Friday, 16 November 2012

Winter Work

The car has taken everything we've thrown at it over the last six months without any mechanical, engine or electrical failures. The forces and stresses placed on the car are far greater than road or even track day driving.  It shows how well engineered the Porsche is from the factory.

After over 6hrs of track time we'll be treating it to a major service;

  •   Replace spark plugs / coil packs / spark plug tubes and o-rings
  •   Change Engine Oil / Filter (Mobil 1 15/50 Motorsport)
  •   Clean Performance Air-Filter
  •   Bleed brakes with some more (Castrol SRF)
There are also some outstanding upgrades to bring the car up to the same standard as the other Class-A Boxsters and fully take advantage of the regulations.
  •  Goodridge stainless steel brake lines
  •  H&R Anti-roll bar Kit
  •  Adjustable drop links
  •  Short shift kit
Oh...and there is some minor bodywork to attend to;
  • Repair and repaint the rear bumper (hit up the back more than once)
  • Repair and repaint the front wing and door scrape (failed overtake at Brands Hatch)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Rockingham Races on YouTube

Coverage of the two races from Rockingham in August are now available on YouTube.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Donnington Race Event

The final round of the season was held at the fast and flowing Donington Park circuit.  As I'd never driven the track before we arrived on Friday afternoon and had a some practice laps.  Despite only managing a couple of 8 lap runs, I was happy with my performance and with the times I set.  Lots of cars pushed too hard and ended up being towed out of the gravel - much to everyone's frustration. 
The growing reputation and support the BRSCC Porsche Championship is attracting meant we had allocated pit garages which were our base for the weekend. 
Saturday Qualifying
The track was very busy with 26 cars trying to set fast time and some ending up in the gravel causing yellow flags!  Towards the end of the session I got three clear laps going faster each time to qualify 9th on the grid. This was my best so far and ahead of more experienced drivers and professionally prepared cars. 

Saturday Race 1
We made ride height and tyre pressure changes before the race in an attempt to improve braking into the final chicane and keep my tyres from overheatingI got a great start, however my first three laps were poor and I was not able to push confidently.  I had to focus on the car behind which was faster in the final sector and over the start line.  We had  great battle for position until the race was red flagged due to a liquid spill a few laps short.

Sunday Race 2
On Sunday morning thick fog had descended delaying all racing until lunchtime.  A hastily revised timetable gave use two 13min races which was much more than expected. After resetting the changes we had made previously I felt a bit more confident to push hard from the start and made sure I got lots of heat into the tyres on the green flag lap.  I again made a good start and took places from cars which ran wide at the first turn.  Whilst they re-took the position within a couple of laps, my times were fast and I was re-catching them until I made some mistakes and had to drop back as my tyres started to over heat slightly.  Although I finished 11th, being just 1sec a lap down on the mid Boxster pack was a great result.

Sunday Race 3
To create a season finale spectacle the grid was reversed by class for race 3!  I started on the 2nd row, but made an average start.

The race result was no different as the faster cars all passed me, but I had a great battle defending 9th position robustly as the light faded at the end of the race.  I couldn't quite hold on and lost out on the penultimate lap finishing 10th.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Performance Improvements

My race finishing positions have fluctuated over the three race event weekends we have entered, however most of the positions gained on Class-A Boxsters have been through others failing to finish.  This in one way is good, since reliability rewards, but in another it hides the ultimate performance difference between us and the front runners.


There is however a measured performance improvement when you consider our lap times vs the front running cars.  

We are getting closer to the back of the main pack of Class-A Boxsters which typically contend the top ten places each race.


In the first race at Snetterton in April we were 12% slower on our fastest lap of the race (2m 44.7s) than the fastest time set (2m 27.1s) and we were running 6% (73kg) heavier than the  minimum weight. The race was spent in amongst the the front 924 drivers.

By the second race at Rockingham in August we were only 4% slower on our fastest lap of the race (1m 46.3s) than the fastest time set (1m 42.0s) and we were running only 3% (33Kg) over the weight limit.  In the race we matched the Class-B front running Boxsters.

