Monday, 31 August 2020

Race Day - British GT

We turned up at Brands Hatch not really sure how the day was going to run.    Access to the paddock was strict due to the high profile event and c-19 restrictions preventing the public having any access.  

The Porsche area was full so we grabbed space next to the biggest truck you have ever seen belonging to the F3 Double R Racing team.  A touch out of our league there just on the number of spare wheels and front wings carried.  

Sign on and scrutineering was done via electronic declaration before the event. We managed minor drama finding the fire extinguisher battery flat so needed a hasty trip to the nearest petrol station for a new 9v pp3. 

At the morning briefing we learned of a number change from 46 to 146 due to a clash with the 'cole trickle days of thunder replica nascar' so some 1s were hastily cut out and added to the car just before qualifying. 

Was busy with 46 cars starting from pit lane. I found some reasonable space to learn the track in to start with but never got a clean lap.  It was damp in places so needed some respect - especially up the back of the GP circuit amongst the tree lined track sections screened from the wind.  A mid session safety car was unhelpful, and I felt the car could have been pushed aside more quickly.  After 8 minutes slow lapping I did get clear track for 3 laps at the end of the session going 1s quicker each lap into the 1m49s for 16th place on the grid 6th best Porsche.

Rain threatened all afternoon as we waited for our main race, so talk turned to planning the pit stop tactics as we watched the British GT qualifying and F3 race beforehand.  I went back to our pre-planned suspension setup for dry as the car had good balance and turn-in handling in qualifying so didn't want to do anything too radical there.  

40 Minute Pit Stop Race

On track we were gridded up as usual but followed the safety car round for my first ever rolling start.  Staying in formation as the pace  quickened towards he end of the lap was fine, but the car in front checked up just as the lights went out round clearways and I got jumped by 3 V8s and a Porsche Boxster before paddock hill bend.  With the Porsche and V8s mixed up on the grid with very different performance characteristics it was always going be interesting!  I narrowly avoiding a spinning Nascar replica at druids  and the first 5 laps were brutally close racing as we scrapped for position.  

Every time I got past on the bends the V8s just roared past down the straight and I could see the class leader PDA  Boxster disappearing into the distance.  I managed to pick off two round the outside of druids and block the inside until the GP circuit where my the aero wing and splitter allows me to build a gap round the fast flowing corners. 

I got straight onto chasing down and passing the Boxster in front and headed into the pits for the mandatory 2 minute stop with Leigh right on my bumper.  I found my crew (my son and brother) waving a yellow jacket adn took a drink whilst they took a couple of psi out of my tyres which were v hot.  

We left the pits bumper to bumper (Leigh having jumped me by a second in the stop) and I wasted no time getting past.  Every time I tried to get more than couple of seconds lead other cars brought us back together.  We swapped positions at least 5 or 6 times to the end what was an amazing race for us.    

With I two minutes (2 Laps) on the clock and was desperate to hold position with my tyres and brakes rapidly over heating.  Coming down into clearways Leigh got alongside yellow flags mean't we both had to check-up - it didn't matter and the chequered flag was out a lap early due to the 6pm noise curfew.  

I genuinely had no idea where I finished overall, how many positions I gained or lost by pitting early or how many overtakes after were for position.  I was solely focused on the Class battle.
I finished P9 overall (setting my fastest lap on the penultimate one having learned the track by then) which is pretty special given I dropped back to 20th on the first lap. 

An amazing race and winning the PDA Boxster class was fantastic.  Moreover just being part of a 46 car grid with really respectful drivers who value their cars more than a position on track is what the CALM Porsche trophy is all about.  

Onboard showing battle for PDS Class lead:

Hopefully we'll be back for some more in 2021.

What's up 2020

So after sitting out 2019 whilst we rebuilt the engine we were gearing up for 2020.

The BRSCC let go of the Porsche championship at the last minute due to dwindling numbers which in part was due to increased costs for reduced track time. The championship has been divided for a while with more speed / cost going into Boxsters that really only a very few could afford and a growing separation with 924 drivers.   

So we signed up for the CALM Porsche trophy with a mix of Porsche models and race types run on a not-for-profit basis and raising funds for the Campaign Against Living Miserably a well established mental health charity.

A track day in March with the 750 Motor Club went well, despite a minor panic when the exhaust disconnected and I thought the new engine had failed (lots of vibration / won't rev feeling 😭).

Then the c-19 thing happened and Motorsport was cancelled until July. 

Most of the CALM Porsche season was in the early part of the year so has been lost. But the best is saved until last a shared grid with v8s on the under-card of the British GT/F3 weekend on the Brand's Hatch GP circuit.

Checking the car over the week before we found the battery leaking and steam coming from the centre radiator, so were hastily arranging delivery of replacement parts to ensure we could go racing.  

Monday, 23 September 2019

First fire up and running the Engine

After far too long a period not able to work on the car, we attempted to start the engine.

Whilst one of us filled up the fluids (coolant / hydraulic /engine oil) the other finished fitting the air intake and throttle body to the top of the engine.  The oil we are using is millers motor sport break-in.  We also added 20 litres of fresh super unleaded fuel into the tank.  We had drained the old fuel before taking the engine out.  

To get the oil pressure up we turned the engine over on the starter motor with the fuel pump disconnected.  It took a minute of two for the fuel to flow once reconnected but the engine didn’t fire up properly!   

A quick check and we found some of the coil pack plugs were not pushed all the way in, so we only had sparks on a few cylinders.  With that corrected we tried again and wow how it roared into life.  The light weight flywheel is immediately obvious, letting the engine revs rise really quickly.   

