Thursday, December 6, 2012

Too long, but ready for 2013

It's been just a little too long between posts on here. However, there's good news! I am finally set up with the hopes of a funding solution for 2013! seems to be a great site, and has allowed me to express the great advantages of keeping me on the track next year.

I am 100% certain I'll be moving onwards and upwards to Ginetta G40s in the Ginetta Challenge. Really close racing, and those who read this blog will know I competed in a race at Donington earlier this year. I really look forward to next year, but funding has been a big part of the wait. I am selling the Caterham, although not for as much as I had hopped, I have work panning out, these combine to a good ability to cover most of the year, it's just the rest is the issue. Hence, this fantastic opportunity for you to be a part of racing, and help fund another years racing.

Now, on to that highlights video!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Birkett pictures

My uncle was there taking pictures, so we do have some good ones of the "team" atmosphere going on.

Of course, the team! left -right, Andres, Me, Tristan, Jason, Scott, Tom, and the man who made it all happen, Zoli!


I must mention here, that Andres was bloody awesome that day. He tirelessly stood on the pit wall, in the freezing wind to give us lap times and control the pit board for pulling cars off the track at the right time.

Awesome line of Caterhams, all shiny and ready to roll.


Zoli obviously telling me... something... not sure what it was, but I'm sure it was important :-D


David and Goliath, Caterham vs Jaaaag.


Debriefing after Scotts stint.


This pretty much sums up the whole day in one picture... Bravo gents!


Hazel and Chris from the 2012 Academy were also there, and here are some excellent pictures taken by them. Thanks to them both for coming out!

Even better than the last - Birkett 6hr relay at Silverstone

On the 27th, a group of Caterham Academy drivers showed Silverstone what they were made of. Out of 68 teams, we finished 9th overall, not bad for a 125bhp Caterham! We were however, competing heavily with a number of teams for the top 3 positions in class, and were running 3rd overall at one point. We eventually ended up 7th in our class, but right up until the final hour or so we had held at least one of the podium spots.

Here's my first stint, the race start, which was, well, it was filled with massive cars, and after the huge pileup on the grid last year, I was being very cautious.

Once through the first corner or so, where the field opened a bit, I started feeling more confident, and found that our cars were faster than a huge majority of the field! It was still strange being around all the massive Jags, and when a Civic hatchback looks big... By far the best part of the first stint was the epic David vs Goliath fight to the death with the big yellow Jaaaag. Once I was past the Jag, I managed to throw in some quick times, culminating in a 2:35. Scott had a great stint following me, and we were 2nd in class after the first hour! Jason and Zolli followed, with two very solid, very steady and consistent stints, putting us 3rd overall and 1st in class.Tom and Tristan brought up the tail of our team, and both drove exceptionally smoothly, gaining speed throughout their stints and keeping us in contention of the top 3. My second stint happened at the start of hour 3, the sky wasn't as blue, and the wind had changed... there was the distinct feel of rain in the air.

(stint 2 will be here... it's on its way).

Stint 2 was a lot less eventful for me, fewer overtakes now that the field was spread out over the 4 mile Silverstone GP circuit. It did allow me to put in a series of 2:36 laps, not quite making the 2:35 of the first stint, but very consistent and controlled. Scott's stint stayed dry... Jason's was also dry for the most part... But just as Zolli was about to start, the hail started, mixed with rain, and the track turned from grippy, to ice in seconds. Jason's times went way down since our tyres really don't do well on greasy surfaces. The times went down, but they all stayed on the track, keeping it in roughly straight line!

By the end of the final stints of Tom and Tristan, the track had a reasonable dry line around some corners, but an oil slick like surface around others. The last few laps of Tristan were in the 2:41s again, but it wasn't quite enough. We had competently beaten the opposition in the dry, but under handicapping, the rain just destroyed us. Oh well, it wasn't about the trophy, it was about the day itself, the friends, the driving, and the fun!

Without a doubt, it was the best weekend I've had all season, and will remember it fondly until 2013, when we walk away with one of those all important trophies!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Best for last, the races that nearly didn't happen

Well, in an exciting and intense end to the season, the Caterham Autumn Trophy at Donington did not disappoint.

After a 5AM start to make the 1hr 45min drive to Donington in time for sign on an scrutineering. The drive, from around the Oxford area, all the way to Donington, was through thick fog, visibility around the 100 meter mark, sometimes less. Turning up at the track, was the eeriest thing I have ever experienced. Despite all the cars, trucks, and people, there's something about an invisible track that is just, spooky.

The fog stayed low and thick until 12:30pm, no racing, a 5am wake up, could have been 9am. Oh well, it was all about the racing, and the clerks and officials worked tirelessly to figure out how to get all the races done. In the end, each 20 minute race was shortened to 13 minutes, and qualifying was thrown away. Because there was no qualifying, grid position for race 1 was decided by championship points, leaving me down in 17th place (12th place in group 1 points, but lots of group 2 drivers as well).

Race 1 went well, I moved up from 17th to 12th, unfortunately I couldn't break free of 11th and 13th, to get clean air and catch the top 10. I had ridiculous fun driving that race though it was just packed full of position changes and defensive driving. - video on its way

Race 2... race 2 is where everything happened, finishing position of race 1 decided grid position from race 2.

I was use to a 12th position start, and in the first race of the season I had gone from 11th to 5th, so I was focused an ready to do something similar. A solid start saw me in 10th after the first corner, and fighting for 8th through the old hairpin, sitting happy in 9th for the first lap, keeping pace defending from 10th. Lap two saw 7th spin off down the Craner Curves, so I took the opportunity to grab 7th from 9th. I was watching the spinning car intently, I knew that if he didn't stop then he would come back across the track, and probably hit me, he didn't though, but I did lift just to be sure.

