Silverstone, 7 October 2006
Following on from our last report, the kappa went to Owen Developments first thing on the Monday morning. I was a little worried that I'd not heard anything all day, and when I called Mark in the late afternoon, things didn't sound too good at first. There had been an occasional misfire which he thought was a plug breaking down, but then he told me what she was showing on the rollers - 562 bhp at 8000 rpm and 382 lb.ft at 6600 rpm! Still a bit peaky then, but all this running at just 1.4 bar, with only 1.2 bar low down. With a bit of running Mark was of the opinion he could get the boost to come in a bit earlier but did not want to try this on the rollers.
Next up was the test at Millbrook the following Sunday. The gods were not with us, although the rain held off while we were en route, and even while we prepared the kappa for some running, it soon started raining with a vengeance. A few exploratory runs up and down the mile straight (on slicks) showed it was far too wet to apply any power. We did glean that although the engine ran smoothly enough low down, accelerating at 3000 rpm had little effect, but at 4000 the engine came on strong, even in 5th gear. By 5000 rpm we had wheelspin in whatever gear we were in and realised we were learning nothing. By now it was raining too hard to contemplate swapping over to wets and although we waited around for a while, the rain got worse, not better, so we called it a day.
So with some trepidation, we went to Silverstone with an all but untried engine. The weather was good, sunny and dry, and cool - perfect turbo conditions. The circuit with three long straights was as suited as anywhere to the kappa, so we were hopeful of going well. We needed to find a couple of seconds from last time out to bridge the gap to Tony Soper's Alfa GTV, surely we had enough power but would we be able to use it?
Out of the assembly area, just behind Tony. Pulling 4000 rpm in third round Luffield the engine felt strong and willing, but the out lap is just about warming up the engine, the tyres, the brakes and the driver. A quick squirt down the start-finish straight on half throttle saw one slower car passed, two more went the same way on the run down to Becketts, Soper still in sight. As we rounded Becketts, the clutch pedal went to the floor. I parked up with no clutch, all over so soon. Due to the circuit layout speedy work from the recovery marshall, the kappa and I were back in the paddock before the 15 minute session was over, but the team confirmed that our day was over. The clutch release mechanism had failed, to repair it would at least be a gearbox off job and almost certainly need new parts we weren't carrying. So that was it for our season!
Elsewhere - Simon Blanckley (Honda Accord) has been having things pretty much all his way this season, having won all but one race he has finished, but Peter Challis' Nissan Primera always goes well at Silverstone so it was going to be interesting to see how that battle went. Richard Hawken might have been expected to join in the battle for pole but was unable to get out in qualifying, the Primera not starting due to a solenoid lead coming adrift. An unknown would be Malcolm Wise in the Ford Escort Cosworth with over 400 bhp, how would he fare against the Super Tourers.
First blood to Challis who took pole position by 0.422 seconds from Blanckley with Wise just a tenth further behind, John Hammersley (Vauxhall Cavalier) and Tony Soper (Alfa Romeo GTV) 2-3 seconds further back still. Outgoing champion Simon Taylor (Honda Civic Type-R) headed a strong Class C entry in 6th overall, with new champion Jason Holmes (Rover Tomcat) heading Class B in 7th. A record entry in Class D saw Mark Hammersley (Ford Fiesta) put down his marker in the title fight with Tim Morgan-Barrett (VW Golf Gti) looking in trouble at the back of the group. Simon Jackson (Vauxhall Nova) headed the Class E runners.
Silverstone is known as the "power" circuit, and power told right from the off with Wise getting the jump from the 2nd row and heading Blanckley and Challis into Copse. Blanckley took over the lead at Becketts on the first lap and led all the way to the finish. Challis got past Wise on lap 3, but Blanckley was already 3 seconds clear by now. Challis gave chase hard and the lead cars were soon among the backmarkers. By lap 10 the gap was down to just 0.6 seconds and Challis looked favourite to win, but the following lap he fell right back before pulling into the pits and out of the race with a broken gear lever, leaving Wise in 2nd place. Richard Hawken had started from the back of the grid and was soon carving his way through the pack, taking over 3rd place with the demise of the Challis Primera. He chased Wise down hard finishing just 3 seconds adrift in 3rd place with John Hammersley and Tony Soper filling 4th and 5th places.
In the battle of the champions, Jason Holmes and Simon Taylor spent the whole race in tandem. Holmes was not resting on his laurels, taking 6th place from Taylor by just a second and lapping a good second faster than in the race here earlier this season.
Another punching above his weight was Simon Jackson in the Class E Vauxhall Nova, being embroiled in a race long battle with newcomer Jason Newman's Class C Peugeot 306, the pair swapping places while both in pursuit of Naz Hosseinian's Class A Vauxhall Calibra Turbo. Newman finally got the better of Jackson when the Nova engine just cut out, and then just as suddenly restarted just as Jackson was parking up.
The battle for the Class D title went right to the end. Mark Hammersley was out in front, but picked up a puncture just 3 laps from the end. He needed to finish the race to have any chance of amassing enough points so we saw him driving round slowly as the flat front tyre took more and more punishment. He made it to the finish to collect enough points, the 2 points for fastest Class D lap being vital as he won the title by just 4 points despite Tim Morgan-Barrett's excellent run to third from seventh on the grid.
So another successful season ends for the LMA Euro Saloons championship. Nyssa Racing would like to extend their congratulations to overall champion and Class B winner Jason Holmes, and the other class champions John Hammersley (A), Jim Mepham (C), Mark Hammersley (D) and Simon Jackson (E). Here's looking forward to starting all over again next year!
The season might be over for us, but work for next season starts straight away. We've already been shopping with a Quaife ATB limited slip differential ordered. Keith at Auto Integrale will be taking the gearbox off this week to resolve the clutch problem, and while we are at it we will hopefully fit the diff and rebuild the gearbox ready for next year. We're hoping to do a bit of suspension development work over winter to optimise traction and handling - wish us luck.
Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro
Saloons championship and standings so far.
Check out the current points
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org