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Donington Historic Festival

Donington Historic Festival

3rd to the 5th May 2013

 

The Royal Automobile Club’s ‘Woodcote Trophy’
 

 

A new race season, a new Co-Driver and a new test for the car!

The start of a new 2013 Race Season began last weekend with some trepidation I must confess. The variables to be considered were:

- A new co-Racing Driver
- The circuit where I rolled the car last July
- A new gearbox configuration
- New brake lining compounds
- A newly re-built engine

Stability (Mechanical & Psychological) and consistency is what I strive for in a race car to ensure that I first finish races. Then claw my way up the pecking order.

 



Redgate Corner chased by Paul Chase-Gardner in his Aston Martin DB2

The shakedown sessions at Goodwood, went reasonably well, but a gearbox oil leak was a little worrying and, the steering geometry I felt, was not quite good enough, with a slight pulling to the right which was probably down to something I did when I rolled the car. But nothing was obvious to the eye and subsequent inspection. But 2 degrees of positive camber on the RHS does not lend itself to good cornering as I explained about the ‘Fordwater’ kink experience at Goodwood in my last missive.

 


Driver Line up for the Race Season

 

I arrived on Thursday the 2nd May as the Paddock was opening its gates at 14:00 hours. This would give me the opportunity to sign-on for the race and get the XK through Scrutineering on Thursday afternoon.

I found my ‘Pitch’ in the Paddock and was then followed in by the CKL Transporter carrying the Jaguar ‘C’ Type of the Reverend Simon Butler, (Yes, he is a real Vicar) the Tojeiro of German driver Hans Hubner and the ‘Low Drag’ E-Type belonging to Read Gomm. It was a beautiful day and the weather boded well and the car sailed through ‘Scruti’ and, with final ‘Pre-flight’ checks completed by Thursday evening, she was ready for Quali on Friday at 14:20 hours.

With the Marquee and the Dastle Racebox Awning erected all that was needed was a nice cup of tea with the CKL lads.

 

 

QUALIFYING

With my new co-driver Andy Keith-Lucas, who really showed his capability at the Goodwood CKL Track Day on the 22nd April, we prepared for qualifying on Friday and I was to test my new ‘Safety Toy’ called a 'HANS System' that the F1 boys are using to prevent forward and lateral ‘Whiplash’. I must say it felt a little awkward at the beginning and, with limited side to side head movement, I wondered whether it was all worth it but, after my rolling the car, at this circuit last year, I though it prudent to invest in one of these contaptions.

 

 


Redgate at full chat and just holding her!

The Assembly Area at the Donington Festival had been changed from the usual Melbourne Loop to run parallel to Redgate corner, a little like the Silverstone Classic ‘Avenue’ of cars running in 2 X 2 formation. I must admit, that I was more than a little ring-rusty having not raced since last September, together with the niggling variables mentioned early, especially with the gearbox and with new drum brake linings I hoped that by now had bedded in.

After 12 minutes, I ran over the ‘Rumble Strip, on the chicane and felt some under-steer on my way into Redgate corner. I struggled back to the Pits and Dave Cousins from CKL leapt into action and with a spare wheel in tow, he rapidly changed the rapidly deflating wheel / tyre which saved the wheel rim. In the meantime, Andy had hopped into the car and I helped him to belt-up (If only!) and off he went and finished our half hour Quali session.

 



Redgate with Gary Pearson's Jaguar D'Type

 

On our return to the Paddock Andy pointed out the ‘Oil Slick’ in the passenger foot well. We now had 24 hours to try and rectify the problem. And so to work! Off came the Prop-shaft tunnel and gear lever gaiter to expose the gearbox. The gearbox was covered in oil. We came to the conclusion that the gearbox breather may be blocked, so the breather was removed, drilled to take a bleed nipple and a rubber hose was attached that was long enough to go up into the engine bay.

As an extra precaution we wedged a lot of absorbent cloth to prevent any more oil entering the cockpit and dried all the surrounding area. We couldn’t achieve any more as to remove the gearbox from a Jaguar XK140, means that the engine has to be removed as well. This is mission impossible at a race event. So, our fingers were crossed for race day.

THE RACE

Race Day was on Saturday the 4th May and it started none too bright. It had been raining during the night and in the morning the sky was full of foreboding rain clouds and then all hell broke loose and we almost flooded. However, by midday, it started to brighten.

The race was set for a 4pm start and the weather had stabilised. Andy and I headed for the Assembly Area and I would be starting the race. But because of the oil problems, the lap time set wasn’t very impressive and, we had to start one from the back.

This was to be a typical Woodcote Trophy Rolling Start and, after some weaving during the Green-Flag lap to warm up the tyres, we approached the chicane when I put my foot down. I didn’t have anything to lose and everything to gain. I passed a beautiful 1955 Maserati 300S driven by Martin Halusa, valued in excess of £1 Million going into McLeans corner.

Cars were dropping like flies with a J2 Allard, a C-Type, a Kurtiss 500S, a 100M Healey driven by Rob Rawe. By the end of my 30 minute stint I was heading for the Pits when I looked in my mirrors to see a huge black cloud following me. ‘Good gracious, it happens to be me’, I thought! The Marshalls pulled me in and told me that I was dropping oil and, of course I knew where that was coming from. The gearbox of course and, my nice new White OMP Race Overalls were covered in the stuff. Oh joy!! So that was the end of our one hour race and I’m afraid Andy didn’t get to race the old girl in anger. But he wasn’t angry of course, as he’s been far too well ‘Brung’ up, hasn’t he Dad??

 


Andy Keith-Lucas in charge of the XK140

 


Donington Assembly Area

 

POST RACE ANALYSIS

The words ‘Back-to-the-Drawing-Board’ sprung to mind! I hoped my mechanic Keith could sort these problems out for me. I have to say that the brakes coped admirably and, the water leak seems to have abaited. Lap times were down on last season by some 3 seconds, but I think everyone was slower having looked at last year’s times.

The next outing before the Brands Festival will be at the:

Octane Magazine Track Day at Goodwood on the 16th May


This will give me another opportunity to do a further shake-down before the Brands Festival.

Have a great Race Season.

Best regards

John D R

NOTE: Action photography by John Retter, Woodcote Trophy Photographer

 

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