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The 2012 Racing Season

My evening race at the 2012 Silverstone Classic

The 2012 Racing Season

A very contrasting and eventful year at the wheel of my Jaguar XK140

 
   

CKL Developments – Track Day Testing

The year started well with two sessions of testing at Goodwood in April with CKL Developments and, in May with Octane Magazine Track Day.

With new Dunlop Race tyres fitted and a new set of brake ‘Shoes’, I proceeded to scrub tyres and bed everything in. The day was very successful having stiffened the rear-end up to stop the wallowing on corners, the sessions proved invaluable for the race season yet to begin.

However, on the last stint I noticed a slight misfire, but I put that down to not topping up the fuel tank and a corresponding amount of fuel surge coming out of Lavant Corner.

Anyway, this prompted me to book a session with my Engine Builder, Peter Lander at Sigma Engineering in Dorset, using his ‘Rolling-Road’.

This was a purposeful reminder that engines require petrol to make them ‘fire-up’ let alone, run during a race??!!

During the ‘Run’, Peter picked up that the jets were running the engine too ‘Lean’. So, with quite a lot of adjustment we were then firing on all 6 with a well- balanced fuel mixture. The engine had certainly increased in power at 2xx BHP.

NOTE: I’m not giving you all my secrets, am I? I may well be racing against you next season?

I drove away happily from Peter’s and, I felt ready for the next on-circuit Test challenge.

Octane Magazine – Track Day Testing

In May I joined the Octane Magazine Track Day, to establish whether Peter’s ‘Read-Outs’ translated well to the 2.38 mile circuit.

The car did go well and I was happy with that. The second reason for going to Goodwood was to let Mark Hales (The well-known Goodwood Revival Winner and Race Instructor) to drive and test my car. Mark gave me many good pointers as to my race-driving technique with my Moss 3-Synchro Gearbox and my use of Drum Brakes (as per FIA Spec.)

 


Under instruction from Mark Hales at Goodwood

The Masters Festival – Brands Hatch GP Circuit

Once again, I drove off into the sunset…………….well, Brands Hatch actually, to race with The Masters Historic Festival on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit and to meet up with Mel Floyd and the rest of the CKL Developments crew.


Sandwiched between 2 X DB2's in the Brands Hatch Assembly Area

 

Qualifying went well, but the car was a little edgy and skittish. We analysed the problem and decided to adjust the tyre pressures and to my surprise, during the race, I performed my very own PB and by 1.2 seconds a lap faster than in ‘Quali’.

However, on the last lap and the last corner with Mel at the helm the near-side half shaft decided to let go as Mel was going through a very fast ‘Clearways’ where the rear wheel departed from the car taking most of the wing with it and spun Mel a goodly 360° into the Gravel Trap.

Oh well, this was our first incident in the 140. However, read on…………..

The Silverstone Classic

After being ‘Mended’ at Keith’s of Keith Martin Racing, my trusty (Yes I said Trusty not Rusty) Mechanic and a rear wing re-spray, I was ready for the Silverstone Classic event.

I must say that Silverstone is probably, bar none, my most favourite of all circuits, whether it’s the National Circuit or the ‘International’ or the GP version.

This year Mel and I did the Free Practice on the Thursday and, it was dry. On Friday however, it was a VERY WET QUALI. But Mel and I had fun sliding and aquaplaning around the GP Circuit, but not really setting the world alight with our lap times but, what it did do was to build our confidence with the car’s handling. We only qualified 33rd out of 46 cars.

This was to change on our individual race days as The Woodcote Trophy was, for the first time, split into be 2 X 30 minute races. I decided to do the Saturday evening race. I have to say that I was on fire that night. My lap times dropped to my own PB of 2mins 42.94secs, which was 10 seconds a lap faster than last year RESULT!!! I handed the car to Mel that night with us sitting 24th out of 46 race cars.

Mel did a grand job on Sunday and finished a creditable 25th overall.

Donington Park

Coming off this ‘High’ at ‘The Classic’, I decided to take up an invitation from Duncan Wilshire to compete with his new AMOC race coordinator responsibilities.

Luckily the weather was overcast, but dry! I always try to get to the front of the pack for qualifying so that I can get a few ‘Banker’ laps in before the faster stuff catches me up. Filled with confidence from Silverstone, I set my best ever lap time of 1min 34.7secs which placed me 9th out of 21 cars.