The lead 6 cars pulled a slight gap then, but I managed a gap to the cars behind me then as well, so I had clean air and threw in a 4th fastest lap, a 1:24.8, just .3 off the fastest lap. A lap later first and second places connect and spin out, so I'm now in 4th place. I collected the final few car lengths to third, eventually make the pass stick. Then find myself in second place! On the last lap I was in second! Unfortunately, all that battling meant Matt Dyer had caught us up, and put a good move on at Coppice, grabbing 2nd, and as I stay right defending the chicane from Nigel, he gets massive draft from Matt and then closes me out in the chicane.

I am bummed I couldn't quite hold on to the podium, but I am absolutely off-the-wall happy I made it all the way to 2nd place from 12th. From the race, I also learnt new ways of defending positions, and how to keep positions I gained.

I think it was a great way to end the season, not a perfect high note since there was no trophy and podium involved, but it was certainly a great race.

Matt, Alex, Nigel, it was fantastic driving with you guys, nice clean racing with some really good moves pulled by all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

windscreen off, performance goes... up!

Took the windscreen off to do a little testing before Birkett on the 27th, and wow, what a difference. At speed, it feels a lot sharper, responds to the throttle better, and generally GOES faster.

Looks cooler too.


Some damage and scratches from the windscreen brackets... might buff out.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

6th-4th-24th-12th, all in 9 laps of Rockingham

For the first time, I qualified really well, well into the top ten, in 6th place. It was an awesome feeling, being able to see clear track in front... it's something I will be repeating in all my future races. The first lap however was a learning experience, one that I paid for with positions. The 3rd corner at Rockingham is a sharp right hander, about wide enough for 3 Caterhams. After a flying start, I was in 4th place, did an undercut through the hairpin, and was still 4th coming to turn 3. I wanted 3rd, I felt I could take it, and if I didn't I would lose touch with P1 and P2 by fighting for 3rd the rest of the race. So I took the dive, locked the fronts faster and quicker than I expected as there was less grip off line, gently tapped car #78, and span myself around. After watching 22 cars drive past me, I was determined to claw my way up the ranks, right up until the moment the checkered dropped. In just 9 laps I clawed my way to 12th, something I'm very pleased with.

In the end I lost 6 spots, but overtook 12 cars... it's crazy how racing works.

Part 1, which consists of the first lap.

Part 2, which has all the overtaking!

Donington in a few weeks time, I am thoroughly looking forward to it, as I know Donington really well now, and am positive of a top finish in both races.

After that, the Birkett 6 hour, where if we keep it clean, and consistently just drive around the track, we can be on for a solid finishing position.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A weekend in Ginettas

Thursday 27/09/12: 5 PM. I finallize driving with Optimum Motorsport in the Ginetta Challenge on the 29th and 30th. Lee and Shaun are simply fantastic, they really went out of the way to get me in a car over the weekend, and I can't thank them enough. I really look forward to winter testing, and next years full Challenge season with them, and the rest of the Optimum team.

Friday 28/09: 12 PM. I arrive at Donington, the paddock is already buzzing with people, and packed full of teams, trucks, awnings, and cars. I spent the afternoon chatting with the team, checking out the car I would be driving the next couple of days, and going over video footage with Joe Osborne to get an idea of how to drive the G40 fast. I also went for a bit of a walk down the pit garages, ogling the GT1 and British GT cars... Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and the gorgeously evil sounding BMW Z4, all sitting looking pretty in their garages. Eventually ending up at the Optimum GT3 Ginetta G55. I took a quick seat in it, and the feeling of raw power, even without the engine running, made me shiver with excitement. I think driving a GT car is in my not too distant future... After the track day had finished, Joe, Lee, david, Gary and myself took a quick walk to the Foggarty Esses, and around the Melbourne hairpin, to go over lines and braking points. I think I would have walked the whole circuit, but a setting sun stopped that.

Saturday 29/09: 6:30 AM. A harsh alarm clock signifies the start of an awesomely exciting day. With the guys taking care of the cars, doing a bolt check and getting them ready for scrutineering, all I had to do was eat breakfast, get changed into my gear, and do my focusing exercises to get in the zone. Qualifying was at 9am, so at 8:40, I jumped in the car and drove down to the assembly area, ready to hit the track for the first time. Bear in mind that this is only the second time I have sat in one of these cars, and the first time driving one in anger, add that to the slicks and sequential gear box, I had a lot to focus on and learn in my first outing. I spent the first few laps of qualifying getting use to the car, seeing how it handled, and slowly pushing the car faster as I gained confidence in the grip and brakes. On my first hot lap however, as I went through the Old Hairpin, I encountered my first slide. The rear left hit some mud at the exit of the corner, with little experience catching a car on slicks, I fishtailed for around 50 meters, ending up in the gravel pit. Sadly the first sector split time I had set was up in the top 15... oh well, P25 it is!
4 PM. I spent mid-day looking over the footage from qualifying, seeing what I was doing wrong where, and figuring out a battle plan for race #1. I now knew that I hadn't been able to catch the slide because I was so use to the Caterhams tires. As they're road tires, I normally listened for when they were sliding, rather than feeling the car do it, because slicks don't make any noise, by the time I stopped listening, and started feeling, the car was too far gone for me to save. With my newfound knowledge of how to drive the car, I decided the best thing to do during the race was to keep out of trouble, overtake when I know I can, and just set about bring my lap times down. While keeping it out of the gravel of course. The race went splendidly! I kept it on the black stuff, and gained 5 places while doing it! But the best thing by far, was I managed to drop 4 seconds off my qualifying lap time, just 5 seconds off the fastest lap of the race, and 3 seconds off Lee's and David's times. Lee managed to finish in 13th, but David had an unfortunate spin through the Esses into the gravel. Saturday was also Lee's birthday, so with cake and good company, the day ended on a very high note.

