Round 4 of this years Quaife Intermarque season saw the Loram team making the long 320 mile journey north to Snetterton. A journey which lasted a mammoth 7 and a half hours thanks to various Friday traffic and roadworks! Still, at least once we’d arrived at the track we could set everything up in our pit garage (which immediately makes the whole occasion feel more ‘proper’!) and take a walk round the 2 mile Snetterton 200 circuit before we lost the last of the daylight.
They’ve even been kind enough to name a corner after us!
Walking the track certainly brings it home to you just how long the straights are and I think we were all quite glad to have Brians engine in the car for this weekend as it produces a fair amount more power than Ross’ engine which we’ve used for the first three meetings of the season. Other tweaks to the car for this weekend have been new rear brake pads (as well as remounting the rear calipers which were making a bid for freedom after the last meeting) and new bushings for the rear axle bars as the old ones were pretty worn out and allowing a lot of movement in the rear end.
You’re not funny!
So with our evening stroll over we prayed for good weather the following day and called it a night!
Night night car
Despite forecasts of showers it remained dry throughout Saturday which was a nice change after Mallory Park last time out! With signing-on, scrutineering and the noise check taken care of it was time to get a feel for the track in qualifying although first impressions were simply that Brians engine was faster than our old one as the passenger door started blowing off while Ross was finishing his second lap! A quick pitstop and with some obligatory tank tape in place Ross was back out to try and learn the track, bed the pads in and post something like a qualifying time. With a very busy 39 car entry for this meeting though track space was proving hard to find, and even when there was a bit of space Ross was having trouble slowing the car for the tightest two corners of the track with the rear end doing it’s best to lock up and spin the car round. Many turns of the brake bias were improving matters but the session was cut short due to a combination of a fire in pitlane and one of the Clio’s suffering a roll at the final corner, both drivers fortunately okay but not enjoying the start to the day they were after!
From our perspective it was a bit of a disaster as with the session cut short Ross had only gotten to complete 6 laps of a new track while we’d also run out of time to finish setting the brake bias properly or to put in a good clean fast lap. Still, somewhere in amongst all the carnage we’d posted a 1:25 which was good enough for 19th on the 39 car grid so not a complete disaster as at best we’d only have been 5 or 6 places higher and with the longer 15 minute races this weekend there’d be plenty of time to work your way up the order as high as your pace could get you!
A long delay before the first race as the armco was repaired from a crash in the previous race left the drivers pretty hot and bothered in their cars in the assembly area and it was a relief to get out on track and get some fresh air into the car! With the race finally underway Ross chased Bill Richards from the rolling start down into the first corner, rather fitting we thought as due to the combination of the Intermarque series with a number of drivers from the DMN series for this weekend only we had a few number conflicts so Bill raced with the number 26 this weekend while Ross switched to number 2.
A busy first few laps saw the black and orange 206 make up a few places despite a few leery moments under heavy braking although this was improving all the time. An early casualty in this race was our incar camera which snapped off it’s mount on one particularly bumpy excursion over some kerbs and spent the remainder of the race bouncing around the passenger side! As the race settled down Ross was running in a comfortable 14th place, a short gap ahead of Paul Dudley and newcomer to our HR class Luke Arminger in his Peugeot 205. Laptimes were now down to late 1:23’s which was enough to keep Mike Thurleys HR class 206cc in view a few seconds up the road in 13th place which was positive news! With just a few laps to go though the brake pedal in Ross’ 206 was getting noticeably spongy and after a lap of ‘pumping up’ the brakes just before leaning on them fully in the braking zones they gave up the fight altogether. A laptime some 5 seconds off our earlier pace on the last lap allowed the chasing Dudley and Arminger through (annoyingly on the last corner!) and dropped Ross to 16th at the finish and 4th in class HR.
Ross leads Dudley and Arminger down the back straight before brake problems intervene… (Thanks to Andrew Kitson for this photo – www.andrewkitson.com)
Once back in the pits and after post race scrutineering (where the car was revealed to be a lardy 893kg with driver onboard…work to do there we feel!) we found the cause of loss of brakes had simply been boiled brake fluid as we expected so after bleeding the brakes we were all ready for the second race of the day. We found out at this point that a few of the other drivers fit extra brake ducting for Snetterton…we know why now!
(Thanks to Andrew Kitson for this photo – www.andrewkitson.com)
With the brakes feeling quite different at the start of race 2 Ross dropped quite a few places as he had a steady opening lap and got caught out wide through the challenging Brundle corner. Still, with the car working better car 2 was soon re-passing a whole host of Tigers as well as Philip Youngs Colt and Daniel Smiths 206cc when he went wide at the final corner (apparently a result of being perhaps a tad too excited at passing Keith White and missing his braking point at the next corner! We can sympathise, we feel sure the same would have happened to us!) Daniel soon re-passed Ross a few laps later as Ross struggled to find a way past Wayne Rothwell’s rapid Tiger which was ever so slightly faster in a straight line, making passing difficult. In the end a slight mistake from Wayne coming out of the final corner allowed Ross to drag past on the run to the line for 14th overall and 3rd in class. In fact it was nearly 13th overall and 2nd in class as Daniel Smith just crept over the line a few tenths ahead with mechanical problems.
With the end of the days racing comes the halfway point in the season and perhaps a good time to reflect on how we’re doing so far. On the positive side we’ve finished all 8 races so far this season which is very pleasing and important…afterall, you can’t learn and get faster if you’re sat at the side of the track watching every other race! The new engine is also much more competitive than the old one although the Snetterton track perhaps showed up a few handling problems with the car while Ross is the first to admit that the driving still needs some work too! Still, the first season is all about learning and it will be a lot easier next season when we can arrive at a circuit with some previous knowledge of it, as opposed to watching a few videos on YouTube and desperately trying to figure it out in a 10 or 15 minute qualifying session on the day as we’ve been doing this year!
…and the long journey home…
For the second half of the year we’ll keep chipping away at it, both the driving and the car to try and improve. Providing it’s dry then the last meeting of the season at Brands Hatch will provide an interesting performance comparison as it’s a track we know from the first 2 meetings of the season so we’ll be able to gauge how much speed we’ve found throughout the year. In the meantime it’s Rockingham up next, another new challenge to look forward to….see you then!