Brians at Brands!

There have been some strange goings-on at Loram Racing HQ recently. Since Ross’ shock retirement after the Lydden Hill meeting, Brian has decided that he would like to try his hand at circuit racing! With the decision made we’ve been hard at work altering the car for Brian, mounting the seat and generally getting him comfortable in the car. We’ve also been busy with the usual post-race maintenance as well as getting Brians paperwork and racegear in order, a sizeable task in its own right and it’s felt like five years ago when Ross was getting ready to make his circuit debut all over again.

Although Brian is still waiting for his medical before he can take his ARDS test and gain his licence, we have still been able to get him out on circuit in a general car trackday at Brands Hatch. So, last Monday, the 27th of July, we loaded the Tigra and headed up the motorway, not quite all the way to Brands Hatch but instead to the home of fellow Intermarque racer Simon Smith who kindly put us up for the night which was very welcome as we wouldn’t have wanted to try and get to Brands Hatch from Torquay by 7:30am! The short journey from Simons to Brands was certainly more manageable.

Pulling into the familiar surroundings of Brands Hatch we got our first glimpse at the rest of the entry for the days trackday. As we’d never done a general car trackday before we weren’t quite sure what to expect, and we were pleasantly surprised to see a wonderfully eclectic mix of cars, everything from road going hatchbacks to Ferraris, Porsches, Caterhams and a couple other racing cars from various championships. The whole day had a very different atmosphere to a race day, being very laid back and relaxed with people heading out onto the circuit when it suited them thanks to the open pitlane.

Everybody swap positions!

After we’d unloaded the car (nearly nabbing garage 26 but having to make do with 25) Brian headed off to a drivers briefing and Ross pondered that this was all extremely odd. Drivers briefing complete and the cars headed out for some ‘sighting laps’, following the safety car around for three slow laps before returning to the pits. With that formality taken care of, Brian could head out on circuit again, and this time he could get the pedal down a bit and see what he thought of it!

It’s nice to see him back in there

Change it!

It turns out he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the car as he returned to the pits after seven or eight laps and began making changes to ‘settle the rear end on corner entry.’ Changes made and the Loram Tigra headed out of the garage once more, this time completing a slightly longer run which only came to an end when Brian found himself black flagged for ‘excessive noise.’ This was slightly perplexing and a little irritating as the Tigra certainly sounded quieter than most of the cars present, but the meter doesn’t lie! “Nevermind” we thought, “we’ve had this problem years ago with the 206, we’ve got a baffle for that.” A baffle that it turns out never made the journey from the old van to the new van! Fortunately the local shop were selling them, so one £60 baffle later and Brian was ready to hit the track again.

Gravel …. gets … everywhere …

One lap later and he was nearly hitting the barriers after getting caught out by one of the slower cars moving over on the run upto Paddock bend. One short trip through the gravel later and the car was back in the pits, ready for us to get to work with everyones favourite job, getting rid of all the gravel! We got some extra help as Simon and family arrived, and between us we soon had the worst of the gravel out and the car dusted off and ready to go. All these adventures and still time for another run before lunch. The circuit was quieter this time and Brian could get some clearer laps in before there was a red flag for a stranded car. Back in the garage and we had work to do locating a vibration which had developed on the car. After a bit of a nose round we decided the propshaft was to blame, or more accurately the universal joints. We have most spares these days, but not a spare propshaft. Hmm. Simon was quickest with a plan as he tracked down a local company who could fit us some new joints, so once the prop was out he whisked it off and returned an hour or two later with a freshly painted, balanced, and hopefully vibration free prop with its new joints. How good was that?!? So a big thanks and thumbs up to JW Engineering in Kent.

Many hands make light work

We had the propshaft re-fitted and car back together ready for Brian to re-join the circuit at just after 3pm. With a decent number of laps under his belt, Brian was starting to look much more at home as he continued to circulate. Then he got black flagged again. Bloody noise limits. Oh well, a slightly earlier end to the day than planned but Brian had enough time on circuit to decide that yes, he did want to race the Tigra, and yes, he did feel comfortable with the cars handling. So we left Brands Hatch feeling it was mission accomplished. The only area on the car which we need to look at are the brakes which Brian thought were awful, something Ross has been saying since the cars debut at the start of the 2014 season! Aside from that we just need to get Brians race licence sorted (which will be another trip to Brands) before we can get back racing, hopefully for the last meeting or two of this season.

In other news (and if you haven’t already seen it) we’ve put together a little compilation video of various ‘dramatic moments’ from Ross’ last few seasons in the Intermarque championship so check that out here, it’s certainly worth a look!

Until next time, happy racing.

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