Late nights, low battery's and Rain
After a near midnight finish the night before Round 1. I was tired, total opposite of what I had planned for the coming season. I wanted to be rested and refreshed ready for 2 days back to back of driving my car as best I could. In the morning, I grab the camera I had on charge all yesterday, turn it on and it shows a low battery warning and turns itself off. The weekend hasn't gotten off to the best start. We get to Cadwell at least and get set up, and drive around to the scrutineering queue. The heavens opened, one of the thing I really wasn't wanting was rain, my car is terrible in it. Oh and I didn't get time to do a wheel alignment, It hasn't been aligned for 14 months now so it was certainly overdue and to make it worse, I lowered the front by 25mm only days before. Not the best prep for someone who wanted to break the class lap record as an aim for the weekend
On the way here the oil pressure light came on, and stayed on. That's a worry to anyone. It hadn't died, there was plenty of oil. So I decided to carry on anyway. What I had at least was some wet tyres, narrower than the regular wheels by some margin, I didn't make a single suspension adjustment, just swapped the wheels over. Warm up doesn't mean anything points wise, so there's no pressure. I know the circuit well and give it a little push realise there's no point and just cruise around for 15 minutes warming the engine and myself thoroughly. The oil pressure light went off after going down a straight and hitting the limiter. Odd, but it'll do.
Another session worth nothing points wise, got the dry tyres on now as the circuit was drying quickly and rain holding off. This session for me was getting some heat in the cold tyres and getting some pressure checks done ready for qualifying where it mattered. The oil pressure light remained off, although the dipped beam on the drivers headlight was permanently on. After just over a year of track days for testing and trialling the car was stating to show some odd problems. The headlights came on fully when on the switch and main beam worked so we carried on. Doing a mediocre 1:48 was perfectly acceptable for now
The first session where it matters for points. I left the car in low boost with the oil pressure light issue looming in the back of my mind, ironically believing less power will help despite it about to live above 5000rpm. First time today I get on it with some form of aggression and this is where not having an alignment check the days prior showed up. Squirmy under braking, turns in too sharply, understeer followed by oversteer. It was a hard car to drive. The AR-1s had their work cut out when warm just keeping the thing pointing the right way. We're here now and we'll make the best of it. Coming away with a 1:43.33. It was more than respectable for me. I struggled before now to get above a 1:45/1:46 for some reason, like I'd stagnated. The only time before that I got 1:43 was having slicks on the front, with the car driving like it was I was impressed being as my personal best up to this point was 1:43.68. nice boost to the confidence at least and it was enough to secure 1st place in qualifying getting me maximum points
This one mattered even more than the qualifying, more points on offer and the time that'll go down on the Time Attack website with those famous shots of the car with the time on it. Between qualifying and final, the reason for the oil pressure light and the headlight issue became clear, and worryingly. The loom had sagged onto the drivers front tyre and rubbed through the lower half. Shorting out most of the electrics to the front of the car. Starter was fine, Alternator was fine just the headlight. Quick wiring repair thanks to Eden at Gizfab's red duct tape and we're out for the final ready to repair it afterwards.
Out we go, few laps get some heat in, pull into the pit for tyre pressure checks, the longer 20 minute sessions over the 15 for practice and warm up we're really handy for making that extra adjustment to get the best from the car which is exactly what Time Attack want to see. After what felt like a steady pace and some overdriving of the car and nothing in between I wasn't all that hopeful. Only to pull back in after the uneventful session and be told my time was not only a new PB but also enough to secure 1st place for Round 1, so to conlude..
Worth the late nights in the end
To summarise my first round in time attack, it couldn't have gone better results wise. 1st in qualifying and 1st in the final secured me maximum points for the championship. The wiring issue was something we'd need to rectify sharpish too. I need my headlights. I'd aimed for the lap record (1:41.66) and missed but a new PB was certainly good enough for me all other things considered. The car was super reliable bar the loom which wont be it's fault that'll be an oversight on my part. A testament to the work and testing gone in beforehand that you can actually have an SR20DET engine, albeit only 280bhp and have it reliable enough to do something like time attack. The cooling system on the car is phenomenal even if it is a little ugly, a task for a later date to make it neat.
Wiring repairs to do, a trophy to put out of the way because I scratched it within seconds of getting back to the car, as it fell off it. Onto round 2