Qualifying spin:

Sunday 30/09 8 AM. Slightly more reasonable time in the morning this time. Our race wasn't until 11:45, so we could afford a little lie-in. Sunday was also the big GT race, a 2 hour affair in the afternoon, so a lot of the focus was around that, and getting the car and everything ready. Having spent the morning watching my race footage, I was confident I could do I better job in race 2, and then really get a move on in race 3. Race two started with a very near miss going through turn 1, you can't see in the video, but a car is spinning in front and to the right of me and to avoid contact I had to throw it into the gravel, I had to keep the momentum up to get it back onto the track. At one point our two cars were mere inches apart. After the restart, I set about working my way up from the very back of the grid, car by car I focused on nothing but gaining positions. The final place I took was for 16th, with a finalized (two disqualifications) of 14th. Because no lap was void of yellow flags, I didn't go faster than the day before, but I did hold my speed, meaning that despite yellows in the areas where I'm fastest, I still managed to gain time through the rest of the track. Looking at the two races, and then at qualifying, it's like night and day. I am ecstatic about how much I improved over the weekend, and how much I learnt.

Race 2 video:

Race 3 was cancelled due to the schedule being an hour late, it was supposed to be at 6:45pm, but would break the noise curfew if it was an hour late. I really wanted that last race, with my 14th place finish in race 2, I would have started in 14th, meaning a top 10 finish would have been well within my reach.

Many thanks to Shaun, Lee, David, Gary, and the whole team, who took a few moments to go over my races with me, and tell me ways of fixing things to gain time. I had a great weekend, I learnt loads, and eagerly look forward to working with you all in the very near future.

This weekend afforded me the opportunity to learn from the more experienced faster drivers, just being able to follow and see the speed they can carry through corners, allowed me to gain so much confidence in the tires and car in a very short period of time. I met many people, befriended them, and had an absolute blast driving the G40. I am certain GT racing is the path for me, and driving a G40 in the Challenge next year with Optimum is the first step to a full racing career.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rockingham: last run to the finish line.

Gopros are ready, car is packed, just add fuel!

This weekend is the final installment of the Academy championship, and it's going to be an exciting one. With the championship on the line for Alex Gurr and Matthew Laurence, everything is up for grabs. As it's the last race, I will be fighting for my first win, with two DNFs my championship standings no longer matter, so I will be driving the wheels of my little Caterham with nothing to lose.

Two final races will be taking place at Donington at the end of October, finally filling the upgrade card, and allowing for some serious racing during the Birkett 6hr at Silverstone.

Good luck to all this weekend, lets keep it clean this time huh fellas? I think one crash free race is a nice idea...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An addicting glimpse into GT cars

Ginetta Challenge, my ambition for next year is finally decided. Huge thanks to Matt Kelly, and all the guys at Optimum Motorsport.

Monday, yesterday, I spent the morning with Optimum Motorsport, getting instruction in one of thier Ginetta Challenge G40s. Words can hardly explain the sensation of awesomeness I felt behind the wheel. Slicks are fantastic fun, and the sequential gearbox is just a pleasure to use. Turn in was direct, and the car can be driven on the throttle. The Caterham is a great, fun little car, but in Academy form, it doesn't so much dance around the track, as it jumps and bucks around the track. The G40 though, dances, glides and drives beautifully, smoothness is everything, and staying relaxed brings the lap times down ten fold. I clocked 25-30 laps around the Silverstone GP circuit, in the morning, sharing with a couple other guys. The instructors, and support team, are all great guys, they all know their stuff and it was awesome talking with them about the cars, and the series. It was a fantastic day I intend to repeat in the future.

After my short time in the car, I managed to get the lap time down to a reasonably quick time, a 2:38, considering I had an instructor in the car, and traffic, I was told it was pretty quick. For a first time out in the car, and my first time driving on slicks, I'm thrilled, and excited. I am really enthusiastic about the car and series, and now have the drive and ambition to race in the Challenge series next season. With 21 races in the season, all televised, it's a huge step in the right direction for me, and will lead to more opportunities in the future. I had my fun in the Academy, I have loved every second, but it's time to focus on moving forward in motorsport. It's time to get serious.

Video from my last session, a little spin at the end, just wasn't quite looking far enough ahead, and didn't find the apex of Village Corner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A bit of a smash...

Just a small crash, minor skyward view, minor slam into the ground, and amazingly, minor damage.

Friday was testing at Snetterton, everything went to plan in the first session, I spent it finding my sights, figuring out where the car wanted to be on the track, and gaining confidence and speed. In the second session my gearbox finally gave out. 3rd gear has been crunching, and it was obviously the end of it, sadly it didn't make it to the end of the year like I had hoped it would. The Caterham guys worked magic and had a brand new gearbox in the car in 2 hours flat. Afternoon testing showed great pace, running in 1:28s, with a low 1:27 thrown in with some drafting. This should have put me right where I needed for qualifying, pole.

Saturday morning I went and marshaled, as part of the novice license you can marshal for a day to gain a signature on your upgrade license. Saturday afternoon was qualifying. I made a poor choice, and ended up choosing the wrong "fast" person to follow. With my fastest lap being the one after I left the pack at the front, I realized I didn't have the banker I thought I did. Oh well, 12th is fine, at Donington I drove from 12th to 5th in half a lap, without a safety car I was positive I could make it from 12th to 1st at Snetterton.

