5 Miles Per Gallon

It is with regret we had to withdraw the car from last weekend’s race meeting at Snetterton. For those of you who have not seen the last video, (http://youtu.be/tpFBsTR7oZY) we suffered from low oil pressure and upon opening the engine we found problems with the crank, main bearings, valves and cam shaft. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to source the parts, put the engine back together, shake it down, run it in, check we have solved the problem and then be ready for the race. We borrowed another 4wd ex rally car in the shape of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4 and those of you who have been following the car for a while will recognise it from the very same race last year (http://youtu.be/fHryJZU0saQ). The car belongs to JJ Performance and is available for arrive and drive in the CSCC Open and Modern Classics series should any of you fancy joining us.  

This weekend we were joined by Neil in a Renault Clio 182, Simon in a Holden GTS and ourselves set up early Friday evening before getting an early night for a 6am start. We all signed on and scrutineered OK but for the camera mounts in the Mitsubishi were of the suction type and only mechanical ones are now allowed. I only managed to scrounge some replacements for the race so there is no in car footage from qualifying.  

During qualifying we did 5 gentle laps to help bed in the new engine in the Evo. After checking pressures, we headed out as it was spitting with rain and knew we had to get a good lap in quick or the track would get greasy and times will fall off a cliff. The second lap out the car managed a reasonably slow 1:26.9 but as the drizzle intensified there was no way of bettering it and a trip through the grass at Richies confirmed things. Still, it bagged us 7th which wasn’t that bad. Looking at the lap times, 4th was on the cards had we brought the Lancia which was good to know but also frustrating! This isn’t quite as frustrating as Simon in the Holden, he was out just after the Evo but only did 7 laps before stopping out on track with suspected head gasket failure.  


Picture Credit: Paul Barber

Come the race it was bone dry with no chance of rain the car headed out on to the track, brimmed full of fuel with some hopes and dreams of going forward. The first few laps are always great fun and we managed to hustle the Evo up to 4th overall after a few laps. We then kept it fast and tidy, nailing braking points, apexes and especially exits to keep a five-car train behind us. Soon we were in to the pit stop window and with 3 people to help us we completed a reasonable 53 second stop (from entry to exit). After initially joining the track in 12th, we were soon back to 6th after everything sorted itself out.  


Picture Credit: Paul Barber

When building the Lancia we made sure all the right bits were on the car. Great brakes, expensive fluid which is changed all the time, Delta S4 clutch with hydraulic operation and so on. The Evo hasn’t got these trick bits and it started to show after 25 minutes with a combination of pad knock and a spongy pedal.  Pad knock is when the disk knocks the pad back in to the calliper leaving you with the brakes only applying pressure to the rear brakes if you go on the pedal hard.  To combat this, down the straights the driver’s left foot needs to pump the pedal 2 or 3 times to make sure when it is needed, the brakes work. A secondary issue is the clutch wasn’t always fully disengaging making it hard to change gear. Second gear was skipped and the torque from the turbo was used to pull the car out of the three slow speed corners in 3rd. We were able to manage all of these issues and had a shout of taking 5th during the closing stages of the race.  


Picture Credit: Paul Barber

Unfortunately, with three laps to go things started to unravel as after exiting Richies we had a catastrophic boost leak and the car lost half of its power. We carried on anyway hoping not to drop too much lap time and soon we were on the last lap on our own and nursing our way back to the pits. Exiting Wilson with only 5 corners to go the car spluttered with fuel surge. This happened twice with the Lancia and we still had about 3 laps of fuel left. Undeterred we pressed on. With 3 corners to go, we lost all fuel pressure and began to slow down, and at this point Richard could see the finishing line and the chequered flag being waved. The car spluttered and hopped around the last two corners and idled up the pit lane before finally dying about 100m from the finishing line. Unfortunately, you cannot finish a race being pushed and the car needs to cross the line after the winner. As we failed to do so we were not classified in the results which was a real shame.  


Picture Credit: Paul Barber

When these things happen, it can be incredibly frustrating. As the saying goes, “that’s racing”. We have never run the car that long, had no idea the fuel would be so marginal and brimmed the tank ‘just to be sure’. Had we known we could have easily eked out a few more laps by lifting and coasting plus other fuel saving tactics. It is worth noting that the last two times we have been so marginal on fuel was at Donington and Croft. Both time the Lancia was in the lead by tens of seconds. If there was a time to run out of fuel, we are glad we only lost sixth and not an overall win. Neil had a good race, qualifying 17th overall, 3rd in class and after climbing breifly to 14th, eventually finishing back where he qualified. This weekend was his first time racing in the Tin Tops series and it was a great solid result.  

Extended Version: http://youtu.be/S-m0U2gbnkE

Time Sheet: http://www.tsl-timing.com/file/?f=CSCC/2018/181464cmc.pdf

Our next race isn’t until early May which leaves us plenty of time to get the engine re-built, run in and tested before tacking the Silverstone International circuit in Northamptonshire. Stay tuned for updates on the engine build and testing.  


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