Blog

Donington Park 14th July 2013

Weekend Brake Spoils Donington

The fourth round of the Big Profile Sports 2000 Championship took place on Sunday 14th July at a very warm and sunny Donington Park in Derbyshire.

Craig qualified his Lola T88/90 race car in second place on the grid and happily in front of the Robert Oldershaw car which was the focus of the weekend, being the championship leader with just two points ahead of Craig, going into this event.

A few changes to the car following a very successful weekend at Zandvoort in Holland had proved worthwhile as the pace of the top three runners was tight, to say the least, and this was the case all the way through both the morning qualifying session and the late afternoon race.

Craig’s 25 year old Lola did not make the best start but did hold second place into Redgate, shortly after which the right hand mirror came loose affecting his ability to have a clear view of Oldershaw, who was coming from third place on the grid. Certainly Craig knew that Robert would be there or thereabouts and at the top of the hill he was forced to leave space as he just couldn’t turn in without a clear picture of where the aforementioned 51 car was…

Unfortunately for Craig, having handed Oldershaw the opportunity, he was through into second at Coppice.

Robert followed this pass by taking the lead from Patrick Sherrington with a late lunge again up at the top of the hill  but this did give Craig a great chance down the straight as Patrick struggled to hold off the Lola after being compromised by the earlier pass. That move for second took place on the following lap when the MCR of Sherrington ran wide onto the kerbs coming onto the back straight where the Lola was very strong.

Craig then started to settle into a number of quick laps and felt he was catching the lead car whilst comfortable that he had enough strong areas around the circuit to keep in front of the hard pressing MCR, but with 10 minutes of the race remaining the brake pedal began to get really soft due to a bias fault. This especially affecting the normal approach to the chicane and effectively turned Craig’s race into a battle to retain second place.

The chequered flag could not come fast enough as the Lola crossed the line for a class win but more importantly holding the second slot some three seconds off the leader and only just ahead of the MCR.

A fairly good result given the circumstances but disappointing that the opportunity to get the win had slipped away.

So,its another point dropped to the championship leader with two events left. The results show Craig having four class wins out of four races, one third place and three seconds in the overall championship, with two class wins, a win and second place in the European non championship event….Its not at all bad for a youngster in an old race car!!!!

 

 

 

Zandvoort 8/9th June 2013

Craig was action at Zandvoort recently, racing his Lola T88/99 at the BRSCC Caterham Eurofest weekend in the Big Profile Sports 2000 Endurance series. The race was a one-off European round, run in a similar format to the UK championship event with half an hour qualifying followed by half hour races, rather than the usual one hour endure used in the UK. 

After a reasonably trouble free Friday test where only noise issues seemed to disturb most Sports 2000 cars on the day, Craig entered qualifying on the Saturday morning, setting the second fastest time behind the top MCR factory car of Patrick Sherrington who was on pole.

In race one, after a good start, it got increasingly difficult for Craig as Tom Stoten closed in and piled on the pressure just as Craig’s Lola lost its edge!  Despite this he held on to take second just over three seconds off the winning car from MCR.

Saturday evening saw the team checking out the car and after much discussion make a few small changes in an effort to have a better race car for Sunday morning’s race.

Craig again made a great start and immediately set about the leading car from MCR going into the first right hander. By lap three it was obvious that the Lola was performing well and that the changes had made a difference and it wasn’t long before he made his first attempt to take the lead. After a decent attempt at the end of the long straight had been backed out, a good exit from the last corner on the very next lap saw the MCR pushed down into second.

The race remained exciting all of the way to the end as Craig gratefully accepted the chequered flag to take the win with the MCR tucked in just behind him. There was further joy for Craig when he learned he had also set a new lap record.

Silverstone 21st/22nd September 2012

With lots of work to do before the Britcar weekend at Silverstone on 21st/22nd September we arrived late Thursday evening at the home of British motorsport.  The gearbox was stripped; drive shafts and CV joints removed to allow new gearing and replaced with all new joints and shafts.

With no testing available we were straight into qualifying and immediately found the car miles off the pace.  We had set the car quite differently at the front in a radical effort to eradicate the handling issues being experienced, this did not work and we found ourselves in fifth place on the grid.

The race again was really poor and Craig just ran around for half an hour with no corner pace at all due to under steer.  What was wrong with the car?  It just would not grip when turning into any corner and was especially bad in slower tight bends.  We finished in sixth place and four seconds a lap slower than our good result from earlier in the year.  

Lots of work to do if we are to finish the season at Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival.

 

 

 

Oulton Park 2013

Craig spent a difficult, cold and blustery Friday 24th May at Oulton Park in practice which was badly affected by red flags and oil spillage in almost every session.

