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Spa Francorchamp 2012

Further to the number of issues experienced in the second round of the championship at the Cadwell Park circuit, arrangements were made to spend almost all of the Jubilee bank holiday weekend in the South of England in order to address the problems and get back to where we needed to be.   It was our intention to visit Spa, having been disappointed in 2011 when a clear circuit infringement by the eventual winner had robbed me of a deserved win, however, the car had to be right and all the gremlins had to be got rid of.

We left home early evening Thursday 31st May and parked up for the night in Frankley Services on the M5, rising early Friday 1st June in order to make a start of the day appointment with Hi Tech Engineering who are rolling road technicians and specialists in the Sports2000 formula race cars.  Thankfully the engineers at Hi-Tech were immediately on the case as they could feel the power drop off issue and quickly tied this down to a poorly installed throttle potentiometer.  Gary Gunn of Loaded Gunn, who attended to assist in the process, had new parts with him and following the install the car showed first class results on the computer screen.

Following many checks on the running systems the car was given a clean bill of health and we were on our way to the Swindon base of Loaded Gunn to address both structural and bodywork matters on the TS11.   We were in the factory unit until late Friday evening fitting the new rear wing and support brackets for the rear bodywork.

Again we started early on Saturday where our efforts were concentrated on the install of the new front, quite a difficult task but worth all the efforts as the car just looked superb……dusty but superb.   Many other bits and pieces were achieved and with my Dad having exchanged all of the rear rose-joints on the car earlier that week, Gary set about getting the car fully prepared for the race track.  All corner weight settings were adjusted; camber; castor and toe issues were double checked.   We were heading in the right direction.  Another long day ended with the car ready for the race track.   We had entered the Open Sports Car Jubilee event at the local Castle Combe circuit on Bank Holiday Monday 4th June in order to test the car, especially in the available high speed corners.   

We were back at Loaded Gunn early Sunday morning to thoroughly clean and polish the car followed by the application of some new decals.   We put the car in the trailer in the afternoon and headed over to Castle Combe circuit.  As the weather was dreadful we had an early night after a nice meal.

Monday morning was dry and sunny, thankfully, as we needed a dry track to get the car flat out during our test.   Following scrutineering and noise test I went out for qualifying just before lunch.  The car was geared for Spa and so a bit frustrating out of the corners, however, it was without the misfire and going very well indeed.   Further to the qualifying session we put the car in the trailer and dropped it over at the Loaded Gunn unit.  There was no point in us waiting until 5pm that evening for a short race, as the car had proved the gremlins were gone.   It was our intention to collect the trailer on our way to Spa, in an effort to save on the fuel bill for the van but that was not to be.   

Certain issues with my Dad’s work have meant we have had to cancel our visit to Spa but we know we are all set for the third round of the championship at Donington Park, with crowds of up to 100,000 …really looking forward to the event, should be good.    Watch this space.

P.S.   Hope everyone that made the trip has a fantastic weekend.    We will be thinking of you.

 

BIGprofile Sports 2000 Duratec Championship 

Cadwell Park 13th May 2012

The majority of race drivers just love a visit to the Cadwell Park venue and certainly I was no different before the second round of the championship.  The circuit, although a little tight in places, is a pure fairground ride from start to finish.   

We arrived late on the Friday evening and set up the awning on Saturday morning first thing.   We had booked only afternoon practice in order to have time to exchange the gearing.  There would be three sessions of twenty minutes and we felt this would be enough to get ourselves sorted for the Sunday qualifying and race.   

Following our final checks and noise test I left the holding area behind the number 7 Lola T87/90 race car of Anders Fredricsson.  After  a couple of warm up laps I started to push and was right on the back of Anders’ car.   As we swept round the back of the wooded section of the circuit Anders spun the Lola right in front of me and with absolutely nowhere to go I unfortunately made heavy contact under the gearbox of his car.   On returning to the pits the guys at Loaded Gunn and Dad done some brilliant work to at least get the car prepared for the second session of practice.   This middle session was cut short due to one of the Pinto cars becoming beached again in the wooded area of the circuit and so our plans were not going so well.   The final session went fairly well but it was clear that the impact and repairs to the front of the car were going to affect our race pace as we were some way off the quick lap times.   It was also apparent that the cutting out / surge issue which we experienced at Silverstone in round one was back and definitely this was taking the edge off the car’s performance.

Sunday morning qualifying started very well with a reasonable time on the first quick lap.  Going into the first corner on the second lap all of a sudden there was a huge thud from the rear of the car and the car lost all rear grip, so it was back to the pit lane for a quick assessment.   The large bracket arrangement which holds the rear wing had completely failed and so it was back to the paddock for some major repairs, hopefully these could be done before the race started.   The only quick lap was enough for the fourth spot on the grid and really with the damage to the front of the car that possibly was as good as it was going to get on the day.   Again, great work by the Loaded Gunn guys got us ready for the race and clearly it was all about getting as many points as possible without giving the top racers too much trouble.

