A year ago I ran at Gurston and was frankly a little puzzled that I wasn’t faster, and what was more puzzling was that I couldn’t work out why, or what I could do to increase my pace. I get that a lot. But on Sunday it was quite literally all change. I took 1.54 seconds off my PB and know how I could go faster, though with the back end going light through Hollow it might be some time before I go quicker there.
The clutch issues are well documented in previous blogs. After the run at Bicester to check that the clutch worked I wanted a proper test to see what impact it had on how the car actually went. A spare space on a test session the Thursday before the Bank Holiday Gurston seemed ideal. For once the AIM datalogger was actually working and after the test some data could be coaxed out of it (this was because temporarily the device firmware and PC data download software actually worked together. It didn’t last.) Sprint and Hillclimb times from the device are almost useless, but speed data does provide some useful info. And the top speed down the straight was up 4MPH on the last visit. Promising. Working out what was happening with the engine RPM was somewhat less straightforwards. I need to work on that.
My first practice run on the Saturday at Gurston was just over 41 seconds, pretty typical for me, but encouraging as a first run. The next run was a PB by 0.63 of a second, but as we all know they don’t count in practice. It was also tantalisingly close to my personal target of 39.something at 40.05. The final run of the day was 40.32, which I would have thought fast last year.
Sunday’s practice run was a decentish 40.7, leaving me with something to prove in timed run 1. After a bit of socialising with the great and the good of my hillclimbing and sprinting world it was time to run. I got a decent clean start (clutch still working then) and took a reasonable amount of speed through Hollow and into Karousel. I still wasn’t fast enough through Deer’s Leep and was OK through Ashes, but that was because I’d been paying attention there on previous runs. Getting a decent run from Ashes to the top of the hill isn’t as straightforwards as it sounds, but I made a decent stab at it. I was out of breath at the top, so had obviously been trying quite hard. At some events you get to see your time after you cross the line, but at Gurston you have to get a ticket from the timing hut. As getting in and out of the RF84 is a bit of a headache I stayed in the car and headed back down the hill not knowing my time. A state of affairs which continued, although Jo White told me I’d done my 39 when I saw him near the start line. Eventually I ended up in the start line office and was given my time directly from the system. 39.14. Not just a sub 40.00 but over 1.5 seconds under my PB. To say I was pleased was a bit of an understatement. A little while later the printer produced written proof.
I said that I was so happy that I’d be waving to the Marshalls on the way up the hill on my last run, not just the way down. As so often with my final runs I might as well have waved at everyone whilst progressing sedately up the hill. But frankly I didn’t care.
The big point about my performance wasn’t just going sub 40.00, and not that far off a 38 (which would have been respectable as Sam Lester’s fastest run was 37.95), but the fact that I can see where I can go faster. (Looking at the time sheet you can see my finish line speed is 4 mph down on my fastest run for example.) And for the first time I’ve even got some ideas on car set-up. Mind you I’ll need them. It looks like Trevor Willis has signed up to drive in Formula Ford at the HSA season closer at Curborough.