Sunday morning I was marshaling again, this time at the Montreal Hairpin. Out of the 6 races in the morning, there were 2 crashes or incidents at my corner. This did not bode well for the Academy. I left marshaling knowing without a doubt that there would be a crash in my race, I just didn't know who would be in it.

3:43 and I'm sitting on the grid waiting for the green flag lap, 100% focused on my start plan, and where I was going to put the car to move up the grid. 3:45 I was waiting for the lights, those red lights that start the race... they're out, I get a good start in first, but miss 2nd because the new box isn't run in yet, that's ok, focus on the corner and how to block passers. 3rd gear and I've taken 2 cars, right stick it on the inside, don't collect that car, hold wide, got him. #39 is the 3rd car I pass heading towards turn 2, the Montreal hairpin. I move to the inside of the track to make use of the space, and gain at least 2 more positions through braking for the hairpin. Hang on, people are locked, tire smoke filling my sights, nobody has spun yet though, I can continue attacking and gain places in the mayhem. Then smash! Someone span, just a second after I had made the decision to continue overtaking. With cars behind to the left and right, and 4 cars in front, I saw no way out, and decided to scrub speed as much as possible before impact.

The car has a bent A arm, 2 bent ball joints, and a few bent bolts, but that's it, and will be fixed by the end of the week. As you see, I failed to fasten my HANS device, a stupid mistake, one that will never happen again for as long as I am racing. However, luck played a huge part, and I have no injuries, no pains, and am fit and well, ready to race another day. Here is a series of photos, taken by Rachel, one graphically showing how high the front of my car went off the ground:

Here's a view from behind me, showing just how few options I had open to me.

I will be spending a lot of time prepping for Rockingham, with the same fire and determination to win. There are also 2 more races I am intending to enter after that, non-championship, but my main goal is to upgrade my racing license, from National B to National A.

The next race is just a month away, there's work to be done, things to fix, no time at all to hang about and mope about not finishing a race.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prep for Snetterton

Snetterton, the penultimate race, is this coming weekend. With a whopping 9100 miles on the car, I decided to go through and bleed the brakes, and the clutch, and do a general bolt tighten. Everything was still tight, no diff cage issues, and the clutch stills bites as hard as ever, no sign of the crank seal failing. Ripley (name of my car, taken from the Alien quadrilogy) has by far and away the highest milage, and therefore is the happiest, Caterham in the Academy.

I start the weekend with the MSV testing day on Friday, get my eye in and find the grip. Then on to marshalling Saturday morning, followed closely by qualifying in the afternoon, then finishing off with marshalling on Sunday, and the race Sunday afternoon.

It's going to be a big weekend, lots of Caterhams, lots of excitement, and a big smile on my face at the end of it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Three worst words in Motorsport, Did. Not. Finish.

This DNF was due to a fuel issues, so the car isn't damaged and I'm perfectly alright, apart from a badly bruised hand...

With another questionable qualifying, I ended up 1.5 seconds off the pole lap speed, in 15th place. The crazy thing is 5th to 17th was covered by less than a second, so a tenth or two at any given corner made a huge difference. I now know it's extremely difficult to turn up at a brand new track, and drive it as fast as it can be driven. Another flying start on my part, 3 cars before the end of the pit straight, it could have been more, but I honestly did not see the hole in traffic behind the yellow car in front to my left. The yellow flag came out at Paddock Hill on lap two, hence me slowing down, I think i was the only one who saw it judging by the way the other guys shot off... Maybe we all need to go on a course that teaches us all how to look for yellow flags! I did miss the green flag being held out at the bottom of Paddock though. I manage to put in a 57.000 on lap 7, two laps before my fuel cut out, being the 5th fastest time of the race, with only 20 minutes of track driving by that point, I am very pleased.

Thankfully this DNF doesn't mean the end of my championship podium fight, after everyone drops their worst score, I am only 4 points off the podium in 5th, so 100% in the zone.

Zolli, fantastic clean racing, you did some nice blocking, I couldn't find a way past for a long time! It's a shame it didn't go on for all 16 laps, it would have been fun to try and make it past that group.

Great race to all, shame about the contact Chris and David, congrats on another win Alex, and a big hearty congrats to Scott, never saw it coming!

Snetterton in a month, and I will be going to that event ready for a fight, without any fuel issues.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Donington, one track, one race.

My first race, my first wheel to wheel dose of fantastic chaos, and I loved very second. Calm, collected, and focused, I set off to take my 11th place position on the grid for the green flag lap. A few minutes later, again, head clear, nerves calm, I lined up in my spot, looking down the grid to the lights... nothing... lights are on, revs up, in 1st gear, lights ou-GO!

With a great start, I take 3 cars on the pit straight, and a fourth through the 1st corner, a 5th going through McLeans, who I could have taken earlier, but as it was the first lap, of the first race, I decided to give him the space to move around. Nigel, in the white car, fires up my inside through Coppice, and gets a little lead down the straight. Then everything unravels, Double Six, car # 78, spins in the esses, and sets off a chain reaction going down the grid. Nigel, # 28, goes off into the gravel just in front of me, and 4 cars end up crashed and damaged in the mid-pack. Michael gets hit by Ian, and Tristan gets hit head on by Michael, both passengers in the whole event. (for this crash video go here : ). The Safety Car boards and yellow flags are out as soon as the first car span, before I pass through the craziness. We then have 3 laps of following the safety car, to allow the marshals to clear the track, and to calm us all down. Then we're off again, and I take my 6th car, #78, going into the Melbourne Hairpin. With open track at last, I focus on the lead four, and just drive to catch them... then the checkered flag comes out. In the 2 laps that I am fighting with Double Six for 5th, I close on the lead four cars by 2 seconds. Then in my last lap, I close over a second in clean air, sadly it wasn't enough to catch them in one lap!

