My other car is a MINI!!!!
So, after taking my daily driver A3 out to the Ring in September, my Dad and I decided it was about time we built something a little more dedicated for our Ring trips, which have now become a twice annual event.
Not wanting to spend the earth, we decided to use my old A3, a car already highly modified running around 230bhp.
Fast forward 6 months, 3x as much money as we originally planned, and hundreds of hours labour, and the car was ready for it's first trip to the Ring in it's new form!
Annoyingly, I noticed on Thursday night, that one of my Pirelli P=zero Corsa tyres was fairly low on tread, so decided not to risk wearing it on the drive out there, and to save it for the track.
So, we stole the wheels off my daily, then set off for the ferry port:
On the journey with us, 4 mates of mine, Dan and Chris, in the blue 4 door A3, and George and Liam, in the silver A3.
so, an unplanned single make convoy, all 1.8T engined, all 200-230bhp, all fairly similar.
A nice early morning dash saw us make the 10am ferry, 2 hours ahead of what we booked, and soon I was waving goodbye to the familiar sight of Dover:
2 hours later we're back down to the lorry deck where we'd had to park (all too low to get onto the upper deck) and ready to pull off.
I'd noticed a clonking develop on the car on the way to the ferry, so we pulled over to check it out once off the ferry:
After checking everything suspension related, top mounts, subframe, steering rack, track rods, wishbones, and finding nothing, I thought I'd quickly check the driveshaft bolts.
The bloody OS shaft had come loose AGAIN at the inner CV. a constant problem on this car, despite a new box, and new shaft in the last month. I think it's related to the oil it has been covered in when the turbo developed a leak a while back.
Bugger. Tightened it up, and all was fine thankfully, it hadn't developed enough to ruin the CV joint, like it did last year, ruining my trip!
So, on the road, and things going well, we took the E42 route to avoid Brussels, hoping it'd be quicker and traffic free....
... WRONG! We hit awful traffic, I dont remember where, but it was SO hot inside the car it was terrible, the aircon isn't working at the mo, and Dad and I were cooking!
Traffic cleared, and we pulled in at the big QB service station 130 miles from the Ring, we chilled out and waited there for 20 mins for George to catch up, who'd had to stop earlier:
Popped the bonnet for a bit to try and help it cool down, the car wasn't over heating, but we were!
20 mins later and George and Liam rocked up, a quick splash of super 98, and we were off for the final stint:
We eventually rocked up Burgstube at 8am, where we recieved a warm welcome, and were soon shown around our rooms:
We were soon inside, enjoying a few beers:
Had a really great night too, I met Mike and Alex in there as well as obviously Martin and Heidi (great to meet you guys), and we stayed up until gone 1am chatting to Martin and Alex about all sorts, was great, felt just like being in your local pub!
We knew we were set to have a good weekend, as Dad had bought his Mascot along for the ride:
I'm afraid at this point, my photo taking skills left me, and I forgot all about writing a trip report, so this will be rather brief from here on out!
Saturday morning came, and after a cracking breakfast, we headed down to Aral in Adeneau to fill up with 102RON fuel. Surprisingly, it cost exactly the same as super98 had cost on the way down in Belgium.
We popped to Brunchen to take a quick look at the time trial stuff going round, but the track was closed soon after we got there, so we headed back towards the village.
On the way back to the hotel, we popped into Rent-4-Ring to see the new setup. I've met Ralph and Fredy a good few times before, but I've not met Dale before, so i went in and introduced myself, surprise surprise, yet another very friendly welcome, just what we've come to expect around here! A pleasure to meet you Dale, and thanks for taking the time to chat to us even though we wern't customers.
The new Rent-4-Ring place is brilliant, so close to the track, and it looks smart too. I assume Solo had a good weekend, because his Leon was parked outside most of the weekend, so he mus thave been out enjoying a rental Lucky sodd living in the Burgstube! Very jealous.
Saw an interesting Ferrari in the carpark, I'll be honest, I've got not idea what it is, but it looked pretty non standard:
At this point, I stopped taking any pictures, so just a quick account of our track time:
2pm Saturday, and we decided to go out for our first lap in the car with it's new setup. Dad and I strapped in, me driving, and armed with a 4 lap card, we hit the track.
It felt OK, I won't say great, just OK really. The car felt verty different to how it did at Castle Combe, and felt VERY down on power. We cruised around for a sighting lap, to find LOADS of accidents on the track, 4 yellow flags, several oil spill signs, and a 20mph single lane precession down through the fox hole.
Back into the carpark, and George reported his car had no power either. It seems that the extreme heat on saturday was killing our turbo cars. Very odd seeing as I never suffer heatsoak over here in summer, but then again, I guess it's more extreme on track.
We left it until 4pm, when the heat started to die down, and Dad went out for a lap.
Round we went with me giving a few directions, and had a really enjoyable lap. Dad seemed to be getting on well with the car, considering he's not driven it much since all the work was carried out.
I then did another lap with Dan as passenger. The car felt MUCH better, I seemed to be able to get more from the tyres once they'd warmed up, and the power seemed to be back in the colder air.
