Had another good day at Loton today. Couldn’t beat my PB (65.91) of yesterday but did three 66 second runs and messed up my fourth. The first three were very consistent with two of them recording exactly the same time to the hundredth of a second to Museum (57.13).
So that’s my last Loton of the year. I can only wait and watch now to see what happens in the championship when we are at Spa at the end of the month 🙂
Jacqui and Oliver came along to Loton and here are three of their photos.
Another great shot by Rob MacDonald. You can follow him on twitter @RobMacShots
Last week saw the GT86 Giallo on a different hill.
It seems amazing that last week we were driving across the Pyrenees in the Giallo and this weekend I’m thrashing it up Loton Park hill. What a great all round car it is. The great excitement this weekend was finding out what the newly resurfaced track would be like. It was damp on Saturday morning so most people were a little circumspect but we soon discovered that the grip was excellent – much better than before. However, despite this I could not beat my previous best time of 67.75 all day. I think I was a little wary of the edges of the track, which are more defined than before. There seems to be more of a step up to the tarmac whereas before the surface melded into the soil. I may also have been a little too cautious worrying about the bodywork of the car, having done so much damage against a French sapling. The trees in the Loton estate are sturdy old things. Anyway, it was all good fun and I returned on Sunday to try again. This time I beat my PB on both practice runs – 67.40 and 67.26 and was optimistic for a sub 67.75 time (and consequently good points in the Loton Championship) in the afternoon. However, it rained and my first competition time was slow – 70.22. Then lo and behold the sun came out, the track dried and it got hot! 66.58. Brilliant! I either leave Loton completely elated or in despair wondering why I’ve wasted my whole weekend unsuccessfully chasing elusive hundredths of seconds. But this was a good weekend so after the GT86 is repaired (next week) I shall be back!
Here are some snaps…
I gave up my single seater because it was just too much work but Mark Dalton seems to have got it sussed.
Out of focus I know but the only photo I got of Mark on the hill. He set a PB of 52.27 and won his class.
A better photo… John Cottrill in the same class in his Pilbeam
It was a round of the Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship so quite a few roadgoing Ferraris were present. Here’s a 250GT recreation.
A classic Dino 308 GT4
And a more contemporary 430. They don’t always have to be red.
This is the best colour of course. A 308 GTB
After the second competition run at the top of the hill. Everyone very happy (except Dave who ran wide at Fallow and messed up his run).
None of us won a prize so Hugh treated us to an ice cream.
I forgot to say… my second competition run was red flagged because of a deer on the track so I got a re-run. That second run though was a 65 second time for sure.
Well I like these tyres! Did a personal best in the GT86 of 67.75 and won the class.
The class I was in today was a Loton Championship class where we all have personal targets to aim for. These are set by the club and based on our best previous time plus 8 seconds. The difference between your actual time and your target is your score. This allows cars of different performances to compete against each other. This is Mike Reece’s Impreza. My target was 76.85 and I did a time of 67.75. The 9.10 points I earned was just enough to beat Mike, who had been leading until the last run.
Another competitor in the same class was the bat woman in her Fisher Fury. Unfortunately, despite the pleasure of seeing her photo in the programme, Peta had a miserable time, being very frustrated that she could not find the speed she knows it is capable of.
Peter Turnbull’s Porsche was not in our class but between runs I walked up the hill and snapped some of the others.
This is Michael Tregoning taking a tight line at Triangle. (Why can’t I do that??)
Pete Tatham looking good.
Spoke too soon.
I won quite a few awards in the Lotus at Loton but didn’t expect to get any in the GT86 so getting a second one this year was a real surprise.
Talking of prizes, here’s a photo of all the prize winners at Croft last weekend. That will be last time I win the Standard Class by default as the new tyres put me in the modified class where I will surely be at the back.
Back to Loton Park and let’s finish with a couple of two second videos made on my phone to give an impression of the beauty of Loton and the spectacle of a fast car thundering through the deer park.
I don’t know what I think. Hillclimbing does not give you value for money. £280 for four timed runs and three practice runs over two days – total time on track for me – about 8 minutes. Hmm. Yet I’ve just written out a cheque and rushed it down to Stourbridge post office to enter the next HDLCC event at Loton on 20/21 May. Why? OK, around those 8 minutes there are lots of opportunities to watch motorsport and chat with like-minded people, but you can do that for free (as a club member). It’s the drug of competition, of wanting to go back and knock another tenth of a second off, or to increase your speed by 1 mph over the speed trap or to know you’ve hit that apex just right when you’ve messed it up for the last seven years. Those nice people in Hagley & District Light Car Club have made an addict out of me.
Another thing I am struggling with is promoting the sport. I had an interesting conversation with another competitor about how we should be allowing drones (controlled of course), having live video feeds and encouraging the use of hashtags and social media. That would attract younger, newer blood. I agree, I agree. And what about the regulations? The infamous Blue Book, the overalls, the gloves, the helmets – all to stringent MSA standards. These seem to be financial barriers to many young enthusiasts who can go to a track day without them and just rent a cheap helmet for the day. You can even enter some sprint competitions without an MSA licence by buying an IOPD licence on the day. It seems to me that most of the younger competitors at MSA events are sharing cars with a parent, who presumably is paying for it all. And don’t get me started on why we need timing struts! But, but, but… do we want to attract more people into our sport? One reason why we only have four runs per day is that there are too many competitors. Perhaps we ought to be capping the numbers and charging a bit more to cover expenses.
I’m going to make myself soooo unpopular! Enough! Another picture I think…
Because it was wet (or sometimes only damp), times were much slower than yesterday. The morning practices were the wettest and I did a 77.91 and a 78.01. I kept the traction control and stability controls on because it was so wet but these were constantly interfering with how I wanted to drive and in the interests of keeping the car on the tack they were slowing it down too much, often applying brakes or cutting power mid corner. After lunch I turned off the traction control but left the Stability Control in Sport Mode. This was still intrusive, so for the last run, when it had stopped raining and was just damp, I turned it all off and did a respectable 69.31.
I’m not sure though that I can get to the end of the season in Standard Class configuration. I have a strong urge to get decent List 1B tyres and to rip out my standard air filter and try for a 65 second time on a nice warm sunny day at Loton. Would be worth any amount of money 🙂
Let’s have some more snaps…
Next time out? Not sure. I’ve just put in a very late entry for Curborough next Sunday (hence my mad dash to the post office earlier). I had intended to have a weekend off and sort out the garden, but it’s a figure of eight…
It was a difficult Easter Sunday meeting at Loton as a trike crashed heavily early on and an ambulance and air ambulance had to be called. Luckily the driver and passenger were not seriously hurt I understand. Then we had to stop for the church service. These delays meant that we lost second practice and had only three runs. In my case this amounted to just under 3 and a half minutes track time all day and of course for faster cars, less time. Still, while waiting for your runs you are watching motorsport so that’s a positive, as is the very friendly atmosphere in the paddock. Another bonus was the trophy left on my car – presumably by Roy Holder? – for my second in class on the 26th March and another positive is the fact that I did a PB of 68.85. Here are some photos.
Gary also came a cropper.
I’m back there tomorrow for the Easter Monday meeting and aiming for 67 seconds. Now I must watch the Bahrain Grand Prix!
This was the first event at Loton this year and I’ve entered the Loton Park Hagley Members Championship. In this championship you score points for the improvement you make over your target time so it doesn’t really matter that your car is not competitive in its class, just as long as you can improve your times over the season.
In the Lotus I regularly won prizes at Loton and thought those days were over now I have the standard GT86. However, when I got home (I didn’t stay to the end as it was Jacqui’s birthday) I got a message saying I had won a second in class award. What a result! I doubt it will happen again this year because there weren’t many people at Loton on Sunday and Dave West and Fred Currell were somewhere else. Instead the class win went to Dave Newell in his MX5 with a time of 67.97 compared to mine of 69.04.
To put this into context, my best time in the Lotus was 60.21, in the Van Dieman it was 60.76 and the best I did in my MX5 was 70.??
Next weekend it’s all very different. No beautiful deer park as a venue, but a three hour drive north to Blyton Park for the first round of the Toyota Sprint Championship.
Today was the first time I’ve taken the GT86 to Loton Park. The weather was fantastic and it was good to see so many old friends again. We got six runs up the hill and there were no incidents so the day ran very smoothly. I improved my times on each run so was pleased with that. The car was good, but I do miss the power of the Elise for pulling out of slow corners and although the ride seems hard on the road if felt a bit mushy going up the narrow straight, not as planted as the Elise or indeed my old MX5 after I had the suspension done. The biggest problem I had though was the rev limiter which cuts the fuel supply when you hit it rather than allow you to hold the revs at the limit. There are other things to say but I am really pushed for time so I’ll just dump some pics here and an unedited video and be off. Tomorrow is the season opener at Loton and it would be great If I can improve on today’s time.
One of the highlights of 2016 for me was competing at Saint Goueno in France. Entries have just opened for 2017 and although I don’t think I’ll enter next year in the GT86, I haven’t ruled out a quick trip over there to watch and meet up with some of the people we met last year.
When I got the email to say entries were open, I had a look at the website and found a couple of photos of me which I hadn’t seen before…
On Saturday morning, after test driving another Toyota GT86 (the search has narrowed to this and the Subaru BRZ, which is essentially the same car) I headed over to Shelsley Walsh to watch round 31 of the HSA championship. It’s been a weird season for me this year and I realise I have not scored a single point. I was 4th overall last year! Still, I hope to do a full season in class A2 next year, driving to events as opposed to using a trailer. A GT86 isn’t going to win its class but it should be fun and there are always personal targets to be aimed at and good competition to be enjoyed lower down the class. It’s also very practical and should be reliable and economical. Anyway, here are a few photos from Shelsley. (More on the HSA Facebook Group page)
Although I have not bought my next hillclimb car yet, I went to Loton Park yesterday to spectate and take a few photos.
While standing at Fallow I bumped into Stephen Morrison, who I last saw in exactly the same place months ago when he was experimenting with panning with a longer exposure to try to capture the speed of the cars rather than the exact clarity of a fast shutter speed that makes the car look stationary. Since that chance meeting I’ve been trying to do the same and here are a few that came out reasonably well. The cars are still not in focus when you zoom in on them but they are getting there. Certainly they are more in focus than the background and convey something of the speed and excitement of the event.
These photos were taken with a shutter speed of 1/80 but I also took some on the Automatic Sports setting which does capture moments if not atmosphere. Here are a few moments.
Bumping into Stephen also reminded me of his website On-Track.co.uk. It really is an excellent resource for anyone looking for track days, hillclimbs and sprints. I realise I won’t get my next car until the season is over so hopefully On-Track will point me in the direction of some out of season activities.
Finally. a bit of fun… I made an animated gif image of Colin Mee tacking around Museum.
Before we left England Brittany Ferries sent us a text warning us of delays disembarking because of a port workers’ strike. In actual fact it worked out fine as this gave us an extra hour in bed. They also warned us of fuel shortages due to the French tanker drivers going on strike, so we planned to fill up before getting on the ferry at Portsmouth. However, I completely forgot this and we arrived in Saint Malo with only half a tank of diesel in the Accord. However, on Thursday night we went for a meal in Moncontour, where we stayed in 2013, and the small family owned petrol station there let us have as much as we wanted. The weather forecast from before we left the UK until we returned was dire (and in fact we have heard since returning that people were killed in thunderstorms in northern France) but for us it was warm and sunny as you will see from the photos. So, many a warning but in fact everything worked out perfectly.
We arrived at the gite, which we were sharing with some other competitors, just before lunch on Thursday and called Anne, who had organised the accommodation, and were invited to a barbecue lunch at the lake in Saint Goueno. We left the Lotus on the trailer at the gite and headed for the lake which was a sight to behold with race cars and trailers everywhere! This set the scene for the whole four days. Good food, lots of wine and good company. After lunch we returned to the gite to collect the Lotus and moved it into the paddock in Saint Goueno and then headed north to Moncontour.