The Big Profile Sports 2000 Championship was visiting the Cheshire circuit racing on what was to be a busy Saturday to accommodate round two and three of the series.

During early qualifying Craig was quickly second fastest and pitted to save tyres only just dropping into third slot on the very last lap of the twenty minute qualifying session.

Round two started just after lunch and Craig was in a clear third when near the end of the race a safety car period bunched the field, the pace car left the circuit with only one lap to go during which an incident between the two front running Class A cars left the door open for Craig to cross the line in second place and first in class B.

The second race started with the grid pattern as per the previous race result, Craig made a strong start and despite losing the second slot to MCR's championship leading car around lap 10 he pushed on pleased with the car's performance.

In the final stages of the race Craig was surprised to all of a sudden find the second placed MCR car on the grass at the second chicane following a spin when attempting to pass the lead car which had suffered some damage during the incident and was losing significant lap time.

Craig really pushed his old Lola T88/90 soon catching the leading car but clearly slower Gunn TS11 and on the penultimate lap the two cars rounded Old Hall side by side, the Gunn coming out on top as the 25 year old low down force Lola just could not get the bite from the front tyres to maintain the pressure.

On the final lap three back markers on the pit straight disrupted Craig's progress and the race was over, another second place, first in class B and into a strong second place in the main championship.

 

 

Oulton Park 18th August 2012

Following the disappointment of the car’s performance at the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk, we brushed ourselves off and prepared the car for Oulton Park on 18th August.   The Sports 2000 cars had the garages for the event and with a full day’s practice on the Friday we were looking forward to the racing.   Craig had qualified our old Lola car on second slot last year at this circuit but a gearbox issue had ended the race after 15 minutes, so we wanted to do well this time out.

The test day on Friday was really frustrating with wet/dry/damp conditions all day and this was the worst we could have hoped for as we were keen to try and find the setting issues that had made Snetterton such a bad event despite the podium finish.   We don’t really have much to say about the qualifying at Oulton as the car had dreadful under steer, this only allowed us to have the fifth quickest time and so onto the two races which were a mixed grid format of both Duratec and Pinto cars.

Both of the races were not much fun at all where the dreadful under steer continued to make the car difficult around the circuit.  We also had a serious issue with second gear and our option was found to be unsuitable as it was for the sixth gear version of the gear box and therefore it would not fit.

Fourth place in the first race and fourth place in the second and miles off the pace, this did turn out to be a terrible weekend.   The only positive was that the circuit is the closest to home and it did not take us long to get home late on the Saturday night – filled with disappointment.

Craig was doubly disappointed by the weekend as Scotland’s motorsport guru, Graham Millar had visited Oulton Park for the event.  The results were certainly not as good as Craig would have liked but Graham had some comments on the car set up which were meaningful and of course would be understood / implemented for the next event at Silverstone.

 

 

 

Silverstone GP 27th April 2013   http://youtu.be/jnsybGQ2VKA

Craig had a good start to the season at the first round BIGprofile sponsored Sports 2000 sprint race event at Silverstone GP circuit on 27th April. 

Craig went straight into a damp 20 minute qualifying after not being in his trusty Lola T88 / 90 since the Formula Ford Festival at the end of 2011 where the car achieved a third place finish. He shuffled within the top six or seven cars as the track dried and ended up in third place on the grid despite having real issues getting up to temperature in the cool conditions.   In the afternoon race Craig again suffered with loss of power as the car struggled to get any temperature at all despite having made some changes to the cooling inlets and radiator arrangements.   Due to the age of the superb Lola it now falls into the Class B range of cars and finished first in class / third overall for the entire event, not a bad weekend considering the large field of racers on the day.    

Next race for Sports 2000 is a double header event at Oulton Park on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May,  let’s hope we get some better air temperature for that one!

SNETTERTON 300 21ST/22ND JULY 2012

We arrived at the Snetterton 300 Norfolk circuit on the evening of Thursday 19th July following another trip to a specialist rolling road facility to try and cure the technical fault which has affected the race car all of this year.   The fault had been traced to a number of air intake settings which had been set out of calibration, a few tweaks and the commissioning engineers felt the car was much better and ready for a strong weekend.

Friday had four practice sessions available but different weather conditions made setting the car up very difficult.  The weather for the Saturday event was going to be nice and so a bit of guesswork was put in place.   Qualifying took place early Saturday with a third slot on the grid but worryingly off the pace of the two cars on row one.

The race start was almost immediately red flagged following a dreadful incident which involved five or six cars coming together, four of the cars did not make it into the race, due to the damage.   Luckily I had made a good start and was clear of the following pack before it all went wrong.

