The weather has certainly been amazing for the last couple of Curborough events, the one in September it poured with rain the day after, and for this one it was very wet the day before. I'm not sure how this has happened (maybe Richard Wilkins sacrificed some jokes to appease the weather gods), so on with the report.
The day started off fairly well, after the usual long journey I (Piers wasn't able to make this one) arrived at Curborough to find that the gates were locked! Strange I thought as it is 9:30AM and Adam should be here by now. Anyway a few minutes later he arrived having been first stuck in traffic on the M25 and then when going to collect the keys finding that the road was flooded.
After a quick map check to find an alternative route he headed off to get the keys leaving me to wait for the others to turn up. The first to arrive was Anthony Corbett in an Audi A3 (not a Tiger) closely followed by his brother Rupert towing the actual Tiger as first time visitors they had encountered the usual problem of not being able to find the Curborough entrance. Niall and David Turner followed them, then Matt Gregory arrived but Adam had still not returned. Finally after what seemed like a long time (I think about 20 minutes) he returned with the keys and we could get in!
Once in, a few more people turned up although there were only 7 cars in total, a bit down on previous events but with one huge advantage loads of track time.
The day settled into its usual format of people going around the track for a while and then sitting back and enjoying the antics of the others.
The day was mostly problem free. The only serious problems were encountered with the blue Cat which kept spilling fuel we eventually traced it to the vent hose on the fuel tank. This was too long and on left hand bends as the fuel shifted in the tank it acted as a siphon for a car built by professionals this was a very serious problem. The main fuel line was also seeping fuel as it was attached by a metal P-Clip that had worn through the rubber hose. The fuel spillage was cured by the simple idea of poking the hose through the rear bodywork so it stuck up like a chimney; as the car was being trailered home it wasn't really a safety issue. I would NOT do this on a road car as the consequences don't want to be considered. The owner was advised to replace the fuel lines with stainless steel braided pipes as this prevents the problem from occurring again.
In the afternoon we did some timed runs I managed 2 laps within a tenth of a second of each other very consistent just not fast enough! before close of play, locking up and making the long journey home.
This was the last Curborough of the year as the weather will certainly be against us (no matter how many jokes are sacrificed) until the end of March. We will be back.
This time instead of using two cars both me and Piers went down in the Tiger. This was due to the fact that it actually took him longer to get home when driving straight from Curborough the last time that it would have done to drive to Peterborough and then home! I decided to take an alternative route to avoid the usual congestion on the A43 - bad idea although it was a very nice road it actually cost more time than the congestion would have done! Another thing to note is the new A5 bypass has been built and you now avoid the dreaded speed camera run through Hints and the associated villages - wonderful.
Once arrived we unpacked the car and started to get ready. Unfortunately with running late I didn't have a chance to refuel before reaching the circuit. I ended up having to borrow a can of fuel from Tiger and refilling it at lunchtime to hand back to them.
The day ran the same layout as usual with a mixture of free practice and timed runs around the course at quite a few points in the day there wasn't anyone out on the circuit as everyone was "busy" resting.
There were some interesting cars - Andy Rist with his lovely Cat painted a metallic green, a very smart bike engined Avon which still used the original handlebar controls for all the switch functions.
Finally Tiger came with the new Duratec R6 and an ERA single seater. We also had the re-appearance of Ed Needham after a year or so in which we hadn't seen him.
At lunchtime I think we tested the carrying capacity of my Cat to the limit when it had me, Richard W, a dozen french sticks and a 20 litre jerry can along with some more food in the car at the same time. The HSE would have had a fit!
After lunch - sausages and bread, sandwiches, drinks etc was over we then did some timed runs (needless to say I managed better times when the stopwatch was off). Afterwoods it reverted to free runs in the afternoon before we all headed home. Amazingly we managed to get home in just over two hours - this included a five minute stop to top up the engine with oil as the pressure was dropping - I have a leaking sump and forgot to refill before leaving home.
Unlike last time nobody actually broke down so that was good news - all in all a great day.
The journey down was interesting, I was driving the Tiger and my brother was following behind in his BMW as he was heading directly home instead of coming back to Peterborough first. We had agreed to meet Bob Cox at the M42 services at around 8:30 and were running late after being held up on the A43 for 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the services at around 8:50 and caught up with Bob before driving the last 20 miles to the track.
Once there we all signed in and wondered just how many would arrive that day. Due to various reasons a lot of the regular drivers didn't make it this time. However we had three brand new drivers two of which were EATOC members (Bob who I mentioned earlier and Steve Green) and the other was Matt Gregory in the ex-demo R6. Together with the rest of the regulars we had a total of 8 cars made the journey with about 12 drivers in total so the numbers weren't that bad.
