Snetterton 300 June 2016

Snetterton had been booked since March and as we were taking 15 cars from Northloop, MSV sorted us out with a couple of double garages next to each other so I was looking forward to some socialising between laps. I always try to use Javelin or Circuit days. Not only do I know the staff at both, but I`ve always had great days with them. MSV have kept almost all the Snetterton dates for themselves this year so we had no other option to go with them. I`ve never used MSV as a TDO so was interested to see how it went.

Matt was taking the E36. First time out since Cadwell last summer. Since then he`d swapped the Dual Mass flywheel for a standard one, replaced the gearbox mounts and engine mounts. The engine mounts had also pulled through the subframe which is apparently a common E36 fault. We`d beefed those up and he was hopeful of a good day.

Matt doesn`t have a B+E license, so he can only tow up to 3,500kg Total Train weight. I borrowed a mates lightweight single axle trailer and we put the Golf on there. It was easily under the limit for him and surprisingly stable.

Stopped at Ferrybridge on the way to meet Matt as he`d taken the trailer to work to save him coming home afterwards to pick it up

Arrived at the circuit, spoke to the security guard and unloaded both cars into the garage. Not only did it save a job for Thursday morning, but it meant I slept a lot easier knowing the car & trailers were locked up.

We stayed at Barton Mills Travelodge as usual. Just over 20 minutes away from the circuit and £40 for a family room.Arrived at 22:30 and went straight to bed. Surprisingly comfy and when there are 4 of us it`s a far cheaper alternative than booking a couple of twin rooms elsewhere.

Slept alright, not amazing but good enough. Woke to find it drizzling outside. Had our usual `Travel Breakfast`. UHT Milk, Cereal which is usually eaten from the packet but now we have some cheap disposable bowls too. No expense spared

Arrived well before 8, quickly unloaded the X5 and queued for the Noise Testing.

The Golf was 88dB, Matt`s 328 was 85. Happy with that !

Went for the drivers briefing, not as bad as the MSE one I had at Thruxton several years ago but it seemed much longer than most although the guy giving it was VERY clear to the race teams that it was a track day not a test day. He also went into great detail about what would happen if you dared to stray past the kerbs….:karl:

Out for the sighting laps and it was greasy so near the end of the lap I loaded up my `damp circuit` Boost map for the ECU on the App. Car started running really badly and I pulled off the circuit, reloaded the previous Map and it drove fine back to the pits. Turned out to be a setting MSD is doing something weird to. Trev is aware and on the case. No matter, I loaded the Damp track map again a different way and it loaded fine. More on this later.

Matt was trying some Pilot Sport Cups but after a session came in and said “They are rubbish, I can`t get heat into them in this weather” then promptly fitted his old Kumho V70`s and was much happier. On a summers day the Cups will be better.

First session out and yep, it was cold, drizzling and bloody windy ! Did several laps to get everything up to temp, pulled into the pits, dropped tyre temps and straight back out.

Had a good few laps with Alastair in the Honda powered Elise, Me and Lee in the new Boxster behind. Interesting laps and I learned a lot. In the damp Snetterton really favours RWD, I actually think it `s a circuit that benefits RWD wet or dry but I don`t recall there being such a noticeable difference when I previously drove it when it was dry . I knew I just couldn`t get the power down out of the corners if I loaded the `dry` map so left it on the `wet` one. There are a couple of hairpins and 2 other slow corners which I just wheelspin out of if I don`t pay attention to the throttle. Once I had traction we were very even though. I was able to slowly pull away from Lee on the straights but he was great under brakes. Just the sort of session I enjoy, cars with different strengths and weaknesses but close over the whole lap

Eddie was there doing some tuning for Ben & Tim in the 2.8 24v VR6.

I saw the oil light flicker and kept a beady eye on it and on the next left hander and the oil pressure flickered from 4.5 Bar to 2 Bar so cooled down and back into the pits. I`d changed the oil so just though it needed topping up now the oil cooler had filled when everything was warm. Only took 1/2 a litre and I went back out.

