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Having spent some time working, pre-season, with my mechanic Keith Martin on the Jaguar XK140, I ventured down to West Sussex on the evening of the 9th April to stay at a local hotel, the day before the CKL Track Day.

I could not imagine that less than two weeks before we were basking in glorious, almost summer sunshine. On my journey the heavens (again) had opened and the hotel car park was partially flooded. This did not bode well for my first season’s outing to conduct some checks on the car and really hoping for dry conditions.

Some of those checks included, bedding-in new drum brake linings and ‘Scrubbing in’ a new set of Dunlop CR65 ‘L’ Section classic racing cross-ply tyres.

To my surprise, the day dawned dry and bright and with a goodly northerly wind to (hopefully) dry the Goodwood racing circuit, so that all my checks could be concluded satisfactorily.

Arriving at Goodwood at 07:45, the CKL entourage were already assembled with their nice and shiny new Racing Transporter and were decanting cars into their respective open, wooden Goodwood Pit Garages.

Mel Floyd (CKL) my co-driver once more this season had allocated me a space for the XK and I duly unloaded my newly carpeted and insulated Dastle Racebox. (V. Cosy!)

After our collective Track Day Briefing from Chief Goodwood Instructor John Powis, I hurriedly commenced my ‘Pre-Flight’ checks of the XK including, adjusting the brake bias valve to follow open so that the front brake linings had minimum brake bias to the rears and to achieve maximum bedding in on the circuit. Tyre pressures were set for the new race tyres and the shock absorbers were all set to the neutral mid-point to assess handling characteristics and further adjustment during the day.

My first outing was taken gingerly to get some heat into the Dunlops. This usually takes some three laps, and “Not too hard on the brakes please”, I heard ringing in my ears.

After the three laps, I started to speed up so that I could use more brakes and, by the time I approached Woodcote Corner on the 5th lap, and slowing from about 120 mph I could ‘SMELL’ the front brakes. Always a good sign provided it is not accompanied by any smoke in the cockpit, when you know that you may have over-cooked the situation.

The circuit was still rather damp in places, especially coming out of Madgewick corner and powering on to the kink at Fordwater. The Fordwater kink is a little like Woocote at Silverstone, in that it doesn’t look difficult until it becomes slightly damp. Then it bites you when you least expect it.

As the day wore on the circuit dried, I gained in confidence and I had changed back to my ‘DRY’ tyres, i.e. last year’s more worn Dunlops and, with more heat in them I was able to take both Madgewick and Lavant Corners that are constant radius, double apex corners with a confident amount of four-wheel-drift, and not over-doing the ‘Slip Angle’ (As Mark Hales would say) and losing lap time whilst holding the steering wheel at a constant radius angle. BEAUTIFUL!!
Tyre pressures were coming up nicely during each successive session and tyre temperatures were reading almost ‘Linear’ across the profiles of the tyres, which told me that the tyre pressures were fine.

A slight adjustment of the rear shockers helped to stiffen her up somewhat and lose some of the wallowing on the faster bends.

In summary, we were blessed with the weather as all around us were experiencing thunder storms and hail as big as golf balls in places. The car performed well apart from a little misfire during the last session, but I’m hoping that was just fuel surge, as I should have topped up the tank before my last session of the day. A trip down to Dorset to see my favourite engine builder to use his Rolling Road Dyno would not go amiss pre-season, to set the mind at rest.

The next time we are out will be once again at:

The Goodwood OCTANE MAGAZINE TRACK DAY on the 24th May

All are welcome to attend, as it’s FREE, so just turn up and see us all in action.

Two days later I will be racing at the:

HISTORIC RACE OF CHAMPIONS at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix Circuit on the 26th May!!!

Join us at the MWS Marquee for a chin-wag about wheels, tyres and racing!

Have a wonderful racing year.

All the best!


John Davies Roberts
Blockley Tyres
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