7 laps, 3.5 of actual racing... it's not long enough. I think there was enough time for the organizers to allow us a bigger window, but the Le Mans guys had priority.

Just as a note, you guys who drove home with cars that need... operations... Seriously bad luck guys, I know, from the videos, how carefully each of you were driving in order to not crash. I hope to see you all on the grid at Brands, and believe it will be a lot less eventful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Race 1!

Well, it was an epically insane day for all, and an eventful one for a few, and a good one for me.

I started 11th, and finished 5th, going from 11th to 6th in half the first lap. 5th was good enough to get me into 3rd in the championship, so since the start of the season I pull up from 5th, to 3rd, and with that I am very pleased.

A big post is coming in the next few days with my video of the race, I just happen to be having some crazy internet uploading issues at the moment. It wont be long!

I'll leave you with a picture of me sitting calm and collected in the assembly area before heading out for the green flag lap, video wont be long, I promise.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

A grand day out!

Yesterday my dad, brother, and I went to Hullavington Airfield for a day of hooning around in the Caterham. They hadn't driven it before, and had only briefly sat in it for short trips to the shops. Now though, they got to DRIVE it! It started off dry, so I took the opportunity to test out the new uprated brake pads (installed 5 minutes previously), test out driving with my new HANS, and see if the suspension adjustment made a good or bad difference. With that out of the way, and the brand new pads "feeling funky" I took my brother for a blast, and had them bed in a bit more with extra weight in the car. After that, my dad took over the wheel, and took to the track... amazingly I stayed calm and took on a teaching role. He drove it quite successfully, no spins or major mistakes, it was the slowest I've ever been around a track, but it wasn't about speed, it was about driving the car.

My brother went a bit more mental with it. He used some more of the power range, going all the way to 6k rpm, yet still 750 rpm below the engines rev limiter. He took some more chances, but he did know the track a bit better having had a ride with me before his turn driving. Still not pushing the car, but I believe he enjoyed every single second of it!

With both of their main drives out of the way, I went out again by myself, it had now started to rain, fairly heavily, so the track became... stupendous fun! I took my dad out, this time he was passenger, in the serious rain, getting completely soaked, but having all the fun in the world! He has said a couple time "Tor goes as fast in the wet as I would comfortably go in the dry", so suitably entertained :-D.

One last drive for my brother, where he span, and a final drive for me, and the day was over. Completely soaked, an hour of rain sodden roads to drive home, I was left to drive the distance by myself... as you'd expect.


Taking my brother out,


My dad driving!

Brothers turn!

It was a little wet inside the car...

Strapped in and ready to go!


It was a fantastic day, I loved every minute, and I think they did too.

New decals

These need showing off, badly! This last week the Torminator decals were made up for the car. Also made were my lead sponsor Koliada, and my own logo (the one from this very blog designed expertly by my brother).

I think they all look fantastic!




I also finally got my hans device, and made the trip to Arch Motors, Caterhams only hans fitter, to get the shoulder straps relocated to fit me and my hans. It's also where old, tired, and rather crashed Caterhams go to be reborn, repaired, and otherwise fixed... so many bent frames, sad looking pieces of aluminium and fiber glass... but, then they leave shinier than ever.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Donington

Here's the last session of the day, a straight up fight between me and Peter. Part one I'm mostly ahead, hooking up smooth consistent laps, with Peter in my mirrors a lot of the time. The roadsport guys come through whether you're ready or not, so I had my eyes in the mirror making sure I wasn't going to cut into the apex and hit one. Pete finds his way through by getting tow all the way from the old hairpin, and then being brave around the outside of McLeans, to finally overtake going towards Coppice. I later get him back when he goes wide when he suddenly finds two roadsport guys beside him in McLeans, and he doesn't overtake me again until part two. Apologies for the lack of sound halfway through part two, that was an editing error on my part that can't be fixed. You can always do what I do, and make engine noises :-D.

All in all, this session was by far the best. It was the most fun, and looking back at the video it has my best driving in it, smooth, almost laid back, but fast. As you can see by the vigorous thumbs up shared with Peter at the end of the session, it was seriously good racing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This is how we do it in the Academy...

We're a bit of a "joke". Or at least, that seems to be the general consensus. Caterham racing is extremely close, not super fast, and always has a yellow flag! I think this makes for fantastic racing, and always pleases the spectators, but when our Donington race is the "opener" for the Le Mans weekend, it's hard to disagree with the "we're clowns, we're the light entertainment before the main event" type of thinking.

This was taken by one of my fellow Academites, Simon. It's of 5 Academy guys, Zoli, Jason, Simon, Nick, and myself, trying to find their way OUT of Chipping Norton... the music just makes this the perfect example of what makes the Academy, and Caterhams in general, so much fun!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last and final sprint, Snetterton 100 has been completed!

Finally the last sprint is over and done with, we can all move on to bigger and better wheel to wheel racing!

I entered into the Snetterton weekend with my mind set on going faster than I had at the previous sprint, and learning how to control my emotions and brain to stay relaxed and collected while out on the track. To this effect I did exactly what I intended, I drove much better than at the previous sprints, and found the trick to keeping my head on in the heat of driving (something that is needed for real racing, as a loose head will cause accidents). I managed to get myself another fifth place finish, just 1 second behind 1st, and only 0.11 behind 4th, group 1 of the Academy is all about the close racing!

