For the last couple of years I`ve done Brands Hatch with MazdaOnTrack on the first Friday in December. It`s a great way to end the year and whilst the weather has never been wonderful it has always been a good event.

Across to the paddock. I was sharing a Garage with Tom, unloaded and then signed on. Ram had slept in so Gurds was late. They had a `special` briefing after everyone else had theirs..

I jumped in with Tom for the sighting laps, very greasy and still wet everywhere. Low ambient temps meant it was going to be interesting until it dried…..

From this point on, I am using photos taken by Eddie, Tom, Al, Stew and Ram. I was useless and didn`t take any at all. A big thanks guys, without your photos, this report would be rather lacking in the photo department…

After the first 20 minutes had passed, I went out to scrub in the R1R`s. Marshall told me to be careful, it was slippery. At 47mph coming out of the pits, round Paddock Hill, the back end came out a bit. Yep, it`s slippy !! Had a short session to scrub the tyres, followed Gurds for a couple of laps too.

Gurds was lifting the inside wheel going into Paddock Hill. We think some stiffer front springs will help. He has them, just not fitted yet.

Fronts scrubbed nicely

Rears still look like new.

Back in to take the R1R`s off and fit the Cups. I KNEW they`d be borderline on the rear, but thought I`d fit them anyway. If necessary, I could refit the R1R`s to the rear and leave the Cups on the front. In hindsight, I should have done. The rears only went up 2psi from cold all day. The drivers rear went up just under 1psi. ie, they were pretty much stone cold.

Took Al Clark out, it`d been ages since he`d been in the Golf, we reckon probably 4 years or maybe more ! The circuit was still not particularly grippy. I had a few small moments, I turned to Al and told him I wasn`t trying to show off !.

Back in to give everything a check over and swap passengers.

I`d forgotten to take my spare kettle for the Garage. I had milk, cups, Tea, Coffee. Just no Kettle…. Fortunately, Ram brought one along, although I`m not sure his mum was thrilled when she went to make her morning cuppa…. I have no idea what Tom and I were discussing here. Probably the exciting plans he has for his MK2 over the winter !

Gurds and I were out again, some of my lines were `experimental`. ie, rubbish. What on Earth am I doing out there

Gurds was finding some places a little slippery too

Lunchtime and we popped up to the weighbridge. I`d checked it at Oulton, but this was a good time to compare Gurds`s MK1 and Tom`s MK2.

Slightly more fuel than Oulton, slightly heavier.

Even after all the extra roll cage, gussets, heavier splitter & side skirts, that`s still 20kg less than last year.


The first 20 minutes after lunch is where you can follow `closely` MazdaOnTrack are the only TDO I`ve been with who do this, but I do enjoy these sessions. During lunch we were deciding who would come with me, Ram was quick off the mark and shotgunned my passenger seat.

The next 5 minutes were spent asking anyone who wanted a lap with Gurds how heavy they were. That got some quizzical looks but we explained we wanted to `even it up` and if they were under 12.5 Stone they weren`t allowed in with Gurds !

The lap was going really well until Gurds had a failure on the front offside Balljoint. ­čś«

He was very fortunate it wasn`t through a fast, heavily loaded corner. The tow vehicle lifted the weight off the car and slowly brought him back round.

Until that moment, we were having some brilliant laps. We reckon with the differing strengths / weaknesses of each car & driver, we are VERY close. Mine seems better in the higher speed corners, he certainly has more power than me and it`s better getting the power down too. Should make for a great 2016…..

It was one of those sessions where you look back after and think “yup, that was a Fantastic few laps.”

My lines had improved by this time too.

Phil from PGDesigns took this cracking photo of the Golf. He somehow made it look shiny !

I thought twice about sharing this, but it`s too good not to. Steve turned up, he was chatting away, really enjoying himself and I said “right, lets get you out while the car is running well” He fastened himself in, setoff down the pitlane and the marshall at the end of the pitlane lifted his arm, indicating he wanted to see our wristbands.
“Steve, show the Marshall your wristband”
`Er Nige. I was so excited, I forgot to sign on… I`m so sorry…`

Back into the Garage where I dropped him off so he could go sign on….

