As it often does, our race day started the evening before, by packing the wagon and heading down to a local campsite. As a slick and streamlined operation, we had the car packed in about 15 minutes, and started our cruise down the M5 in good time.
We were quickly joined at the campsite by our regular camping buddies – Driven – and enjoyed a few quick drinks before hitting the rollmats. Morning came around and we packed up, set off, and got to the track all in good time (a first!). Registration and scruiteneering were dealt with quickly (although not without Josh taking a worrying number of photos of our car), leaving us with time to spare before practice began.
We took the opportunity to poke around the cars of some of our competitors. We were particularly interested in a new privateer entry called Stealth, which made interesting structural use of foam, and ‘borrowing’ ideas from Renishaw on how to make lightweight, streamlined bodywork. By this point we had realised that our bodywork was simply too large, and had begun planning our the rework to occur in the mid season break. Reworking eventually became starting again from scratch, but that’s a subject for another blog.
Performance in practice didn’t look too bad, with us sitting just behind Project E, but ahead of Rotary Racer, one of Renishaw’s cars, and Stealth. The lap times were unfortunately only half the story though; the front tyres had been shredded, and we were drawing an average of nearly 40 amps, meaning we’d never finish the race.
The tyre shredding was being caused by the car’s tracking being slightly off. Fixing this (with some help and kit from Driven) dropped the average current consumption by 15 Amps, but still left us consuming far too much to make the end of the race.
With the risk of not finishing, and completely cooking the motor over an hour of running, we decided to take a conservative approach, lifting and coasting around the corners, and running much higher gear ratios than we had in practice. These changes cost us around 3mph over the race, but made sure that we saw the chequered flag. We dropped back at the start of the race, but by the end of the hour had made our way to a points paying position, thanks to the failures of other cars.
At the event we took the opportunity to buy two new batteries, taking us to a total of 6 (a necessity with the new format of the International Final), and a new motor, as we were reasonably sure at this point that we had irreparably damaged our original (more on that in another post as well).
We left Merryfield with our first race finish (Hooray!) and our first points of the season (Double Hooray!), but also a much greater awareness of how much would need to be done to get to where we want to be.
Next Stop: Rockingham!