2 laps later and it flickered again. ! I have warning lights / gauges for a reason so came straight into the pits. Pressure was the usual 4.5 Bar unless cornering so I wondered if it was still low.

Looked under the bonnet, nothing appeared amiss straight away, then I looked round the back of the engine and saw oil thinly covering everything. The splitter had contained the oil but by now oil was also starting to drip off onto the garage floor. Nothing for it but to jack up the car

Removed a wheel and saw straight away what the issue was. The Turbo oil drain line to the sump was leaking. No problem, it`s just a short length of hose, secured with a couple of jubilee clips. It`s under no pressure and is easy to swap.

When the engine is out of the car.

With the engine IN the car, it`s THE single most difficult hose to change. The access is awful. The manifold meant you can`t reach in easily from the top and the chassis leg and engine mount means you can`t get it from below.

I removed the Turbo inlet and outlet silicone & Aluminium hoses, brake caliper, and discs just to try and gain SOME access.

After over an hour and a half I managed to remove the old hose. Seriously, it took me that long ! The Yellow `keep away I`m irritated` flag was out in force.

Whilst I was replacing the hose, Andrew had been out in his fabulous M3 and was telling everyone about all the fancy modes available and the feedback it gave him when driving. I asked if there was a `man up` message when the car knew he COULD go faster but didn`t

All that faffing about for a hose. It was the original one from when I did the conversion a couple of years ago and it had simply failed. I initially considered getting a braided hose made up and this just confirmed that was probably a good idea. Something to do over the winter.

I take a comprehensive spares kit and had some suitable hose to replace it with. Only took and hour to fit the hose, clean all the oil off everything, refit the brakes and then it was time to get on track. At 12:55, just as the circuit closed for lunch.

Used the opportunity to have some lunch and a chat to a few people. We`d brought kettles, tea, coffee, biscuits and cake, these were left in the corner of the garage and work as a focal point where we can have refreshments between laps. On a nice day people tend to hang around and have a chat between sessions but the biting wind and miserable weather meant people were happier to jump into a car for a passenger lap instead of hanging around..

I`d managed just under 60 miles before the hose went which isn`t bad at all for an hour and a half of driving but I went out after lunch wanting to get some laps under my belt. I haven`t driven Snetterton properly since I added the Turbo, last time I was here it was torrential rain and the Crank Position Sensor failed getting it off the trailer.

Neil was out showing Lee the way…

Ian has had several irritating issues with his MX5 Turbo but was enjoying himself with some trouble free lapping

He then caught up with Graham in the E36 M3 and they had an enjoyable session on track together.

The Marshalls on track were excellent. Initially they Blue flagged you if they thought you were held up, but after a few sessions they knew who was following a mate and who was being held up and so didn`t Blue Flag you if you were following through choice.

I did a lap, came straight back in and checked there was nothing leaking. All good so I went out again for a longer session. Nick jumped in with me and we went out to follow Matt in his E36.

This photo tells so much.
Matt could carry loads of speed round Coram. I could too, but if I carried the speed he did I couldn`t stop . The E36 was so stable ! He could hold the tighter line and still brake hard at the end. I ended up taking the wider line then sweeping back in to straighten the braking zone. Keeping it tight really unsettled the rear once I stood on the brakes as it was moist.

Once we braked Matt closed right up on me

I had to really concentrate on a good exit although once I was straight, I could power away easily if I wanted to.

Before the day we already suspected the cars would be close and this was borne out on track. I was quicker in a couple of corners, Matt was better out of the slower ones and identical in others. He made up braking through Brundle towards Nelson and also at the end of Coram. Not just a little bit either !
Matt drove very well, several people commented on it and he was super consistent too which is useful. He still has the exuberance and fearlessness of youth which certainly helps but he also has good car control too. Obviously all of the above is down to my instruction….

