After the long wait for the start of the season due to the COVID-19 situation, the first round of the MSV Trackday Championship was at Snetterton, on the shorter 200 Circuit. On the same day we were doing the combined SuperCup and Trackday Trophy race, as well as a 12 hour race in the EnduroKA, we might have bitten off more than we can chew!
So an eventful first race weekend for us, and one we want to forget most of. A brief summary is below
VOSA decided to pick on us in the race van on the way down. A hire van, a load of tetris with car parts and 2 hours later, we were back on our way to Snetterton for Friday afternoon testing.
We arrived with a few minutes to spare, but were told we were given the wrong session stickers at sign on. Another visit to the office sorted that out, and we were on track.
1st flying lap, turn 1, I went a little wide, rejoined the circuit and the front wishbone snapped. Eventually got recovered into the middle of the upper paddock, but the car would not move so the guys had to bring all the tools across and fix it on the floor, just as it started raining!
We made the 2nd session and had no issues, the times were great (1:22.73s) so we were confident our bad luck was behind us....
Quali / Race Day
We had high hopes. The Golf looked strong in the first stint for the TDC, when Scott came in the car was in 2nd position (but pole was a guest, so we were first). We checked the tyre pressures, and the rear left was flat. With no spare, we were out of qualifying and had to watch as 3 more cars jumped above us. We ended up 4th in class, 0.410s off the pole time with a 1:25.860. The VBOX showed an ideal time of 1:25.15 so we were not too worried.
Dylan in the TDI Ibiza only managed 14th overall and 10th in Class, but was confident he had the race pace as he didn't get a clear lap in.
Literally a tyre and ECU change (to the SuperCup Yokohama A052 and Class A Tune), and we were into the SuperCup Qualifying, so no time to mess around. Ryan did the first stint, punching in a respectable 1:24.10. Scott then went out and did a 1:22.58, which put us 6th overall, 1st in Class A and only 0.279s off the Class S Cars. On what was going to be one of the last laps, the car dropped into limp mode, so a trip to the pits to investigate was needed.
Nick in the BTCC TDI Leon we had last year was in 7th, way ahead of anyone else in Class B. The car is a weapon! Will the 2nd driver thought there was at least another 2s left in the car.
Michael in our old Ibiza TDI was a respectable 13th for his first qualifying session in the car.
Best Lap - 1:24.10 - Ideal 1:23.58
Best Lap - 1:22.58 - Ideal 1:22.42
With the timetable so tight, we only had time again to change the wheels back to the Toyo R888R and Class B ECU. James had taken the wheel and tyre to the really helpful guys at https://raceshopfabrications.co.uk/ on the entrance to Snetterton to get the tyre popped back on the bead. The limp mode at the end of the SuperCup Quali was a Cam Position Sensor Fault, which cleared with VCDS.
We made it to the grid in plenty of time, and everything seemed great on the Green Flag Lap while I warmed the tyres up. Sat on the grid I knew where I needed to go when the lights went out. What I didn’t count on was Simon Harrison in the Clio on Pole to jump the start, then stall it, causing mayhem as everyone scrambled for a gap.
I lost a few places into Turn 1 and 2, then into 3 the car flug sideways. I thought I had been tagged by the BMW behind me. I did a few more laps with the back end flying all over the place before I just had to come in before I crashed. It turned out the same tyre as in Qualifying had dropped to a few PSI, not ideal!
With the race already screwed, we chucked on a spare wheel and I went back out to do some testing ready for the SuperCup Race. The car was pretty good, some issues that need ironing out with the gearbox mapping but my pace was good, with my lap times only 0.029s away from that of the eventual winner Luke Reade in the 135i. I had some good battles with him as well, but didn’t go too crazy with any moves, as I knew I was a lap behind.
As I came around Corum 24 laps into the race, the car spluttered. I thought it was running out of fuel so came into the pits to retire. It turned out to be a metering valve fault on the fuel pump, a simple fix we thought!
After the TDC Race, we had a 3 hour gap, but that was not for resting, we had 1:10 of KA Qualifying to do. More on that in a separate blog.
With the metering valve fault gone, we were ready to go. We were called a bit early to the assembly area, but as we were about to set off, the heavens opened! We quickly switched to a wet setup and sent Ryan on his way. Everything was good until he started the Green Flag Lap and the car started to misfire. He came in the pits and we quickly plugged it in, changed a few sensors and managed to get him out to start from the pitlane.
Ryan overtook 5 cars on the opening lap with the car still misfiring on the straights, so eventually we had to retire the car. A disappointing end to the first round for us after all the months of testing with minimal issues.
After stripping the car down back at the workshop, we found the fuel pump was damaged internally. We had been doing some low fuel testing and the fuel supply had been interrupted a few times, which can be bad on the common rail engines.
Nick in the Leon had an unfortunate incident in another race, so was no able to start the SuperCup one. However, Michael in our old Ibiza drove an epic race, finishing 1st in Class and 8th overall, with most of the Class A cars behind him! Flying the Diesel Flag for Darkside!
The first round of the EnduroKA season also landed at Snetterton, with the longest race of the year, 12 hours of non-stop madness!
Myself and Ryan decided to team up with a friend of mine from the C1 Races, Pete. We planned to do 4 hours each, but when Pete mentioned his brother Phil was free that weekend, it was rude not to have 2 pairs of brothers in the car!
Qualifying didn't go great. We were miles off the pace down in 32nd place. If it were just us 3, we might have been looking at ourselves, but Phil is a fast driver, so we knew the car was not right. It was pretty frustrating to not be in a car we could compete for podiums in. We needed to look deeper. The car was just way slower than everyone down the straights!
Overnight we found a few issues with the car that would not have been helping matters, but early on in the race we were still lacking some oomph. It was going to be a long day! We decided that if we did not have pace, we needed to nail the strategy. Phil had brought his good friend Will along who supports him in all his races, so we knew we had the winning pit stop plan.
It all went pretty much to plan, we had some 'incidents' which happen when you have such a mix of driver abilities in cars with similar pace, but we climbed up the timing screen to eventually finish 9th. A great achievement to say how far off the pace the car was.
Some photos by - www.snappyspannersphotraphy.co.uk
Thanks to all the team for working until late every evening to try and make this weekend a success. Sometimes it just isn't your weekend, no matter how much you prepare! We will be back for the next round hopefully in a stronger position!