With the MSV Trackday Championship over with, we could have some fun. If you haven't read about the TDC Championship, click below:.
As the season finale, held at Brands Hatch in Kent, hosted the SuperCup and Trackday Trophy races on the same day as the TDC, we thought it would be pretty cool to do all 3 races. The timetable is below, with back to back qualifying sessions for all 3 races, then only a gap of around 1hr between the TDC and SuperCup Race, the team needed to be on point!
We couldn't expect one car to do all 3 races (although the Ibiza probably would have done it) so we brought along some reinforcements! For the SuperCup, we decided to spice things up even more. As there is a mandatory 2 minute pit stop, which allows for a driver change, the plan was for me and Ryan to swap cars during the race. Him to start in the Golf, myself in the Leon, then part way through the race we wanted to switch cars. It had never been done before, but there is always a first time for everything right?
As the Golf was only actually finished on the Monday before the race, we did not have time to get that or the Leon power tested to be put into any classes, so we would be entered as Guests. This means we don't affect the points or results of the race for any classed cars, and no potential podiums or trophies. The Golf has a little more power than the Ibiza, but is a little heavier, so it has slightly less than the 175whp/ton required for Class B. The Leon has the same power but is a little lighter, so sits somewhere between 175whp/ton and 200whp/ton for Class A. If we wanted the car to be right at the top of Class A, then we would look to take a bit more weight out of the car (with Carbon Doors and Boot) and possibly increase the power slightly. For now it has plenty of power for testing and its 2nd ever race! Below is the layout of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. There are not many corners, but the crazy elevation changes and infinite number of lines you can take through some of the corners make for an exciting race. From the suites at the Start Finish straight you can also see virtually the full track.
We set off at 6:30am Friday morning for the long journey to Dartford, taking the A1, M11 then M25. The journey can take anything from 3.5hrs to 6hrs depending on traffic, so we were giving ourselves plenty of margin for the afternoon session start at 12:30. In then end we made good time and had a few hours to set up before we were scheduled to go out First priority was the Ibiza, so I did some laps in that. Conditions were terrible, the track looked good but it was so greasy the car felt like it was on ice constantly. Conditions were forecast to be pretty similar on Saturday Morning for qualifying, so it was worth braving it out to get a bit of data for the car setup and also where the grip is on track (there was none!). Once we were happy with the Ibiza, Ryan jumped in the Golf to give that a run out. The Yokohama A052 Tyres were much happier in the cold, damp conditions than the R888Rs on the Ibiza, so right away Ryan was on the money. After a couple of laps, with the car going very well, Ryan exited Clearways onto the start finish straight. In 4th gear pulling hard, the car gave out a white smokescreen and sounded very nasty indeed. He pulled over near Paddock Hill, switched off the car to await recovery. As soon as he was back the guys diagnosed the issue. We had removed the Injectors a few times to check various parts for wear and had not renewed the Injector seals. It looks like the cylinder pressures had pushed the injectors up, and on one cylinder it was severe enough to cause damage to the nozzle cap. This means neat diesel was pouring into the cylinder, which explained the terrible noises and James Bond smokescreen. Being a new car, we have not yet sorted a full spares package out, so we had some seals on the van, but no injectors. I had a brainwave! Owen, one of the mechanics, had driven his Mk7 Golf as he was picking up some wheels on his way back up. It is the car we are testing a Hybrid Turbo for the MQB Platform engines on it. We also tested the Stage 1 Injectors in the car, so it has the same Injectors as the Mk5. Bingo! I didn't even finish asking and Owen grabbed all the tools to rip the Injectors out of his daily driver to stick them in the Golf and get us back up and running! I then had to make some phonecalls, as we needed another set to get Owen back on the road. My partner was just about to set off down with her family, so I told her to hang fire, and one of the lads from work brought here a box of spares to deliver to us ready for first thing in the morning. They also chucked some wheels and tyres in the boot for the Ibiza, just in case we had to use that in another one or two races instead of the Golf! The next problem to solve was the hardware to reinstall the Injectors in Owen's car. We had all the seals in stock back at HQ, but not the bolts. A quick phonecall to Scott at TPS Medway, and they were sending a set over first thing Saturday morning. Thanks guys! With that sorted I took the Leon out for a few laps, where I had some more spins and slides in the difficult conditions! Qualifying on Saturday was going to be interesting, especially for those who skipped Friday testing! Checking on the Racelogic VBOX, in the Golf Ryan did a 1:07.19 with an ideal of 1:06.82. In the Leon I managed a 1:06.81 with an ideal of 1:06.69 in much wetter conditions. We knew there was much more time in both cars if we spent more time on setup. We have made a video of testing here:
Saturday Morning. There had not been much more rain overnight, so it was much better than Friday, but still greasy and slippery. Straight after my session in the TDC (which if you read the previous blog, you will know I qualified P5), I jumped out of the Ibiza and into the Golf for the 30 minute SuperCup session. As we planned to swap cars during the race, I would have to swap over with Ryan during this session as well, both of us completing at least 3 laps in each car. As we swapped over, there was 0.032s between my time in the Golf, and Ryan's in the Leon. Had it stayed that way, it would be been fun drag racing to the first corner side by side! Conditions improved as the cars created a dry line, times dropped a fair bit, almost 5 seconds in our case, with most people punching in their best lap times on the final few laps of the session. Brad Kaylor in one of the Leon SuperCopas was disqualified for overtaking by mistake under yellows.
