The last time I blogged, which I see was a little while ago, I was hopeful of getting back to the sort of times I was doing in 2019. I’ve kind of done it, and learned a lot along the way.
Since the first 2 Curborough rounds I’ve done a Prescott; mixed conditions and not fast enough, Gurston; pretty much on the pace of 2019, and a Loton. Which was very wet at times but more of that later.
There’s not much to say about the Prescott event, which was notable mainly for the fence between the somewhat sparse spectators and competitors. Wet but drying through the day, resulting in a best time 1.2s slower than my best in 2018. I’ll blame the conditions.
Gurston was an altogether different matter. I’ve been to some really hot Gurston events, but this was the hottest. When I put the ignition on the temperature went up to 40C. Without running the engine. The marshalls were running the event so that the queue for the hill was kept to 2 or 3 cars – so it was a matter of firing up the engine and driving to the line and going. Ironically I was running the engine colder than ever before and it liked it; seemed happier revving, and I was quick across the line. Quite quick and still in 3rd. I managed to match my second best time and it got me thinking about gearing.
The other competitors in Pre 94 FF were super helpful with advice on ratios, and when I checked the gearing I was running it was somewhat longer than anyone else was using. If ever they run a sprint at Indianapolis I’ll have some ideal cogs. Armed with the info from Charlie, Les and Peter, I purchased some new ratios from Mark Bailey who was also super helpful. Essentially 3rd became 4th and 2rd and 3rd filled the gap above 1st which I kept. Jo White gave me a masterclass in changing ratio’s in a Hewland MK9.
The first opportunity to try the new gearing was at the Pre 94 FF round at Loton at the weekend. (Beware the book of excuses is in play from now on.) Conditions couldn’t have been more different from Gurston. I don’t think I could have overheated the engine had I wanted to. And at times it was very wet. Difficult to believe it was August. On the first run I couldn’t believe the difference the new gearing had made. Even though the run was dry every time I touched the throttle on the way out of a corner the back started to slide. Different driving style required and almost certainly some adjustment to ARB or dampers.
Photo by Rob Mcdonald
I last ran at Loton in 2017 in the Panda. I was pretty sure I remembered it. But one corner repeatedly threw me a curved ball. Fallow at the top of the hill is a lot further away than I remembered.. That doesn’t make sense so I’ll try again. When you approach Fallow it looks like the corner starts about 50 metres before it actually does. And on the first couple of runs I braked crazily too early. Which was a surprise given that when I was driving the Panda I used to be pretty aggressive here. 4 years is a reasonable amount of time I guess.
And finally the last issue that I had to sort out was a lack of speed on the Cedar Straight. Which isn’t straight. Thanks go to Charlie Reilly who told me that I needed to be in 3rd through the section before the straight, which increased my speed on the straight a lot. I didn’t set the world on fire at Loton (whereas Tom Weaver did with the times he was putting in) but it is still my favourite hill.
So next up I’ve got a session at Anglesey in one of their Formula Fords, simply to get some more seat time and to see what a different car feels like, another Gurston where I hope the new gearing pays dividends, and hopefully the MAC meeting at Curborough in September if my entry has been accepted.