Jaguar XJS Racing





Krakatoa head to that team favourite in the deep South. Uncivilised they may be down there, but there's a nice track hiding amongst the cannibals.


And, of course, no non-Kutukan has won here since 2008. 








This was much more damaged than it looked, and the scarcity of facelift parts made the repair something of a challenge.

Another X300  arrives as an engine donor, and suddenly Kutuka's secret HQ starts to look a bit busy. Still a solicitor, not a Jag specialist. 


Because they leak so many fluids it is often sensible to yank the engines outdoors. The dirt is much more absorbent than concrete. Mr David likes to get very personal with all the cars he works on. He calls this pose the "Leaning Engineer."


Sadly this car has to be on track in under 24 hours, and 200 miles away.



Someone's in for a busy night.


And yet here she is, done, and awfully fast she was too.


Technically speaking, that smile tells the whole story.


Keeping up the tradition, Lezzer makes sure a Kutukan won the race.


He might have been happy about it.


And I could get this glasses case round here in a 57, easy.





It's all looking very busy.


Wet quali and dry race leads to a very peculiar first corner.



The weekend was, as ever, a madcap rush to achieve all that we wanted, in less time than we needed.


The new hire car, now named Vanessa, arrived at the circuit only at 9.30 am on the day of testing, having departed Rotherham at 6 after an all-nighter to assemble the remaining large pieces into something like a car.













































The just-dry paint on Comer’s car was rushed into action, the scarcity of facelift doors having pushed his Snetterton repairs to the very last moment, glum Northerners pacing the dirt paths of Kutuka North’s secret HQ ranting about unreliable couriers. To add joy to the pressure, the car, just completed, centrally locked itself with the keys in the ignition as the passenger door accepted a celebratory slam. We are now experts on how to break into a facelift XJS without causing damage.


With Philip in action and haring round with the other bearded fella, old Walrus Webster, the Kutukans fell upon the kit of parts we’d brought and assembled a racing car, Vanessa accepting a bonnet, boot, front bumper, door handle, door bars and even a brake pedal, and turning her first wheel on track just before lunchtime.














































Hasty changes to tracking, to allow wheels that pointed forwards, and a revisit of the bonnet pins due to comedic high-speed bulging of the Bear’s carbon, and suddenly she was born.


Skinny class D spec T1Rs were soon slithering and screaming their way around Brands Hatch, and Vanessa rapidly proved that other than sticking to a timetable, we seem to know how to assemble an XJS. Unexpectedly the pilot, with three hours of sleep in his fuzzy head, found the R1R-shod class F and even E cars of the facially-insulated were unable to overtake, and she was actually faster in key sections of the circuit despite what appeared to be an unhealthy obsession with power oversteer.


This trait was eventually diagnosed as a working diff, which the driver has previously never experienced.


Vanessa herself performed a totally faultless hour-long test, pounding a hefty 60+ laps in without any mechanical issues, or, strangely, even a brake judder, this being especially unusual given she was running previously-experienced front pads on used discs from yet another separate car as the Kutuka recycling department really got mean with the pennies.














































At day’s end, and with the sun sinking in the sky, a dribble of water from the resting Vanessa revealed that the water pump, depressed by the end of play, had decided to commit suicide.


Celebrations took an alcoholic turn, and an attempt to race wheelybins down the hill from the Kentagon left the skin of a nameless Kutukan embedded in this hallowed tarmac, Roger Webster blamed for the race-ending spin and roll.


Test over, and we can revert to that peculiar limbo land that is informal race support. We don’t have any actual customers as such, insofar as we’re not being paid to be here, in fact shaking down the new car is most definitely negative profit. But, we are here, and people need help. We see it as our duty to get any cars we can out onto that grid. It is amazing how many cars do show up with mechanical problems, do no testing, and then look baffled when it’s broken and they don’t get to race.


In the past, with three top-end cars to support over two or three days, with gallons of fuel and oil, brakes and tyres, all needing carting about, financing, and usually fitting for immediate consumption, it’s fair to say we didn’t have a lot of spare capacity.













































In this brave new world as we try to save a few bob, our hunger to play with things and make them better can now be sated in service of others. And they tend to buy you beer afterwards too.


The critical eye of a wandering McGivern led to the production of axle stands, and string, and the tracking of a certain V12 which had been tinkered with by the driver was swiftly corrected. There is a moment about an hour after completion of such a job when a look creeps across Mr David’s face, and I now know what it is. It’s the mental review of the work you’ve done on someone’s car, to check that you did do it all, and correctly.


We’ve done a lot of work on Philip’s car over the winter, the AJ16 engine upgrade has added a few horsies since Snetterton, and it's the one track that I've shared a car with him at, it was capable of low 59s before the roll bars and engine upgrade, so he ought to fly.