We were right in the mix of it, Ryan put in a great lap in the Golf to qualify P4, 2nd in the Guest class above much more powerful cars (bare in mind the Power to Weight of the car puts us in Class B). I had struggled to hook up a good lap in the Leon, so was down in P7, 5th in the guest Class. The VBOX data for my qualifying session was missing for some reason, so we don't have any analysis or videos from it. I had stalled the car lining up for the practice starts at the end of the session and had to be bumped by the marshals, which probably had something to do with it.
Best Lap - 55.39 - Ideal 55.24 - Ryan Driving
Best Lap - 56.872 - Scott Driving - Video is a 59.86 with Ryan driving
Trackday Trophy Qualifying
As the Trackday Trophy qualifying session was straight after the SuperCup, Ryan drove straight from the pitlane to the assembly area. As we were guests, we did not need to stay in Parc Ferme. Ryan had punched in a 55.609, which was 0.217 slower than this SuperCup time. Looking at the lap, he lost a fair bit of time behind a Class C car through Clearways. There were 32 cars on track this time, vs the 22 for the SuperCup, so the track was much busier. The track grip was getting better and better still, so I was in a great position when we switched after 10 laps. I struggled with the traffic for most of the session, but towards the end I got into the grove, punching our pretty consistent 54s, before I managed a 54.001 right near the end. The VBOX ideal time was a 53.67 so we were close to getting into the 53s, a great time for a Class B car.
That was enough for P2, with just the Nissan 370Z in front by 0.105s. As that was in the Guest Class as well, it is hard to say which class it would have fitted into, but my guess (after seeing it in the race later on) was way above Class S! It was absolutely rapid on the straights. We were in front of Chris Kirby in a Caterham 7, again in Guest but most likely Class A or B. Luke Reade in the BMW 130i was in 4th, 0.694s behind us. Considering that he was 1.195s quicker at Donington Park during Qualifying and almost 0.5s quicker in the race, that was a good result.
Best Lap - 54.001 with 53.67 ideal - Scott Driving
A short lunch break then we were back on it. No time to celebrate my P2 and Championship Victory in the TDC just yet, we had other races to do! As we had qualified with a decent gap between us, there was less chance of us coming together at turn 1 at least! Ryan wanted to start in the Golf in P4, I was in the Leon two rows back in P7.