My other goal was to stay within grabbing distance of the podium in the championship points race. With two fifth, and one seventh place finishes, I have secured fourth in the championship, only 10 points behind 3rd, and 13 behind 1st. Ten points may sound like a lot, but it really isn't, with four races left in the season, where anything can happen, it's a very achievable goal (Tristan, I'm coming for you, mate :-D). With the experience I had at the test day at Donington, I am happy with where my race pace is for the wheel to wheel racing, and all four races should prove to be exciting, challenging, and seriously good fun!

Here are two videos from Snetterton.

This one is of my fastest official run around Snetterton last Saturday, it was recorded as a 106.34, fifth place. It was a quick run except for a poor trip around the tight hairpin on the last lap, an unfortunate mistake that cost a fair amount of time.

This is of my second run, the timing equipment didn't work for this one unfortunately, but my video allowed me to see it was an unofficial 105.3, a whole second faster, and two whole seconds faster than the rerun I had that counted as my official 2nd run. Unfortunately, the reason why my official second run was slower, is because I was told I had to rerun after I had weighed in, after I had undone all my belts and taken my helmet off. Because of this, I had lost my concentration, and the lap didn't go as smoothly, with lots of mistakes.

That's the thing about sprints... they really don't show the true pace of people. People who are fast at sprinting, aren't always fast in races, and people who were slow in sprints, sometimes have insane race pace. They did help get everyone settled into the rhythm and atmosphere of a race event, training us all how to keep our heads.

Well, they are a thing of the past, and the next event is a full wheel to wheel race around the Donington GP circuit, something I am seriously looking forward to!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flat floor!

Well, today I drove up to Caterham Midlands near Leicester.

Stopped to look at the view somewhere near Silverstone just off the A43.

As far as work needed, there was only about an hours worth of work to do. The camber was out, negative 3 degrees on the left, and almost negative 5 on the drivers! Oh well, that was why it was pulling left, and didn't like turning right... Toe was slightly out as well, not much, but slightly. That was it in terms of tracking, so nice and fast.

Next was making the weight balanced at the front, side to side. It's impossible to do this at the back because of the driver. I had already got the car really close, within 5kg, just by playing around with the suspension. It's now within half a kg side to side at the front, with nice "rake" (front to rear angle), and it's set for ride hight as well. With no petrol in the car, and me in the seat with helmet, it weighed in at a cool 616kg, so 10 kg of lead was added to the passenger footwell, making the weight a happy 626, well within the "two fender" rule of thumb. This means two fenders can get knocked off during "friendly competition" on the race track, and it will still meet the weigh in limit of 620kg after the race.

On the drive home, the few twisty bits I managed to work in felt really good, turn in was crisper, and it held it's line really well. Snetterton this Saturday will truly tell how much of a difference the little tweaks made, I'm really looking forward to it. I think the biggest difference is the equal camber... I was a little surprised to hear it was that far out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Donington test... sorry, that should be race!

Well, it wasn't an actual race, but the drivers briefing before had the words "do whatever you want" in it, so, of course it was racing!

Friday I was at Donington for a Caterham only test day, the rest of the caterham ladder (roadsport, supersport, tracksport, and R300) were racing there Saturday, so they were all testing too. Peter Fortune, Steven Nuttall, and Michael Gazda, from the front of the Academy group two pack, were also there, so you can imagine the on track driving was... heated. Three of the four sessions were spent with at least one of those guys, driving, dicing, diving, and generally practicing real wheel to wheel racing, which makes for very exciting video. I learnt so much from each session about braking points, overtaking lines, how to control a corner, where to make a move, how to unsettle another driver by sticking your nose in, and even drafting! The video really does speak for itself.

Just to be clear though, we were out with the roadsport cars, last years academy cars, and they have more grip, better braking, and are generally faster, so I will point out which cars are roadsport cars now, so you know: the white/yellow car at timer mark 1:40, the black car with CATERHAM across the back at 7:34, the blue/red car at 8:55, black/orange at 10:42, and the silver/black at 13:12.

Peter, Michael, Stephen, it was a great day, and I look forward to the next test! I would say race day, but we're in different groups... I can't decide if that's good or bad :-D.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going off-road gets attention!

Thanks to Jenny for this smashing picture after my trip skyward, stinging nettles and grass add a nice bit of contrast to the red and black :-). It was up on facebook right after it happened.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fastest run

Run #2 from Curborough. This turned out to be my fastest run, but my slowest was only .4 off this pace. Even though I didn't manage a 66.56 on my official runs, I managed to stay consistent, and everybody says consistency is the base for speed. I had some very good sections in this run, and some not so good (I never managed to get Mole Hill right...). I've got the car booked in to get it flat floored and balanced at last, and have a track day booked for this coming Friday to get more seat time in the car.

Everything seems to be coming together :-D.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

English weather, and caster

English weather befuddles me. Today could only be described as a beautiful Californian style spring day, Bright sunshine with blue sky and fluffy billowing white clouds. How cruel that the magic of England is the ability to go from all that glory, to hail, in half a mile. Yes, half a mile.

Today I played with the caster angle on the caterham, adding some positive angle (fig. 1) to aid in keeping the car in a straight line. Positive caster makes the car drive in a straight line smoothly, but makes the initial turn of the steering wheel harder. Negative caster means the car needs more work to drive in a straight line, but requires lighter hands to turn into corners. Coming from old BMWs, where positive caster seemed to be the norm, I'm use to a very heavy turn in, and previously my Caterham wasn't set up for that.

