Welcome to my blog on turning a rusty old shed in to a thoroughbred Italian race car. In this episode we try to both start and finish our first race at the Northern Classic at Croft circuit in the depths of North Yorkshire.
Croft is a great circuit we last raced with the Renault Clio 182 championship. The circuit is narrow, sweeping and fast with technical sections to test the driver’s patience. This year with the Lancia we expect to drop lap times from the Clio’s 1m 41s to well in to the 1m 30’s. On Friday saw us taking part in four timed sessions to get the driver and car dialled in to the circuit again. The weather threatened rain all day so we were prepared to scrub in some wet tyres when the inevitable downpour came.
During the second session the car developed a miss-fire which we diagnosed as being a wiring failure. Once we fished out the pump from the full tank of fuel we re-crimped the connector and secured it back on to the terminal. Richard did contemplate firing up the gas soldering iron but on reflection through it best not to! Confident of a fix we put on some wets to bed them in as it was getting late in the day but sadly the misfire was still present. On the evening we found the end of spark plug #1 had failed and were pretty confident that a new set of plugs would see the car running sweet again.
Saturday morning came around and we lined up ready for the qualifying session. Thankfully the misfire had been solved and the car ran faultlessly for 17 laps with a best time of 1:38.9. This is significantly slower than the times we were doing in testing but we put that down to a damp track.
The great news is that we qualified 1st in class and 8th overall.
The sun came out for a glorious afternoon and we made the sensible decision to go out on dry tyres. Richard was concerned about the state of the front tyres but we didn’t have many left and no way to get anymore. We took the decision to go with fronts which had done 20m on the rear and 60m on the front already.
We made a great start getting briefly up to 5th overall but a couple of silly mistakes by the driver and the tyres deciding that they had worked enough already and wanted some early retirement meant lap times were not fast. The car ended up finishing in the exact position it started in 8th overall and 1st in class. We feel a 6th was probably in reach with some better rubber, lesson learnt the hard way about tyre management!
The goal was always just to finish a race and we were over the moon about the result. First in class and mixing it up the front was more than we could have ever hoped for. A great result for all concerned, especially John, Tom and Jerome of JJ Performance – Lancia Specialists – for building a class winning car.
In the next episode we see the car take part in the next day’s race which was a slightly more wetter affair in the future Classics series