Snetterton, 25 September 2005

Just as well we didn't enter the Snetterton round in the end, we wouldn't have been ready anyway. We dropped the kappa off at Owen Developments for Mark to take a look at. All the logging traces looked OK at a cursory glance, but once up on the rollers it was confirmed that the kappa was barely producing 200bhp. The diagnostics showed a misfire even though one wasn't really audible (a problem with 5 cylinder engines), but changing over the coil packs suddenly upped things to over 350bhp. Well that was a start. Mark also found the kappa was running rich because when he mapped it last time, the alternator had failed, now there was a new one it was putting out the required 14v and thus the fuel pump was delivering more than expected. But as he started to remap, the engine suddenly stopped, like it had seized! The panic ended when suddenly it started running again as a bolt fell out of the cambelt cover - it was a bit mangled and had jammed in one of the crank pulleys - that was lucky for us.

And finally, there was an intermittent problem which was traced to a faulty camshaft pulley sensor - changing this necessitated removing the cambelt and pulley, so it was back to Auto Integrale one evening last week to have that work done. We needed a new cambelt as well given that the bolt had damaged the edge of the belt - we really were lucky this time.

With all work carried out, the engine already sounded healthier, but was dropped back at Owen Developments on Saturday to be mapped during the week. Hence we would have missed Snetterton anyway. The race report went like this:

The penultimate round of the 2005 LMA Euro Saloons season saw the competitors travel to Snetterton for a double header meeting. Another bumper entry of 30 cars made the trip to Norfolk as the season reaches its final stage.

Just before the drivers went out on track, all was sunny and dry in Norfolk, but the weather threw in a whammy as rain started just as the session began and fell increasing heavily throughout qualifying. Those drivers able to get straight onto the pace were rewarded with high grid positions, any lap posted after lap 2 ensuring that those drivers who needed to warm up their tyres, their mechanicals and themselves would post rain-affected times.

Tony Soper was quickest out of the blocks, setting pole time in the Alfa Romeo GTV on his first lap to lead from Derek Palmer (Sierra Cosworth) and Peter Challis (Nissan Primera). Pete Simpson used the 4 wheel drive Lancia integrale to good effect to get 4th, missing 3rd by the narrowest of margins.

Simon Taylor posted an excellent 6th fastest time in his Honda Civic showing rain to be a great leveller against outright power, with his championship contending rival Richard Buckley just behind in 7th.

Race 1:
The rain had relented and the track dried out in time for the first race. A good start from the second row saw Peter Challis take the lead at the end of lap one narrowly from Derek Palmer and Tony Soper, once free at the front Challis started to pull away at some 2 seconds per lap. Tony overtook Derek on lap 3, the pair remaining just in front of Pete Simpson in 4th, and gradually these three started to string out.

Derek Palmer took Class B honours from Tom Gannon (Honda Integra) and Nicky Leventis (BMW M3), the latter dicing most of the race with the Class C winner Richard Buckley. Drummond Bone managed to repair the Maserati Barchetta after his Mallory Park incident and narrowly beat Ian Craig's BMW M3 to 9th place having to make up a few places after a lowly qualifying position.

ZAK took over John Hammersley's Class D MG ZR and posted a class win, with Tim Morgan-Barrett getting the better of Julian Brown after the latter took a heavy trip over the kerbs and "adjusted" the tracking of his Fiat Punto.

Simon Taylor was unable to maintain his 6th place on the grid once the track had dried, but came through to win Class E from Lee Scott (Fiesta) and Neil Threadgill (Renault Clio) and maintain his championship lead

Simon Jackson (Vauxhall Nova) won Class F with Jim Mepham an early retiree, and Alan Duly mopped up Class G in his Ford Fiesta.

Race 2:
More rain during the afternoon, but by race 2 the track was dry once more. Starting on pole this time, Peter Challis just drove off to take his second race win of the day. Tom Gannon had made an excellent start from 6th and held on to second place until lap 4 when Tony Soper, recovering from avoiding Derek Palmer's off, got by and held on to second place comfortably from Drummond Bone who moved up to 3rd from 9th on the grid.

Nicky Leventis got by Tom Gannon on lap 7 after the two had been in close competition for the previous 3 or 4 laps and then pulled away to win Class B. Class C winner Richard Buckley had a less eventful race, finishing 5th ahead of Gannon and comfortably clear of Nigel Ainge's similar Class C Honda Integra.

Class D went much the same way as in race 1 with ZAK taking a comfortable win, Julian Brown unable to compete with Tim Morgan-Barrett due to a number of woes which left the Punto down on power and speed.

Simon Taylor again won Class E from Lee Scott and Rhys Bolton (Clio), with Classes F and G won by Simon Jackson and Alan Duly.

Following from our previous pessimism that we could reach 3rd place in Class A, we have now realised that a finish at the final race of the season (Rockingham) will achieve this! Drivers have to enter at least 5 of the races to qualify for a position trophy which rules out Alvin Powell and Joss Ronchetti, both ahead of us. Richard Hawken is 4 points ahead of us but has played his joker, we still have ours available, although mathematically both Alex Schooledge and Derek Hale could also beat us if there is a really large entry - but it seems to be down to Richard and us.

The championship itself has been won by Simon Taylor, our congratulations to him. Although only 6 points clear of Richard Buckley, both drivers have to drop a round and neither has scored less than 20 points so far this season, meaning that Richard cannot catch Simon. Tony Soper has won Class A, and deservedly so after cruel luck denied him the championship at the last round last season.

Next up for us is an open saloons race weekend at Rockingham this coming weekend, a chance to learn the circuit before returning with the LMA Euro Saloons the following weekend.

Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro Saloons championship and standings so far.

Check out the current points standing.

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