For me, I was over to the right hand side of the track where there was still a bit of damp, and the Brands grids are far from flat. You are either facing downhill or pointing uphill. No handbrake on the Leon was going to be tricky! I made a real hash of the start, as expected since I needed to stay on the brakes as the car would just roll forward. When I did get going I just had wheelspin for what seemed like forever. Ryan had an equally bad start as the clutch on the Golf started to grip and pull him forward, with the lights going out just as he put it back in slightly, so he had an insane amount of wheel spin as well We were both swamped by the cars from behind that had great starts, with the Barton Motorsport Mk6 Golf and Callum Noble in the purple E46 M3 making mince meat out of us. I ended up behind Ryan into Druids, where there were no real dramas in what is a tricky point of the track as it narrows on entry. Back down into Graham Hill Bend the Barton Golf looked a bit twitchy and spun. Ryan went left and ended up doing some grass cutting, while I went right and stayed on track. This allowed me and Darren Goes in the Leon Euro Cup to get round him. Into Clearways Ryan was overtaken by Richard Clarke in the extremely fast Class S Mini JCW while I was battling with Darren Goes. The Mini flew down the straight and was alongside me braking into Paddock Hill, out of nowhere he spun onto the grass on the inside, and very nearly collected me as the car went backwards into the gravel on the outside of the corner. Drama over, Ryan was behind battling with Martyn Culley in the Class A Leon SuperCopa in front and Peter Seldon behind in the E36 M3, while I chased down Callum in the M3. I got him coming out of Clearways before we had to slow down for yellow flags while they did a live snatch of the Mini at Paddock Hill. Ryan slowed down too much, expecting a safety car, allowing the Leon and M3 to get a decent gap. This was closed up going into Clearways but he was unable to out drag them before the yellow flags again at turn 1. Martyn was now in front of Callum with a decent gap so Ryan would have to get them one at a time. While all this was going on, I was in front in the Leon keeping up with Darren Goes in his Class S Leon Euro Cup. Being 50whp more, it had the legs on the straights. We had then caught Steve Gales in the other Class S Leon, who was trying to get round Ray Honeybone in the Clio at Clearways. They both out dragged him over the start so it was left to me to get round. I went around the outside at Druids and made the move stick into the left hander. Ryan was still battling with Callum and Martyn until they caught up with Ray, who was struggling after a first lap spin into the barriers. Martyn cleared them quickly, but Ryan ended up in the battle for the Class B title, as Callum was about to lap Ray, sealing their 1st in class position for the year. They both went around the outside at Clearways and were close right up until Ryan went around the outside at Graham Hill bend as Callum defended on the inside. I was still right on the tail of the Leons for a good few laps before the Safety Car was deployed while the stranded Lotus was recovered from the gravel trap. This bunched us all back up, with a lapped car separating Martyn from me and Ryan directly behind him. A few laps later the safety car period was ending. Everyone drag raced towards the line, making sure not to fall foul of the overlap rule before the green flag at the Start / Finish line. Up front the Mk3 Leons were battling ahead through turn 1, I hung back in case of any contact. Ryan was way back as the BMW a few laps behind left a huge gap in front, so they had almost half the start / finish straight to make up now. A few laps later Ryan went down the inside of Martyn at Druids, using the excellent brakes on the Mk5 to full effect. Once round the Leon he was free to push hard, doing his fastest lap of the race so far, a 55.514. I was still chasing down the Class S cars, both pulling massive gaps down the straight before I closed in round turns 1 and 2. I was putting in really good lap times, all in the 54s, before hitting a 53.77 on my last lap before the pits. Ryan was still punching in good times in the Golf, with the car in the 54s. He came up to the battling SuperCopa of Brad Kaylor and the Golf of Barton Motorsport. Brad jumped into the pits as Ryan drove around the outside of Clearways. We were on the radio between Matt on the pitwall and each other, and Ryan decided he wanted to pit. In hindsight we should have stayed out, as Ryan had a clear track in front of him, and I was being pulled along by the faster cars in front. All we needed to do was have a great pit stop and we would be fine, easy right? We are required to do a minimum 2 minute pit stop from Pit Entry to Pit Exit. I hit my timer at bang on the right point, so it was counting down from 2 minutes, ready for Ryan to get the perfect stop. He said on the radio he had also hit on the line so we were all good.
