Loton Park 6 August 2017

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 ūüôā

Jacqui and Oliver came along to Loton and here are three of their photos.

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Jacqui taking a pic of me at Triangle.
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Jacqui’s photo of me at Triangle
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The beauty of Loton Park (with Daniel and Colin Mee’s AH Sprite and a recovery vehicle).

Loton Park 15 and 16 July 2017

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Another great shot by Rob MacDonald. You can follow him on twitter 

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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…

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I gave up my single seater because it was just too much work but Mark Dalton seems to have got it sussed.

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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.

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A better photo… John Cottrill in the same class in his Pilbeam

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It was a round of the Pirelli Ferrari Hillclimb Championship so quite a few roadgoing Ferraris were present. Here’s a 250GT recreation.

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A classic Dino 308 GT4

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And a more contemporary 430. They don’t always have to be red.

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This is the best colour of course. A 308 GTB

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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).

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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.

Loton Park 21 May 2017

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Well I like these tyres!  Did a personal best in the GT86 of 67.75 and won the class.

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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.

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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.

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Peter Turnbull’s Porsche was not in our class but between runs I walked up the hill and snapped some of¬†the others.

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This is Michael Tregoning taking a tight line at Triangle. (Why can’t I do that??)

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Pete Tatham looking good.

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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.

 

Loton Park 17 April 2017

A wet start to Bank Holiday Monday.

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…

Rob MacDonald wisely puts a tyre barrier between himself and my slithering GT86. Rob’s website is at¬†http://www.robmacphotography.co.uk
Here’s another photo of the YEll EAU car – This time by John Hallett. John’s website is at¬†http://john-hallett.co.uk

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 ūüôā

Let’s have some more snaps…

Dave West removed quite a lot of¬†undergrowth from the front of his Peugeot 106 much to Dave Newell’s amusement.
Rachel, Mary, David and Dave at the top of the hill. I think the girls would have been even happier had I kept my Stability Controls on as they had both been quicker than me all day ūüėČ
Les Buck in his new Pringett Mistrale rounding Museum.
Jack Cottrill in his Force PT heading up Cedar Straight.
Philip Stader in his colourful Midget just before Fallow. Would yellow wheels work on my car I wonder, or do you need that contrast?

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…

 

Loton Park 16 April 2017

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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.

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This Turbocharged Celica GT Four caught my eye. Nice colour and great sound.
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Another Japanese car with a great sound. Paul Trill’s RX7.
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Steve Brennan pointing the wrong way at Triangle after a shower.

20170416_154521.jpgGary also came a cropper.

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Tony Adams needs two people to belt him into his Lotus.
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Rachel and Colin – happy father and daughter team. (MG ZR160)
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Another happy team РHugh and Mary. (Mazda MX5)

I’m back there tomorrow for the Easter Monday meeting and aiming for¬†67 seconds. Now I must watch the Bahrain Grand Prix!

Loton Park 26 March 2017

Photo by Rob MacDonald.

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.??

Dave’s MX5

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.

Loton Park Members Practice Day 2017

20170325_114215Today 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.

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Saint Goueno 2017

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…

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Here’s a link to my blog from May this year – Saint Goueno 2016.

Here’s a link to the official website and the entry form.

I can’t recommend it enough. It was a great experience.

Shelsley Walsh 17 Sept

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)

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Loton Park 27 August 2016

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.

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Pat Cooper. Austin Healey 100/6
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Harry Howlett, MGF. Longer exposure and panning capture locked up front wheels while rears continue to rotate.
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Same thing captured on Rob Orford’s MGB, again heading towards Fallow.
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Rhys Jones’s shiny black MX5 looking good on gold wheels on wet track.
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My neighbour from Kinver, Martyn Silcox in his Impreza WRX STI.  Not a particularly exciting photo but the number on the door is perfectly in focus which is what I was aiming for.
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This one is not 100% in focus but almost is and does convey the speed of Gary Thomas in his Force PC as he hurtles into Fallow.
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This one is definitely out of focus but I’ve included it because it does capture an exciting moment for Stuart Roper-Marshall as he goes around Museum on the limit and almost on the grass in his Austin 7.
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Terry Rogers rounding Triangle in his  smoking Frazer Nash
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Rob Morgan rounds Fallow on three wheels with the undriven inside rear stationary.

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.

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David Crawley lifts a rear wheel under braking for Museum
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But Mike Gallery wins the competition for who can lift that rear highest.

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.

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Finally. a bit of fun… I made an animated gif image of Colin Mee tacking around Museum.

 

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Saint-Goueno, Brittany, France 2016

Being un pilote in France.

An official photo of me coming out of the hairpin.
An official photo of me coming out of the hairpin.

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.

The gite where we stayed.
The gite where we stayed.

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.

Setting up in the paddock was easier for us...
Setting up in the paddock was easier for us…
... than for some of the others who seemed to have brought a lot of unnecessary stuff.
… than for some of the others who seemed to have brought a lot of unnecessary stuff.
Some even brought a few cars.
Some even brought a few cars.

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 Рthe first night of a music festival that was run in conjunction with the motor racing. The Saint Goueno Course de Cote is 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.

In the music festival I found this, covered in silver foil and full of coloured lights. SOme of the panels were better than those on mine!
In the music festival I found this, covered in silver foil and full of coloured lights. Some of the panels were better than those on mine!
Talking of which, here she is. I know you're curious.
Talking of which, here she is. I know you’re curious as to how things are progressing.

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 ūüėČ ¬†Then after the event, on Sunday night all the drivers in the Masters were provided with a free farewell meal in the salle des f√™tes.

Wherever you looked in Saint Goueno there was interesting machinery.
Wherever you looked in Saint Goueno there was interesting machinery.
Not all of it very fast.
Not all of it very fast.

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!

Here are some more photos and there are lots more in an album on my Facebook page.

Tom and Marguerite are organic farmers from Australia who have taken six months off to tour Europe in a motor home with a Westfield race car in tow.
Tom and Marguerite are organic farmers from Australia who have taken six months off to tour Europe in a motor home with a Westfield race car in tow.
John Lloyd, who is the main driving force behind the Saint Goueno Masters, with his TVR.
John Lloyd, who is the main driving force behind the Saint Goueno Masters, with his TVR.
Loton regular Dave West with his classic Mini rather than his normal Loton drive his Peugeot 106 GTI. The French love Minis.
Loton regular Dave West with his classic Mini rather than his Peugeot 106 GTI which he uses at Loton. The French love Minis.
Next to us in the paddock was Neil Gould with his completely mad Clio with a turbo charged Subaru engine. He calls it a Subareno Cliopreza.
Next to us in the paddock was Neil Gould with his completely mad Clio with a turbo charged Subaru engine. He calls it a Subareno Cliopreza.
No cars in this one but it also sums up the weekend. Perfect weather, good food and drink and lots of socialising.
No cars in this one but it also sums up the weekend. Perfect weather, good food and drink and lots of socialising. This was Saturday night before we went to the meal.

More photos.

 

The Lotus is back – Loton Park 16 May 2016

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

renault 16 MAy 2016

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.