Hi there dear website readers, I’m writing to you today with some sad news. After much careful thought I’ve decided I will no longer be competing in the Avon Intermarque Championship. We first entered the championship for the final two meetings of the 2010 season and have since competed in all but two of the meetings held since. In that time we’ve seen the championship grow from a rag tag mix of classes thrown together to form a race series, into a very competitive one class championship, every bit a match for any other race series in the country. I hope we have, through this website and our Youtube Channel, contributed to this growth in some way. Unfortunately, the effort and expense involved in racing in any championship is just massive, especially as we’re one of the few teams who really do build everything, chassis to panels, paint to sign writing. Despite this though it is still very expensive to do and to be perfectly honest I’m just tired of fighting against an overwhelming field of much better funded teams and drivers, and at the same time spending every free minute and penny to do so. Perhaps I’m just expecting too much from what we have, I believe that given equal machinery I would be winning races throughout the season and it’s doubly hard to justify spending all you have, to race, at best, at the front of the midfield. That being said, a lack of wins is not the only reason I’m stepping back, I’m just tired of it and all the effort involved for the comparatively small amount of time actually spent driving the car so I think for now, it’s time to call it a day.
Most of all I’ll miss spending time with some truly lovely people, in particular the spectacularly bizarre Mr.Cheese as well as Simon and his family / travelling supporters, I’m sure we’ll still turn up at the odd meeting to catch up with you all. I’d also like to wish Simon the best of luck with his new venture with ‘Autocross’, I’m sure it will be a huge success. As for us, I’m not really sure what will happen now. Perhaps Brian will shock us all, get his circuit licence, and bring the Tigra back to the circuits. Or maybe he’ll take it back to the ovals. Time will tell, as soon as we know more there will of course be some news here but that’s about it for the moment. I’d just like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has helped me with my racing since I began in 2008, particularly Dad for devoting many thousands of hours of time and thousands of pounds, but also Mum, Paul, Sean at the Exeter Gearbox Centre, Newton Hose Supplies and Kev at Kevin McGarey Dental Care. All your help was always much appreciated.
I’ll leave you with a brief report of my final two meetings from Brands Hatch (7th June) and Lydden Hill (20th June) below, but for now, thanks for reading, and thanks for the support. Ross.
Brands Report – 7th June 2015
A very pleasant Saturday evening at Brands Hatch
The Intermarques made their third outing of the 2015 season at Brands Hatch for the annual American Speedfest meeting. It was an absolute scorcher of a day in Kent, even as the drivers headed out for qualifying. Things were progressing reasonably well for us with Ross slowly chipping away at his laptimes and by around half way through the session he was down to a 50.8. That’s as fast as he was going to get though as the car filled with smoke, signalling an early end to the session.
What a cool photo (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
Fortunately as Ross suspected it was no more than the rear bung coming loose on the gearbox which let a relatively small amount of gear oil onto the exhaust, causing the smoke. With the timetable this weekend leaving a very short break between qualifying and race one, we hastily cleaned up the oil, refit the bung, fueled the car up and made some hasty changes to the front suspension in an effort to improve the handling, which Ross was nowhere near as happy with as he had been at Snetterton or even Rockingham.
Secret weapon of the weekend – a Coolshirt!
The pack dive into Paddock on lap one (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
All jobs complete and it was straight out for race 1 where Ross would start from 8th on the grid. A decent start, coupled with an issue for Lewis Smith’s brakes binding on the run upto turn one, let Ross move up into 6th place after the first few turns. By the end of the lap though and Lewis had moved back through, leaving Ross to complete the first few laps in 7th place, a couple car lengths behind the battling Simon Smith and Dave Brooks. Ross inherited 6th when gearbox gremlins struck Simons Z4, but he was struggling to keep pace with the guys ahead. All this meant Dave Brooks was creeping up the road in front a little while Steve Burrows and Richard Smith weren’t too far behind.
(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
It has to be said there were all sorts of oil and fluids being put down in this race, even before something kicked off at the front of the field, sending numerous cars through the gravel at Paddock Bend. Ross just held it on the track (well kerbs and perhaps a kiss off the edge of the gravel) as he went through the dust the leaders had left in their wake. Just up ahead Matt Simpson had rejoined but was putting down oil which he slid off on, on the entrance to Surtees corner. Ross was next up a few car lengths behind and he also had a short trip across the grass at Surtees after seeing the oil a little too late. No harm done and Ross spent a lap or so struggling to get past Matts crippled Tigra before he retired.
‘If I use enough kerb I’m certain there’s a gap there!’ (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
All that drama had left Ross in a clear fourth place, the car might not be perfect but still a decent result. With such a big gap behind Ross was taking it easy but went to pick up the pace again for the final few laps as he saw Chris Ayling appearing in the mirrors. There didn’t seem to be any speed left though…. Onto the last lap and Chris was getting far closer than you’d like, but as the cars came out of the final corner Ross still had a few cars lengths gap and a decent exit from the turn. That’ll be okay then, thought Ross, only for Chris to fly past and nab fourth place right on the line. A glance down at the gauges revealed a water temp of 120! Oh dear! Something had clearly gone very wrong over the course of the final few laps as the temp had been a somewhat more reasonable 90 not long before. Click here to watch race one on Youtube.
