Oulton Park December 2019

Matt’s E36 hasn’t seen much tracktime over the last 4 years. When he was completing his degree he simply didn`t have the spare money or time to work on the car and book any trackdays. After a successful shakedown at Blyton the other week this was the first time since 2016 that we were taking both the Golf and the E36 to a trackday together.

The only issue he had was a numb brake pedal, we’d bled the system but just couldn’t get the brake feel to improve. We suspect the pads are too old and the plan was the change them after this event. The E36 brakes have always been a strong point and Matt was frustrated that he wouldn’t be able to lean on them the same as usual.

 

The track surface was wet and greasy and for the first hour or so I had to be careful. What it did mean was that I could unsettle the rear with a quick lift of the throttle as I was loading up into a corner then get back on the power to hold it. I’ve found the circuit staff are OK with a bit of this but if the angles get too lairy they black flag you so I kept it well under control.

 

Cat was alternating passenger laps between Matt and I. The circuit was still wet but a lack of stoppages meant I could come and go as often as I wanted with no queuing.

 

The E36 was going well as always. The only issue being the brake pedal feel as expected.

 

After the issues at Spa I`d replaced the intank fuel pump and fitted a swirl pot feeding the main pump. At Spa I had increased the amount of fuel the injectors put into the engine to try and address the failing pump problem, which worked up to a point and then the pump had failed completely. What I’d forgotten to do was tweak the ECU map to reduce the amount of fuel I was putting into the engine, so it was still running a bit rich. So much so that I was producing some impressive flames on gearchanges and when I lifted off !

 

James was there in his M3, he hadn’t been out with me for years and certainly not since I’d added the Turbo. He jumped in for a session on the drying circuit and expressed surprise at how much quicker the Golf was now compared to before. When I switched to high boost on the lakeside straight and out dragged an M3, he saw first hand just how quick it was and could appreciate why it was now so fast around the Ring.

 

Adam was in a good mood, although I’ll be honest, even now my eyes still haven’t recovered from this… 

 

As the track dried, Matt kept pumping out the laps. As usual the car didn’t miss a beat and after all the work he’s done it was a big relief for him to get in so many trouble free miles.

 

This was the last outing of this splitter, it was 4 years old and the plywood was past it’s best. We knew this before the day but seeing how much it was drooping on the photos was still a bit of a shock. The job for the winter is to address the brake pedal and to tidy up the car a bit.

 

For several years Tim and others have kept asking why I have the switchable boost map buttons on the steering wheel. He hasn’t been out in the Golf for quite some time and he jumped in for a session. I drove round with the 310HP low boost map for a while and he said “yeah, this is quick enough”

Then I pressed 440HP high boost on the straight and he shook his head. “Nige, this is bonkers !!” 

I`m well aware my right foot isn’t a switch and I can modulate the power but as I’ve explained many times before, the outer CV joints are the weakness in the drivetrain. If I left it on high boost, I WOULD shear a CV joint, I’ve done it enough to understand this. By having the switchable maps on the wheel, I can roll my thumb onto the button and with the right button get another 50HP then with the left another 80HP. That is certainly noticeable and whilst I don’t always use full power, it does bring a grin to my face when I do.

After seeing how easy the deployment of various power modes was and the difference it made, Time finally understood what I’ve tried to explain before 

 

I didn’t have any problems with the Golf at all, I just kept adding fuel and a bit of oil as usual.

 

Olly hasn’t been out in the Golf and even though we’ve been on loads of trackdays together it just hasn’t worked out that he could jump in. His grin shows he was quite looking forward to a session.

 

It was the first session after swapping tyres and even after 15 years of trackdays and 10,000`s of track miles I still made a stupid mistake. Turned into cascades at the same pace as I had the session before but with stone cold rear tyres. Yeah, that’s never going to work is it. 

 

The splitter doubles up as a plough when offroading….

 

After cleaning the grass off we went out and you could see the divot I’d gouged out of the grass 

 

Next session and Lou came out with me. This is rare indeed ! Sometimes we go to a trackday and she’s in the right mood to go on track. Today was one of those days.

We’d been out for 5 minutes when I saw Paul in his GT3 so let him past then tagged onto the back of him for a few laps. Great fun it was too  The biggest difference is in traction out of the slower corners, I simply can’t live with him there.

 

Kev lives nearby and always tries to pop across when I’m at Oulton or Anglesey.

 

I lost track of the number of people I took out on circuit but I don’t recall ever taking so many people out on a single day before. What made it even better was the Golf was flawless, I was delighted with how well it performed although the niggling feeling I had from the Ring and Spa about the diff not locking up properly was still there. In fact in the afternoon it felt like it was completely open and would spin up the inside wheel easily.  As it turned out, this was because the diff clutches had all sheared the locking pins and it was an open diff 

 

Over 200 trouble free miles on track. Brilliant. 

 

That’s it for 2019. Winter plans were to address the diff issue which I did by replacing it with a Gripper . A few cosmetic tweaks to tidy it up and then get in a lot of trackdays. The next one being the Mission Motorsports troops trackday at Silverstone in February.

Unfortunately Matt’s cameras didn’t work and we never seemed to see each other on track. Typically we only realised this right at the end of the day so didn’t get any footage chasing each other.

We WILL do it next time…

 

That`s it. 2019 finished and what an up and down year it was ! The biggest disappointment was the Ringmeisters trip where low oil level meant the accusump was unable to save the crank from low oil pressure and my 2 day trip was over before lunchtime. Overall I have had some absolutely stonking laps and don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable in the car that this year. Comparing data from 2018 backs this up, I’m earlier on the throttle, carry more mid corner speed and I’m later & harder on the brakes.

Apart from the oil issue, the engine has been fantastic. I’ve upgraded the Turbo and am now running 440HP on high boost, the only limiting issue is the outer CV joints. They are a frustrating weakpoint but I know that without spending a few grand on an uprated gearbox and then uprated CV’s I’ll just have to live with low boost in 3rd gear corners or whenever I use kerbs, if I do that it’s fine.

Each year I think “that’s it, the car is finished and can’t get any better” Ha, what a load of rubbish   There is always something else to do.

I did more trouble free on track miles in 2019 that I have ever done . The failures are the things people remember and I understand that, but don’t lose sight that this is a home built and developed MK2 Golf that for most of the time laps and laps hour after hour with no issues at all 

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