The Performance graph (right ) shows the progress we have made in closing the gap to the front runners in the series and a notional target - which is to be in the middle of the Class-A Boxster pack!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Rockingham Race Event

After a very early start on Saturday we arrived at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby an hour before scrutineering. The US Style Oval track is dominated by the huge wrap-around grandstand seating on one side, with the paddock and in-field track section in the middle.  This is where we setup.
Qualifying
I had never been to the track before, so initially I had to let some slower cars past whilst I got used to the track layout. Watching YouTube on-board videos can only help so much!
As my confidence and speed increased, I tagged onto the back of some front running cars for the last couple of laps and set what I considered a respectable time.  I was still 2+ seconds slower than the main pack of Class-A Boxsters and slower than the Class-B (Production) front runners too.

Race 1
The outside temperature soared as the day went on, and the inside of a race car was not the ideal place to be at 2pm on the hottest day of the year so far.  We were held in the assembly for what seemed an eternity, before going out onto the track.  

I got a poor start off the line, but made up 3 places going round outside of the 1st hairpin turn. I just about kept pace with the pack of cars I was in, but within 2-3 laps they had re-past me. 

 






Half way into the 20 minute race my pace dropped as the car was sliding more in the corners and braking from 125mph down to 40mph at the end of the banked-straight took its toll on the brakes and tyres. The last few laps couldn't come soon enough as I was tiring rapidly and overheating inside the car.  I finished where I qualified 14th of 22.     



Race 2
On Sunday the temperature was again in the high 20's and we dropped our tyre pressures significantly to prevent the over-heating that happened in Race 1. I also drank several litres of water to prevent me overheating this time too!  When the lights went out - I got a better start off the line, but was tentative through the banked 1st corner and lost 3 places.

I managed to stay within a second of the cars in front of me for the whole of the race.  This time my lap times were more consistent and even improving despite the temperatures outside and inside the car.  On the last lap I overtook the Boxster in front, however made a big mistake into the next corner, running very wide and almost going off, giving the place back. 


Whilst I finished in the same overall place as Race 1 - I was happy given the continuing improvements and the fact we'd never even seen the circuit before qualifying. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Brands Hatch Races on YouTube

Coverage of the two Sunday races from the Brands Hatch round we took part in are now available on YouTube.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Going on a diet

Before our next race at the Rockingham International Speedway in August we  are looking  seriously at weight savings.  All of the front running cars are below the minimum weight and carry ballast.  At Brands Hatch we were still weighing in at 1360Kg's including driver at the end of the race (although we did overfill with fuel for one race which didn't help).  This was 60Kg's over the minimum weight and is costing 1-2 seconds per lap based on our track day experiences with 1 vs 2 people in the car.

In order to level the performance across the different Boxster 3.2S model years / engines (250-280 BHP) the regulations have also recently been adjusted and we now need to target 1280Kg's as the minimum weight for our 2001 250 BHP model. So now even more stuff needs removing!

Hardtop and Trim
The hardtop roof still had the full head lining and plastic trim pieces in so these were removed. We also removed more plastic trim from inside the car, including the centre console plastic and the heater blower motor.

Air-con
The original air conditioning compressor was next to be removed. This required changing the ancillary drive belt for a shorter non-air-con model one.  The belt change was straightforward but removing the compressor itself took several hours.  The bolts holding the compressor in place are easy to remove, but the metal pipework connections are obstructed by the intake manifold and were extremely tight.  There is some pipework running under the car still to be removed when time permits.
Battery
The heavy duty Bosch S5 battery weighs 17KG's and is high up under the windscreen.  A light weight replacement (Odyssey 30 Racing @9Kg's) has been purchased and relocated lower down on the floor of the front boot.
Windows
With the door glass in the "door-open" position (it drops by 1" to clear the rubber seals) the electric window motors and and mechanism have been disconnected and removed along with the associated wiring. 
The glass itself is being replaced with light weight Polycarbonate (plastic) with sliding vents.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Brands Hatch Race Event

Our second race event was at the famous Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent on the 9th & 10th of June. Leaving home at 5am Saturday morning we arrived and setup in the paddock. After signing-on and scrutineering we headed out for qualifying.