After an enjoyable but steady lap, I came back, and Dad jumped into the Driver seat again. I'd downloaded Harrys lap timer before we came, so decided to give it a try as a passenger whilst Dad drove.
Considering it was Dad's 3rd ever lap, and only second in the car, I was suitably impressed to a lap time of 09:47. Not bad at all! The lap timer app seemed brilliant too.
With the tyres hot, and enough fuel left in the car for another lap, I decided to try my first solo lap. All my previous laps have been with passengers, so this was a bit nerve racking for me!
I decided to give the video feature on Harrys lap timer a go, so stuck the phone in the window with a cheapy phone mount Robbob gave me at Combe.
Here's the resulting vid:
A bit of a strange moment at MG2, the focus seem around 3mins appeared to flash his right indicator on around the left left hander, then switch it off, only to stay Very far right on the way into Kallenhard, and indicate right again. I started to make my way past, when to my surprise he ran wide, so I had to hit the anchors there, before pulling past him safely down the hill to Kallenhard.
Having pulled past the focus down into Kallenhard, I was a bit quick on the way into the bend, and suffered a bit of understeer, a slight lift to bring it round soon turned into a small slide, although strangely more of a slide than I was expecting, easily controlled, but strange all the same. Grip didn't seem like it usually did, and to be honest, it hadn't done all day.
Carried on through my first solo lap, and had a great time. I'm still fairly new to the track, so please excuse any poor lines. The car felt to be going better too, in the cool evening air.
Comming up towards wipperman, I was surprised to see a silver civic EP3 race car, which I'd noticed earlier in the day appeared to be very fast. By Brunchen, I was fairly close to it, and after Brunchen 2, I was right up with it and having to hold back a bit. The guy was clearly not interested in moving over, sticking tight to the left hand side of the track.
I remembered Martins advice about overtaking on the right, and decided to sit comfortably behind him, until such time as he finally moved over at DH. Better late than never I guess!
Back in the carpark, after a cool down lap, I was really shocked to see that Harrys Lap Timer had recorded an 08:40.1 lap time! Over the moon with that. I didn't go out looking for times at all, but it's nice to get a rough idea of your pace from time to time. Looking back through the video I think a good driver could get much more from the car than I did, perhaps not Super Baguette fast, but I'd certainly think there's an 08:20 in the car, if not a bit better. Not for me though!
Back to the Burgstube for a few beers, then a quick shower and down to PK for the traditional Saturday night Steak on a stone. lovely as always! Although I think Liam was a bit annoyed that for 20 euros they didn't even bother to cook it for you! haha.
Sunday morning came, and after a few more beers than planned we failled miserably to make it for breakfast at 07:30, and strolled into the bar at 08:30. WIth breakfast done, we looked on the webcam, and saw the track was shut. Oh well, time to chill out I guess.
A guy came up to the hotel with a poorly Clio, we helped him whip off the plenum chamber to check the plugs, and it did seem to run better after a clean up, but sadly it wasn't to be, and his misfire came back on his first lap
I did one lap around 10am, with George as passenger, and found the grip level was poor again.
Back to the carpark, and the track closed for a crash.
After an hour of sitting around, I decided to check my tyre pressures.....
I'd had the tyres flipped round on the rims the week before we left, as they'd badly worn on one edge at Combe due to poor alignment. I had them nitro filled, and asked the garage to infalte them to 32psi. They're usually pretty good to me.
So, I borrowed a tyre guage (forgot mine!) from a crazy dutch guy (Hi Thomas if you're on here - thanks!) and checked my pressures.
1 hour after a lap, with the tyres still warmISH, the pressures were at 45psi all round. Oh christ, no WONDER I had so little grip out there! What a twat for not checking. I'd been so busy it just slipped my mind Ah well!
Dropped the pressures to 31psi, after remembering the figure Nige used for Karls golf, and waited for the track to re-open after ANOTHER crash.
went out for a lap with Liam as passenger, and found the grip level was MUCH better. I felt I was able to corner much faster, and able to drive much smoother, with almost no squeal from the tyres, unlike Saturdays laps! Traffic was really heavy though, so I just enjoyed it when I could, and concentrated on trying to get my lines better. From watching Dales videos, and speaking to Solo at the bar, I found I was able to smooth out corners much better, with so many bends requiring a super late turn in. It felt strange, but did wonders for the smoothness. I was also very concious all weekend to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, after it was pointed out that I looked a bit too casual at the wheel on an earlier vid!
Back into the carpark, and I checked the pressures again. They had risen to 37psi straight after the lap, even with notro fill. SO I backed them off down to 31psi hot, and went out for another lap.
at 31psi hot, the car felt MUCH better yet again, with loads of grip available, I felt really good about it. The strange understeer/snap over steer tendancy had gone totally, and Chris commented that the car felt REALY planted at speed. Still a good bit of traffic around, but one of my most enjoyable laps ever. A check on Harrys Lap Timer afterwards shows that it was another 08:40, although this time in traffic, and with one yellow flat at Hoe Act. pretty happy with that!
Last edited by Prawn; 11th May 2011 at 11:58.