However, the race was a different ‘Kettle-of-Fish’! There were a couple of reasons for this.

1. I hadn’t done a Standing-Start for nearly three years, and

2. My Drum Brakes weren’t up to the race length.

I rolled up to the Start Line in Neutral, stopped, then selected what I thought was 1st Gear, (Now, on a Moss Box 1st Gear is next to REVERSE!!) and waited for the Red Lights to go out.

 


OOPS! Rolled the car superbly at Goddards!

When they did, I went backwards for a few feet. I was so lucky not to be hit but, I was overtaken by some half a dozen cars. I was so annoyed with my school-boy error, that I literally ‘FLOORED IT’. Within 10 laps, I had recovered to 10th and then settled into the race. However, on the penultimate lap, I was coming up behind Graham Love in his Jaguar MkVII and Kerry Wilson in his Aston DB2/4 and I sandwiched myself between them both as we went three-abreast over the brow and through Coppice Corner. WONDERFUL!

BUT, Donington have shortened the back straight to Goddards and my brakes were ‘Going-off’ big time.

The net result was that I couldn’t take the chicane and decided to take to the run-off strip and turned sideways into the gravel trap, where I duly rolled the car. This was more than an ‘Oh Dear’ moment. This was a £7K ‘Oh Dear’ moment.


Roof straightened, sanded and primered ready for the top coat

 

Re-Build Time!!

Oh well, we live and learn, sometimes with a high price to pay! This was certainly it. The poor car ended up with a much crushed roof and oil had drained from the gearbox into the car and all over me and my new race suit!

It was to be that she was completely stripped, cleaned, metal-bashed, jig- straightened and re-painted plus new window glass.

Q. But would she be ready for the Spa 6 Hour event coming up in 6 weeks???

A. YES!!

Spa 6 Hour Event

With what looked like a brand new car, we all trundled off to Spa-Francorchamps for the big 6 hour event weekend!

Having signed-on on Thursday morning, Mel and I set out to test the car, test the circuit (One year on) and for me test my confidence after the Donington incident.

I went first and got my confidence back by the 3rd corner and started quickly to reduce my lap times. However, toward the end of my stint, a light screaming noise started from within the car. It got a little worse, and then I handed the car over to the co-driver, Mel, (As you do, if something serious is going wrong with a race car HA HA!!! Sorry Mel, I couldn’t resist that one!!
 
Mel, had it all, the screaming was definitely something wrong and when he tried to change gear from 4th to 3rd at Les Combes, it wouldn’t ‘Go In’. However, he jammed it in and proceeded to limp home.

And that, as they say, was that and, the end of our race weekend. We searched for an answer, but the only thing we could do was to wait until we could get her home and remove the engine and gearbox.

However, I made the most of the weekend talking to MWS Customers and Prospects and trying to drum up some business! AND THE SUN DID SHINE UPON ME!! (Luckily!)

SO, WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM, you may ask?

Well, the net of it was that the clutch ‘Went West’, as they say. We could neither engage nor dis-engage gear.

It turned out to be even worse because there was an obvious vibration from the lower-end (The crankshaft end). The Flywheel was loose on its register and the ten retaining bolts had vibrated loose and one had actually sheared. And so it was that, the crank had cracked and moved, the Harmonic Damper had moved etc. etc. Luckily on stripping the engine, all journals were ‘OK’, plus Rods, Pistons and Top-End, thankfully. But the engine had to be completely refreshed in readiness for next season’s racing.

 


Lots of european interest at the Spa 6 Hour event

Summary

This, in fact, had to be my most ‘Eventful’ racing season ever, where I suffered from the ever infamous ‘Murphy’s Law’.

Hey ho, onward and upward and the car is now into its winter re-build phases with Peter and Keith to get me ready for 2013 (Lucky-for-Some perhaps. We will see won’t we!!)

Hopefully, we will see you all again in 2013, when the season starts once more, and with a newly re-built 3.4 Litre Jaguar engine and hopefully with a tad more reliability than this year’s races at Brands Hatch, Donington and Spa-Francorchamps.

My regards to those who read my diatribes and all MWS customers for your loyal support of the company and its products and services!

Have a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!


John D R.

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