The last time I drove the circuit was over two years ago when the car was in standard road form so I took most of the 15 minute qualifying session to get up to speed setting a best time of 58.5 seconds - good for 15th on a nearly full grid of 30 cars.  This was 4 secs slower than pole position, but a full 10 seconds faster than I'd ever been before. This was also my first experience of the Toyo 888 tyres in the dry. 

In the first race I got a great start, holding my position round paddock hill and up to the druids hairpin. Unfortunately several cars went off track later in the lap and in avoiding them I was overtaken by 4 or 5 924 drivers. My race didn't get much better as I ended up with some minor front wing damage from an aborted overtake at Druids. This knocked out my ABS and later in the race I lost the rear of the car at the bottom of paddock hill, spinning a full 360 degrees.  I finished a disappointing 19th which would affect my grid position for Race 2.
On Sunday the forecast rain held off for Race 2. Multiple cars went off at Paddock hill bend and were damaged which resulted in several laps behind the safety car.  I managed to get past a few of the 924's and was promoted to 9th position overall due to some blatant jump starts from several cars in front of me on the grid.

For Race 3 on Sunday afternoon it start to drizzle with rain as a depleted grid lined up. Before the race I took some advice on passing slower cars from the more experience drivers and quickly passed the 924 cars - lining each pass up one lap at a time.  I was lapping consistently and catching the Boxster in front of me however had to yield to blue flags to allow the leaders to lap me. In the end I ran out of time (and nearly fuel!) to close in - finishing an excellent 10th.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Snetterton Races on YouTube

Coverage of the two Sundy races from the Snetterton round we took part in are now available on YouTube.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Performance Exhaust


In preparation for our next race event at Brands Hatch we finally got around to replacing the standard exhaust back-box with a Cargraphic sports exhaust (ebay bargain).  Most of the bolts on the original exhaust were rusted so it took several hours to remove.
The performance exhaust turned out to only be a few KG's lighter than the stock exhaust so we will need to look elsewhere for the weight savings we need to make.
Th new exhaust was fitted with new clamps and stainless bolts all round and allows the engine to rev more freely.  It is definately much louder and will provide a useful BHP & Torque increase.
We also replaced and re-wired the electrical cut-off pull switch.  The pull handle was a poor qualifty one and cutting the fuel-pump allowed the engine to run-on for a few seconds. It is now wired into the DME fuse (C1) and kills the engine instantly.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Snetterton Race on Motors TV

The Snetterton race event was filmed and is being shown free-to-air on Friday 18th May @ 5:50pm on Motors TV UK (Sky Ch 413).

All of the cars have bright green Logson Group windscreen banners which advertise the title sponsor of the series. This sponsorship helps pay for the filming, production and TV air-time.
A full TV schedule for the season is here. The race coverage is also put on the GoRacingTV youtube channel a few weeks after being shown on Motors TV.

Monday, 30 April 2012

First Race Weekend (Snetterton)

Our first race weekend was at the very wet Snetterton circuit in East Anglia on 28th & 29th April 2012. 
We arrived at 8am and had a pit garage to unload our kit into. 

After signing on at race control, adding the mandatory series decals, the car was safety scrutinised before we headed into the assembly area for qualifying. Our standard exhaust didn't trouble the noise tester!
From the assembly area we were let out onto the track for 20mins of qualifying.  Hitting a very wet first corner was mildly terrifying with a narrow wet racing line to following round the track surrounded by standing water. Going slightly off-line in the corners meant having to back off the power as you understeered towards the grass.  The rear of the car was twitching out of the corners fighting for grip as you bled the power on as gently as possible. I did improve lap by lap as my confidence grew.  I set the 19th fastest time out of 24 and was very happy to have made it round my first competitive track action.

After qualifying our car was weighed for the first time ever at 1373KG.  The minimum weight for the class is 1300KG for our 1st Gen 986 Boxster with 250BHP.

Race #1
The grid is adjusted in class order so I started from pos 12A (aka 13th).  I got away from the line well with no wheel spin but wasn't prepared for the lack of visibility in the spray and the close proximity of the other cars around me.  I got overtaken by both production spec Boxsters and 4 or 5 of the 924's at the first two hairpin corners.  It took the remainder of the race (8 laps) to get back past each of the 924's as I was sandwiched in the middle of great battle for their class lead.I finished 15th of 24 starters.
 
