Monday, 14 June 2010

Series of musings / Musings on series

The plan has always been to compete in the 750 Motor Club’s RGB Championship. It’s a well established championship with lots of friendly folk involved. However, I have a couple of concerns. Central to these concerns is the fact that I’m now not leaving for my 9 months “gap-yah” until September/October which means that I’ll almost certainly miss all of the 2011 season. If the truth be told, I’m not entirely sure what the championship will look like in 18 months’ time. The regulations are being debated at the moment and I think there is a possibility that ‘one-off’ cars could one day be excluded from a front-engined class. This is far from certain but it has meant that I’ve started to consider what else is out there; and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
I’d heard about the Classic Sports Car Club’s Magnificent 7s series over 12 months ago but hadn’t given it too much attention. A few weeks ago, prompted by Matt Gilmour at Procomp, I started to look into it in more detail and contacted the series organiser Peter French to find out more. After some correspondence regarding the eligibility of the Paradigm, I decided to drive up to Cheshire this weekend to watch the race at Oulton Park. I dragged Steve along for a second opinion. We arrived mid-morning and post-qualification so were able to wander around the pits, look at the car and have a chat with some of the drivers. Most of the cars were Caterhams with a smattering of Westfields and derivatives of the Stuart Taylor Locost thrown into the mix too. Most of the cars had Ford or Rover K-Series engines but there was a good selection of bike engines from Suzuki (Busa), Yamaha (5PW R1) and Kawasaki (ZZR1400) too.
Everyone seemed very friendly.
What was immediately apparent was that the regulations were far less strictly defined that in the 750MC series. As long as the car is 7-shaped and isn’t covered in aero-addenda, basically, anything goes. Talking to Peter, if you are an outlier in terms of your pace within a class you should expect to be moved – sounds simple enough. This flexibility is born out of the fact that ‘Mag7s’ does not have Championship status. This keeps costs down, but does mean that awards are strictly informal. The race format is also very different to RGB. Races are 40 minutes long and include a mandatory pit stop. This can either be a simple timed stop-and-go, can involve a driver change or a complete car/driver change. This therefore provides an opportunity to share entry costs and get involved as a team entry. This got me wondering about value for money. If I add up the cost of entries and divide this sum by the time racing in RGB this season, even allowing an extra 15 minutes across the season for the +1 lap format, each minute of racing costs £11.30. If I add in qualifying, each minute of driving on track costs £6.34. In Mag7s, each minute of racing costs less than £7 and each minute driving (either qualifying or racing) costs less than £4. That’s a hell of a difference!
So what of the racing? Well I’ve been lucky enough to witness some great battles in RGB. However as one competitor observed recently, there isn’t really that much overtaking evident at the moment. This I believe is a function of increasing speed differentials and a grid of often only about 25. While one cannot really make a judgement on Mag7s on the basis of one round, the grid was full and this led to a lot of action. The pit stops also seemed to add something too and I like the fact that you at least have the option to share the costs, for example if funds at the end of a season got a bit tight. However, the speed differential in Mag7s is much greater than in RGB with the top four cars lapping faster than a RGB car has ever gone around Oulton and the slowest three lapping at speeds similar to a quick 1300cc Locost! That said, I liked what I saw and will certainly be looking to get involved.
The only question that remains is whether or not to continue to build the car to RGB regulations or whether to plan for the greater freedom of Mag7s. Of course, if the car is built primarily to meet RGB regulations then it is possible to enter Mag7s as well. The same is not true the other way around. Hence, Plan A remains THE plan.


Friday, 4 June 2010

44 months on…

06:30hrs Friday 4th June 2010.
A thirty-year old man yelps somewhere in a sleepy former mining town in South Wales. A black and white cat leaps for cover, unsure of what caused this most unusual of sounds. The cat peers from around a corner to see the yelping man holding aloft two reams of white A4 paper. He looks happy. Over 3 ½ years of endeavour has all but come to an end. His Masters in Business Administration degree is finally finished!

I’ve just got back from the binders having dropped-off two copies of my final and most extensive piece of work. Joy fills the room. There’s more good news; my chassis is nearly finished as well. Joe and Steve spent an obscene amount of time getting it welded-up last weekend. The hope was to have it finished. The reality is that there is probably another five hours of work to do, mainly focussed around the front suspension. In any case, here she is with Joe ar the wheel

I’ll get some better photos when I go up to Joe’s for final fitting for the headrest and steering column. I should hopefully bring it home the same day which should be good. Then its off for powdercoating. Splendid!

I haven’t forgotten about the exhaust end pipe that I mentioned in the last instalment but I’m now going to hang-on until I’ve got the slice of catalyser to fit it before I try to explain the issues and plan on here. I’ve sourced some very smart aluminium bearing carriers for the back to replace the heavy cast iron ones, which I hope is going to make my drum and hub assembly somewhat lighter than even posh Wilwood billet calipers and the associated bracketry.  That’s the plan anyway.

Enough for now; I feel knackered! That’ll be the lack of sleep resulting from the final push to get the dissertation done!  Plus, I’d better do some proper work…