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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The 2017 Motordrive Seats Lee Holland Memorial Trophy Rally

The seventh round of the MSVR Circuit Championship was at a wind-swept Anglesey race circuit on Sunday 19th March. An event organised by the Pendle District Motor and Garstang & Preston Motor Clubs, with Mike Taylor and Martin Haggett planning to consolidate their position in the championship overall and in class D1.
The circuit ran a novel and very welcome rally track day on the preceding Friday, allowing Mike to sample some new parts of the circuit that would be used on the rally and experiment with the amount of speed to carry into the specially constructed “yump”. Unlike a typical circuit track day run on a normal circuit, perhaps with some chicanes, Anglesey was set up in a stage format with splits and merges, and changed during the day, including the direction of travel. It is to be hoped that the concept spreads to other circuits, as this could be an ideal introduction to the world of single venue stage rallies, but with less expense than the real thing.
This extended test session wasn’t without its problems for Mike and Martin, an electrical problem meant a tow in from the circuit, a steering issue was resolved by a power steering pump change and some particularly exciting runs over the yump bent the damper bolts in the rear suspension. Thanks to Keith for changing the steering pump and spending Saturday morning checking the car over and replacing the bent bolts.
The weather was always going to be a feature of this event, with the wind never dropping all day. The Lotusbits pair made a steady start, finishing the first stage in eleventh place. With the wind drying the track the slick tyres went on to take advantage of this for the later morning stages.
Going into stage five, Mike changed to harder slick tyres, not expecting to wait 30 minutes at the stage start, during which the first rain started. Grip was a challenge throughout the stage, with rather more space needed to slow the car down at the first split than was available. In the excitement, a cone became stuck under the car, leading to a smell of burning plastic for the rest of the stage. All this drama meant a loss of around 30 seconds, putting the pair down to twelfth overall.
As with Donington, it was other competitors who dropped down the order or retired, broken transmissions, blown engines and a missed split being typical problems. All this and a push by Mike on the next two stages moved the team up to seventh going into the final stage. With the next crew just three seconds behind, this meant Mike had to keep the pressure on, so more crushed traffic cones, after the first run through the jump.
Mike and Martin held seventh and again collected the trophy for third in class.

In three weeks, team Lotusbits will be in Lincolnshire at Cadwell Park for the last round in the championship. Mike is still sixth overall and Martin has moved up to third. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Imperial Commercials Volkswagen Donington Rally March 5th Round 6 – Motorsport News Championship

mike and martin car 16

The sixth round of the MSVR Circuit Championship was at the historic Donington circuit on Sunday, organised by the Dukeries Motor Club.
The weather was far from kind, producing varying levels of rain throughout the event. Apart from a brief excursion on to the grass at Coppice, the conditions didn’t trouble Mike Taylor. Quote of the day was, “these Michelin wets aren’t cheap, but they work really well”. OK these may not have been Mike’s exact words, but that was the gist of it.
It was other competitors who had the problems, championship leader Paul Swift wasn’t the only driver to hit trouble at the Melbourne hairpin, spinning off on stage one and being unable to re-join. Another high profile retirement was Alan Kirkaldy, who held a commanding overall lead until he had transmission problems on stage six.
Following the broken gear linkage at Snetterton, Team Lotusbits had beefed up the mechanism in the two weeks since that event. However, there were still problems with this component on stage three, with the car stuck in second gear for the final lap. This was easily fixed by the service crew during the subsequent service period.
Mike and Martin finished eleventh and collected the trophy for third in class. Without the gear shift problem, a top ten finish would have been within reach.
There’s just two weeks to the next round at the picturesque, if somewhat more distant venue of the Anglesey Race Circuit. With just two events to go, Mike is sixth in the championship and fourth in class, whilst Martin is fourth overall and second in class.

 Cathy & Colin Car 41
 Arriving at Donington on Sunday morning only 10 minutes from locking my front door makes a nice change to some of the venues we visit over the rallying season and with the weather looking like it was going to be wet we were glad we had a pit garage.
Our start time was approaching and we had to make a decision on tyres because unfortunately the rain had arrived, wets obviously but do we go for our tried and tested Michelins, which were worn or some newer untested Wets which had more tread?  Donington tends to be a very slippery circuit when it rains, due to it being right on the flight path of East Midlands Airport and water and aviation fuel doesn’t seem to mix.  The decision was made to go on the newer tyres to cut through the standing water.
Heading into the Craner curves backwards was when Cathy and I realised that we should have played safe and gone for the Michelins! It was so slippery and out the corner of my eye at one point I am sure I saw Torvill and Dean practicing their latest routine!  Cathy just couldn’t get any grip and we were losing time and with another couple of half spins the end of the stage couldn’t come quick enough.
For the casual observer rallying must look like 2 people in a car charging around a course all day having fun, which basically that is what Cathy and I do, but behind the scenes we have a fantastic crew and as we headed up to stage 2 start, if it wasn’t for Keith, Dave, James and Brett it would of been the end of our days fun, as it was at this point the car decided it had a water phobia and emptied its entire cooling system over the road.  Cathy and I feared the worst that the day was over before it had really started, but a phone call was made and through the spray and mist of the Donington paddock came the crew, it was like a scene from a Marvel super hero film!
 “Fixed” came the call from Chief Super Hero after approximately 15mins, and we joined the back of the queue for stage 2 start.
Heading onto the stage, instantly we had more grip from the Michelins and as it had stop pouring down, we were now on the perfect tyres and with time to make up, we were soon catching and passing a lot of slower cars.   Cathy was getting more confident using the handbrake where she could and later on the brakes into corners and chicanes, all was going well and until going into the last couple of corners, just after passing 2 cars we out braked ourselves and went straight on, no damage done, finished the stage and despite our off we were 2 minutes quicker than the stage before.

Starting stage 3 we were around the low 60s...So we set about improving on that, again catching and passing cars this was better only 2 corners to go to the finish (9 Right into 9 Left flying finish) but again the car decided otherwise and spun, again no damage done.
Starting stage 4. We were around the low 50s...So we set about improving on that, again catching and passing cars this was better only 2 corners to go to the finish (9 Right into 9 Left flying finish) but again the car decided otherwise and spun, again no damage done.   (Yes we did the same again!)
After the lunch break the stage layout went the other way around the circuit so there was no chance of us spinning at the same corner again, Stage 5 and 6 were much the same catching and passing cars, we were making good progress back up the field.
As we started Stage 7 we were up to around 40th, we were both in the grove and enjoying the day, then came the save of the day, I gave a rather late call to Cathy as we exited a single chicane doing a speed that was fine if were carrying on around the circuit... but Oh no! We should be going into a hairpin right, 100 yards after the chicane.  I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth quick enough. B.B.BRAKE!!! HAIRPIN RIGHT!!!  All the days handbrake practice came into use at this point as we spun gracefully and pointed the direction we should of been going, from the outside I recon it looked as though we were of meant to do that but I can assure you in the car It wasn’t as graceful! But again no damage done.
1 stage to go and the decision was made that we had more to lose than gain so we took it relatively steady after all we didn’t want to spin out now after all the fun and games we had all day.
Finished 34th overall.
Thanks again to the team Lotusbits. 
Next round is Anglesey in two weeks. 
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