Race #2
On Sunday morning we returned to a still wet Snetterton and softened the dampers significantly to cure the excessive understeer in the corners.  It worked - giving me confidence to stay ahead of the 924's from the start and set out catching the Boxsters in front of me. I managed to pass one into a hair-pin but missed a gear change at crucial points when lining up the next car for a pass. I finished 14th of 25 starters.
Race #3
During the lunch break it rained even heavier so we softened the front and rear dampers further.  I again got off the line well, loosing places only to the two production spec Boxsters and kept all of Porsche 924's behind me. Taking the confidence from the end of the previous race into the first lap I realised I could keep pace with the Boxsters in front of me and set out catching and overtaking 3 cars.  I was briefly up to 10th but a couple of mistakes let two cars plus a front-runner recovering from a 1st lap spin past.  I finished 13th.

Final Preparations

The weekend before the Snetterton race we still had a number of jobs to complete.

Adjusting the rear tow straighter as I didn't like the feel of the car at the last track day and the race would all be about confidence to push the car.

The aluminium bottle fire extinguisher kit which is from a UK company called FEV was mounted in the car in place of the passenger seat we had during track days.  The supplied tubing was cut and run to four spray nozzles (2 in the driver compartment and 2 in the engine bay) and connected up with t-pieces.
It is fired by externally and internally mounted self powered buttons with a control box to test and arm the system. The E Is for Extinguisher not Electrics!
 
The final job was to re-fit the standard air box with a performance filter to ensure we were compliant with the series regulations, removing the induction system previously fitted.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Snetterton Shakedown 2

On 30th March we were at Snetterton in Norfolk again.  After passing my ARDS test in the morning (see previous post) we had more running on track. Mechanically the car ran well and reliably.
The day was an open pit lane event and there were really too many cars at the event. Track time was disrupted continuously by red flag incidents and lots of traffic.  Later in the afternoon we ran our race wheels and Toyo 888 tyres - however suffered some rubbing on the rear arches in hard cornering which will need more rolling and trimming of the inner wheel arches to fix.

LetsGoRacing!

I have signed up to be a driver in the 2012 Logson Group Porsche Championship run by the British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC). This championship has classes for Porsche Boxster and Porsche 924 race cars on a mixed grid.

 

One of the final hurdles before entering the championship was to pass my Association of Racing Driver Schools (ARDS) test.  This provides me with a Motorsports Association National 'B' race licence. This is a two-part test comprising a written test of the flags and safety procedures plus a 2-lap driving test.  I passed with 100% in the written test and with a mix of good and average marks in the driving test. I drive the Peugeot RCZ for the driving test and found just couldn't get used to the clutch and brake pedal. Very different from the the Boxster - still I managed to get round safely to pass!
Our car will run no. 46 in the championship with our first race being the 2nd Round at Snetterton on the 28th April 2012.
 
 There is still lots to do to get the car within the regulations and ready to race!

Race Wheels and Tyres


Work on the car continues.  Some of the car under tray was flapping loose so needed to be repaired.  The heat shielding on the underside of the rear boot floor (above the exhaust) also rattles - but this will wait until the exhaust box is changed as access is difficult.

After the last track day we needed to replace the brake fluid with Castrol SRF and adjust the rear tow slightly.  Our method of running parallel fishing wire lines down each side of the car is basic and cheap - but effective. 
 
We then trial fitted our Team Dynamics Race Wheels.  These need at least a 3mm spacer at the rear to avoid the rim hitting the suspension tower. They have the medium compound Toyo 888 tyres fitted and should make a massive difference in handling on track.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Front Tow Stap and Timing Transponder

More work has been completed on the front of the car this time.  The bumper was removed and the front air conditioning condensors were taken out to reduce a bit of weight.  These were fitted directly in-front of the water radiators which can be seen in the photo below.
The front tow strap was fitted in the same manner as the rear and the timing transponder (the small red box) was also fitted.  This is a mandatory item for racing and is positioned 30-60cm's off the road facing down towards the track.  Each unit has a unique serial no. which will enable the circuit timing systems to pickup our car as it travels over the timing strip buried into the track surface on the start/finish line.
The bumper also had some paint and a clear coat applied to cover some previous damage and was re-fitted.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tow Straps

A requirement for racing is front and rear towing hooks, eyes or straps.  I don't like the metal ones as they can cause a lot of damage to to other cars in accidents (as we've found out ourselves) so we are fitting fabric tow straps.