He’s there…..isn’t he? (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
Anyway, back to the pits and there was plenty of time for car and driver to cool down before race two. There was also plenty of time for us to set about trying to improve the cooling and also spend some time with the family who had come along to see us, lovely to see you all!
The partial reverse grid for race 2 gave Ross a second row start for what would be his shortest ever race. It looked like #26 was going to get a little bit swamped in the run upto Paddock but Ross just had enough pace to hold the inside and take second place on the exit. He then moved to the outside of Philip Young on the run upto the hairpin but braked too late and spun. You don’t get away with spinning at the front on lap one though and Ross got collected a few times by the following cars so apologies to those involved. The Tigra had its rear bumper and undertray smashed and ripped off, various other panels damaged, and some of the crash structures knocked around a bit. All things considered it could have been much worse, all the impacts missed everything important and if there’d been another race we could have made it out for it….albeit looking a bit battle scarred in a ‘duct tape special.’ Click here to watch race two (what there is of it) on Youtube.
The ‘two week break’ between Brands Hatch and Lydden Hill
Any excuse for a ‘body off’ shot!
With all the various broken panels, and as we’d run out of our hideous ‘orange mustard’ paint, we decided to whip all the panels off, repair and replace where necessary and redo all the orange in our original ‘proper orange’ colour. Well Paul did, thanks muchly. So with the repaired panels in Pauls hands we set to work sorting out the car and going right through the set-up. By the Tuesday before Lydden the car was in many bits, but we thought all in good order, just needing bolting back together. We then whipped the head off the engine to replace the head gasket and realised we had a major problem there too as a good chunk of piston was missing after water had seeped in and destroyed it. Cue some head scratching.
Well that’s not what you want to see! Ross’ Audi was briefly rear engined as this all went in the boot to be rebuilt at Brians rather more equipped workshop at Brian Loram Motorcycles.
We decided as we had Ross’ old hotrod engine in the garage we could just use the bottom end from that engine with the head from our usual engine. So on Wednesday morning Brian matched those two together before realising it had a very low compression ratio (different pistons!). Not to be outdone the head was given a quick skim and re-assembled before we checked the compression ratio again and cursed as it was still quite low. As it was now getting quite late on Wednesday we decided to just ‘go with it’ so we hastily fitted it in the car and connected it up. Just gone 10pm on Wednesday evening and the car had a functioning engine. But still much to do!
Must be nearly done if we’re applying the vinyl!
Thursday and Friday morning were spent finishing up the car before loading up and making the five and a half hour journey from Torquay to Lydden Hill with us arriving at 8pm on Friday night. Exhausted and to be honest, a bit sick of the sight of the car, as pretty as it looked.
Ooh, orange! I remember you!
Lydden Hill – Raceday
Brian and Paul on the way to scrutineering. Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo
For some reason qualifying at Lydden Hill is only ever 10 minutes long, and it was even shorter this time as Dave Brooks had a problem and ended up in the tyre barrier which brought out the red flags and ended the session with a few minutes to spare. This left the grid a little shuffled as not everyone had managed to post a quick laptime. Ross would line up 6th after posting a reasonable lap although he was still exploring the new set-up on #26 which was much softer this weekend.
Brian makes some adjustments
Race one and Ross had problems finding a gear on the run down to turn one which cost a few places and left him on the backfoot for a couple laps. Once everything had shaken itself out Ross was running in 8th place, fending out Steve Burrows.
The drift cars are on later Ross. Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo
It was clear that Steve had more pace and he eventually made his move around half race distance. Ross’ driving resorted to slightly desperate as he started overdriving the car and sliding the back end too much in an effort to keep pace. Of course that never works. With the car again beginning to overheat it was a case of just bringing it home in 8th place ahead of Chris Ayling and Richard Smith.
Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo
Lined up ready for race 2. Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo
For race 2 we’d changed the thermostat and tried a few other tweaks which proved spectacularly unsuccessful. By the time Ross had nearly put himself into the wall and dropped himself to the back by the end of lap 2, the temperature gauge was nudging towards dangerous levels! Cue an early retirement and an early exit from Lydden. On the positive side we were home before it got dark which was a nice surprise. It was also on the way home that we realised why we had suffered such impossibly sudden overheating in race two. As mentioned we changed the thermostat between races, which obviously required draining the water from the system. After fitting the new thermostat we topped the water back up. Job done. What we failed to take into account was the very steep angle the car was parked on in the pits which caused an air lock in the system, resulting in the race 2 problem. Simple when you think about it! We’d also like to say a massive commiserations to Simon Smith who was on for victory in race 2 until he was absolutely robbed by a gearbox problem which dropped him to third. Think I’d have been sick.
So that’s all for now, but a bit of late breaking news since I started writing this report (which was a while ago, this has not been easy to write this week!) is that Brian has decided he would like to try the Tigra on a circuit. To save the hassle of getting a circuit licence he’ll be taking it out for a spin at a general car trackday at Brands Hatch, and if he likes it…..who knows what next?!? Thanks for reading, Ross.