On the restart I did not get away well and found himself in fourth place after the first lap.  By the time I got passed the Lola of Harry Chapman I was well off the two cars at the front and certainly the lap times were again showing signs of issues with the car not performing well.   At the chequered flag I was happy to take the third place but very disappointed that the car just could not find any grip on the corners, of which there are plenty on the relatively new Snetterton 300 circuit.   On closer inspection and considering the afternoon had become very hot it was easy to understand that the issue had been incorrect tyre pressure which had ‘cooked’ the front slicks….on the positive side the car certainly did not have the technical fault and so we can only look forward to the next round of the Championship at Oulton Park International circuit near Chester on Saturday 18th August 2012.

Another third place with good points in the Championship.   I am currently sitting in third place and very close to the guys in front.   Oulton Park needs to be a very good result…… I will be trying hard to get a good result.

 

What is ahead for 2013 ........................

Further to the disappointment of 2012 which should have been a much better year I need to try and make sure that my next move is something which can in the first place be enjoyable, it is certainly not even worth travelling south for events when the results just don’t come so let’s hope something worthwhile comes up.   

I have of course a strong option to dust off the Lola T88 / 90 car which was so brilliant in 2011 and perhaps make a few small changes to this superb classic race car in an effort to get back into the podium habit.   The Lola car can of course be very prominent in the new class B section of the Big Profile Sports 2000 Duratec championship and hopefully be right up there in the main championship for both class A & B cars if we go for this option. 

I would really like to be in one of the strong class A cars but without any sponsorship it does make things difficult, I really want to show my strengths this year in a big effort to get back on track in terms of highlighting my talent, I will be doing my utmost to attract any test / race drives in larger manufacturer cars with a view to showing them what I am capable of, I know I can impress!!!

I will continue working very hard in the local gym in order to keep the fitness level ticking over and will ramp it up nearer to the start of the season, our provisional calendar shows that the initial event is at the Silverstone GP circuit which is fairly quick and demanding, looking forward to this already!!!   One of my university friends, another Craig, really wants to help us in 2013 and he has popped over to see the race car.   Craig does have some good ideas and is very interested in taking some of the pressure off by mucking in at the events, we all hope this can work out.   

The university course is certainly beginning to help me understand many aspects of the race car development theories and principles.   As I progress in my studies I really hope this can help me to become a better driver and generally get me closer to my dream of having a full worthwhile career in top level motorsport.

I have a couple of other options open to me and my parents are trying to work out if we can squeeze our budget to perhaps at least seriously look at these.  Watch this space for further information and let’s see where this goes.   

We have now sold our trusty Mercedes Sprinter race support van and have started to fit out a larger Mercedes Vario van for the task, the van is going to keep us busy over the winter period but will prove worth it in the end as it just has so much more space. 

Will update on what is going on as soon as any further news comes along.

 

Donington Park 2012

Further to all the issues experienced at the Cadwell Park event and having to drop out of the Spa Francorchamps Summer Classic, we headed for Donington Park really looking forward to some time in the car.

The car was still at Loaded Gunn in Swindon and so we left Friday to collect it.   We had planned to stay in the area Friday night but instead drove back up to Donington Park and this allowed us to get set up on the Saturday for a very busy race day on Sunday 1st July 2012.   The Sports2000 co-ordinators had decided that the format would allow for both the Duratec and Pinto cars to qualify and race together, this certainly gave us a lot of track time to look forward to.

Sunday morning involved two twenty minute qualifying sessions where session one would give grid slots for race one and session two slots for race two.   I was fairly pleased at the end of each session to find myself in second place for each of the races especially as we had tried two different tyre configurations and both seemed to work fairly well.   

After the lunch break and within half an hour of our first race the weather turned from dry to a very heavy drizzle and with the horizon looking bleak it was a mad rush to change all four tyres and set the car for a wet race.   We opted for a full wet setting as the windy drizzle just kept coming.   This was one of those situations most club racers dread where its all too much work to do and not enough time to do it in, very stressful.

I got up to the grid holding area just in time and we were allowed to run two warm up laps to get things up to temperature.   This was the first time I had driven the car in the wet and despite trying to feed the power in gently when we started I did get a bit more wheel spin than I would have liked.

The rain had stopped as we were about to start and all our preparation on the gamble of a full wet race were quick to punish us as the soft settings on the car made things very twitchy on the quickly drying track.    I found myself in fourth place after around ten minutes of the half hour race and really just tried to maintain reasonable lap times as the car just suffered from massive roll.  By the half way point the race track was dry and the new wet tyres had to take a bit of overheating to the end, fourth place it was.

