How are we doing?

With only a month to go (at the time of writing) until the start of the 2012 Quaife Intermarque season we thought we’d have a bit of a look ahead at the new season and a review of how last season went.

How much faster will the 206 be this year?!?

Hopefully lots! We’ve lost 50kgs in the rebuild so we’re down to the 830kg combined minimum weight now which is great considering we started last season at a whopping 937kg! Such a big weight reduction will obviously improve all areas of the car. As well as the weight saving we’ve improved lots of other small areas. A front strut brace has been fitted to stop the front of the car flexing which we believe it was last year and we’ve also got some rather snazzy air intakes for the rear brakes which were constantly overheating. The exhaust has been refined a little and we’ve had a go at improving the aerodynamics with new front side windows and much sleeker wing mirrors. There’s also a bigger steering wheel for lighter steering! On the boring side of things we’ve improved the safety with the addition of a prop catcher and a much better placement and design of fuel tank πŸ˜‰

As you may have read in the last couple updates we’ve also got the Racelogic Video VBox system in the car for this season (we won it at the Autosport show) which should be a massive help throughout the year. Oh, and the car looks pretty and is much nicer to work on!

Winning some races then?

It would be nice to nab a class win or two during the season but it won’t be easy as our hotrod class looks like being the busiest class this year. Lots of competitive drivers with new cars and much more money than we have to chuck at them but we’re quiety confident of being much further up the grid this time around.

What circuits are you most looking forward to this year?

Umm, it’ll be great to race at Silverstone purely because it’s Silverstone. I think people who aren’t particularly into racing really start getting the idea that you’re serious about ‘this racing thing’ when you can say you’re ‘racing at Silverstone at the weekend’

Aside from that it’ll be nice to try out the super fast Thruxton (with the added bonus that’s it’s not too far from us down here in the south west) and we’re hoping to be fast at Mallory. In the dry testing at Mallory last year we were pretty quick (even with the old engine) but then the rain came down on race day and ruined it! So hopefully it’ll be dry this time! Rockingham is also a cracking place to drive a racecar.

Just why are you so pants in the wet? πŸ˜‰

I don’t know! Maybe it’s the car, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the old wets. Maybe it’s all three! Promise i’ll try and be better this year, maybe I need to get some tips off Dad, he always got on well in the wet!

So were you pleased with 2011?

Yes and no. I think it was probably a bit harder than I expected making the step up to circuit racing. When I started racing on the short ovals in 2008 I was lucky enough to be able to jump straight into a proven competitive car (dads!) so all I had to do was concentrate on learning quickly and driving the car.

If I drove the car well enough then I would win some races and that’s what happened. I’m not saying that car was a magic carpet ride to win everything but it was good enough and sorted enough that you only had to worry about the driving which is perfect for a beginner and it let me win the local mendips championship in 2008 and 2009.

Above – First weekend, first win. Below – First season, first title. It all seemed so much easier back then!

Going from that small local oval racing to a big race series on proper big circuits is a huge culture shock. There’s so much to learn it’s just mind blowing. All of a sudden you’re having to learn all these new circuits with next to no practice time and at twice the speeds you’re used to in amongst a grid of people who really know what they’re doing! But the biggest problem is trying to contend with those things without the proven steady car under you that knows what it’s doing, it can feel like the blind leading the blind at times!

But we learnt on the way, both the driving side and how to prepare the car. Things that wouldn’t ever be an issue on a short oval car suddenly can’t deal with the increased speeds and loads on a circuit but one by one we found them all and hopefully the last of the problems have been ironed out with this winter rebuild.

Highlight of 2011?

Probably the first race at Rockingham in August, and actually a race that kind of summed up our season. We’d had a dreadful time of it in qualifying but found a problem with the bias braking before the first race which sorted it. I loved the technical infield at Rockingham and I really felt like I was getting to grips with the car a bit that day. For the first time we were racing and passing some of the guys I wanted to be racing with like Colin Gomm (admitadly in a new car) and Mike Thurley.

‘In the mix’ for the first time at Rockingham

It wasn’t all plain sailing though as the long race on a hot day showed up the bushes in the rear arms as being ‘not quite upto the job’ (they pretty much just melted) which allowed the prop to start beating up the gearbox which in turn started pulling the bearing out the back of the gearbox, allowing gearoil to spray everywhere. From memory the passenger side window net also broke free and spent most of the race trying to smack me in the head and the engine tried to throw most of it’s oil into the passenger side of the car….remember what I said about learning as we went! πŸ™‚

Low point of the year?

Probably the last meeting at Brands, getting stuck in 4th gear on lap one of race one = meeting over. Days like that are pretty depressing. The first meeting of the year when the car heavily failed scrutineering was also pretty irritating but everyone was amazing in helping us get it ready in time to pass scrutineering before qualifying started. Dad even had to weld a diagonal bar into the rollcage!

Sometimes on a bad day a driver just needs to talk to his car…

If you could change one thing about motorsport what would it be?

The cost! We might not spend as much as most people on the grid but motor racing is still a very expensive past time. Firstly you’ve got the inescapable costs such as fuel and race entries which average out at around Β£500 per meeting. And that’s before you start spending anything on the car! The Avon tyres we use are around Β£650 a set so it’s a good thing everyone is limited to 8 new tyres and 4 ‘used’ tyres this season although in truth I highly doubt we can afford to buy even that many! Still, it will make the playing field a lot more level than last season so it’s still a good ruling for us.

Tyres are far too expensive to keep doing this to them!

Any other costs really depend a great deal on luck and driver error, start throwing the car in the wall every week and the season will be over very quickly! Similarly, big item failures like engines and gearboxes can also put an end to a season in sheer part cost terms, despite the fact we build most of it ourselves.

Finally, is the car ready yet?

Very nearly! All that’s left is the fitting of the rear panels and silencers, then it’s a case of bleeding the brakes, finshing off a few little odds and ends and scaling the car.

Bring on the 2012 season!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *