Kutuka Motorsport NORTH












































A very successful weekend, but ultimately left feeling a bit flat by the other things going off. If you assess it as a stand-alone car, ignore the rest of the team, then my class D car came in 4th overall, only 8 seconds off the leader’s fully-modified V12. She held off the fastest class E car around and the reigning champion for ¾ of the race and but for one single error she would have taken 3rd place and a red hat.


The next class D car was 54 seconds behind, or half a lap, depending on how you prefer to measure it. It’s not bad really.


But, there’s a but. The lead pace wasn’t the winner, it was the Bear. And he didn’t win. After all that effort and build up, and it all looking so good, you’re left feeling very flat that after one flying lap he was out of the race instead of running into the distance, even though his is not my race.


Stewert did a decent job with the equipment he had, but that equipment is no longer good enough to win races, our hero car here was the Bear, and with him out, and Stew losing the lead on lap 2, we didn’t win the race. Our 1,2,3 became 2nd and 4th.


And that does kinda take the gloss off what was, for me, in reality a good day. I am annoyed with myself that I lost 3rd to Chris, but having watched the video back again and again and again, I don’t really have an explanation why the rear let go around Druids to lose me that crucial momentum, other than that the rear tyres had died.. I could have saved them by driving more slowly, but then Chris would have been closer and picked me off earlier. I can’t escape the conclusion that I was in a no-win situation. And that is a bit gloomy.


What the hell am I on about? Sorta jumped in halfway there.









































Arriving Thursday evening for a relaxing evening of beer, we’ve two finished cars that still need work to run correctly. Only the arrival of a Dermott to verify cam and ignition timing allows the cars back to their peak.


The aim of the game is a full day’s test, get some tyre data on the new 45 profile rubber, get some hot laps in, and if time, take Stew’s car out to bed in the brakes.


First session is always peculiar. The steering feels unconnected to anything, it’s sloppy and vague, but you get used to it quickly enough. Of course doing the wheel nuts up helps, Mr David’s face when he attacks the car with a torque wrench and finds half the nuts loose can best be described as “thunderous.”


3 fast laps, in, let the new tyres cool. 3 more, session over. It’s £60 here just to heat cycle your tyres…ouch.


Then to testing proper, and relearning this track. I love this place. All of it. Yes, the straight bits kill me, the drag up under the bridge is death for a class D car versus anything else, but Cascades, turn 3, Druids, they are brilliant corners.


Except, as testing quickly proved, the tyre has changed the game. The extra weight in the car is tangible here, it’s apparent at Cascades as the car is being pulled wide, and it’s not a handling issue. I’m not losing the front or the rear particularly, but the car is struggling to make the apex at the speed it should. The grip is better, but that shows the lack of engine power. On the T1R at 1510kg that’s a 4th gear corner, as much throttle as you dare give it as early as possible, just enough grip to just about get it flat pretty early, and watch the modified car behind you light up the rears and drop back.


On the R1R at 1580kg you wrestle the nose to the apex, but with the car still fighting the corner and the speed sort of scrubs away, the acceleration seems flat because you’re flat out so early and needing more power. The modified car in the mirror isn’t lighting up the tyres, it has the power, can lay it down, and by turn 3 they might be a problem now.


Turn 3 is still a demonstration of your testicles, and we still have those, it’s still a great corner to attack.


I like the chicanes, really aggressively attacking them with the power on way early and just hanging onto the car as she thinks about oversteer, hitting all 4 kerbs, great stuff at 1, but it’s Knickerbrook that I like, turn in too fast aiming for the tyres, miss by inches, and immediately crank the car left with the power on hard to slither through the tight corner and reef the car over in time to take that tricky right-hand exit everyone runs wide at. Only not today, we have grip.


To Druids, and despite the oil that’s been dropped, it’s great. Miss the first apex on purpose, take the corner afterwards, don’t get sucked in early, and power all the way through the exit, remembering that annoying little bump on the exit that used to upset the T1Rs. Doesn’t upset the R1R though, no problem.


Still awkward at lodge though, that is, I think, the most difficult of the lot to get right, that off-camber exit is a bitch.


Best time of the test day is a 2.06.3. It’s about a second and a half faster than my best T1R time at the lower weight. Call it 2 better if we were at equivalent weights. About what we’d expect. But, that puts the leaders into the 2.03s, in theory, if they take off the same 2 seconds. I can’t get this car to that. Bugger.


