After something of a bad off season its all go again. I’ve taken the FF for a run at the Gurston test day and given the Radical a cautious shake down at Bicester.
Lets start with the FF and Gurston. I love all of Gurston apart from Hollow. So it was great to be back in what, for March, was astounding weather. Gurston weather has generally been all about extremes. My first event there in the Panda was very, very, cold, whilst at a later event the dashboard displayed 34 degrees. And the less said about the biblical deluge at the round in August last year the better. Well, maybe not, as I think it was actually quite important in the story of the off at Curborough.
I wasn’t actually sure that the throttle had stuck partly open, though all the evidence pointed to it. But when I removed the cable it was actually difficult to get the inner out.. It was pretty corroded and must have stuck. Impressive after only one season. I put it down to the regular drenchings during the 2018 season, especially at Gurston in August.
It took me a couple of runs to get back in the groove, and then my times were just over a second off my PB. Not too bad given the temperature (it was still reasonably cold) and lack of recent seat time.. By the end of the day the clutch was getting troublesome; I think it needs bleeding. A long break in proceedings whilst the orange army removed a Subaru whose rear diff had embedded itself into the tarmac, locking it and the car in position near the start, allowed me to pack away without causing anyone else any trouble.
My AIM datalogger might seem like a bit of a toy, but after the Gurston test the data told me something really useful. In fact two things. The first is that I’m short shifting. By up to a 1000RPM. That has to be costing me time. Its not just at Gurston, looking back at some traces from a Curborough test day last year, I’m doing the same. The other thing is that I must have a long first gear – even at 5000RPM I’m up to over 50mph in first. The job list is simple, clutch bleeding, check the throttle position and look at the gearing. In fact do more than look at the gearing – become a student of the Mark 9 Hewland.
So that was the Sunday.. Fast forward to the next Friday and it was the first outing in the Radical. About which I was more than a little nervous. People noticed.
Once we’d got the car off the trailer at the Bicester Heritage track, which was far from straightforwards, Matt Manderson pretty much ran the show. Which for the record was really decent of him. The pedal positions weren’t perfect, but I could use them OK, and the gear shift worked really well, just like a PDK it seemed. The contrast with the FF was somewhat marked. Even though I was just taking things slowly and going nowhere near the 10,000 RPM redline (spot a pattern here?) the car’s performance was astounding. This was the first time I’ve felt the airflow trying to lift my helmet. As the track was only booked for an hour I only took the car out twice; enough to convince me that it’s an amazing car, and enough to leave me somewhat worn out. I can’t wait to take it out again. But only after I’ve adjusted the seating position, done some analysis on how it’s loaded and unloaded, and worked on my fitness.