What we didn't realise is that while my pit timer was counting down, Ryan's was counting up! So I had quickly glanced at it as I jumped it, thought I had loads of time so didn't rush about. Ryan did the same in the Leon but the opposite way round! I knew the Golf had come in after the Leon, so was waiting for Ryan to go. When he didn't set off I got on the radio asking what was going on. We basically made a complete hash of it, costing around 28s in the Leon and 38s in the Golf. A lot to make up! As we exited the pits, (now I'm in the Golf remember!), the two Leons were right on our tail. As we would now be a lap behind them, I didn't put too much of a fight up, as Championships were at stake for those guys. Next lap round a pair of Leon SuperCopas came out of the pits, Ryan was quickly round them, but I had a bit more of a fight to pass them, meaning Ryan pulled a decent gap, sticking with the Darren Goes. A fumbled gear shift dropped him back a fair bit, and I closed the gap. We were pretty much racing each other after that for the next few laps. Ryan was taking a tighter line into Paddock Hill and the back end of the Leon was looking lively. Maybe the rear tyre pressures were coming up more than we expected. At this point we had dropped a fair bit back down the order so were picking through the pack and racing for position, rather than lapping the cars we had already passed earlier in the race! After a couple more laps we came up to the M3 of Callum Noble again. Ryan got round pretty easily in the Leon on the start finish straight with a good exit at the last corner. I was right behind and made my move out of Graham Hill bend and made it stick. Ryan was a bit lairy into Surtees and just caught it. The next lap the back end was sliding through Paddock and then again through Surtees, he caught it well but then turning right into Clearways the car seemed to have no grip and he slid backways into the gravel. A disappointing end to a great race so far, with the pace looking like a 6th place finish. Obviously I carried on, Ryan was on the radio to say he was OK but couldn't get out, so it was down to me to bring the car home in one piece, ready for the TDT race immediately after. The Golf started to develop an issue doing into the braking zone at Graham Hill Bend, right at the top of the revs it was popping. I radio'd to the guys to let them know. I caught back up with Martyn Culley in the Leon SuperCopa, who was having a battle with Ray Honeybone and Brad Kaylor. The only car for position was Martyn but they were still having a decent battle. The Yellow flags (caused by Ryan!) was hurting everyone in that section. Into Paddock Martyn got around the Clio, I had to work a little harder and made the move on the start finish straight after a better exit. Brad was defending hard from Martyn, before some unnecessary contact into Graham Hill sent the grey Leon spinning onto the grass in front of me. The Leon then defended hard at Clearways, almost pushing me into the gravel, before brake checking me for good measure. I gave him a wave as I went past. (We have all since sorted this out so there is no bad blood between us, these things happen in the heat of the moment!) I had a nice slide at Graham Hill, the rear tyres clearly up to temperature now! I had caught back up to Goes and Gales as Hugh Gurney, currently in the race lead, lapped me on the track. After that it was a steady few laps to the end. Considering we made a complete hash of the pit stop, losing almost 40s in the Golf, 6th Place, and 3rd in the guest class was not bad at all. We were well in front of the Class B and A cars who we will be battling with next year for sure.
The full race is shown below. We have added the commentary streamed from TSL Timing. Shame we did not get as much of a mention as the TDC race where it did not record properly!
SuperCup Race Golf
Best Lap - 54.18 - Ideal 53.53 - Scott Driving
SuperCup Race Leon
Best Lap - 53.76 - Ideal 53.52 - Scott Driving
As you can see from the above lap times, my quickest 4 laps were right at the end of my stint. We should have stayed out a bit longer! Ryan was doing well in the Golf at that point so we could have done at least another 5 or 6 lap without any trouble. Ryan was right on the pace when he jumped in the Leon, with most of his laps in the 54s and some in the 55s, similar to what he did in the Golf at the start. When I got in the Golf, I quickly got down to the 54s with only laps in traffic slowing me down. It looks promising for next year in the SuperCup!
Trackday Trophy Race
With no rest for the wicked, I drove straight from the pit lane into the assembly area in the Golf to get ready for the Trackday Trophy race. The plan was for Ryan to start in the Golf again, but since he was trapped at the other side of the track in the Leon after it was fished out of the gravel, I stayed strapped in the car while the guys did some quick checks and refuelled. We were going to just chuck another 20L in after running pretty full at the start of the SuperCup Race, but the popping noise worried me, so I asked them to stick 40L in, just in case it was fuel starvation. With my time of 54.001 (so close to the 53s it hurts!), we were in P2, behind the 370Z. I was hoping for a good start like I did in the Ibiza, but after seeing Ryan's first hand, I was not as confident, especially since I had never launched the Golf before!
This time I was on the nice and dry side of the grid, so no excuses! I had a great initial launch, then had a load of wheelspin and struggled to get it into 2nd gear (we later found a clip on the linkage had come loose), allowing the 370Z to take the lead into turn one. He then seemed to take it really easy in the braking zone. I had lots of confidence in my tyres so hung it around the outside at Paddock to retake the lead. Into turn two my confidence was a little high, as I very nearly had a repeat of my TDT Race at Donington Park where I spun and took a right whack from a Civic! Luckily I caught it and carried on, maintaining 1st place for the rest of the next few laps Once the 370Z's tyres had come up to temperature, he blasted past me on the straight. My race was with everyone else, not them. I concentrated on punching in the good lap times to build a decent buffer on the guys behind. Within a few laps we were into traffic, and whilst the lap times were still decent, I was conscious that the car was struggling more than before in the slower speed corners, and I was losing too much time in the traffic as they were all having their own battles for class positions. I had a handful of laps where I lost 1 - 2 seconds compared to the guys behind, and this allowed them to close the gap I had built at the start of the race. The Civic of Heslop & McHugh seemed to come out of nowhere as I lapped a few cars, followed closely by the BMW 130i of Luke Reade. This put me into defensive mode while I still needed to attack hard to clear the cars in front. The Civic made a lunge into Paddock, looking right on edge. This cost me almost 1s, and allowed the BMW alongside at Druids. I held him off until we entered Surtees. The Civic jumped down the inside of a Mazda MX5, causing him to stick to the right. I followed the Civic, with the Mazda on the inside through Clearways. The move seemed to work until Luke in the 130i tagged the back of the MX5, sending it into a spin, right into my drivers door and sill! This lost me momentum and allowed Luke to out drag me on the straight. I kept on the tail of the BMW, who in turn followed the Civic for the next couple of laps, weaving in and out of the traffic, before jumping in the pits to give Ryan his turn.
