20th/21st April 2013

After the disappointment of Henry’s entry to the event being rejected as the track has a 2 litre maximum engine capacity and a 2.5 litre holden grey motor just didn’t make the cut. We all made the trek north to Cadwell Park, Lance, Henry & Marty arrived at the track on Friday to get some private practice in. The Jane Brabham was fine but the Lotus 20/22 would not get any oil pressure up, so it was parked up for the day and Bob Juggins, our support engineer, brought up more test equipment from Kimbolton to fix the issue, turns out it was just a gauge malfunction – works fine upside down????

Kevin arrived at the track on Saturday morning to see 1/8” of ice all over the Lotus’ tyres, the rest of car under a cover. After this cold start to the day, however, we were treated to wonderful blue skies, the weather is getting better so you probably only need half your wardrobe on, although Henry was still wearing all of his. There was quite a festival atmosphere as many competitors stayed on site in campervans or caravans. There were even a few brave souls in tents! It was disconcerting seeing Englishmen wandering around in T-shirts and shorts in -3 degrees. Kevin, Kerrie and family stayed offsite in a lovely 2 bedroom cottage, 1.5 miles from the circuit, while the rest of the group stayed about 10 miles North.

The Stig look alike tries the Lotus for size. Note all the campers in the background.

Scrutineering: the cars passed fine with new on-board fire systems and mufflers installed – we just snuck under the noise limit when rev’d to just under 4000 and said this was 75% revs!! Our racegear was a different issue – Kevin’s helmet didn’t pass, only Australian standard, so grabbed Marty’s, although this has a Snell number it started with an M for motorbike – so not acceptable, luckily he squeezed into Henry’s. Then they canned Kevin’s suit – has CAMS tag but not FIA so he used Marty’s brand new suit – a bit tight but OK, was starting to look like the Stig with white helmet and white suit on. Lance then had same issue with helmet so he too used Henry’s and then they canned his boots as they had no FIA tag so once again into Henry’s clothes bag.

We had missed practice day with the Lotus but made qualifying only for Kevin to do a little loop (brain fade) and stall the car and the on-board battery would not start it. They were very accommodating and let him out behind the formula fords to get another practice in – the circuit is very challenging and keeps surprising you.

The Lotus tackles "the Mountain"

A Lap: The front straight (600 metres) contains the start/finish line and leads into a very fast (no lift, if brave, in 5th) left hander which heads uphill (or should that say up-mountain) then downshift to 4th into a long right, actually 2 corners but if you get the line right you can make it one and no brakes or lift off, flat to the floor and another 600 metre straight – where we were full speed well before the end. Hard on the brakes, down to third to negotiate the turn in and then on to a very long sweeping right, getting back up to 4th in the bend 100+ mph, a slight lift and light brake into a right left chicane (the “gooseneck”) before dropping down a very steep hill back to max revs in 4th, downshift to third for a left-hander and then into another 350 metre straight before the tight right turn up the “Mountain” in 2nd.

Martin Bullock in English spring attire in front of the track layout

Cars climb up "The Mountain"

If feels like you have just driven into a wall, it climbs about 10 metres in 40 metres of track, then a hard right on to what appears to be a footpath, from the drivers perspective (the track is only 6 metres wide at this point, as is most of the track), and another 10 metre climb with all cars rears leaving the ground at the top, almost all the accidents occured on this section of track. You get a 100 metre straight to take a breath before a series of 4 bends (“Hall Bends”) over the next 200 metres. Just as you get them perfect and carry maximum speed through you have to stand on the brakes on a downhill into a very tight hairpin, very difficult not to lock a tyre here, and then continue down hill through a 3rd gear right back on to the front straight still going down a considerable slope and gaing speed rapidly to cross the start/finish line for your next lap.

 If you are fast this took about 1:30 (outright lap record is 1:23), we were doing 1:40’s for Lance and 1:50’s for Kevin. Video from the cars does not give you the complete feeling as a driver as you climb up and down over 50 metres on this picturesque 2.2 mile (3.5km), 18 corner, circuit. You need to be fit just to walk up and down to the viewing points and the pit crew climb up and down over 40 metres on a 300 metre path to get from the dummy grid to pitlane and back.

Race Time: 20 minutes per race – this equates to about 13 laps. In the races Kevin started rear of grid for both of the FJ races due to his qualifying mishap. In the first race he managed to pick up 3-4 places (about 18 cars in the field) finishing 11th but it was very difficult to pass in the windy sections, where the Lotus shone and caught up, however, all the cars (including one with severe misfire) just pulled away on the straights , making it difficult to progress up the field further. After basic engine checks failed to find an issue and water temp and oil pressure where fine we headed out into the second race but the Lotus got slower, couldn’t get out of fourth on the front straight and was lapped twice by the first car, finishing a distant second last. We now suspect a failing on-board battery not being used to these cold temperatures but the circuit was worth every lap, absolutely fantastic!

Lance on the dummy grid

Lance went well in the Jane Brabham in his first race on the Saturday, qualified 9th, but in true Lance style was 5th into the first bend and he managed to keep everyone behind him for about 7 laps before he let them past after oil on the circuit made it even more dificult to stay on the bitumen. He started the second race on Sunday and continued with another blistering start up to 5th again and held his own with only a couple of front runners, that started rear of grid, getting past him but still he came in 6th. A very good effort on a circuit you need half a lifetime to learn properly. The Brabham was however breathing oil and water into the catch tanks so it’s head off the Fiat engine before the next event.

This was a great weekend at a great track and was thoroughly enjoyed by the drivers, crew and families. Next event is Donnington where more of the team will join us.

All packed up for the next adventure. Henry Oosterbaan and Kerrie Kitson

Community Newspaper Article
Autosport Article

Comments are closed.

A Random Image
A Random Image
A Random Image
A Random Image
A Random Image