My contact at Hi-Spec is Alex. He`d never been on track and I told him if he could get time off work and pop down, I`d take him out. He turned up, we got him signed on and I took him out. I think he rather enjoyed himself . It was funny when he was talking to Gurds and suggesting he could get some HiSpecs to fit. Gurds pointed out his were Brembo competition calipers, Titanium pistons etc…”Yeah, but we could still sort you out…”

Now he was signed on, I took out Steve (The_Teller) who`d driven to Goodwood last year then the engine went so he never got a lap. I was keen to get him out this time. We followed Al in the E63 for a few laps, good fun they were too. Interesting that in a straight line, there is very little between them. I`ll take that ! My MK2 Golf is as quick as a Mercedes E63 AMG in a straight line As expected, even Al couldn`t stop the tyres from overheating after a few laps, but he was certainly pushing on until then.

Back in and another Passenger. This time it was Becks, just as she was getting in, Steve said “Now remember, tell Nige he`s really fast and you`ve never been this quick before….”

After the session she said “That was really quick, I haven`t been that quick before.”
`Becks, you are only saying that because Steve told you to…`
“No, Honest I`m not !”

Back in, swap passengers and out again. The end fence had caught on the Kerb at the bottom of Paddock hill, which had bent it slightly, which is why it looks a bit odd.

A rare shot of both cars in the Pits !

I was purposefully taking kerb in various places, just to see how the new suspension handled them. I`m VERY pleased to say they are significantly better at handling the Kerbs. Where the BC`s were OK, these are far more compliant. They make the kerbs feel half as bad as before. As I`ve said earlier in the report, it`s hard for me to explain the nuances of how different they feel, but nowhere have I thought they were worse than the BC`s.

The afternoon was going great with the Golf performing well. The engine was strong, I was playing with different boost delivery maps to get some data as it was pretty dry. There are no straights to get a full 4th gear pull, so most were in 3rd.

This is a trace of the `Medium` Boost delivery.

RPM in yellow, that`s 3rd and the boost rises pretty quickly to 0.9Bar and holds it until I change to 4th.

Once in 4th the boost is still 0.9Bar and would have held until the limiter, but I press the Boost Button at 5,250 rpm and the Boost immediately rises to 1.16Bar and then slowly tapers down to 1.1Bar at 6,500RPM.

This difference is really noticeable in the car. When I pressed the Button the first time, Ram turned and said “Wow, you can really feel the difference with the button !” It`s giving me the `shove` I want, but only when I choose to, so for most laps I don`t bother, but if I need a bit more, it`s there.

This is a Trace from the `MAX` map. This felt much more urgent through the rev range and it was the first time I`ve ever run this map. Boost. it`s rather addictive isn`t it.

Again, the 1st part of the trace is in 3rd, no button pressing, just boost increasing all the way to 1.15Bar at 6,500. It would then taper to 1.1 Bar if I revved to 7,200. That`s intentional, it is something I consciously mapped to reduce engine stresses at the top of the rev limit.

The 2nd part of the trace is where I can see the limitations of both my ECU and also the Turbo and wastegage.

The boost target is 1.3Bar and even though it initially goes to that when I press the button, the ECU allows it to fall to 1.15Bar. That`s not because the Turbo can`t deliver more boost, the ECU wasn`t asking for more. The Electronic Boost control was too slow to ask for more boost as the pressure started to drop. I`m not sure if this is something I can address or not. I`ll have a play sometime in the future, but to be honest, 1.3Bar was too much, it hesitated slightly. You can`t see it on the trace, but both Ram and I felt it. Same feeling as when I ran copper plugs. I just think it`s asking too much for this small Turbo and after seeing Prawn`s findings on the Dyno, I suspect it wouldn`t actually give any more power anyway. I really want to get it on a known Dyno with other cars in 2016, just to tune the boost button delivery. Fuelling is fine at around 11.5AFR on both graphs and goes richer as the revs get towards 7,000rpm