We decided that the easiest way to run the day was to just go out and do individual runs without bothering about any sort of competition. There was however an unofficial competition though called 'Who won't break down?' Seriously we had a few mechanical problems with over the day and I think only one or maybe two cars survived without breaking. This is NOT the normal state of affairs and is quite unusual but these things happen happily the only cars that went home on trailers were the ones that arrived on them.
The mechanical highlights (lowlights?) included:
- My car suffering an airlock in the fuel lines jamming the pump, (cured with No.1 Tiger tool) there was also a strange noise from the rear wheels which subsequently disappeared!
- David Turner had a throttle cable break.
- Bob Cox had a relay come loose.
- Steve Green had a strange noise (seriously), which didn't cause any real problems.
- The Wilkins clan (Richard, Adam and Rob) had a water pump fail.
Of the others James Castro's car ran perfectly after having the cylinder head fitted only 10 hours before starting. The ex-Tiger R6 also got through without any hitches, as did Anthony Roberts car.
In the afternoon I got the Stickypod and video camera out and used it to get some interesting footage which can be seen on the video gallery section of this site these include. A lap with the camera facing backwards and more conventionally mounted on the bonnet of both my car and that of Bob Cox.
Finally at the end of a very enjoyable day we all left to make the journey home, which should have been uneventful apart from the fact that my car lost an alternator mounting bolt which meant it took an extra half hour to fix the problem before I could continue home.
The first trackday of 2005 got off to a rather damp start. It had all seemed so nice as I left home that morning when it was nice and sunny (I won't say warm as it was 6:30AM!) however the closer I got to the track the worse the weather got. Finally as I pulled in there was a huge downpour, which kept going for the next hour or so.
I was one of the first to arrive, appearing just after Mick Grant and the Wilkins. For about 15 minutes we seemed to be the only ones turning up but gradually over the next hour or so they kept arriving until about 10:15 all of them were there. There were a couple of no-shows though.
During the morning the biggest problem was the rain. Those of us running road tyres with big water grooves had the advantage over the drivers in the racing cars that had the Toyo R888 tyres fitted to their cars. The first few runs were interesting as there was a complete lack of grip and several Tigers became impromptu lawn mowers as power rapidly exceeded available grip.
At the mid morning point the rain stopped and the track started to dry out, this actually made things worse. Now you had to look for the dry line, as there were pools of water on the track hit one of these and you started on the tumble dryer impressions.
After finishing one of my runs I noticed steam coming out of the bonnet now the engine temperature gauge still showed 95degC but when I took the bonnet off I found that the radiator cap was missing and the header tank was empty! I know I filled up with water before leaving but am sure I put the cap back on first. Adam Wilkins gave me a lift into Lichfield where I bought a cap for the car and a bottle of anti-freeze as well. Unfortunately the cap didn't fit as it was slightly too small, however some 'modifications' later it did and stayed in place for the rest of the day and the journey home (I have now replaced it), apart from a (separate) small water leak and the ever present oil leak the car ran perfectly.
A couple of other people weren't so lucky Adrian suffered a starting problem in his Six, and Niall Turner first suffered a coil failure with his turbo cat and then had to drive slowly home after it developed a knocking noise at the time of writing I don't know what the diagnosis is.
After the lunch break we then ran more runs with people experimenting with different driving techniques and changing car settings. James Castro tried a new set of rear springs on his race cat and was visibly slower. This proves Curborough's worth as it allows you to change the car settings in an area where you can repeat things again and again to prove if a modification is worth doing to your car.
I also took the Stickypod and instead of mounting it on the bonnet as I had done last year, I stuck it to the side of the car and aimed it through the front suspension! One of the recordings it quite frightening as it appears to show the carburettor trumpets attempting to fly out of the bonnet some new engine mounts might be needed. The videos can be found on the Video Gallery section of my website.
Finally after a long day I made a nice quiet uneventful drive home arriving at the front door at 8:15. Incidentally I have wondered about fuel economy when on the track and now have a definitive answer.
The journey there was 88 miles and used 16.8 litres of unleaded giving me 24mpg.
The track mileage was 13 miles and used 6 litres of unleaded giving me 9.75mpg (this includes a trip to get lunch of about 2 miles of normal road driving).
For the journey home I can't give a definitive answer, as I haven't filled the tank back up, however I would think that it would be about the same as the outgoing journey. I am going to be changing the fuel filters and don't want a full fuel tank when doing that job.