LLandow Sprint 12 May 2012

After a year out of the HSA Championship (doing the Loton Championship and Toyota Sprint Series) I’ve returned with the ex-Laurence Marks’ Fiat Panda 100HP and it was good to see so many familiar faces in the paddock. This sprint was run jointly by the Bristol Motor Club and the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club and was round 11 in the HSA Championship.

In the event on the day I was in a class of two with Llandow regular Rebekah Edwards in her VW Lupo, but in the HSA event I was in a class of two with Andrew Till in his MG ZR105. I came second in both classes but was quite happy with my performance, with a best time of 98.31 seconds over the one and three quarter lap course, which was faster than three of the MX5s in a big MX5 class.

Here are some photos…

But first a brief video that I took at the start of the day to give an idea of the atmosphere for those who haven’t been to a sprint event. This was when we were waiting for the drivers briefing.

And now some photos…

Charlotte Phelps in her Westfield getting a push from her brother Adam while Dad, John, looks on.

A very jovial Carole Nicholls in her Nike Formula Ford. This was the first time I’d met Carole but after my second timed run I headed off early to see my mother in Crickhowell and as I left there after a cup of tea I’m sure I saw the Nike on a trailer heading that way, so perhaps they are neighbours.

Luke Trotman’s mean looking Mallock. I bet he was reluctant to stick that HSA sticker on the side. Far too colourful ūüėČ

Fyrth Cross getting ready for the off in his immaculate Ensign in which he set a new HSA class record of 80.69 for the Classic Racing Cars and Sports Racing Cars built before 1976 class.

MX5s for as far as the eye can see.

People say I change my cars a lot. How about Gordon Hick! Here he is in his new Ford Focus RS. I never did get to see his GT86 before he sold it.

They had the gearbox out of this. I was dead impressed.

Geoff Stallard in his Elan leaving a cloud of smoke at the start line.

Paul Meadows in his Clio at the start line.

Rebekah Edwards is beautifully colour coordinated with her Dora Motorsport VW Lupo. Rebekah won our class with a time 93.69.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. When Rebekah returned after her second practice run there was a lot of steam and smoke coming from the engine after the water housing exploded on the start line. Her team was quickly dispatched to Bridgend to get a part and they had it all back and fitted (and a new sets of wheels and tyres fitted too) with a minute to spare before the timed runs commenced after lunch. I don’t think she or her team stopped smiling throughout the whole thing – great team work.

I should have brought my GT86 and added to the yellowness. Here’s Andrew Till in his MG. Andrew is comfortably leading my class in the HSA championship and is fifth overall.

Here he is again, rounding the bus stop on three wheels. (My camera decided to malfunction so all these photos were taken with my phone, hence the poor quality of this one).

Andrew Webber’s Lotus Elan +2 which is currently leading the HSA championship.

Paul Jones’s Exige. Paul was fastest in the Modified Series Production over 1800cc class with a time of 82.98.

How didn’t I notice the helmet in front of Chris Howard-Harris’s face? Or did Lynn Gilbert put it there on purpose to steal the limelight?

This is a better photo, taken by someone else and which I’ve ‘borrowed’ from the HSA Championship Facebook Group page. L-R: Charlotte and Adam Phelps, James Robertson, Lynn and Chris.

So, that was my first sprint in the Panda. I can’t see myself winning anything this year, but I think it’s going to be a fun season ūüôā

Llandow Track Day 5 May 2018

I went down to Llandow circuit in South Wales on Saturday to see what the Panda was like on track.

No sooner had I parked up than a guy came over for a chat – Anthony. He too had a 100HP but was passenger in a RenaultSport Megane for the day.

Then I got talking to the guys next to me in the paddock with a RenaultSport Clio and the passenger there, Rob, also had a 100HP! I took him out for a few laps in mine and think it would be good to get all three out on track together some time . Maybe a few more too. Perhaps I’ll organise something through the 100HP Facebook group.

When competing, the trick will be to carry as much speed as possible through the corners as there’s not much in the way of acceleration. The fast back end of the circuit was fine and the car was nice and stable through the fast corners and through the little kink at the end of the straight, but I don’t think I really mastered the tight wiggly complex by the control tower. I feel I should have been going much faster and raising a rear wheel but don’t think that happened, just lots of tyre squealing. It was fun though and the small OMP steering wheel allowed me to do the whole complex without repositioning my hands on the wheel, which was very reassuring.

I changed the wheels for the day and put on the Toyo Proxes R888Rs. These are very sticky and I liked them a lot. I ran them at 20psi (cold) but am not quite sure of the optimum pressure.

They are not uni-directional but have an outside and an inside which means that their tread pattern is ‘backwards’ on one side. Seems odd to me but I noticed another car there with the same set up and it’s right apparently.

On the subject of tyres the guy next to me in the Clio was very disappointed in his tyres which broke up after just one session. Perhaps as a result of not getting them up to temperature before really trying or too much curbing? Anyway he had to abandon his day.

The only problem I had was brake fade. I’ve got EBC Red Stuff pads fitted and they are clearly not suitable for track days. I have Yellow Stuff in the GT86 and these are much better when they get hot. However, I’ll probably leave the red pads in as they won’t get hot in a short sprint or hillclimb and they are fine for the road.

