Cadwell Park, 15/16 July 2006
Needless to say the news from Auto Integrale was not good. As if it wasn't bad enough to see that two of the pistons had hit the head, removing the head also showed far too much play in the other pistons. The big ends had failed allowing conrods to move further than they should - this in turn allowed two pistons to hit the head, although not the valves due to the big valve cutouts in the pistons. The bores on all five cylinders appeared oval, which explains why so much oil has gone through the catch tank over the past couple of races. So, guess the block could be rebored, but its already been rebored once, so may be not. Crank, pistons and rods - all scrap. The head will probably clean up with a skim, but its just a stock head anyway, so no big deal either way. So really reckon on just the cams and sump worth salvaging, and we'll keep the head put by in case we feel the need for a big valve one!
You can guess the next bit - we didn't go to Cadwell Park. All is not totally doom and gloom. We were made an offer than was tough to turn down, a fully built Fiat Coupe race engine for a lot less than we can build up another, in parts costs alone. Seemed churlish not to take the turbo and manifold it came with, we can always recoup something on our existing turbo. But an engine change like this takes time, although basically the same engine, the installation in a Fiat Coupe is markedly different to that in the kappa. Lots of bits need swapping over to make the new engine fit. And there will also be the little matter of mapping - the new engine showed good figures in its previous installation, we will need a new map to get anywhere near them in the kappa. We want to be out again at Anglesey - given the events of Cadwell weekend we are not as far behind the rest as we might have expected with 4 races now missed and the DNF at Donington. Whether we will be running in time remains to be seen - we really need to make the Forza Italia event at Santa Pod the weekend before, but that's less than 4 weeks away and the mapping guy is rarely in the UK.
Well, I wasn't there. Not were many others by the look of things, only 10 cars made it out. Simon Blanckley set the pace in his first outing since his Mallory Park retirement, and even though he only did 4 laps, he was a full four seconds clear of John Hammersley's Vauxhall Cavalier. Tony Soper was another two seconds back, only just pipping 3rd place from the Class C MG ZR of Peter Felix. David Roberts got the better of Jason Holmes in the battle of the Tomcats, with Jim Mepham's Renault Megane in close attendance, while Mark Hammersley just pipped Simon Jackson's Vauxhall Nova, the Nova having an eventful weekend shearing engine mount bolts on Friday testing, and then losing the back brakes in this session.
After the slowest pace lap known to mankind, the race finally started. Alas for Simon Blanckley it was over almost as soon as the new engine in his Honda Accord failed. With championship leader John Hammersley's Vauxhall Cavalier losing its 100% reliability record this year with clutch failure after 7 laps, it was time for a new race winner for 2006 to step forward. Conventional wisdom said that Tony Soper should have mopped up the points in his Alfa Romeo GTV6, but Peter Felix had other ideas and triumphed over Soper by just 0.3 second. An excellent achievement and the first time in three years of the LMA Euro Saloons where an outright win has fallen to a car outside Class A.
Jason Holmes and David Roberts were battling hard in the Tomcats until Roberts' car succumbed to a misfire leaving Holmes to take third place and the Class B win, but not before Roberts had taken the fastest lap points. Simon Jackson's expected race with Mark Hammersley came to nought as Hammersley's Fiesta was overheating leaving him well off Jackson's pace, but both took their respective class wins.
With an overnight break, drivers had plenty of time to try and solve their woes. Not enough for the super tours of Blanckley and Hammersley, they both left the circuit on Saturday, never to return. Soper had changed the plugs in the Alfa in the hope of clearing a misfire, and David Roberts hoped he had cured the misfire on his Tomcat. Jason just polished his Tomcat to the chagrin of the other drivers who felt they had to clean their cars too!
An excellent start saw Tony Soper pull away from Peter Felix (who was on pole) and take a clear lead into the first corner, from which he never looked back. The new plugs were plainly working well, it seemed like his old plugs were now in the MG which had a noticeable misfire through the mountain section. Felix tried to hold on gamely for the opening laps but two or three laps in the gap was already 8 seconds and increasing at which time his commitment levels dropped away - the marker posts were pleased about that. David Roberts' Tomcat was still misfiring and he retired early in the race leaving Jason Holmes to romp to an uncontested win. Late in the race Felix slowed dramatically, Holmes taking 12 seconds off him on the penultimate lap. Unfortunately for Holmes, he didn't realise it was the last lap and he lifted off a touch when second place could have been his. Jim Mepham also closed up late in the race but not quite enough to threaten Holmes for that last podium spot.
Mark Hammersley's Fiesta was in much better health and he and Simon Jackson were trading places early in the race before Hammersley made a move stick. Even then Jackson almost got back late in the race as his confidence in the Nova's brakes built back up. Another class win for both of them.
All change at the top. With John Hammersley not scoring any points, and Stuart Jefcoate electing not to enter this round, Jason Holmes moves into the championship lead with Jim Mepham just edging past Hammersley for 2nd. Holmes has yet to play his joker, but Mepham has already dropped a round, so its going to be close up at the top.
And with no real point scoring going on in class A, we are still only 16 points off second with our joker intact. Looks like we are going to need a big final effort for the season to come through "late on the rails". Let's hope we make it out at Anglesey and can get back in the point scoring routine.
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