Our stop was more or less bang on two minutes, exactly where we needed to be! And also the quickest of everyone in this race. I managed to get a good handle on the pit timer this time so we did not have a repeat of the SuperCup race! It’s always funny how much of your attention goes to ensuring you don't speed down the pit lane or cross the line too early that you half forget you are about to pull onto a live racetrack! Checking my mirrors and keeping an eye on the blend line I had to keep right to not impede the Clio coming down the straight, but realising he was not going to be brave into the braking zone at Graham Hill two corners later I just had to pray the tyres had not cooled too much and send it down the inside! Pushing hard for the rest of the lap I managed to punch in a decent time for an outlap, but still found I needed to be braver going into Paddock Hill bend next time around. Then I saw that the guys that were in 2nd position had stuck it into the gravel at Druids, so for the next few laps I had no chance of doing a good laptime due to the waved yellows. What I did not realise, and it would have been nice to know over the radio was the Caterham behind was catching me as I slowed too much compared to the others around me when under Yellows. On lap 71 (on the VBOX, not of the race) I managed to get around 3 cars on the straight, knowing I needed to make the move stick before we were close to the yellow flags to avoid a penalty. The 370Z, which was way over Class B power came around to lap again not long after! The rest of the race was very straightforward and the car a joy to drive, lots of overtaking on lower class cars, but the only real battle was with the Caterham mentioned earlier when he overtook on lap 86, the next lap being the fastest I managed throughout my stint. I always find I operate best when trying to keep with someone, I can get a little lost when the air is clear. Halfway through lap 89 was a bit touchy navigating through traffic, as was lap 91. A few moves on the outside make short work of the slower cars, not something you would make stick if the cars had similar power! The last lap was a little frustrating when a Clio pulled in front of me, but I could only assume I had caught up to a battle in the lower classes. Overall I was really happy with how the race went, I do think we had the pace to be an easy 3rd overall and when the car is set up perfectly next year, class wins should not be difficult at all which is a good or a bad thing depending how you look at it!
I have compared our lap times with the Class B winner, Luke Reade in the BMW 130i. You can see we were pretty even in the first part of the race, but Ryan struggled in the traffic as the field spread out, so the eventual gap from our finishing point of 4th to Luke's in 2nd was just over 18s. Not bad for a car that had been finished for less than a week, and 24hrs earlier was smoking like the Red Arrows!
The full race is shown below. We would normally have added the commentary from TSL Timing, which adds to the experience, but it didn't seem to record this time.
As we brought a big team of guys as well as friends and family, we have 1000s of photos and videos to go through. Some of them are below.
Some photos by - www.snappyspannersphotraphy.co.uk
A great end to a great day for the team, the cars did exactly what was required, performed more or less faultlessly, and if Ryan had not had the unfortunate off into the gravel, we would have had three solid results. The Golf was amazing for its first proper run out, and with lots of improvements to make over the winter, it is going to be VERY competitive in Class B. The guys did an excellent job, all weekend and the last few months preparing the cars. The work has paid off massively and they should all be proud of what we have achieved as a team. The day was not over for me though, if three 30 minute qualifying sessions and 45 minute races were not enough, I decided to enter the EnduroKa Indy KA 500, a 8hr 20min (500 minutes) endurance race in 1.3 Ford KAs. To give the guys a well deserved rest, we have enlisted the guys from Moore's Motors to supply and run the Three in a Pink Beast! Alongside me was my brother Stef, and friend Michael, both of which would be competing in their first ever races. What is the worst that can happen? As always when Ryan is around, he had a camera in his face so we have a VLOG from the Saturday as well, enjoy: