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2003 Track days

September 2003 - Curborough

Ah, Curborough, a wonderful small sprint track hidden (and I mean completely) near Lichfield. It is well noted by those who use it that finding the circuit is nigh on impossible especially when the signpost that was there last year seems to have disappeared!

Anyway this years event was organised in a bit of a hurry mainly due to short notice and also a new regulation that prevents the running of more than 10 cars - you could have 30+ drivers but you were still only allowed 10 cars. Also as it is a sprint track only one car is allowed out at any time. If anyone can make sense of this let me know!

Eventually we pulled in 9 cars and a total of 13 drivers, and to be honest the limitation worked in our favour. One Curborough event had 20 cars and 32 drivers, which meant that you only got a run every 40 minutes or so. With the smaller number of drivers we were each getting runs every 10-15 minutes - much better.

Obviously the main point of the Curborough days is the timed runs, normally two per driver and the times added together - so if you make one poor run it encourages you to be quicker on the second!

Now I took with me Piers, my brother - despite protests he did survive the drive there and back. He also showed me up on the track. When I made my runs I managed to screw up the start when changing from 1st to 2nd TWICE! On every test run did it perfectly but when being timed.....

Piers on the other hand managed to get second and only lost out to Richard Wilkins by a fraction of a second. However this was in the single cam class.

In the twin cam class it was a walkover - Stuart Fenton using a Zetec-powered cat fitted with Yokohama A032 rubber went round in just over 35 seconds. His nearest rival was about 2 seconds slower! However after the runs were complete his tyres were starting to look very worn - considering he drove about 15 miles in total I don't think they will last much longer.

All in all a very good day.

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September 2003 - Croix-en-Ternois

Well this was different Mark Steadman owner of the ex Tigers Red R6 demonstrator, had this idea. He would go and hire a small circuit in France for a track day and charge people to go there.

Now this might sound like a strange idea but it does have some advantages over hiring a circuit in England: -

With this in mind I thought about it for a bit and then put my name down and paid a deposit. After I had paid the deposit I then had another thought up here in Peterborough I am 140 miles from Dover, someone had already mentioned that the best ferry was the 7AM Hoverspeed, so to get down I would need to leave at about 3AM not a good idea really.

However as luck would have it Richard Wilkins happened to be going on the same event and he offered me a room for the night. So I set off on the previous afternoon to drive down to his house in Kent. He still lives about 45 minutes from Dover but it is a lot better than the full drive.

The morning of the track day arrived and it had started raining so I left the hood up on the tiger and drove down under canvas. We got to Dover to find it still raining and made the ferry to Calais. Once there is was still raining! It kept raining most of the way through France whilst we were on the toll roads. At one point the wind got underneath the edge of the hood on the drivers side and started pulling the poppers undone. When this happens at 60 mph it is a bit worrying, so I have since bought some new fasteners.

We finally arrived at the circuit around 11AM to find it rather damp, to be honest that set the tone of the day. Basically we got constant sunshine and showers, resulting in a very damp track where drivers could spin off at a moments notice. In fact out of nine tiger owner's only two cars avoided the gravel traps completely (Richard W and Mark S)

However no one quite came up to the standards of one other tiger driver, we were both out on the circuit at the same time, and lets just say he was determined to beat me into the corner at the end of the straight. Well he did, he also missed his breaking point and ended up about 70 feet into the kitty litter. I was just slowing down realised I wasn't going to turn with him shooting beside me and so went into the kitty litter myself but only about 3 car lengths. We knew he had gone in a bit far when the winch on the Land Rover wouldn't reach without another rope being attached. Whilst waiting for a tow he accused me of not trying enough!

The circuit is certainly interesting and has a nice twisty section on it to catch people out (especially in the wet) and possibly the tightest hairpin in existence with the pit lane entry directly after it is worse than a typical multi-storey carpark!

Typically at the end of the day just as we were packing up to leave (and had to so we could catch the ferry) the sun came out and the track started drying. The journey back was interesting (!)

For the first section it was driving through nice sunny roads with clear skies, we stopped at a fuel station to refill the tanks and then got stuck there as the Alternator bracket on Richards car decided to snap, fortunately with a bit of "professional bodging" we had that fixed and continued on the way home. Once we were back on the toll road it started to rain. Not usually a problem as when the tiger is doing about 60 the rain mostly blows over the top of the car. However the rain was determined to ruin the day and came down a "little" bit harder, first the wipers couldn't cope on the outside of the screen, then the inside became covered in rain, and finally it came down so hard I could just make out the headlamps on the front. The only thing I could do was to switch every lamp on the car on at once pull onto the hard shoulder, fit my helmet, wipe the inside of the screen down and go for it by this point I was about 5 minutes behind the others so I had to go a bit faster until I caught them up.

Typically once we reached Calais the ferry was running late and we had to wait for it to arrive when it did and we were loaded on, the ferry had engine troubles so we were delayed again.

We finally arrived back at Richard's house at 10pm having left at 5am.

So in conclusion what did I think? Well the day was interesting and the circuit in the dry would have been more fun (in the damp it was fine but it kept raining). The journey back was not to be repeated though. However if given the opportunity I would go back, although I would leave it until next year now as the weather will be getting worse.

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July 2003 North Weald

Not to go down as one of the best events I have ever attended. This has nothing to do with the organisation but more to do with the fact that the car was playing up and the driving wasn't that good.

The day started well enough with a fairly quick 80 miles from Peterbrough to the circuit, which passed without incident. When both my brother and I arrived there wasn't anyone else to be seen - especially not the organisers (messers wilkins again). After a short while some more people started turning up followed eventually by the organisers.

Once the course had been set up and marked out with cones then the practise sessions could start.

The course did have a few small problems (in my opinion) one of which was a chicane in the middle of a straight which seemed to change everytime you went through,and the other being a 90 degree corner with a 10 foot wide entrance and a huge runoff, I prefer not trying to thread a car though a narrow gap at 60mph and then swing out fast as it doesn't seem to flow.

Anyway after practise (and the car had behaved perfectly until then) came the timed runs - Piers went out first and seemed to be going well until on the way back the car lost all power and limped in to the pits. It turned out that no.1 spark plug lead had come off at the distributor end. This was refitted and I took it out next - being fairly careful so as not to break it again. It seemed OK but on the next run Piers managed to tripple spin it and then the lead came off again.

So the times we posted were awful but at least the car mostly survived and has now had that lead replaced for a longer one! I have also fitted a quick rack and rear suspension upgrade to improve the handling.

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