A poor start from the very dirty side of the grid meant I dropped back to seventh place by the end of the first lap and soon settled in to get on the back of the two Lola cars belonging to Nick Bates (6th) and again Anders Fredricsson (5th).   By three or four laps in it was clear that there was just no pace in the car and probably hanging on to seventh was going to be the best I could achieve.   At half distance it was game over when a rose connection joint on the right rear suspension arm broke and I parked the car at the bottom of the “mountain” section of the circuit.

I have had a brilliant run for a time and certainly that could not do anything to cover my disappointment on the day.  Nevertheless, we have arranged for the car to be fully technically appraised on the rolling road at Hi Tech Engineering in order to get back to full strength for our next event at Spa in Belgium in the middle of June………Bring it on!!!!

  

Castle Combe - 14 August 2011

Preparation for the Castle Combe one hour event began shortly after our return from Donington when the car was stripped for cleaning, an oil / filter change and checked from back to front as usual. Dad worked endlessly in the garage checking every nut and bolt and still finding little bits and pieces which required remedial works and replacement.

BIGprofile Sports 2000 Duratec Championship

Silverstone 15th April 2012

Watch TV coverage of Silverstone on Motors TV next viewing Saturday 23rd June 00.40 hours.    

Craig was delighted to take a podium slot at the opening round of the BIGprofile Sports2000 Championship 2012.  After qualifying 5th, in a strong grid of over 40 cars, Craig knew that with a few final handling changes he could have a shot at the podium at the Formula 2 weekend at Silverstone GP circuit on Sunday 15th April.  

Having finished 4th in the 2011 Championship in his Lola T88/90, Craig is hoping for a strong season in the “state of the art” Loaded Gunn TS11 in which the Swindon based team has given Craig the opportunity to showcase his obvious talent.    The Loaded Gunn’s modern aero design differs greatly from the low down-force Lola and similar cars did in fact win the Championship in 2010 and 2011.Craig started well from 5th place and was quickly into 4th passing last year’s champion, who suffered contact from others going into Copse.   At the mid-point Craig was some 4/5 seconds off the leading cars but with consistent quick laps he managed to claw his way back into contention for the podium, passing the MCR car of Patrick Sherrington on the final lap and taking 3rd place.  

Craig will actually pick up invitational sport car ace Matt Manderson’s 2nd place points, as this guest driver is not registered for the championship.  This rounded off the weekend very nicely.  The next round of the championship will be held at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire on the weekend of 12/13th May.   Keep up to date with the latest news at www.craigmitchell.info

 

Donington Park – 16 and 17 July 2011

We had all been disappointed when the planned weekend was cancelled due to noise restrictions at the circuit but nevertheless thankful that Sports2000 had managed to arrange an alternative double-header date especially on the programme with the World Touring Car event.

Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival – 15th/16th October 2011

What a great venue / event to conclude the 2011 March Racing Academy Sports 2000 Championship, Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival and on the 40th Anniversary of the Blue Oval single seaters.   The Sports 2000 paddock did feel very privileged to have the garages for this great show and although the sports cars are certainly seen as support for the open wheel classes, they do stop all the arguments on who else should have the pit area facilities. Friday practice went well despite this being Craig’s first time racing on the short Indy circuit in sunny Kent, he had attended the circuit last year at Race Car Live when the circuit conditions were very poor due to the weather.

Spa Francorchamps - 11 and 12 June 2011

To compete at Spa has been a dream since I started racing, I actually missed my school prom to participate in this race meeting; there was no pressure making my mind up on what was most important.

Silverstone - 30th September - 1st October 2011

Preparation for the penultimate Sports 2000 event which was on the programme of the Britcar 24 hour race at Silverstone relied on the gearbox issue experienced at Oulton Park being addressed... following some checks, resourcing of new gearing and some long hours in the garage all was set for the race.

Cadwell Park – 7 May 2011

In early practice at the Cadwell Park event a damaged stub axle meant very little track time but a replacement was fitted and I qualified 10th on the grid.

Oulton Park – 3 September 2011

I had been looking forward to the Oulton Park round of the Sports2000 Championship in Cheshire on Saturday 3rd September. The 250 mile journey was just local compared to some of the events visited by my well-travelled family.

Snetterton – 24 and 25 April 2011

I had a bit of an up and down start to the new 2011 season in the March Racing Academy Sports 2000 Duratec Championship.