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Testing complete, car almost ready

After the long winter I’m always itching to get in the car and go testing, this year especially as I was hoping to get a glimpse of the many changes made to it at JWA. And so to Curborough sprint track, the first place I ever drove a competition car back in the autumn of 2004 in my Peugeot 205.


Based near Lichfield, it’s a fairly simple track which has been altered slightly in recent years to form a figure of eight and can be hired pretty cheaply which makes it quite popular at this time of year – my friend Jerry Neary had asked me if I wanted to go so I joined a group of fellow hillclimbers to make up the numbers. I’d considered Blyton after having such a great day last season, but it’s a long way and considerably more money so I instead opted for Curborough and this turned out to be a good thing in the end as I’ll come to later…

My helmet has currently gone off for painting so I was using the old one for the first time in a while, signed by Derek Bell who I was lucky enough to bump into at Shelsley a few years ago. It felt funny not using my HANS device but then the speeds you reach at a wet Curborough (oh yes) aren’t very high so it wasn’t going to be a big problem. Although the day started dry enough, by the time I’d arrived & unloaded it was starting to spit with rain, and sure enough by the time I was sat in the car it was coming down and the track was greasier than a late night kebab. The old spectre of battery trouble raised it’s head once more as I tried to fire the car up with the slave battery plugged in, followed shortly by a dismal whining sound as the car failed twice to turn over. I got out and muttered a few expletives before regaining composure and hopping back in for another go, upon which it fired up first time. ‘Must have been a bit cold’ I thought.

Charlie MartinHaving recently joined Dare To Be Different, the fantastic initiative set up by Susie Wolff and the MSA to encourage and mentor young female drivers interested in motorsports careers, I noticed a post on the forum from a photographer by the name of Michelle Allan who was looking for subject matter to shoot. We got talking and she kindly agreed to come along for the day and snap away,I’m really grateful for all the fantastic pictures she took on the day. 

Herve had finally been fixed by the nice people at RH Commercial Vehicles after the first garage couldn’t find a problem (Bring it back when it does it again…Yes I’ll be in France in a hurry though). They knew pretty much straight away over the phone that it would be the injectors, and although it feels slightly odd to be driving without the engine warning light constantly lit I can’t say that I’ll miss it!

I drove for about five stints and although it was good to get a feel for the car, it was so wet and the grip so lacking that I couldn’t explore the car’s limits in the way I’d hoped – due partly to the limitations of a small and fairly narrow track. Having said that the new seat is perfect and the Geartronics display is a massive improvement, at least 70% more visible than the dash display to give you some idea (it’s big and red!). I think it will need some fine tuning though because although it reads correctly with the car stationary in the paddock, once you’re driving it starts blinking between gears. A quick call to JWA and it sounded like the addition of some more revs and electricity were causing a little interference, meaning that it would probably need recalibrating with the car in motion. After a briefly considering whether this would be possible (no way), I went and had a word with Tom New who kindly helped me reset it, but it made no difference sadly.

So it will be a case of jacking the rear end up on blocks in my garage and running the car up through the gears while doing this – not late at night on a week day as I quite like my neighbours! ;D

VIDEO DIARY #3: Test day at CurboroughHere’s a little update from my test day last month, and also my final preparations before the first race of the season in 4 weeks (!!!) time :D

Posted by Charlie Martin on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I managed to try the camera out in a couple of positions and I’m torn between the top one which shows both front wheels and the lower position jus over my shoulder. Although this sacrifices a bit of left hand vision due to my helmet, it does give a more accurate ‘drivers eye view’ which is perhaps more helpful when it come to replays. One thing I may do is mount the extra camera I now have low down on the front wing to give an super-fast perspective, it would be great to incorporate into videos so I may give this a go.

Sadly around 2:30, just as the track was starting to dry out, both my batteries (in car & slave) failed simultaneously. In fact the new lithium one went so low that it could barely even power up the dash or prime the fuel pump, leading me to wonder if I’ve got a dud after it drained itself during the week the car spent at JWA… A few people explained that the downside of a lithium ion battery is that once the voltage drops by a say 25% (or less) it then drops off a cliff, meaning that you can suddenly be looking a flat battery within a few starts. Not what I need. A friend recommended an Odyssey 310 which at 2.7kg is a small sacrifice for a car that starts consistently, so in the meanwhile my go-to car electrics man Lloydy is checking all the batteries over before I buy one just to be certain. I wish I understood electricity but sadly I think it will forever remain something mysterious & unexplainable, like crop circles and voodoo… 

So on that note I packed up fairly downhearted and drove home. However, since then I’ve reasoned that ‘test day’ has a clue in the title and it was just that – I’ve discovered a few issues that thankfully I can resolve before Hebécrévon in plenty of time. I will say that the car felt much quicker with the new gearing, although it’s hard to be subjective as the first drive after a long break always feels fast as your senses are reset into race mode. I also started the scooter up today and it fired first time, so I guess that’s one less thing to worry about. 

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