The performance of the E36 at the ring a few years ago was the catalyst for me adding the Turbo to the Golf. The performance at Snetterton wasn`t unexpected but if we had the same power to weight, I don`t think I`d be able to keep up at this particular circuit. Fortunately I have BOOST

IF I nailed the braking through Brundle we were close, but if Matt indicated to let me past then purposefully didn`t lift on the straight so I had to pass him on the inside to compromise my line, he closed right up. The git.

Stace had taken the Mini and it was a rare opportunity for Matt to be on track in the E36 with him. From what I saw, the 328 had the legs on the Mini over a lap but I don`t know by how much.

Iain prepared to take the Imp on track, confident it was going to be reliable and nothing would fall off this time..

Lou is starting to enjoy passenger laps and is going out every time we`re at a circuit now. Steve took her out in the Caterham which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Whilst following Alastair, he was black flagged so we both came in. The Pitlane Marshall is a really friendly bloke and explained to Al he`d `exceeded track limits`.

Stace let Tim drive the Mini who was black flagged for the same offence later in the day (not on this lap obviously).

I took Cat out for a session, Iain was behind then Matt in the background.

Black Flag for Iain. I wonder why..

Ah, that`s why !

I then received a `Go to pits` board so came in. They`d seen some smoke from the rear right and wanted to check it was OK. I`ve highlighted it here.

It was the inside edge of the tyre JUST rubbing on the fibreglass diffuser. Had a good check to ensure it was nothing else then explained to the marshall who was cool and explained they just wanted to make sure it was nothing serious. I`ve no issue with that.

Paul was out in the Z3. Not chasing times, just getting some laps in and building confidence again. I took him out in the Golf which I think he enjoyed. Circumstances have meant he`s never managed to get out with me before even though we`ve discussed it often.

Had a great session with Simon as my passenger following Al who had no passenger. That extra power to weight advantage meant I couldn`t catch him. He couldn`t escape either, the gap was the same but it made the difference. When we both had passengers, I could catch him back up if I`d been help up in traffic. The Zenos was between us and lapping at the same pace. Great laps although Al pushed a touch too hard into the tricky braking zone.

The downside with Matt driving too was we ran out of Jerrycans of fuel so I filled up on site. 97 Ron and £1.20 a litre which isn`t bad at all.

16:45 and I dropped Simon back in the pits so he could drive the MX5 to the end and Eddie jumped in for the last laps. He`d finished mapping the MK2 and it was a perfect opportunity for him to experience the Pinderwagen on track again seeing as it`s undergone a LOT of changes since his last laps. Front tyres were too hot after the long session with Simon trying to catch Al causing it to understeer a bit more than normal. Track was still a touch greasy but just about the driest it had been all day and I was still on the very progressive `damp` boost map . I think that`s all my excuses sorted.

Finished the day doing 198 Miles of which 140 had been utterly trouble free ones after lunch.

After Spa I`d lost some of the confidence I had built up about the engine. I thrashed it at Blyton, revved it more than usual at the ring and left it in 4th instead of dropping into 5th at Snetterton.

That was simply to give myself that confidence that it CAN take the abuse if necessary. I came away feeling very happy and whilst it could be just about to break, I don`t worry about it. The reliability I had last year is back again and whilst the split hose was irritating, it wasn`t something that will keep me awake at night worrying about.

All I need to do is degrease everything, check the alignment as I`m sure it`s out a little and increase the rear stub axle spacers by another 5mm to clear the diffuser. Then I`ll put it on the trailer ready to go

Tea and coffee station was a huge success. Just a shame it was so Damn cold and windy. Nobody really wanted to hang around and just chat for ages, it was warmer in a car.

However, It was a brilliant day and showed yet again why we need to arrange more of these group trackdays. !

My next trackday isn`t until the end of August, so I`ve got almost 3 months off now .