Anyway, it's now set, and after a test drive, it feels really good, it no longer wiggles in grooves in the road, and goes arrow straight without even thinking about it. It also has a nice heavy turn in, which is perfect :-). I feel however, I should return the subject of weather, and how you can be in bright sunshine one second, and the next, being pelted by hail at 60mph...

Fig. 1

In a Caterham you adjust the caster by moving the lower A arm backwards or forwards, then filling the gap with washers. Before moving it forward, it had two washers either side of the arm, now it has four at the back.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Second event!

Wow, what a weekend that was! Friday, I went to Abingdon airfield to spend some time at a track day with a group of academy buddies. Originally we thought it would be a group of about 5 of us, but in the end 10+ academy guys thought this was a good place to go before an event! With so many of us there, at any given time there were 5 of us out on the track, which did mean... we had little races... little snaps of competition :-D. I don't think the organizers noticed though... they didn't say anything anyway. As a group, Tristan, Scott, Tom, Andrew, and myself, had organized to have an instructor there to get us a little bit further ahead in our driving skill. This was great, Steve knows his stuff and we all improved drastically throughout the day. After a great day blasting around Abingdon, we all packed up and made the two hour drive to Curborough.

After pitching my tent, and getting things ready for the night (finding my food), the group of us campers spent the evening hanging out and pushing trailers and RVs out of the mud.
Friday evening:
My humble abode:

Early morning start for me, not out of choice, but it did get a bit bright inside the tent, and the birds seemed eager for the whole world to be awake with them, at 4:30 in the morning. After an interesting and helpful track walk, that reinforced what a group of us had talked about while walking the track the night before, it was time to do the last couple of things to the car and start the day!

Ricks picture of my car and tent... slightly better than the one I managed!
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Being # 117, I was out for my first practice run not long after 9AM, and only 17th off the line. I can say from some very first hand experience, getting all four wheels to leave the track, and the ground, is not the fastest way to go around Curborough! After my "accident", I settled into very consistent run times, and ended up 7th in my group with a 66.7 as my fastest timed lap. I am very happy with this, as it keeps me within striking distance of the podium in the championship points. I know there is more speed to be found, and am now pretty sure my trip off on the very first run put a hole (however small) in my confidence. I'm happy with how the day went, and stayed upbeat for pretty much the whole day, and now sit here, writing this, thinking about how to fix it for next time. A little bit more instruction on how to handle my mental state, with some practice in the car, and I think I'm sorted.

And, of course, the video! No damage to the car, a few aches and pains for my shoulder, but nothing that wont stop me racing!

It was a fantastic day, I learnt tons about the capabilities of the car, and learnt massive amounts about myself, and how things affect my driving. At aintree I got angry, and my driving went south fast, but even with my air time (I wonder if I get milage points for that...), because I stayed upbeat, my driving didn't suffer because of it. Although, as mentioned, it did suffer from a hit in confidence from the trip skywards.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

During lunch, a group of 4 cars were picked to go out on track for a rolling photoshoot, mine was one of them. They all turned out fantastic, but my personal favorites are these. More from the day can be found here:!i=1844852694&k=DR9k7Cx and here:

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Videos of runs 2, 3, and 4, are on their way!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another new flag! Thank you very much, and welcome Austria!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Ok, so I realized after watching my videos that the flags were in the wrong place. They couldn't be seen, and weren't... right. So, today I took the time to move them to the dash. This will be in plain sight of the video, and everyone who has bought a flag (big thanks!) will be able to see it in each video I upload. There isn't as much space on the dash, but all the flags that have been bought so far fit, and a good 10-20 more will fit as well.

New flag today too, welcome to the club Germany!


Castle Combe session 3

Long awaited video from the Castle Combe test day. It's raining a lot harder in this one, and I let Tony (yellow car) by so that I get some practice driving in the spray from another car. It was a great session, and I play around and find some pretty good lines through corners, giving me plenty of opportunities to take Tony, but since we weren't allowed to overtake in the braking zone, I sit behind him and see how he drives with a car close to his tail.

The two parts (youtube regulations stop it being one video).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First event!

Wow, well, yesterday was the first event, a sprint day at Aintree in Liverpool. First off, a huge congratulations to the podium finishers, Matthew, Tristan, and Zolli, very well done chaps, .1 of a second isn't a lot! The top 5 in our group are separated by .4 of a second, yes 4 tenths of a second for 5 cars.

I drove up Friday, through the traffic jam known as the M6, was the third or fourth to arrive, but the first of the ones staying at the track, and the only one with a tent :-). I set up my tent, unpacked the car, and spent the afternoon hanging out with the various guys who turned up. Tristan was kind enough to feed me, there were other options, but some proper van cooked camping food seemed appealing.

After a good nights sleep, I awoke to the noise of trucks and cars towing trailers into the parking areas at around 6:45. A quick change into my racing suite, I jumped out and started prepping a couple bits on my own racing machine. A cup of tea later, and everything seemed ready, so it was off to hang out with the guys, and shoot the breeze while waiting for the day to begin.

At around 7:30 the faster cars of the day started waking up, several classic Lotus Formula cars blew the cobwebs out of their powerful engines, making sure the whole of Liverpool was awake to enjoy the music. Us Academy guys had a briefing and a course walk, followed by some hanging around waiting for our 55 seconds in the lime light. After all the other cars had taken their laps, we lined up in "strict numerical order", 100-126 is my group, group 1, and I'm 117, so 17th leaving the start beacon.

Despite the ominous clouds, it stayed bone dry all day. The two practices in the morning went off without a hitch, and everyone seemed to be figuring the out where the time was. Two pretty good laps down, and on the first timed run I do a really poor shift from 2nd-5th-1st-3rd, and then later 3rd-4th didn't want to go either. Even with all that kerfuffle, I was only half a second of my fastest practice. After lunch, we got two more timed runs in the afternoon, and in those I dropped my time to a rather respectable 54.5, .4 off of our groups first place 54.1.