It’s now plenty quick enough in theory, and we sort of expected instant results. It’s not fair, but we are accustomed to “here’s a perfect car, go fetch a perfect result” and we’ve forgotten the six months it takes to actually adjust from driving a deathtrap to smoothly whisking a decent car around the place.







































Cadging a lift to assembly with Richard Crossley for qualifying, I was surprised to find a car still running without a passenger side door bar, but that car was such a nice place to be, so very Jaguary inside, a real Q car. It did make me realise just how far ahead of such machinery Helen ended up, and what enormous scope there is within the regulations.


Here’s someone running a road car with a cage in it, and there must be a moment of “cheating b “ being yelled in his noggin when  competing against a race car with a roadgoing class car wrapped around it, and yet both are perfectly legit within the same set of rules. I have said before, and I’ll repeat, that the class regulations are too permissive.


A rapid brake pad and tyre change for Philip for quali, and into action. Quali was OK, Philip was class F p1 for a while, we sort of expected Mr Skelton to steal that as we knew his new rubber and smooth style in the wet at his most-driven track was likely to hand him the result, but Simon Seath’s rogue hot lap that relegated Philip to third was most unexpected, our stubbly-faced driver perhaps too kind in getting out of the way of cars purporting to be faster.


To make it all better, the sun came out and seared the track dry in moments shortly thereafter, but quali as ever had caused a few issues.















































We spent most of Snetterton trying to make Nicholls’ clutch work. He’s back, with all new hydraulics, new clutch plates, it’s a big bill and a big fix, and it hasn’t been tested. Three laps it took to destroy the new clutch.


Well, that’s clearly not right. But we have three pairs of idle spanner hands, and four hours til the race, a banzai Paul Merrett willing to dash home to find a spare road clutch, and a promise of bacon sarnies.


The car was quickly moving again. Pulling the car onto the truck ramps allowed perfect access to the box, and with some semblance of teamwork and shiny tools from Mr David, the car flew apart. The exhaust, a class E big tubular hunk of junk, has to be yanked due to its routing, and Jesus wept was that a fight. Spanners, feet, and then hammers before this bizarre contraption let go of the car, but the car otherwise is pretty stock under there and was fast repaired, the greatest threat being the likelihood of being trodden on by the army of feet that had appeared to surround the car and watch, offering helpful anecdotes, if no actual physical help.


The Kutuka method of gearbox fitting, using a Bear and a loadstrap inside the car, and a willing idiot underneath, confused a watching Beecham. Having failed to spot the 6’ 2” 19 stone of man inside the car, he watched agog as Andrew appeared to calmly pick up the gearbox one-handed and wiggle it into place with astonishing ease. Only as Bob went to find out what coal they feed northerners did the penny drop.


With Nicholls back in action, in a shade over two hours we might add, we rather felt that we had earned our siesta.










































That the car then munched the road clutch in the race, and we do mean baked it into powder, was sadly just an indication of why a road clutch can’t handle 300+ bhp.

A laptop-wielding McGivern was called into action to solve a most displeased 6 litre, an art form which is clearly witchcraft, and scary witchcraft at that. We’re not even sure he uses the laptop anymore, or if he plugs some part of his anatomy in direct. The omens said no play today, but that a fair wind in the morrow would allow better times, the Coppock car out of action for this race, but likely to make the line tomorrow. So it is written…


Race 1 was a breathless affair, our drivers both make a horlicks of the start, Lezzer down to p2, Comer losing out too, and both with a fight to get it all back. Comer pops Seath to get his position back before Lyddall passes Palmer to regain his. Stew was clearly much faster here today than Palmer, and Philip had sufficient pace to fall off the road twice, once in truly epic style in front of the leaders after they had finished the race, and still came third in class. The rub is he was therefore third in class despite his potential speed.


Overnight and there is for once little to do. The usual loaning of various bits of kit and bits – you lose at least three jubilee clips per meeting as standard – but no more major surgery needed. Refuelled and rearmed, and into action once more. Revealing the new car to the lady after whom she is named provoked much mirth, though no bikini, sparkly or otherwise, made an appearance. For the first time at a race weekend I even saw some of the F1 race.


The laptop-wielding David has the Coppock machine back on form in short order. I still maintain the laptop is an empty casing that has his sandwiches inside.














































A better race for our pilots in race 2. Another lousy start for both – fingers over eyes for Comer as they came into Paddock all over the road – but Stew passes Palmer before half distance, and then just sauntered away.


Philip scrabbles his third place back and hunts the two leaders, Skelton all over Drage and clearly faster but quite obviously missing his power down the straights. The stalking Comer pounces on Skelton and makes a nice clean pass, the exit of Paddock has him a car-length ahead. And then we watch in horror as he leaves the door wide open and lets him back through at Druids.


After that it goes bandy, he does a spot of grasstracking at Graham Hill that just takes him out of range of the two leaders, and that’s all she wrote, he does start to close them down again, but too little too late. A solid pair of thirds though, it does the job. All about the maths.


Double win for Stew, and no damage to the cars, a successful hire car test, we’re calling that a decent weekend.





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Jaguar XJS Racing

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