Brands Hatch, 10 July 2005

Pictures taken at Brands Hatch (10 July 2005) courtesy of Ian Crockett, M-SportUK.com

As reported after the last race, the engine failure wasn't the end of the world for us as we were planning to build the new engine for this race anyway. Learning lessons from our first engine which failed so catastrophically at Goodwood back in April, the new one was built using forged conrods as well as forged pistons, this time the pistons had cutouts in case we go down the big valve route at some time in the future. Looking at the figures from our first engine (413 bhp/390 lb.ft/1.6 bar and 376 bhp/360 lb.ft/1.1 bar) it was evident that the gains in power and torque in relation to the extra boost were not good. We concluded that maybe the head could not flow enough - a chance to purchase a used head that had undergone some porting work was too good to miss, and with this, expectations were high.

Keith built up the new engine and ran it up for the first time last Friday. Saturday was spent tidying up a few odds and ends and then the kappa was taken over to Owen Developments to be remapped. We were hoping for close on to 450bhp with similar torque figures. But late in the day I got a call from Mark at Owen Developments. It seemed that water temperatures were running up as soon as boost was applied and the thermostat appeared to be the main suspect. On Tuesday morning I took over a replacement thermostat and left Mark to it. Another call later in the day suggested more serious problems. The engine had been mapped fine off boost, but as soon as boost was applied the temperatures went straight up.

Keith went over first thing on Wednesday and checked everything over - the conclusion was not good. Pressure tests showed nothing but the only sensible answer was the head must be cracked, maybe in an inlet port. At this point things didn't look good for racing at Brands Hatch. I picked up the kappa, took it back to Keith and went home. A while later I got a call - if I took over a spare head it would be changed over on Thursday. I still had the head from the first engine, intact bar a couple of bent valves so this was taken over on Thursday, and on Friday I took the kappa back to Owen Developments where everything behaved as it should. With standard porting, we decided to run as low boost as possible but still achieve good power - the figures said it all. 406 bhp, 383 lb.ft and all with only 1.2 bar. I was looking forwards to Brands Hatch with anticipation. Although I would never be able to catch anyone else in Class A, there was the small matter of the Integras which had been a second a lap or so quicker than me at Brands Hatch back in May. Surely I would have enough now to best them?

Race day dawned, another incredibly hot day, not ideal for turbocharged engines. And a full grid - in fact too full. There were 32 of us registered for the race with only 30 being allowed to race, although the reserves were entitled to qualifying.

Qualifying:
With 32 cars and a short circuit such as Brands Hatch, it seemed prudent to line up early so as to have a chance of a clear lap. The first couple of laps would be spent warming the tyres and bedding in the new brake pads, but even so I should still be near enough the front of the pack to have a decent chance of a clear run. So I lined up behind the Mark Fish Motorsport VW Vento and Renault 5 Turbo, and in front of 29 other cars. A quick squirt out of pitlane suggested the engine was going to be great and the first lap went as planned. Exiting Druids on the second lap, I saw a big shooting flame from the exhaust on the overrun, I would later surmise that this is where the vacuum hose from the dump valve came adrift causing me to lose all boost. Coming into Clearways for the second time I decided to get on the move so as to cross the start line at full speed. But try as I might, I couldn't shake off one of the newcomers in an MG TF. Two or three laps went by, by which time I've figured the kappa isn't going that quickly and then the temperature went up. I came into the pits and shut down with the not-cooling system simmering nicely, steam pouring out of the header overflow pipe.

Simon from Auto Integrale was in attendance for me. Once the water had cooled, he bled the cooling system 3 or 4 times in an attempt to stop the temperature rising. Finally, and with minutes to spare the temperature settled and remained stable. We were going to race after all.

Race 1 result:

Having qualified a lowly 23rd - and 21st on the grid due to the reserves having qualified ahead of me, it was going to be a busy, but fun race picking off the slower cars. Well that was the plan anyway! But even on the formation lap I knew it wasn't going to happen, the temperature was going up and down, up every time I hit the throttle pedal. I was going to pull in but as I came round Clearways, the temperature started going down so I lined up on the grid for the start - and the temperature rose ever upwards. Off on the rolling lap and I decided to give it a lap or two and see what happened, I really wanted the chance to attack from the back. I was so far back I couldn't even see the lights, being such bright sunlight probably didn't help the cause, so I just nailed it when everyone else did. I got past the Rover 216Gti of Anthony Allitt that was in front of me on the grid, but was forced over to the left to do so. I arrived at a very crowded Paddock and elected to go round the outside - this worked well for me as everyone was taking the inside line down to Druids and I was able to make up a couple of places by continuing right down the outside of the track and taking the outside line round Druids. I ran side by side with Simon Taylor down to Graham Hill before being able to pass him down Cooper Straight.

I carried on picking off cars, avoiding the spinners at Clearways (Tony Soper first, then Daniel Ludlow) and by lap 5 had worked my way from 21st to 13th. It was plain that the kappa was well shy of the 400+bhp she had the day before and the temperature gauge was still showing numbers I'd rather it didn't. But on lap 7 it was my turn to spin at Clearways while in hot pursuit of a BMW M3. I went round about 90 degrees, veered off onto the infield and the engine cut. It wouldn't restart so I took the opportunity to roll into pitlane and out of the race. My first DNF of the year and only the kappa's 2nd ever in 13 races.

I had expected a race of attrition with temperatures in the 80s, and I wasn't wrong. Of the 30 starters, only 20 cars made the finish with Derek Hale winning the race from Scott Grant's BMW M3. Tony Soper raced back to 3rd place from last on the second lap, and Julian Brown's return to the series in a borrowed Fiat Punto ended early on when he spun at Paddock after the engine cut out.

It was game over for us - I loaded up the car and took it home, ready to take back to Auto Integrale on the Monday. We have 6 weeks until the next race and will endeavour to test the kappa before pronouncing her ready to race.

Race 2 result:
We missed the second race but by all accounts it was a good one. Only 26 cars made it to the start line and this time it was a win for Peter Challis from Scott Grant and Tony Soper, this being Derek Hale's turn to DNF. All down the field there were cars running in twos and threes together with some very close finsihes, not least of which was Simon Jackson's ailing Vauxhall Nova holding off Julian Brown's Fiat Punto by 6/100ths of a second, Philip Latchford (VW Vento) and Zak (MG ZR180) being separated by the same amount, and Richard Perks beating Matt hale to the line by 8/1000ths! .

Read Richard Hawken's personal report.

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

Check out the current points standing.

Send comments to: webmaster@nyssaracing.com
  • http://www.nyssa.ltd.uk/
  • http://www.nyssaracing.com/shop/spesso/
  • http://www.auto-integrale.co.uk
  • http://www.LMA-group.com/
  • http://www.gerinicosia.com/
  • http://www.cellseek.com/
  • http://www.lancia.com
  • http://www.trcmagazine.com
  • http://www.q4.com