A photo from before Gurds had his failure with Eddie, Me and Gurds in convoy

Duncan in his MK1 had turned up to join us

He had an identical failure to Gurds in the morning. Not the Balljoint shearing, but the drive flange. He was unsure how he`d get home. Over lunch we gave him a list of parts to go collect, he came back and then with the assistance of Tom, Eddie, Gurds, Ram, Duncan and a tiny bit from me, his front strut was removed, wheel bearing removed, new one pressed in with my bearing `puller`, new flange and CV fitted and he drove it back home. A real example of the Club `spirit` coming together to help someone who was stuck.!

Anyway, I took Paul out for a session and tagged onto the back of Nick in the Roadrunner for a few laps.

I still don`t really know why the back end went, but go it did…..

I could give lots of excuses as to what I think happened, but I ended up in the gravel. In fact, yeah I will give some excuses… I swapped to the Pilot Sport Cups after scrubbing in the R1R`s and with hindsight, I should have left the R1R`s on the rear. Even after the session I did on them, they still had the moulding `bobbles` visible.

The Cups on the front rose in pressure as usual and needed the pressure dropping after each session. The rears NEVER needed that. The passenger rear only rose 2psi all day, the drivers rear only 1psi. That should have told me that they simply weren`t working hard enough. The track temperature was cold and the rear wasn`t gripping all day.

Next time, I`ll leave the R1R`s on instead. But I didn`t…

Apparently, not many people make it as far as this gravel trap…

This short clip is a selection of `moments` through the day. Yes, I should have kept my foot in, Yes I could have caught it. Blah Blah Blah. I know that now, but as you`ll see on the video, when it went every other time, I feathered the throttle, held the slide and gathered it up smoothly, I expected the same this time…

In all my trackdays, this is the first time I`ve been stuck in the gravel. I said afterwards that I know it`s one of the most blindingly obvious statements you`ll ever hear, but “The gravel certainly stops you quickly doesn`t it…..

I caused a Red Flag which was irritating and I`m sorry about that. The recovery guys were excellent, he explained NOT to try and straighten the steering wheel immediately, just put light pressure on once it started being towed out, otherwise it damaged the track rods.

They towed me out and then I drove back into the pits. It`s like a drive of shame, plenty photos and the piss being taken out of me as I drove back .. All utterly deserved and I`d have done exactly the same.

Borrowed a brush and shovel. Some comedian said “Oh, have you brought your own Nige..” No, I hadn`t

I`m sure you can think of a better caption than whatever I put here..

Drove into the garage, took the passenger wheel off and the gravel was EVERYWHERE ! The wishbone is on the right of the photo. The gravel was piled up halfway to the driveshaft, the gap between the sump and the splitter was solid and the front of the splitter was covered.

Dragging it out onto a bin liner.

This was just from the passenger side. I removed the same amount from the other side too.

Unfortunately, when the splitter dug into the gravel, it tore the mount clean through the plywood !

Finished removing what I could at around 3:50. I did NOT want to end the year with the car on axle stands in the garage, so put the wheels back on and went out for the last 5 minutes. The Marshall said “You won`t be out for long”. It didn`t matter, I just wanted to check everything was OK before I parked it up for the season and I wanted to finish with a smile.

Ram jumped in and out we went. The gravel could be heard sliding around on the splitter everytime I turned the wheel, I suspect I`ll be finding it for ages yet…..

Car was absolutely fine, no issues at all and we did 3 or 4 laps until the chequered flag came out.

Back into the pits and this smile sums everything up.

I had an off, I damaged a bit of plywood and people laughed at me. But these things happen. I didn`t hit anything and I learned something.

Loading up at the end of the day and looking back on the 150 miles I managed on track with NO mechanical issues, just a driver one and I was most certainly in a Green mood.

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