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.

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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: http://www.rick-wilson.net/Academy/2012/Curborough/22955561_wHdmxm#!i=1844852694&k=DR9k7Cx and here: http://www.rachelhorganphotography.com/photocart/index.php?do=photocart&viewGallery=10082#page=1

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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).