Donny 13th March
images copyright Richard Hopkins
A very eventful day ! There was me thinking that i'd jump straight into the Duranail and then go happily circuit driving from there onwards from where I left off in the SLR in 2002. How wrong I was. A new car, new handling character, sorting out required, gear issues, big noise problems and 500bhp/ton in the wet.
First up, lots of rain, hail and all sorts of changing weather. The car was understeering terribly on turn in and the vagueness that I experienced at Brands was really pronounced in the wet. Secondly, I got away with the box at Brands but here it really showed its unsuitability both in terms of too many changes and poor top speed down the back straight. The rear felt pretty snappy too and this may be because the rear tyres are too stretched over the wide rims.
For the last
session we did try putting another 10mins toe out on the front and
this definitely helped quite a lot. The car still understeered once
into the bend ( no more than any normal caterham though ) but turn
in was way sharper with the nose actually traveling where it was
pointed. Definitely a much more confidence inspiring feel. I'll
try the new 20min toe setting in the dry then maybe add some more.
As before, oil and water temperatures were great, never going beyond 85c and oil pressure remained very healthy throughout the day. Cameras worked fine although they did need regular cleaning as there was so much spray and filth about. The new mic setup was only partially successfull. My preamp worked well but the new boot mounted microphone is obviously still not of sufficient quality. The sound is raspy and it cuts out regularly when things get too loud.
Car noise though was most definitely a big problem ! Drive by on the day was 98db but early on I was black flagged at well over 100db. Now whilst they seem pretty diplomatic and eager to help, they've definitely got tougher on noise at Donnington. I had to go see race control and made an agreement with them to lower my rev limit but the marshall still wanted me to accelerate hard and said that trying to part throttle it round the circuit wouldn't work as sooner or later i'd boot it too much and the one woman who makes all the complaints there would be on the phone again.
For the rest
of the day I had to restrict myself pretty heavily. Part throttle
(but still giving the car some squat so that it looked like i was
accelerating) and short shifting at around 5000 rpm seemed to do
the trick and I never got black flagged again but its amazing what
this does to your acceleration .... I had everything from minis
to standard elises overtaking me on the main striaght !
Overall a very
mixed day. Lots of stoppages, lots of mud on the circuit, lots of
offs and not once did i ever really relax and get into a groove.
Still, some good footage, some improvement on the handling front
and the route ahead is now pathed i.e. reduce the noise of the car,
also try a different tyre/rim combination at the rear and get a
new gearbox sorted asap.
For details on my codecs, required software and filming equipment used click here. Note that for 2004 I have moved over to WMV only. Please download the lastest WMV codec from microsoft. Please note that the front and rear cameras switch in real time, no editing has been done. Finally bear in mind that the lens is very wide, if a car is 1/2 cm wide on your monitor then its basically almost touching my front numberplate !