CADWELL BABY! THE TRADITIONAL SHAKEDOWN, WITH EXTRA TYRES.
PRE-SEASON SHAKEDOWN 2
New rear subframes for both cars, 70kg extra weight for the blue car, and a new cylinder head for the red one.
We recruit a Beard, and head for Cadwell Park. An open pitlane trackday, for £100? Sweet.
The Bear is running an engine in, it's a rebuilt bottom end with a special head, so a gentle tour for the morning. The blue car has our only set of R1R tyres, a T1R v R1R test is on the cards.
The Beard has a raft of go-faster parts to hand, and the shakedown proves of use immediately as the various fluid leaks Jags seem prone to finding themselves are located and cured.
So to actual testing, amidst a real mix of cars. Evos, 911s, some lightweight Boxter thing, Elises, 7s, and our favourite, 4 racing 2CVs. They were brilliant sport, three of them in a row at all times like an eggbox bendibus.
We must confess that we couldn't help but harass the Porker. Sometimes you see a car that's so clearly designed to do the job to perfection that you can't help but hassle it with one that really isn't...
Early indications are good. The blue car finally handles properly, despite the extra weight. She is still fat with fuel and approximately 100kg heavier than when we raced here in '09, but in trackday traffic - only overtake down the left on a straight by consent - she is consistently floating about in the 1.49s, and dips into the 48s, on old T1Rs.
The Bear may be running in an engine, but it is still possible to circulate Cadwell very quickly by taking every corner as fast as you dare without lifting off all that much, and there's a furry mammal at the wheel who needs to exorcise a few Cadwell demons.
The Beard is testing new engine parts, but hasn't been here for 2 years now, and it takes some relearning, it's almost worth plugging in a trackday here every 6 months just to keep your eye in.
The track itself is largely unchanged, though a couple of kerbs seem a bit less severe now, and they're clearly paying some attention to the grass here and there, ironic given that's the bit we don't want to be on.
Brakes are the first concern for the blue car. Having wrestled with over-braking the front for 2 years we've downgraded to the Mintex 1155 pad, and the balance is much better, the rears are working hard at last. Maybe too hard, the car is a bit lively under hard braking, snakes a little bit. The rear wheels are getting very hot, far worse than the fronts, and in turn the rear pressures are going higher than usual. Which means oversteer, more pressure, and on and on.
They settle a little, but that brings us to the second issue. They're not up to the job. They can't stop nearly 1.6 tonnes of Jag effectively. It's not high speed braking, it's lower speed stuff like into the hairpin, the muscles, the pedal's firm but the car isn't interested in taking that last 5mph off. With drilled and slotted discs to theoretically eradicate gas buildup, it means we have simply hit the physical capability of that brake setup. And this is before we put any more grip on.
The added weight is affecting the handling, there is more rear roll, but given where all the weight went, who's shocked by that exactly!
But the speed is good, and Bear in the red monster is slowly building the pace, until a hose comes off and he drops all the coolant, red-flagging the session.
The Beard's car is working well, and after the week he'd had, all hail him for that!
With repairs complete, the Bear is at it again, and as the afternoon begins he gives it the full beans. The effect is rather like that bit in Star Wars with the spinning stars that turn into streaks, the car sounds like a low-flying plane. Inside it's so loud he's threatening to buy earplugs.
Sadly that dropped hose earlier did the damage, head gasket failure, and the Bear's afternoon is cut short. Encouraging though, in that the diff he built works, and the engine mods show clear potential.
Tyre change for the blue car, and a step into the unknown. Neither the car nor the driver have ever run anything but the T1R, so the R1R is alien technology, the stats say it's the same compound as a 888, just with 5% more groove to it. We're here to explore 4 main issues:
1. Is there any more grip
2. Do they wear any better than the T1R
3. Can you cook them
4. Are they any more consistent than the T1R?
Reports were of them being more consistent, un-cookable, long-lived, but not really any more grippy.
In answer to the questions:
2. No bleedin' way.
3. Oh yes
The extra grip is immediately apparent, instantly, before they have been heat-cycled, into the hairpin, swing the wheel, stuck to the floor, it's a whole new world.
That grip increases after the heat cycling. Turn 1 is flat out, turn 4 is turn in and nail the throttle, lift again at the end of Chris, the car is simply planted, the limiting factor is power and brakes. The car can break the grip under power, but it's as if I've been given traction control. I think the modified cars will struggle more, but for we humble D class cars half the skill has just been removed, plant that pedal gents, you can't really get it wrong.
Brakes are now more abysmal, you can go later, but you're up against the physical limits of the equipment.
Oversteer starts to creep in, so back to the paddock for some pressure checks. The rears have added 12psi, only 8 on the front, the brakes at work again I think. But the notion that you can't cook the R1R is bollocks. Also that you can't slide it, because you really can, the MX5 racer who came to find me late in the day was practically giggling in his anorak in amusement at his view of a big blue barge drifting round the corners.
Any more consistent than the T1R? No, not if you were using the T1R properly.
Tyre wear? Not great news. Can't see them lasting as long as a T1R. Shit, they're really expensive.
Laptime? Better. Not a lot, but consistently better. There just isn't enough power to make use of the grip. But then there never was.
Yes, they are a better tyre than the T1R. Are they worth the extra cost? Probably not, no. I am sure that if you were quick on the T1R you'll be quick on these. If you weren't, this is an expensive way of staying where you were. It's easier to find the grip, but it's easier for everyone else... If you were a long way in front of your rivals already then you could get away with not buying them.
What are they like when they let go? No problem, you won't die when they break away, plenty of warning, and lots of time to get it back.
Of course Cadwell is a funny track, but then it's got all the corners you could want, where better to test?
Successful day, rock on Snetterton.
Wet weather? Not tested.
Don't worry, the blue car's name will be restored shortly. It's not our fault that civilians don't quite understand this game, or that we're occasionally caught being vaguely sentimental. Rest assured, dear listener, we've had our kick in the knackers, and the usual callous, cold bastard is back again now. Ready for another year of racing. Bring it.
The Bear aims for the constellations that bear his name. Come on, sone credit please, that's three different uses of "bear" in one sentence.
Merry bleedin' Christmas people. Still waiting for confirmation that anyone had one!
Don't get fixated on the name, it was only for the day, she's still called Helen, we'd never change it. But admit it, you like the new rear spoiler.
The Kutuka train in business again. Minus a Lezzer, but he'd have thrown up anyway.
Trying to get some air. In 2 ways. The electric window wasn't wired in yet....
The Bear tries to climb every mountain. The pink thing on the left inside the car is another Bear. Find us in the paddock and press its right paw...
With all that extra weight she is sitting down a bit in the bends...
Be vewy kweit, I'm hunting Websters.
It's the passenger's eyes that always amuse...
Bear races someone making an Abarth-hearted attempt... We're so funny we could die.
Sending airmail. You do like spoiler, you do.