Wednesday, 12 May 2021

CALM Porsche - Brands Hatch Grand Prix

Our first outing of the season was on the famous but rarely used Brands Hatch GP circuit.  We were again sharing the largest possible grid with the Bernies V8's which made for a challenging time last year.  

As a single day event the paddock was rammed so we had to make our own space on the end of a row to setup in.  At least the weather was nice!  

We had pre-prepped the car as usual so it was just a case of setting tyre pressures and heading early to the holding area given 44 cars needed to be noise tested on route.  

I was near the front of the queue so had good track space.  It took 2 laps for tyres to come up to temperature before I could really push and I matched my race time from last time out. 3 secs faster than previous qualifying on this layout. 

I had several laps where I was up to 1sec up on my best time, but fading tyres and traffic prevented me carrying that to the line.  I finished 4th Porsche and 12th overall which was a really good effort. 

After a wait long enough to watch the full F1 race we got ready for the 40min race in late afternoon.  I made a small suspension tweak to try and overcome some front  understeer.   

As we rolled round the green flag lap, I kept really close to the V8's around me during the rolling start so a not to get jumped by too many.  I managed to hold the middle of the track as much as possible to block potential over-takers.  Despite that a couple V8s just pushed past with their power and slowed me down into the corners.  

This pushed me back into the clutches of the class 2 Boxster's.  I was struggling with grip and handling and so was defenceless against them coming past me. I just tried to lap consistently after that hoping to regain some time or get clear track after the mandatory 90sec pit stop. 

A car in the gravel triggered a safety car just as the pit window opened so I went into a crowded pit lane with half the field.  In hindsight I should have stayed out and pitted the next lap as we lost a good 10-20secs queuing into the pit lane. 

I got a couple of places back on the restart but within 2 laps the lead TVR's took each other off causing another safety car period.  For some reason a V8 car in front refused to catch the safety car so I finished behind several slower cars that benefited from our pit stop delay but still 3rd in class. 

The car needs some TLC before we go racing again with more grease leaking underneath and some gear shift issues to resolve and a broken wheel stud to replace. 

2021 Season Preview

In 2021 we will again be racing with the CALM All Porsche trophy.

We'll miss the opening round of the season but have entered the remainder including Brands Hatch GP, Snetterton 300, Silverstone International and Brands Hatch Indy.  

With limited access to the Boxster we have had to wait for lockdown rules to be relaxed to begin the season prep work.  Given we only did a single event last year due to Covid restrictions the list isn't too long. 

We started with bleeding the brakes to make sure no air is in the system.  This was followed by bleeding the clutch slave cylinder because since the engine rebuild the clutch pedal wasn't returning fully and went to the floor after the event at brands hatch.   Sat on the top the gearbox access is impossible with a traditional 11mm bleed spanner so the nipple had to be loosened with a socket extension and opened / closed by hand.  The recommended technique is also to have the pedal pushed all the way down during bleeding.  As expected a load of air came out and the pedal now returns nicely. 

Whilst under the car we spotting what looked like an oil leak on the back of engine by the oil cooler.  

However on closer inspection it was grease which has sprayed out of a tiny nick in the inner CV joint rubber boot.   Luckily the inner joints are serviceable (the outer isn't) as are both boots - so we can change this ourselves.  It required removal of the hub nut which with loctite needs the longest 3/4" breaker bar to undo. 

Whilst sorting this it we also removed the rubber boots on the rose joints of the roll bar drop links which had perished. 

The car is ready for a shakedown track day at Snetterton which went well but we had to change the exhaust after the internals failed, and this cut short our afternoon running.  

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.