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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

“Is the bomb hole flat?”

Halfway through the championship and team lotusbits heads to Snetterton for the next round of the Motorsport News Championship, Cathy and I were hoping for a good result here to get our season back on track(excuse the pun) after a poor start to the season.
Seeded 49th it wasn’t the best starting position but Snetterton has lots of space to overtake so wasn’t a big concern. We were both keen to get the first stage done and under our belts to settle the nerves and see what the car could do.
Now Cathy and I tend to measure how well we have done on each stage by how far behind the sister car we are of Mike and Martin we are, so can you imagine the surprise and excitement when we found that we were 3 seconds quicker! Unfortunately it was soon brought to our attention that Mike had been a little heavy right footed into a corner and had a spin. Regardless of that I can honestly say that is the smoothest and most committed first stage I have seen Cathy do for a long time.
12 seconds quicker on stage 2 compared to the same layout as stage 1, the day was getting better.
Where we could go quicker, brake a little later here, smoother here we thought but we reckoned the most time we could gain was through a corner called the ‘bomb hole’, a sweeping fast left hander , could it be taken flat?. So mid stage 3, I give the call 9 left onto track into FLAT sweeping left through bomb hole, we are defiantly going quicker on the approach, the line is good, yes here we go. Then there’s a slight lift and a comment of ‘ I can’t do it’ came back from Cathy. Never mind we still had carried more speed through and set another good stage time.
Stage 4 is the same layout as 3, bit of a tight twisty few corners to start then back onto track, but this time through the twisty bit I felt we are pushing on here, Cathy’s going for it , brilliant! I Thought, I gave the same calls as before, we are now entering the bomb hole , Line is good, speed is good, will she lift? Will she lift? Will she lift? Yes 3 times I said that to myself as we screamed through and out the other side................
......................Now if only they had made Snetterton track 2 foot wider, we ran out off track and onto the mud, Cathy controlled it well and got it back under control for the next corner and at this point I
realised why we had been going quicker as the MK1 escort came past us under braking for the corner. Even with our little excursion we went 1 second quicker than the stage before.
Unfortunately stage 5 was going to be our last stage of the day , not long after the start we heard a sound that to say the least wasn’t good, The differential had let go and was clattering around, Cathy backed off and the decision was made to finish the stage early and come back to service before any other damage was done to the car and see if the crew could do anything, but deep down we both knew the day was over. So Cathy and I decided the only right thing to do in situations like this we to go to the bar !.
Despite the result we had a great day and we weren’t disappointed with our pace running in the mid 20s before we retired.
Thanks to the crew :
Keith, Dave, James, Louise and Harriet

Oh and is the ‘bomb hole flat?’..........NO

Next round Donington March 5th

2017 Snetterton Stages Rally supported by G.& B. Finch Ltd, Hylton Gott and Rix Engineering

On Sunday a near full entry of 83 cars enjoyed the unseasonably good weather conditions at Snetterton race circuit just South of Norwich. This area having strong connections to team Lotusbits, due to the nearby Lotus factory at Hethel.
These events are very competitive and anyone chasing a good result cannot afford to be too cautious. Mike was pushing from the start of the very first stage, expecting rather more grip than was available in the first high speed corner on the main circuit. This meant the car spun off on to the grass , losing around 30 seconds and placing Mike and Martin a disappointing 33rd overall.
At a venue such as Snetterton, the organisers have to make sure that the competitors do not exceed the permitted 75 mph maximum average speed. Their method of achieving this was to build chicanes from old tyres, with three of these just on the Bentley Straight. The combination of frequent braking from high speed and the smooth surface encouraged Mike to change the damper settings, making the car more stable under braking. This and some determined driving saw the team recover to 11th overall going into the final pair of stages, which would run in darkness for the later competitors.
The pressure of rapid down changes proved too much for the gear linkage at the approach to the final chicane on stage 7, with this key component breaking and leaving the car stuck in first gear. Fortunately this was only a mile from the stage finish, but lost around another 30 seconds. It was also fortunate that some inspired work under pressure by the service crew meant that the car was completely fixed within the permitted service time. A competitive run through the final stage resulted in a final positon of 13th overall.
The team are looking forward to the next event in the MSVR championship at Donington in just under two weeks’ time.

MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Stages

MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Stages
In the depths of January, Team Lotusbits travelled to the famous Kent circuit for the fourth round of the MSVR Circuit Championship, hoping to make up for the disappointment of a rare non-finish before Christmas at Rockingham.
Chelmsford Motor Club made imaginative use of the rally stage and Indy circuit to construct some challenging stages. These incorporated some particularly unforgiving barriers, which caused the retirement of a number of front runners, but didn’t hinder Mike and Martin in their Lotus Sunbeam.
The freezing cold overnight conditions resulted in ice on parts of the circuit that never cleared from the rally stage section. Previous knowledge of the rally stage and the inspired choice of full wet tyres for the first three stages were put to good use. The pair finished fifth overall and picked up the award for first in class. Their best result yet at this level and just four seconds away from fourth.
The only problem of the day came when the hairpin at the end of the pit lane was taken just a little too tight whilst chasing a Citroen DS, who was fighting for a class award. This caused nothing worse than a dent to the co-driver’s door. May be we shouldn’t have told team mate Cathy earlier in the day that, “bunching isn’t a problem at the front of the field”.
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