Year 2 done

Now we draw 2015 to a close – with another sprint at Blyton, some time on the tools to solve a new issue found there, and a return to Bedford just for fun.

We returned to Blyton Park’s Eastern layout, with an opportunity to test the road-going Kumho tyres back-to-back with the track-biased Nankang NS-2Rs again. It revealed something I didn’t expect – on the semi-slicks, I felt like I was having to overwork the car. The balance wasn’t satisfying, the brakes were getting too hot and it generally felt like it wasn’t enjoying itself. Putting the Kumhos back on, it immediately felt more approachable and better balanced. I’d put most of this down to the lesser grip making it much easier to adjust the rear end with the throttle, but when you’re driving at ten tenths these tyres seem to have a much wider and more progressive slip range than the Nankangs, which either grip or don’t.

The body roll shown in the photo underlines part of the cause, that the car likely isn’t stiff enough (or properly set up) to make the best of stickier tyres. Options to improve this were geometry changes to add more front camber; spring perch adjustments to lower the front end, currently 20mm higher than the rear; or stiffer anti-roll bars such as Eibach adjustables.

Most of my timed runs were a bit scrappy, and while I did manage to improve my personal best by a few tenths, I also managed to throw the car at the gravel for the first and so far only time!

There is a limit to this “last of the late brakers” tactic…

Alongside the need for setup changes, a front wheel bearing finally tipped over the edge from “slightly irritating on the motorway” to “clearly not controlling the wheel properly any more”, with heavy vibration when loaded up. This isn’t actually a hard one to tackle yourself, since the front bearings come integrated into a whole new hub, but all the same I’ll include it in the list of mechanical DIYs I plan to add here in the future.

Off with the old…

And on with the new. This job gave good opportunity to spanner check everything on the front upright, which is a worthwhile routine after every event anyway – a fact underlined by discovering a loose coilover locking ring.

To round out the year, it was back to Bedford, with a friend along as (count ’em) the seventh person to drive the car on a circuit during my still-short tenure. 191 miles later, the tyres had rubbered in rather nicely.

As a final little giggle towards the end of the day, since Tom had never been on track in a RWD car, I fitted a pair of wonderfully named Accelera Alphas to the rear axle only. These Chinese ditchfinders are so hard that they could be plastic rather than rubber, so to say the car is rear-limited with those on the back and NS-2Rs on the front is an understatement. Then it rained… A video tells a thousand words about how slippy that combination is!

How to hone one’s reflexes in one easy lesson…

Having survived that without mishap, another season came to an end. 2016 would promise more circuits, more competition, and one big decision…