Yesterday I heard that my reserve place at next Saturday’s Bristol Motor Club and HSA Championship Sprint at Llandow is confirmed as someone has had to drop out. So last Saturday’s track day sets me up nicely for my first competition in the Panda. The HSA class record is 90.02 set in a Suzuki Swift so that’s what I’ll be aiming for.

It’s a two and a half hour motorway journey from Kinver to Llandow and the Ragazzon exhaust really does drone but it certainly wasn’t uncomfortable and I can see myself taking this little car far and wide without a trailer. It’s all Good!

Here are some random paddock shots from the day…

Unusual Cars

GT86 and Panda

I’ve often remarked in this blog that we don’t often see similar cars on the road.¬† Sometimes it’s weeks before we see another one and with the Honda S2000 and now the Toyota GT86 we’ve been on holidays in Europe and not seen another one at all.¬† Not even on the way from the Midlands to Calais.

Pandas are pretty common though, but Panda 100HPs not so much and there are similar conversations on the Panda 100HP forum as there are on the GT86/BRZ forum – “Spotted! On M40 going south. Red GT86. Anyone on here?”

So I thought I’d see how they compare.

The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ are essentially the same car, so I’ll count them as one. According to How Many Left there are approx 4,000 GT86/BRZs on the road plus about 600 BRZs, so 4,600.

Pandas? Well if we count only the Series 2 Panda made from¬†2003‚Äď2012 there are…¬† ¬†a lot. I can’t easily separate out the second generation cars from the earlier and later Pandas. However, suffice to say you see them everywhere. But how about the Panda 100HP? These are definitely easier to count and harder to see.¬† 1,700 on the roads in the UK.¬† That’s rare.¬† Much rarer than a GT86.

But if we want really rare, the yellow GT86 Giallo takes the biscuit. Only  82 left of the 86 sold in the UK.

My Dad always liked to be a bit different too. When others had  Fords and Vauxhalls we had a Vanden Plas  then a 3 litre Rover and later a series of Lancias. For a second car where the neighbours had Minis and Vivas we had a Renault Dauphine, then an NSU Prinz.

On May 26/27 at Prescott Hillclimb the Bugatti Owners Club is holding their annual French weekend – La Vie En Bleu. On the Saturday they are incorporating¬†La Vita Rossa to feature Italian cars. Undoubtedly it will be oversubscribed as all those Bugattis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos vie to get on track.¬† However, I’ve entered the humble Panda and am hoping the organisers recognise the pedigree and rarity of the 100HP and give me a shot up the hill.

For more information about La Vie En Bleu see Prescott Hillclimb.

What’s red and Italian?¬†

Jacqui decided I wasn’t fully committed to hillclimbing in the GT86¬† and that maybe I ought to get another race car.¬† It’s true, although I was frustrated by having to go to work in our old estate car each day while my Lotus sat in the garage to be taken out and raced only a dozen times a year, using its replacement, the GT86, on a daily basis and for touring holidays has made me wary of racing it.¬† So, she bought me something red and Italian – a Fiat Panda!

Panda Day 1

It’s not the most aerodynamic of shapes and is a little lacking on the horsepower front, yet it’s perfect!¬† This is the car that Laurence Marks has been developing over the last few years and which he has competed in in the HSA Championship. When I first saw it in 2014 I had my Van Diemen Formula Ford. Now Laurence has a Van Diemen FF and I have his Panda.

October  11th 2014 at Curborough. The first time I met Laurence and first time I saw the Panda.

However, it’s no normal Panda this. This is the rare six speed, 100 bhp Panda 100HP to which Laurence has fitted a full cage,¬† Sparco seat and racing¬† harness,¬†¬†Ragazzon exhaust, CDA induction kit,¬†Columbo & Barriani cam, CDA induction kit,¬†Koni suspension, EBC discs and¬†Team Dynamics wheels.¬† He let us have it at a very reasonable price on condition that if I ever wanted to sell it, I’d give him first refusal. I don’t think he really wanted to sell it at all, but needed the space. (I know that feeling – remember my two Renault 4s?)

So, this is my new project. It’s road legal and I’ll be competing in the HSA championship again after a year off doing the Toyota Sprint Series and Loton Championship.¬† It will be in¬† Class A1 – Roadgoing Series Production cars up to 1400cc.¬† I have no plans for changing the car at all for the first year as I have a lot to learn about driving a front wheel drive car and this will be the challenge and the interest. The challenge too will be to beat Laurence’s times!

Fiat Panda 100HP

This photo of Laurence driving the Panda is taken from his excellent blog –Laurence Marks – away from the office.

And what of the GT86? Well, I’ve probably driven Mike at Tuning Developments nuts with my vacillating. First I had him remove the performance exhaust manifold he fitted last year and flash my ECU back to standard, then I decided to have it all put back on in order to take this season a bit more seriously, now all thoughts of racing it are put aside and the exhaust manifold and ‘over pipe’ kit has been removed. So if anyone knows anyone who wants¬† it, please get in touch. ¬£600 posted.

Tuning Developments Exhaust Manifold

I also bought a set of light Konig Daylite wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres¬† fitted. The idea was to get these List 1B tyres and try to beat the times I achieved at Loton last year on List 1A tyres.¬† I may keep these wheels and just sell on the tyres as they’re road legal track tyres and I’m not sure how well they’d behave when cold and in the wet.

So that’s it. A new car, a new challenge. Let’s go racing again! What a wife!