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.


(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.


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.




Two of four – Grass Autotest

Driving around the M25 heading towards Kent on a Thursday evening is never much fun, but with rain starting to come down it made for a more interesting evening…

The tests at Brands Hatch are short and sharp, but with this being the first event of the year and the rain it was very ‘green’ and very slippery. The upside of this is that the handbrake worked on the MGZR. Due to a 8pm curfew on the venue, we got straight on with doing the tests.


Grip was at an obvious premium, but with some careful use of the throttle and handbrake good progress could be made. The tests were flowing and not too tough as it was the first event of the year. However you could easily be caught out, by a bump in the grass or even a section of long grass which retained the rain water, which then send you off into a big slide – fun but not fast…

Although I tried to keep the car neat and tidy, the changing nature of the grip meant that this wasn’t easy. With the car being double driven, this meant I had no real idea how well others around me were doing. So after packing up the car, I went over to look at the results and was very surprised to find that I had finished 10th overall and 1st in class.


Think I may need to wash the car before the Targa Rally….


One of four

It seems like a good while since I last updated the blog. Since the sprint, the MGZR has been busy with a 20/20 and a Scatter rally. The 20/20 was all ok, until I got very lost on the maps…. The scatter rally was a better outcome with 4th overall, and it was a good shakedown for the new suspension.

Whilst I have been away from the blog, I have stripped a Rover 200 for its Gaz competition suspension. This is now fitted to the MGZR along with some polybushes and new drop links.


Now onto the first of four events in two weeks (a autosolo, autotest, stage rally and targa rally) this was a local autosolo run by Oxford motorclub, at a local old airfield.

The tests run by Oxford MC are nice and flowing and don’t require the use of the handbrake, which is useful since ours is useless. The MGZR is well suited to events like this, although on one of the first tests I did find it is a bit bigger than the Micra and clipped a cone. The first results were ok, but not anything special. However the next set of tests worked better for me, and I got more used to the car. Gradually as the day went on, I got more in tune with the car and was able to really push on.

By the end of the day I was 19th overall, (11th clubman) and 2nd in class, which given the amount of time I gave away on the first set of tests was ok.

Here you can see some on-board of the final test.

The next event, is just a few days away at the first 7Oaks Grass autotest at Brands Hatch. Watch this space for two of four!


Castle Combe Sprint

The event started off with a very long and dull drive along the M4 on a Friday night, not the most fun you can have in a noisy rally car…

However once we got to Castle Combe on the Saturday morning the sun was already shining and the day was shaping up well. Scrutineering and noise all went straight forward. However the absence of my normal timing strut meant I had to resort to my back up ‘composite’ one which I made last year out of cardboard and tank tape…


The work of getting the car prepped ready to be first car on the track meant I missed the chance to walk the course, I would have to rely on my wits and a vague memory of when I was last here in 2001!

The first timed run, was a little scrappy as I found my way round the track. The very open and flowing nature of the track meant it was a good fun run. By the time I got back from checking my first run times, I came back to the car to find others in my class looking over the Micra as they were surprised by my speed. At this point I had a 7 second lead in the class. However I wasn’t fooled by this, sprinters by their nature tend to sand bag in practice, where as rally people tend to drive everywhere flat out…!

The other cars in my class were all Fiesta’s of varying ages from an almost brand new 999cc turbo, to some very modified older ones running sticky List 1B tyres. A real mix of approaches in our class then. We were running List 1A tyres (my usual favourite the Yoko A539), as this was all we had available.

On to the second runs, this was the first timed run which actually count. I wanted to get a good banker time in on this run, to allow a bit of a push on the final timed run. This worked and I found another 3 seconds, however the competition also found time, and got to within 4 seconds.

The second timed run, went very well. I had the confidence in the car, to play with left foot braking though Quarry and Tower bends. This found me yet another 2 seconds. By the end of the day I took the class win by 3 seconds, which over a 3.3 mile course is pleasing to be nearly a second a mile quicker than the rest.

The course was great fun, and proved to be quite a different challenge to stage rallying. The speed element was much higher with quite a bit of use of 5th gear and I was never lower than 3rd gear apart from the start, and on my final run I averaged 72mph. This gives quite a different feel to the car, and makes the challenge all about carrying the speed, but at a much higher starting point i.e. needing real commitment and trust in the car.

Here you can see my final run :-