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!
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!
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.
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!