Bear is flying. Yes, I towed him round a little early on, but it’s no more than half a dozen laps when he decides he’s got this, and see you later. After that, whatever time I put in, he goes faster. I do a 2.07, he does a 2.06. I get into the 6s, he goes into the 2.05s. All bloody day long.


No doubt in my mind he’s going to be on pole tomorrow, it’s hooked up and it’s seriously quick.











































After Anglesey the Beard is on a high, but this track is a bit of a reality check, because it is so important to attack it as well as drive it accurately, and as he keeps telling us, he’s 25 years older and terrified. Excuses, excuses. Hell, I get checked up on by text message from work nowadays to verify I’ve not been killed, but it’s not exactly going through my head as the car drifts through Druids.


The car feels good, it’s behaving, a tweak of damper makes the rear more grippy and she’s a lovely car here, really behaving well. The brakes are clearly not up to the job, into Knickers and the pads are floating on the discs, foot hard down and thigh muscles bunched up, and the car just not retarding correctly. We have hit the limit of the brakes, no question about it.


That aside though, it’s good. The tyres are no longer destroying themselves, we’ve set the pressures and temperature readings are very good. None of the issues we had with the 50 profile. Of course the load rating on the 45 is even worse, 580kg. At least the speed rating is better, somehow.


A rolled Mini, one of the many circulating out here all day, splatters the first chicane in the last session, the car is on its side facing backwards, there’s bodywork and glass and a driver’s helmet appearing out of the passenger window like a curious meerkat. Whilst they tidy that up, I come in and switch to the V12.


I usually like this car. Not today. The steering is horrible, it fights you every step of the way, real kickback at every tiny ripple in the track, it is absolutely not happy. The brakes are fine, they bed in fast, but the car is displaying fuel pressure warnings and coughing above 4000rpm, it won’t rev.


Into the pits and the boys decide to just send it out, play with it and short-shift. Suits me, it’s a loud animal anyway above 5000. It’s still fun, much more power than I have even at these revs, if I could just enjoy the steering wheel I’m sure we’d be having fun out here. We are still blowing past other cars, she’s no slouch, but the violence of this wheel has me second guessing the car, it’s hard to find what she’s doing when you’re uncertain about the feedback.


That said, we got on, and distracted by the Bear’s parked car at Lodge I got her well broadside just after I’d passed one of those Minis, she does go when she goes, but she’s so forgiving when it’s hung out like that. In fact, I don’t like it, it encourages the hooligan in you. Were she mine, she’d have a longer travel on the throttle pedal, and we’d be doing something to plant that rear end. Probably with a lot of lead ballast and some new shocks. Pretty sure if you put that power in Helen she’d be better behaved.


Diagnosis? Retire this car for the year, take her completely apart, rebuild it. Her glory days are over until she gets serious attention, the grid has moved on again, she has been outspent and she's tarnishing her reputation.


Harsh, but no sense mincing your words, she needs a rebuild. I can tell that, and I’m an idiot.


To race day then, and it is vital to get to assembly first. We are ready and in the cars early, and as the last of the Tintops leave assembly, we follow them in.


First out then, and I have maybe one lap to go before the Bear passes me. He’ll follow me for a lap, then once settled, blat past and I should set my lap chasing him. In fact, my first lap turns out to be the best, as I move over to let him through on the second, that loss of time is enough to make me slower.


I let Stewert through down the pit straight, but the berk doesn’t move over to claim the racing line, and that puts us both slow out of Old Hall. He then gets caught behind a backmarker, and I do the wall of death round both, then Stewert comes back at me, and this whole lap is already screwed.


I have a serious grip advantage, and he can’t get away. Sideways everywhere, whereas Helen just drives out of the corners, we lift a couple of times to miss him, quali is now compromised and turned into a game of chase the Lezzer, but not the fast self-sustaining kind, we’re racing now, not qualifying. For me it doesn’t matter, class D won’t catch this pace, and I want to know what’s going to happen in the race if I have to attack him for position, I know my time’s already in the bag. Not so sure it’s been done for him though, this chase could be hurting him.


Chief Engineer is of a similar mind. He threatens to kick my bollocks for not ending the chase and resetting the brain. News that we were both dropping Palmer does encourage though. I knew we’d be competitive, but Chris is the wild card.