We kept the car at a fast idle 2500 revs to bring it up to full temperature, adding more hydraulic fluid to the power steering and coolant as the air bled out of these systems.   After about 30 mins of running we were done. No leaks found and only a few minor pieces to refit before heading out on track to complete the running in.  

After recurring the front and rear bumpers, under trays and engine covers, we needed to recheck all of  the ride height and alignment before driving the car. This actually needed minimal adjustment so didn’t set up back too much time.  

We booked a track day at Snetterton to complete the running in of the engine.  The aim of the day to do as many miles and possible.  On track we limited the engine revs to ~4500rpm for the morning, clocking up over 100 miles around the circuit.  

The engine ran fine, so over the lunch break we dropped the running in oil out and switched to our preferred millers nanotech race oil.  Upping the Rev limit during each 30 min session in the afternoon we finished with another 80 miles on the clock and getting up towards the 7000rpm red line.

We didn’t time any laps and but the engine felt good and our top speeds were comparable to race conditions so everything seems well.   With the race season pretty much over, we won't be running this year, but know there is relatively little stopping us getting out for some racing next season!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Engine re-install

The engine re-install was equally as long and difficult as the removal.   The same process of getting the rear of the car as high as possible to allow the engine to slide underneath the rear worked alright in the end.  

With the engine block inched into place and connected to the car via the front engine mount things started to get a bit tricky.  As there is no rear engine mount the block needed to be supported on some extra axle stands whilst we re-fitted the gearbox.  We had made life as easy as possible by purchasing a clutch guide tool to centre the clutch disc and some long M12 studs onto which we could hang the gearbox bell housing.   

With everything lined up the input shaft should slide straight in and you replace the studs with the various sized bolts.  However the gearbox just would not push on the last inch.  Balancing the gearbox on a jack and getting the right angle felt almost impossible.  The input shaft has 16 splines which need to be perfectly aligned, at the same time the vertical and horizontal angle needs to be perfect.  After several hours and almost at the end of the road we decided the gearbox was definitely lined up and we just needed to be stronger!  

In the end we used the gearbox bolts to pull the gearbox onto the engine the last cm and it seemed to work fine.  Someone has since suggested that a large ratchet strap is the ideal tool to provide enough force.  

With that delay dealt with, we returned the next day to complete the job.  The rear engine mounts were re-installed supporting the back of the engine properly now, and the catalytic converter, exhaust and chassis struts were bolted back on.

Underneath the car the fuel, water and hydraulic lines were reconnected, and on the top the electrical connections and wiring loom through into the boot.  

We ran out of time to attempt starting the car so need to return to it in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Pre-Fitting Assembly

With the long block rebuild completed we’ve been getting on with engine re-assembly prior to refitting into the car.  

Progress has been made with all of the ancillaries, vacuum pipes, sensors, inlet manifolds, fuel rails and wiring loom bolted and connected back onto the engine.  

We’ve been replacing bolts and cleaning parts along the way. Vacuum pipes in particular caused us a problem with trying to refer back to our notes and photos of where the many different connections go.  Porsche make some things so complicated you couldn’t make it up, with different configurations for year, engine and gearbox types all being unique in some way. 

In parallel we have ordered a full set of clutch replacements parts as per the pelican parts guide and will switch to a sport clutch from the standard one.

The gearbox bellhousing was cleaned up and the old clutch release arm and release bearing removed.  A later style 997 arm was fitted with new fittings all round.  

The new flywheel was fitted following the torque procedure for the bolts. We then used a clutch fitting tool to centre the clutch plate before fitting the reconditioned clutch pressure plate.  

Re-install day should only be a matter of weeks away.  

Monday, 18 March 2019

Long block rebuild

It’s taken a couple of months to decide on a course of action and source the parts to rebuild the engine block.

9-Apart Porsche dismantlers had a good crankshaft of the right type (5 chain rather than the later 3 chain design). Without this there would have been no choice but to go with a second hand engine.   With two of the cylinders scored the option of iron cylinder liners was considered, but in the end we managed to obtain a used crankcase which we preferred.  

With these key parts sorted we were able to send the cylinder heads away to be skimmed, valve seats re-ground and valves stem seals replaced.   

Two of the pistons in cylinders 5 & 6 were scored so we had to replace these with used ones.  The no. 6 conrod was also beyond repair. 

Whilst doing this we balanced all of the pistons and the conrods.  This is fairly simple as they are designed with specific areas where minimal material for balancing can be removed. 

Then with the help and expert guidance of Archer Motorsport Services the engine was re-assembled with a standard engine rebuild kit of parts.  This included;
  • Bearing shells
  • Piston rings
  • Conrod bolts
  • Timing chains 
  • Chain tensioners and guides
  • Head gaskets
  • Cylinder head bolts 
  • Gaskets and oil seals 
  • IMS bearing 
  • Sealant and assembly paste 

Under hard cornering g-forces the oil can have a tendency to either stay in the cylinder head and not return to the sump or pool in the side of sump away from the oil pickup tube.  

To help prevent oil starvation we have fitted the Porsche x51 motorsport sump.  This isn’t a deeper sump but does have larger and improved baffles to ensure that oil returns and stays in the centre of the engine. 

The long block assembled with our lower temp thermostat and metal impeller water pump re-fitted.  

Inside the engine bay we have de-greased and cleaned everywhere, plus repainted the chassis cross member which was starting to rust. 

Before reinstalling into the car the engine block needs the intake manifolds, fuel rails and ancillaries refitting.  

The final area which will also needs attention is the clutch and flywheel. Both need replacing (as you would expect after 80,000+ miles) along with several parts of the clutch mechanism which wear out.    

So still plenty of work to be done before the engine can be run in!