The weather had greatly improved for the final race of the day which again featured the Duratec and Pinto cars, I again took second slot on the grid from where I made a fairly good start.

Patrick Sherrington in the leading MCR made a great start from third and he managed to close the gap between himself and the pole car going into the first corner, I found it necessary to tuck in behind  and settled in for this twenty five minute race.

Disaster struck after the first lap when I could feel the car again missing when getting back on the throttle.    I thought at first I was imagining things but that was not the case.   I had to adapt the way I was driving the car in order to minimise the loss of throttle performance to try and stay with the leading group of cars.

On lap four I lost third place to the reigning Champion Robert Oldershaw, the car would just not pick up after the chicane and Robert sailed past at the end of the pit straight.  It would have been crazy to defend the position knowing I had an issue and by blocking I felt I may drop back from the front two who were still within touching distance.

The race ran the full course with some passes going on in front of me but I just could not get the car to come out of any corner where I had lost power, nevertheless, I was very happy to somehow get the fastest lap of the race which I think is a new lap record for the circuit.

I think the four cars were only some two to three seconds apart at the chequered flag and again with the car having problems I was very disappointed, however, this was a great race experience and showed I can really mix it with the championship’s best even with a car problem.

We need to find the answer to the technical problem in order to be back on the podium and hope to have some news on this very soon.   Two fourth place results were initially quite disappointing but when all things are considered it wasn’t such a bad weekend.

 

 

BIGProfile Sports2000 – Brands Hatch – Formula Ford Festival - 27th/28th October 2012

We spent Thursday travelling to Kent from home and were allowed access into the garage areas late afternoon, luckily the Sprinter van can go through the tunnel; and so we got a few jobs done whilst looking forward to Friday’s test day.

The weather was cold and wet all day Friday and so we were unable to see how the car performed following the discovery of the front right damper issue.   

Saturday did start dry but a few small showers near to qualifying got the nerves on the edge, certainly at the start of the session the track was damp but quickly the dry line arrived and times tumbled.    Five or so Pinto cars had entered the Duratec race and with these cars on the track it just made setting a hot lap a bit more difficult as drifting off the dry line was necessary.

Times are always really tight on the small Indy circuit at Brands Hatch and this session was no different.   We only managed seventh spot.  Had we been one tenth quicker then we would have been fifth, that’s how tight it was.

Brands Hatch is generally all about having mechanical grip in the car set up but again the car was not good at the front.   After the qualifying the car was placed on the stands fuelled and thoroughly checked and cleaned/polished ready for the race.

Race day was again dry but small showers drifted through during the morning.  The race was dry and starting from seventh at least allowed an inside line up to Druids.   The two cars in front of Griffiths and Bates touched coming out of Druids and Bates spun 90 degrees in front of me forcing me to go onto the grass, by the time I got sorted and back on track I was at the rear of the Duratec cars except for Bates who struggled to recover for the remainder of the race.   It was a case of head down and try to pass a few cars, certainly I managed to pass quite a few and with some luck due to events up front, I ended the race in fifth position but disappointingly off the pace.

I was happy to get to the end of the dreadful season in this car which has been fraught with technical and poor set up issues, the dream of having such a great car for the full season has just been such a struggle from start to finish without doubt.

We have contacted the car owner and thanked him for the great opportunity and also apologised for the poor performances most of which we feel have been down to set up issues which have been clearly identified but never resolved.

Technical issues in the first, second and third events affected the car’s performance, this turned out to be an issue with settings on the throttle bodies, it was strange as on some occasions the car was good enough for front row grid slots, podium finishes and a lap record.   When the fault was finally located we were looking forward to race wins.  The following three events were just dreadful where the car had no front grip despite this I was able to get some reasonable points by sheer determination and just trying to do my best for the efforts of others who have tried to help me.  

Our dreadful result at Silverstone in the penultimate event did lead my Dad to completely strip the car in an effort to find an issue which cost us up to four seconds a lap round the GP track at the home of British Motorsport.    We found the front right damper unit pre-loaded to a hugely different setting in comparison to the left side of the car, the units were removed from the car and sent for testing, all was ok.    This finding was the reason why the car just would not turn in slow corners and we were very disappointed that it had taken all this time to find.

I guess with our budget I am very happy to be having a great opportunity to race cars and to have the chance in one of the front line Duratec cars was a dream come true, certainly there are lots of things that need to come together in order to have success, I know I can be quick in the car and by saying this when the car is capable but when the set up is not near right then all you can do is go round as quick as the car will let you and that’s it.

 

Watch TV coverage of Silverstone on 15th April on Motors TV next viewing Saturday 23rd June at 0040.