The rear bumper was removed and the strap fitted to the top of the bumber bar.
A slot was then cut in the bumper to feed the strap through and folded up with an elastic band when we're not on the track.
Tow stickers will beput on the bumper adjacent to the the straps to ensure marshals can easily find the towing points on the car.
 
 
 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Snetterton Shakedown

On Friday 24th Feb after a 5.30am wake-up we headed over to an open-pit lane trackday day at Snetterton for our shakedown test.
At the briefing meeting the organiser commented that the paddock resembled a race meeting rather than a track day due to the number and range of race cars participating. 

Everything from Ford Fiesta's to Britcar Ferrari's and Aston Martin's to Radical's were present and running on track together with an array of road cars.
 
After the mandatory sighting laps we got out on track and the car proved to be mechanically sound.  There were a lot of significantly faster cars on track so getting a clear set of laps wasn't possible until later in day.  Initially we had quite a lot of understeer which was reduced by lowering the front ride height and increasing the suspension stiffness.  We also dropped the tyre pressures consitently throughout the day.
 
Whilst still being reasonably slow compared to race times we did improve both car and driving ability significantly throughout the day.  Fuel usage was over 1 litre per lap over the approx 45 laps we completed.  A positive note was that the stopping power of the Brembo brakes and race pads was excellent.  We did manage to overheat the brakes at one point which will require a change of actual fluid and we will also upgrade to more expensive racing fluid at the same time.

Alignment and Camber Setup

After changing the suspensiona lot of toe on the front and rear was induced, which had to be reset.  We used the DIY string method to measure the alignment knowing that we just wanted to get it roughly aligned initially. The wider rear track of the Boxster and narrowing body lines are deceptive when you look at the alignment by eye.

First we set the ride height getting the car level all round. This is done using the adjustable spring perches on the suspension and measuring the ride height under each jacking point. 
We then setup equal length parallel fishing lines running down the side of the car, equidistant across the front and back.  We measured the distance between the front and rear rim of each wheel and the parallel line - the difference being any toe in or out.

After several adjustments we managed to get the alignment where we wanted it (which is not far off 0 / straight) and also maintained a good amount of camber (-3 degrees on the rear and -1.75 degrees on the front).  

Adjustable 911 GT3 lower arms are an option to achieve more front end camber - but these remain a luxury (that we can't currently afford).

Seats & Harnesses

With the dashboard and instruments back in place the car re-started first time which was very good news. i.e. We had re-connected all the wiring and not cut out anything too important!

Focus turned to re-fitting the seats.  The bolts for these are very awkward to reach now the roll cage is in place.  
 Luke 3" wide 6 point FIA spec harnesses have been installed and adjusted to fit.  Roll cage padding has been placed in a few areas to stop us baning our heads/helmets on the roll cage and provide a little bid of elbow padding.




A removable steering wheel boss has also been added to make getting in and out of the car easier. 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Dashboard refitting

Before the dashboard could be re-fitted the relay board was re-attached to its original mounting bracket on one side and cable tied to the rollcage as high up as possible.  This will keep it away from the drivers feet and accelerator pedal.  The fuse box could not go back in its original position so it has been moved and mounted to the rollcage on drivers door side, again using strong cable ties.
 
The wiring looms running down the sides of the car were also tidied up and the plastic trim refitted to protect the wiring.  The heater box was modified to fit around the rollcage and re-fitted. The recirculation flap & motor had to be removed.  It should function well enough to provide cold and hot air to the interior and windscreen when needed.
The interior pull cable and fire extingusher wiring was run through the bulkhead to the battery area before the dashboard was trimmed and re-fitted.  Two inches were cut from each side allow it to fit inside the rollcage.