2019-06-17 17:06:49 UTC
weekend back on track.
After finally getting the correct front left lower A-arm from my parts
supplier (there are variants on the suspension and he'd inadvertently
sent the '99 variant rather than the '00 version, which had been
designed to lengthen the wheelbase by about 1.5"), and doing the
reconstruction of the brake line running through the replacement arm
(which came without one, unlike the 99 arm), it was with some caution
that I went out on track for practice on Saturday. The only goal for the
session was to confirm that everything—brakes, steering, structural
integrity—was working properly, and my times showed it, as I didn't
press beyond about 85%. Best time: 1:17.193
With no problems cropping up beyond a slight change in brake bias for
the lower tire pressures I tried out for the first time (cold pressures
9psi front, 12psi rear), next up was qualifying, and with Dave back in
the field, I knew I'd have to start working for it. Best time: 1:13.303,
but as luck would have it, Dave thought he had a mechanical issue and
didn't go out. Result: pole position!
Race 1 was more of a battle than it had to be. A sports racer with
easily twice my horsepower, but not as fast overall was harassing me at
first, and I thought that I'd have enough advantage to "cruise home" to
the win with Dave starting at the back of the pack, but I lulled myself
into a false feeling of confidence and the next thing I knew, Dave was
all over the back of me. This was more disconcerting to me than it
should have been, because I was using a—now temporary—replacement left
mirror after the original was sheared off by a passing (over!) Lotus 23,
and it was a flat mirror where I had grown used to using convex mirrors.
Every time Dave moved from my right side to my left, he seemed to leap
So I simply decided to let him take the lead to see if I might be able
to take it back with only a lap or two to go. As the 5 minute board came
out, it seemed my strategy was going to work beautifully. Dave was
starting to struggle coming out of turn 8-9 onto the main straight and I
was able to draft up and a little by him as we entered turn one. With
what we both thought was going to be one lap to go, I got a great drive
off the final turn and was looking to go completely past his car before
the braking zone, to pull to the inside and see if I could then keep him
behind me for one lap. But as we approached start/finish, the chequered
flag was very suddenly displayed, and Dave won by 0.113s; just a little
less than a car length.
However, it seemed my strategy was sound. I much preferred being the hound.
Saturday evening was our semi-traditional communal barbecue with mostly
FF drivers, family and friends, but a few FC pilots as well. We
celebrated Alan McColl's 60th birthday a little ahead of time, and
generally had a great night as the heat of the day dissipated and the
drag races started running in the background.
Sunday, there is no practice session. It's qualifying followed by two
races. And in qualifying, I had it all together and put my car on pole
by 0.03s over Dave.
On race 2's start (of three races for the weekend), I figured that my
best strategy as pole sitter was to try and keep the speeds down to the
point that my fuel-injected engine would accelerate cleanly and many
Dave's would stumble for a moment, but I reckoned without taking into a
account the presence of Erle Archer in his Birkin S3 sports racer (a
Lotus Super 7 clone with a Ford Zetec engine and about 220hp). Erle's
car is no match for an FF over a lap, but in a straight drag race from
25mph, he easily shot ahead of both Dave and I, and because I hadn't
moved as far right as I could have, he was in a position to block ME
when we finally had to brake for turn 1.
That led to me chasing Dave, passing him for the lead on lap 8, him
getting it back on lap 9, and then traffic made it a little harder for
me to stay on his gearbox. But each time he'd get a little gap, I found
I could reel him back in, and I was still trying for my next to last lap
...and then we hit lapped traffic coming into 7A, and there was only
enough time for Dave to go by, while I was forced to wait behind the Vee
until the apex of turn 8. That put me behind Dave by a little more than
a second, which led to me turning the fastest FF lap of the weekend on
the final lap as I worked to get back in touch; 0.8s faster than Dave's
best of the weekend, I think.
With that lap, I was able to get a great drive off turn 9, and at the
finish I'd popped out of the draft and finished just 0.068s behind;
about 9 feet.
The fast lap put me on pole for race 3, and with Erle's car coming up
lame during the previous race, it was going to be a straight fight from
the start down to turn one for race 3. I tried my slow-down strategy,
but Dave's car is very well jetted, and we were dead even when we hit
the brake zone for turn 1. I held the inside and the lead after we
exited turn 1, and held it for a couple of laps, hoping that Dave would
make a mistake, and let me get enough of a gap to drive purely for fast
laps, but it was me that made the mistake when I missed a shift and Dave
went by. And give him his due: whether it was my tire's going off, maybe
getting the rear pressures wrong (it's hard to know where you are with
pressure when the tires leak between sessions and the tires are also
...but most likely, I was just not on it anymore.
Dave won by 2.44s, and whenever I started to reel him in, I'd make
enough of an error to give it back again.
So all in all:
Three pole positions.
Three second place finishes for grand total time difference of just over
Fastest FF lap of the weekend by 0.8s
And in the club standings for FF and open wheel, I was leading Dave by
14 coming into the weekend, and with a 5 point difference between first
and second place, I believe that Dave is now ahead by 1 point.
But what a weekend! We went at it, hammer and tongs—getting very close
but never touching.