Friday was spent wandering around the paddock, meeting people and watching historic regularity cars going up the hill, and then signing on and getting our race numbers. In the evening in the salle des fêtes in the village there was meal for all drivers and their crews and live music – the first night of a music festival that was run in conjunction with the motor racing. The Saint Goueno Course de Coteis a round of the French Hillclimb Championship so all the top teams and drivers were present. Unlike in the UK where events are run by motor clubs, this event is run by the local community and the Saint-Goueno Hillclimb Masters (in which I was entered) is a separate event for UK and Irish drivers that is run alongside the main French event.
On Saturday we had an untimed sighting run plus two timed practice runs. The hill is 3.2 km long (over 2 km longer than Loton Park), it’s 3.5 km from the paddock to the start line and then over a kilometer back to the paddock on the return road. So, very different to a British hillclimb. My first time was 1 min 59 secs but over the weekend I improved on every single run to finish with a 1.53.201 on my third run on the Sunday. This placed me 31st out of 69 and second in class behind Peter Cummins in a Darrian T90 GTR.
The Lotus ran faultlessly, which was a big relief after the recent problems which necessitated a new alternator and clutch, and it was very well received by the French who declared it tres cool. It was the only Elise present though there was a roadgoing Europa which was lined up ahead of me for most runs. There was a long break on Sunday for lunch, which was laid on in a huge tent near the hairpin. Aperitifs and wine with the meal. Very French 😉 Then after the event, on Sunday night all the drivers in the Masters were provided with a free farewell meal in the salle des fêtes.
Back in 2013 I blogged about the differences between UK and this French hillclimb (see Saint Goueno 2013) but being a pilote this year I noticed two more differences: 1) if you catch a slower car you are allowed to overtake it and 2) they don’t use timing struts (which begs the question, why do we?).
All in all it was a terrific event which was exceptionally well organised by very friendly and welcoming people. A big thank you to John and Wendy, Graham and Eddie and everyone else whose names escape me now. Merci!
Well, the Lotus got fixed and was ready in time. New Super twin plate racing clutch, new clutch master cylinder, new slave cylinder, new alternator and new engine mounting. I’m broke!
However, it got me to and from Loton twice this weekend – an hour’s trip each way from Kinver, and performed faultlessly on the hill.
This was a two day meeting, a format which seems to me to be universally disliked around the paddock (at least by those I speak to). We had three practice runs on the Saturday and two competition runs on the Sunday. My first was at about 08.45 and then my second was hours later, after lunch. It was good chatting to people throughout the day, but I would rather have had more runs, especially as I did a PB of 60.21 on my second run and the conditions were perfect for another try at a sub 60 second time.
It was a round of the Paul Matty Sports Car Championship so there were lots of Lotus entered and I was pleased to record a faster time than any of the other Elises or Exiges and to pick up the class win.
It was a beautiful sunny day and everything in the deer park was very green, though not Tony Adams’ and Paul Jones’ Elise. Their green Exige still wasn’t running properly so they were out in a silver Elise S2. Here’s Tony coming around Triangle.
However, despite a terrific day I’ve decided to sell my Elise after the Saint Goueno event at the end of May and get something a bit cheaper and a bit more practical for the road or maybe share a drive if anyone offers. We’ll see.
This was the first event that I’ve worn my new HANS device in. When trying to connect it to the helmet at home I was finding it difficult, especially when sitting in the car, but Graeme Williamson gave me some useful advice at the last Loton event – keep it tethered and put the whole thing on together. That worked a treat and I was able to get in the car with it on and do up my harness without assistance.
One reason for selling the Elise will seem crazy to many people (especially as it’s now got so many new parts in it), but I have my new baby to look after and I need to buy some tools and new parts and it all costs money. Here she is… as you can see I have not been idle.
Maybe I should find a Gordini engine for it and enter La Vie En Bleu at Prescott. Only kidding.
I was going to write up the restoration on this blog, but have decided not to do that, but to write it up in the Projects section on Clementine’s Renault 4 Garage’s forum as there are lots of very knowledgeable Renault 4 people over there who can give me advice. So if you want to see a blow by blow account of what’s going on and look at lots of oily and rusty things, here is the link – 1985 GTL C840LEW.