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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lee Holland Memorial Stages – Anglesey Circuit, 17th March 2013

Cathy had driven the Sunbeam (with Sam O’Keeffe co-driving) at 3 Sisters two weeks beforehand so we had limited time to prepare the car for the Anglesey event.
The clutch and the diff had done ten events since they were last inspected so the engine, box and diff all came out. The clutch plate nearest the flywheel was cracked but only half worn so both plates were replaced. The diff was stripped and inspected and the backlash measured – no change from last inspection so refitted as was. 

The poly-bush engine mount had melted again so we re-manufactured the engine mounts to use Excel rubber rear suspension bushes which we have an abundance of… Hopefully these will survive the heat better. Then down to Northampton Motorsport to try out a new 8 injector setup on the rolling road – this gained 7bhp but we need to modify the air filter and fit a cam sensor to make it work properly – no time before Anglesey so again no change for this rally. We also tried mapping the car on 102 RON FIA fuel and again saw no power or torque improvement so back to 97 Octane BP Super Unleaded.

After a quick spanner check the car was put on the trailer and dragged up to Anglesey bright and early as the Scrutineers had to head off early. It was a good run up the motorway apart from an accident holding us up on the M6 for an hour. 

We were expecting Scrutineering to be difficult as we had changed the induction system to a straight down set up with the air filter poking through the bonnet into a cold air scoop. Ronnie Roberts is renowned for picking up discrepancies, so we were expecting some interesting discussion. As it happened Ronnie was busy with another car so we passed with no issues other than the cover had come off the battery terminal. 

Our paperwork was in order but you never know…

This year we had an international addition to the service crew, Andreas, who has joined us from Denmark was helping Sam and Dave in the service crew for the first time. We were not sure if Sam liked being back on the spanners after co-driving for Cathy 2 weeks ago.

Unfortunately the only Hotel we could find was a Pub in the centre of Llangefni and the Welsh won the rugby so it was a noisy night….

Up bright and early to a very wet Anglesey Circuit and a brisk walk round to remind us what it looked like and we were ready for SS1. We decided to be brave and go out on X22 slicks rather than wets as there was not too much standing water. This was very entertaining with very little rear grip and resulted in 2 spins. We set a time of 6m18 which put us in 3rd place behind the M3 and Will Owen in the Millington Mk2. We thought about going back out on the slicks as it had warmed up by the end of the stage, but then the heavens opened forcing us to very quickly change to new wets.
SS2 was much less entertaining as the wets worked from the off, but we were disappointed to find we had dropped 9 seconds on our SS1 time dropping us to 4th o/a. What to do? Stick on wets, go back to slicks? Sam piped up with what about the worn wets – good idea – we fitted them and went back out.

The worn wets worked well for the rest of the day until the back ones were to the canvas – cheap rally on tyres!!
Howard Potter in the Red Lotusbits 1600 Sunbeam was lying 7th overall after SS2 when he had gearbox issues on SS3 and was forced to retire.
On SS3 we overcooked the entry into a chicane and put a big dent into the driver’s door with a truck tyre.

We continued stage by stage to take time out of 3rd overall Mathew Roberts until we moved up to 3rd after SS6. After SS7 we only had 3 minutes in service so were a little rushed getting to the start only to find that Car 1 the M3 was not there so we re-checked our timing – all correct so went though the passage control to stage as first car on the stage. The M3 appeared behind us 3 minutes later but then got pushed back out of the control. This moved us up to 2nd overall going into SS8 with 25 seconds safety behind us to 3rd. 1st overall was a minute ahead of us – so no realistic chance of catching him unless he retired. So a nice clean stage was required – and delivered, the only issue being the alternator dying on the first bend! Fortunately the battery was fully charged and lasted fine with the rad fans turned off.

Result was 2nd overall equalling our best ever finish at Weeton last year!!

We're back to Weeton on Sunday for the Merrills Motor Services SMC Stages

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