Video Diaries, Episode 4 – Final Race Prep & Maintenance…

Build Diary: Race PreparationI’ve put together the final video diary for the my Academy year. It covers the final bits and pieces I’ve done to get the car race ready and also looks at what I do for basic maintenance. It’s a bit longer than I wanted, but I didn’t want to make another one!

As ever, if there are any bits I’m wrong on, please do correct via comments!

Nose job

I tentatively rolled the car back off the trailer for the first time since loading at the end of the Rockingham weekend to assess the damage. The nose cone is shattered down the right side, where it had an unwanted meeting with a tyre barrier. Other than the nose, the right headlamp is also out of shape where it was pushed back. As this attaches to the upper wishbone mount, I’m going to double check that once I get everything back into the garage this weekend.

On the face of it though, other than the mess of a nose and front wing, everything else appears in good shape. The radiator does have a mark on it where the nose was pushed up against it, but is hasn’t ruptured anything. There were no signs of drips where it’s been sat on the trailer.

So, this evening, I took to the highly important task of re-cheesifying the newly ordered nose cone and wheel arch. Fingers crossed, after some time in the garage, everything will be back looking the way it should ready for Silverstone.

I’m also hoping to do one final episode of my video diary series which should complete all those little things that have been done to the car since the last episode ahead of the season proper.

A calm sea does not make a skillful sailor…

Such a shame. The highs and lows of motorsport! Prep for Rockingham had been great. I like the track and I’m quick around it. I turned lap after lap of consistent times, right on the pace, throughout testing. The good news continued into qualification, with a lap which put me on pole fairly comfortably. After the mega weekend at Brands, this was looking awesome!

Moving to the grid, we had another delayed start – enough time to get the adrenalin all over the place. As the lights eventually went out, I made a good start. Henry made a stormer from 3rd on the grid and was alongside going around the banking. It’s then that it all started going wrong. I was on a tight line and braked far too late for my position. I completely lost site of the fact that this was turn one, lap one and not only that, I was in a great position after a good start.

I didn’t quite get to scrub off enough speed on approach and turning in caused the back end to break away. Sadly, I caught the slide rather too well and this straightened up the car directly towards the small tyre barrier. Had I left the slide, I would have been better off. Unfortunately though, I had the sickening feeling of knowing I was going into the barrier.

I don’t have any experience of hitting a barrier – so I didn’t know what damage I’d done. I sit very low in the car so couldn’t see but did know that I’d broken the nose and the front right looked at a very strange angle. I tentatively pulled away from the barrier.

Unfortunately, at the previous weekend at Brands, one of the Roadsports guys smashed his radiator and carried on driving – meaning his engine was a write off and he was left with a massive repair bill. The newsletter also warned of the dangers of this type of damage and I made the decision to go slowly back to the pits to have it checked out.

There was nobody from Caterham in sight, so I asked the marshal at pit exit if he could see any leaks from the radiator. He said no and I blasted onwards – always with one eye on the temp gauge! I was almost a lap down now but decided to try as hard as I could for the fastest lap. I turned in extremely consistent fast laps but at the end of the race, I found out the I’d not managed to beat Henry’s time.

So, stone cold last was the end result and I felt pretty down to be honest. It’s turned the championship on its head and instead of the cards stacked in my favour, I am left with an uphill task and also relying on bad results for others. After a day of sulking and ‘what ifs’ I’ve pulled a lot of lessons from it all and am focussing forwards!

After the race, the car was taken to the support guys and they checked over everything. No component damage! There was a 5 inch damage line on the radiator where the nose had contacted it – this was as close to a radiator puncture as you can get! No steering arm damage or suspension problems! A quick straighten of the radiator mounts and I was all clear. I will have to put in an order for a new nose and wing though.

I was genuinely happy for Henry to get his race win. 3 races and a different winner at each! Shows how competitive things are at the top. I was also happy for Jack sales in group 2 who finally got his win over Will Smith. But Will got his well deserved championship sewn up. Seemed like it was everyone elses turn to have a good day 🙂

Looking forward to Silverstone now but have no idea how I’m going to be able to cope with a 6 week gap! Hopefully things will go slightly better than the Rock!