Only the timesheets that put us 1, 2 and 3 on the grid ease his criticism. It is our best of the year, our best ever here, and a little unexpected. I wasn’t planning to be that high, I reckoned maybe 5th. 3rd is good. But it’s not pole, Bear has that by a lot. I mean a LOT.






































To the race then, and I’m in my usual trouble. I can’t get 1600kg moving with a standard 4 litre the same way a modified 4 or 6 litre can shift 200kg less. Just can’t be done. Qualifying heroics are one thing, but the startline is always my death. As I’m on the inside behind Bear, I won’t get hung out at Old Hall.


Except as the lights go out, Bear’s car doesn’t get moving properly, and I steer to miss him, Stew takes the lead, Coppock second, I’m third. Survive Old Hall, and into Cascades. Coppock brakes well early, far sooner than I expected, steaming in hot, lock it all up and miss him by what can only have been millimetres, which kinda compromises the corner, but Bear is behind already, chopping the nose of Roger, I leave him lots of room to pass on the exit, he’s coming past like a rocket ship, no sense getting in the way.


Sure enough he’s on the attack into turn 3, all over the back of Coppock. Clearly going to pass him, he’s way, way faster than anything out here. I have Roger in the mirror. Distant already, but still fending off Palmer! In my head, that means 4 points clawed back from Chris.


The dream is over on lap 2. Lezzer runs wide, Coppock and Bear go through, then a big cloud of smoke, and on the exit Bear is slow, I pop out to pass, and his bonnet is up in the air, broken pins. Shit.


Stew is close in front, and I’m trying to compute what to do. I think I’m faster than him, but only if I wring the car out to the limits. And if I do, I might hang with Coppock, but I doubt I can pass him. Palmer is now in the mirror. Stew isn’t going to just let me pass, he needs to pass Coppock. Best to stay where I am and race Chris. I don't have to race any of them, but, well, I am third overall. You know, third. Overall. Third. 3rd.


Stew gets maybe 3 or 4 seconds on me during the race as I go defensive against Chris, offline and watching the mirrors. Pretty sure if I’d just driven it I’d have sat off his bootlid all race. The fight with Chris was good, obviously he’s got me in the straights, but in the corners I do seem to have him, the slow chicanes that I attack so hard, but Druids too, there’s enough in each corner that the straights aren’t too much of a problem.


It’s like this all race right up to the penultimate lap, when I feel the rear tyres start to cook, it’s oversteering out of Shell Oils, and he’s sneaking closer. I know there’s not much race left, it’s not a big concern yet, he’s had a couple of looks but it’s not really been on, pretty sure he won’t get by, into Druids and the rear lets go unexpectedly, big slide, not going round but it’s a lot of speed lost, and now I’m screwed. He’s on my tail into Lodge, which means certain pass before we get to Old Hall. Sure enough, there he goes. Game over.







































Tour to the flag then, give chase but not going to get him, just come on in for the class win. Annoying, as I wanted the microphone and the hat. I still haven’t had a red hat all bloomin’ year. Just one little problem and there goes the podium. You have to drive, proportionately speaking, a much cleaner race in a D car to get a red hat, and that one moment is enough to drop you off it. Bugger.


Worse are the inquiring faces back at camp, demanding to know how and why I let Chris through. It’s a mistake. We don’t really like mistakes at CampKutuka, feel you’ve let the side down. The disappointment is tangible, there are questioning faces wanting to know how I managed to throw away a podium. The equipment you’re running isn’t a factor in such discussion, you had third, and now you don’t, what gives?


I console myself a little with the timesheet. 54 seconds clear of the next class D car. Let’s be honest, that’s a lot. It’s nearly 7 seconds per lap.


I suppose I should be happy at that. I'm not.







The cars are fine, it's the barbie making the smoke, honestly! Cars are parked in the order they qualified. Yes, red, white and blue take the top spots. Three cars, three different classes, and they all spank everyone but each other.




And here is the problem. Class D, 1600kg, 240bhp, and alongside it off the line is going to be a 1450kg 360bhp car. I'm so screwed it's not even funny.






He's coming, run away! Helen on the warpath.


HELEN finally encounters the laws of physics.



Most-played in the garage this week - Red vs Blue


Injury of the week - Broken toe.


Helper of the week - David v Dermott. I'm not calling it.


And there he goes. I think class E are all cheating.


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