I came in 5th, which is not a podium, but it is within hitting distance for next time :-D. I know for this event, I entered with entirely the wrong mindset, I am well aware of that, and will amend it for next time (sorry chaps for my grim face at the end of the day, it wasn't sporting).

It was a fantastic day, with fantastic weather, and great company to boot. Thanks to all the Caterham guys, and the marshals at Aintree, it was a great well organized day. I am thoroughly looking forward to Curborough, it will be a great day.

Video may come, I haven't checked the footage yet, but I have more from Castle Combe thats going to be heading it's way to youtube ASAP.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Part 2. Much improved since it's the last half of the session, and things are getting smoother, the grip is familiar. No, I do not overtake on a yellow, you can just see the yellow light come on in the corner of the video, I stay behind until we are past the spin, and then start to pull away (watch the mirror).

Remember, 2 more sessions to come :-D.

Castle Combe Test day... one word - EPIC!

The video from Castle Combe! Myself and Tony out on the track in the first session... technically racing, but there are a number of moments that I didn't take to pass him because it was just a little too risky for a test day.

Part 2 of this session will be up, followed by session 2 parts 1/2 and session 3 parts 1/2. Youtube had issues with large files and over 15 minutes of video... so I had to put them in parts. Because the excitement of the conditions comes through so well in the videos, I decided instead of uploading just a few laps from the best bits of each session, everyone would rather see 3x20 minutes of sideways Caterham action :-D.

Here's the course map,
Wow, I mean... wow! It was a great day, who knew sliding a Caterham at 100+mph through Folly was so much fun! I learnt more about the car control and the importance of being smooth with the accelerator and steering input in four sessions than I have in all my previous track days. In the dry, a certain amount of sloppiness still brings in a quick lap, in the wet, nothing is allowed to be wrong, or it just goes to hell. Despite sliding all over the place, my times seemed to lead the board, but only the first event will reveal who really is fastest. I think if I spend more time getting every movement smooth, and using all the track with the correct line, there's lots of speed to be had from these fantastic little cars.

There were many many moments, even in this very first session, where, had points been at stake, there would be some pretty crazy overtaking maneuvers. However, since it was just a test day, and no points were given, myself and most of the others seemed to keep our safe distance from the car in front. There are some points in this first video, where I just come out of the throttle to keep from driving too close, or to keep from being beside him in the braking zone or through a corner. I didn't really feel like sliding into him in the braking zone, or through the corner and causing damage to our cars before the racing had even started.

Through the course of the day, and with feedback from the instructors, my driving (and everybody else's) improved dramatically, and the instructors all seemed impressed with the skill of this years group.

One undeniable fact about this year is, it's going to be very close, very exciting, and adrenaline filled racing throughout the year. I can hardly wait! You know where to come for the videos of it too ;-).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Productive day

Today was great. I had a nice, sunny, quick jaunt up the road to GPR Racewear to get another Nomex top, my first ripped at the seem after four uses, so I will be chasing a refund/replacement. I'm testing tomorrow though, so I needed one ASAP.

I spent the rest of the day working on the car, fresh oil, mounting the T100 lap timer, and just making sure everything is solid for Castle Combe tomorrow. Lastly, I took care of the Sprint #s. These are different to our wheel-to-wheel race #s, and needed to be on for tomorrows testing. I spent around half an hour locating them, and making sure they were all spaced exactly the same. Personally I think they look awesome... :-D.



More in car videos will of course be uploaded in the following days, with a minor adjustment to where the camera is, since last time the rear view mirror was dead center in the frame.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New flags

More flags, current picture:

I had the flat tire fixed yesterday too, so I'm happily back to driving around :-).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

Well, Easter has come and gone, the food and wine has stopped flowing, and the chocolate is rapidly being demolished. So, it's now time to knuckle down and start preparing for the Castle Combe test day coming up on the 18th.

Saturday I managed to find something sharp in the road, and picked up a flat tire. However, it's a holiday weekend, everywhere is closed, so no fixing until tomorrow morning. No worries though, it holds air for around 10-20 minutes, which is plenty of time to get to the nearest garage and get it fixed.

I also added couple more flags, UK and Australia. I'm confident my ordered flags should arrive tomorrow, as the two bank holidays probably screwed with the delivery times. So fear not, Italy, France, and Portugal are on their way.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New street helmet

Two more flags on, UK and Washington State, thank you very much :-).


Also, after driving to track days in my helmet, I decided I needed an inexpensive one for use around town, and general street driving. It'd be really annoying to get a rock chip or a broken visor on my racing helmet on the way to an event. So monday I picked up a Box BX-1 motorbike helmet in red.
After a bit of a drive with it yesterday, I'm very happy with it. It's quiet and comfortable, and the field of view is fantastic for street use. If anyone drives their Caterham around a lot, and is tired of wind destroying their eyesight and hearing, buy one of these, it was £60 and comes in a number of colours (even pink).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New flags

I've decided to mount flags directly as they're bought, and will take pictures of new flags whenever they're put on. Waiting a week to see your flag is too long. I have mounted the flags that people have bought over the weekend, and the ones I had to order (mainly countries I didn't have yet, Italy, Portugal, and France) are hotfooting it here to allow me to mount them later this week. All flags are listed, with pictures (when races start, race pictures of the decals will be added) in the current flags page.


There are many flags on there now, and it's starting to look pretty awesome! Go to the support page to be the next!