it was worth it as along with the lighter mirrors saw nearly 4.5kgs removed from the car over the weekend 🙂

A small niggle, but I don’t like seeing red warning lights on the dash (it makes me think the oil light is on!), with us removing the ABS fuse to get better braking this was giving an error red light. So the warning bulbs were removed, a small weight saving and no error lights – a win win situation 🙂

Then it was on to the Micra, which hadn’t really moved or seen daylight for a couple of months. The first job was to change rear pads, and carry out a rear bolt check. Next was to paint the floor, which like the MG was to try and keep rust at bay.

Then it was time to bleed the rear brakes, I will now be running Motul 660 Racing Brake fluid in an attempt to improve the braking capacity. This was done in-between keeping up to date with an ever changing Grand Prix on the iPad.

Bleeding brakes can take quite a while (using the gravity method), so I used the time to clean the engine bay and spanner check it, and re-paint the front towing eye.

Finally it was time to prime and paint the new front brake calipers, again as a way to try and improve the braking capacity brand new brake calipers have been bought (old ones, are scrap heap specials).

If you look at the ‘the list’ you will see there is still plenty left to do…!

You can see a picture video version on the above here :-

 

 

A double header weekend

It was to be a very full weekend, a Autosolo on the Saturday and a Targa Rally on the Sunday.

The autosolo was running as part of the Abingdon Carnival weekend. It was a new event for me, though the test layouts were similar to other autosolos, each venue has it’s own quirks. Wind was this venues one! All day long there was a very strong wind blowing across the airfield, which made the marshaling element of the day cold at times.

The event was a BTRDA & CSMG Championship round which meant there would be plenty of top crews out to play. The MGZR is a good car for these events although with a standard diff, the power is sometimes a little too much. You do also have to adapt to a smoother driving style as the rear-disc brakes are good at speed but the handbrake is as much use as a chocolate fire guard… This does force me into a smoother driving style though which has to be a good thing.

By the end of a fun and challenging day I ended up 13th overall (9th in the Nat B event) and 6th in class. Typically for me I finished the day a lot faster than I started it, especially when the class was close at the end of the day.

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(C) Ian Harrison

On to the next event on the Sunday, which was a brand new event. A targa rally running at Kemble airfield, organised by Bath MC.

The venue used a small section of the airfield, and the organisers arranged for 6 tests running through the day. Although the test mileage / time was lower than other similar events, with double driving I was kept busy all day.

Running at Car 4 was ideal as it means you can watch a couple other cars and the marshals have been woken up by the cars ahead of you. The changes to the tests were subtle and this meant that you had to be very on the ball after each test to spot the changes. As the day went on we (Antons on the maps) worked up the leader board through a mixture of consistent speed and ensuring we went the right way. By the end test 4 we were lying second overall, however during the 5th test a small rock on the gravel section of the tests caused a puncture which cost me a fair chunk of time. By the end of the day I was tired (annoyed at the puncture) but pleased with a fun days rallying and considering the puncture still a good result at 6th overall.

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Four of four

Well the four event in a short period of time was a Targa Rally. These are singe venue events, with a selection of short one or two mile long driving tests.

This even was running a Woodbridge airfield, a venue we know well but a long way from home. Thankfully we choose to use the MGZR, which means a) we only need to take one car and b) it is sooo much quieter and nicer to drive on the road compared to the Micra.

Looking at the maps after signing on it became clear the navigator would have a tough job. Airfields by their nature are often lacking in features, which can mean finding a route which isn’t arrowed or clear is not straight forward.

On the first runs this proved to be the case, however we found our way round and I avoided any cones.

The second run of the tests, felt to be a lot better and I was able to push the car on much harder. These proved to be the most enjoyed set of tests of the day.

The 2017 Tostig Targa Rally 19

After lunch the tests were reversed, however although we mostly knew where we were going. The issues were that the venue was getting broken up in places, this would be fine in a fully prepared rally car. However in the MGZR which is mostly a standard road car with no sumpguard it did mean we had to take compromised routes around the rougher parts of the airfield, which cost us time sadly.

After a bit of a slow start, our times improved as the day went on and we finished 8th overall and 5th in class.

Three of four – Down Ampney Stage Rally

Once again it was another event which started with a long and dull drive down the M4 in the rally car on a Friday evening. Not the most fun way to get around, however the trip wasn’t too bad and I went straight into scrutineering which was easy and straight-forward.

On to the event, it was as usual an early start but the weather looked to be staying dry. So I fitted the rally slicks., which was a bit of a shame as some wet weather may have helped with the lack of power. The first stage was a bit of a reminder of the venue, and driving around broken and bumpy old airfields after a number of smooth race track events.

The one thing I did have to keep in mind were the brakes. After our experience at Snetterton we had done a lot of work with various companies to try and get a set of AP 4-pot calipers fitted to the Micra. This would be easy if we changed to 14″ wheels, but this would mean a big investment in new wheels and tyres – so not an option. We thought we had a solution which would work with our wheels, but in the end this didn’t work out. So we were running the same brakes as per the sprint, just with increase brake cooling ducting. This meant during the rally I had to always be thinking of the brakes, and not do any really heavy braking during the event. This meant I had to adjust my driving style, which probably made my driving smoother than it normally is.

The stages were a good mix of tight and twisty parts, as well as some fast flowing parts which required some good commitment. As the day went on it became clear that we were on course to finish up 2nd in class. We had a good lead over 3rd in class, but a little way off the class win. Who knows if being easy on the brakes could have made the difference…

However rallying is never a given thing, and during the event plenty of other crews proved that the nature of the venue meant that you can’t take anything for granted. So we pushed on, but not giving that last percent to ensure a finish (and to be able to drive home!). We finished up 39th overall and 2nd in class. Next weekend we are off to Woodbridge for a targa rally where we are seeded at Car 4.

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