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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Horiba D'Isis Stages Rally, April 2012

In preparation for the 2012 Horiba D'Isis Stage Rally at Mira we fitted the Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam with a taller 4.778 differential to give a 120mph top speed and joined Simon Mauger on a test afternoon in Hemel Hemstead to try to set up the suspension. The test day was useful but unfortunately the alternator failed (short circuit) and killed the electrics which took most of the available 4 hours to fix.

Having had oil temperature issues on the past few events we redesigned the cooling pack at the front of the car fitting a huge oil cooler in front  of the radiator, positioning the air filter to the left where the oil cooler was previously located. We also made a cold air box around the air filter and put some holes in the bumper to increase airflow.

We scrutineered Friday night to have a more relaxing start on Saturday with no issues. Our co-driver for the event Jacqueline Jones travelled down from North Wales and joined us with her parents at scrutineering so we could sign on. We were getting a little worried when we had to travel through hailstones and snow getting to scrutineering.
We had Andrew and Ina make the trip from Baildon to Marshall and they were assigned junction 44.
On the Saturday morning we headed to service early and grabbed a nice big space for 4 cars, ourselves, fellow Wallasey MC Crew Dowthwaite and King, Howard in the Red Lotusbits Sunbeam and Nigel and Sam in the 205.

No issues in service and straight out to stage 1 on X12s tyres. Having heard all the hype about car 13 the 3Litre V6 450bhp Darrian of Fraser/Carter we carefully adjusted our mirror so we could get out of his way when he caught us. On stage it was difficult to hear Jacq on the intercom, probably down to the number of adapters required to connect a Stilo helmet to Terratrip.

On the long straights we were sat on the limiter in 5th for what seemed like forever – even with the taller diff. The car felt floaty at the back at these speeds so we backed off the bump on the rear shocks to counteract  this during service.

The Darrian did not pass us and we found out why when he was dragged back to service with a very sorry looking back end…

Stage 2 was much better and 20 secs quicker. The shocks change stabilized the car at speed but reduced the low speed turn in so we softened the front dampers as well for SS3 as well as going to X08S tyres as the X12s were cooked.

On SS3 we caught and overtook the Stampers in their GC8 Subaru Impreza and kept an Aston Martin DB9 well behind us taking time out of him. Ian and Andrew were cursing us on Junction 44 as we kept wiping out the cones on the hairpin as the car was struggling to turn in.

 After SS3 we were surprised to find we were 9th overall and ahead of one of the Metro 6R4s – Car 6 – going well!

On SS4 we had the bit between our teeth and  we were pressing on around the handling circuit and left the braking a little late for the level crossing and had a bit of a moment…

Later in the stage we managed to propel a bale across the stage with the rear wheel arch (got to keep the service crew busy to refit the wheel arch and mudflap)! A general spanner check did not find anything except a scratched sump guard.

Just prior to SS6 the heavens opened and soaked the circuit. We were caught on slicks so the stage was slippery and interesting to say the least. We had a long excursion over the grass half way round the first open 18 right which fortunately caused no damage and encouraged us to be a little more cautious.

After  SS6 we were joint 7th with car 23, the Mark 2 Escort of Colin Chiles.

On SS7 the tarmac was drying but as the concrete roads were lethal in the wet we went out on worn X22 wet tyres – a wrong decision as the track was dry by the time we got out – this cost us 10 seconds – but we still took 3 seconds out of car 23 to secure 7th place.

Back onto slick tyres for SS8 , the final stage -  we were under pressure to keep 7th from Colin with the chance to steal 6th from the 306 Maxi Kit Car of Guy Wigley. When we compared times at the end  of the stage Car 23 took 2 secs  out of us which left us in 7th overall by 1 second!

Not a bad result with 3 Metro 6R4s, a Darrian and a 306 Maxi Kit car ahead of us….

Many to thanks to Kev Jones for his sound advice on suspension settings and tyre choice, and Jacqueline for guiding Lotusbits MD Mike Taylor around all day without any issues – although the service crew were a little worried after SS5 that they may have to fit a sick bag…

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