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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The 2017 Alan Healy Memorial Cadwell Park Stages, sponsored by TJS Self Drive

The eighth and final round of the 2016-17 MSVR Circuit Championship was held at a sunny Cadwell Park circuit on Sunday 9th April. An event organised by the Borders Motor Club, with Mike Taylor and Martin Haggett planning to consolidate their positions in the overall championship and in class D1.
This was a well run event with no delays, even though there was no shortage of work for the recovery crews between stages. The organisers made the most of Cadwell’s dips, crests and fast sweeping bends. At times, the Team Lotusbits Sunbeam was hitting the rev limiter in sixth, which is a speed of 137 mph.
Apart from a minor brush with a first stage chicane, which was an issue for most of the top competitors, there were no real problems over the nine stages for Mike and Martin, with little for the service crew to attend to during the service halts, except wheel changes and spanner checks.
Mike and Martin finished ninth overall and once again collected the trophy for third in class.
The final championship points tally puts Mike in sixth overall and Martin third equal on points, but losing out under the tie break rules to finish fourth. Mike is fourth in the Michelin Cup for those drivers who use that company’s tyres. Final class positions are first for Martin and second for Mike.

Team Lotusbits are looking forward to a third running of this popular and competitive championship starting in the Autumn.

The Alan Healy Memorial Rally
Cadwell Park
April 9th

So the final round had arrived of the Motorsport News Circuit Championship for 2016/17 season and Team Lotusbits had arrived at the stunning picturesque venue of Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire.
With a couple of non-finishes on earlier rounds in the season, Cathy and I came to Cadwell Park not under any real pressure, but just to go and have some fun and see where we could end up.
As all ready mentioned the stunning picturesque venue of Cadwell Park with its hilly undulating track was only enhanced by the hot sunny weather and we set off from Service up to the Stage 1 start, hoping we were on the right tyres for the conditions, it was warm but not as warm but was set to get hotter during the day.
From the moment the lights went green the car felt good and I could tell Cathy was enjoying the car and the car suited the conditions, the grip was there and we could push on round the long sweeping corners and on the brakes a bit later into the chicanes.  Being a nice day the public had turned up in there masses and at one point on the stage we leave the fast flowing track and enter a public viewing section, of twisty low speed corners, only just wide enough for one car to pass through, here the car was doing what was requested by Cathy, all was good, in fact very good we were 13th after the first stage.
Starting the second stage our first stage nervous had left us and we were ready to push on and see if we could gain on that 13th position, all was good for the first few corners, leaning on the tyres and pushing the car and using every inch of available track out of corners, then as we entered the spectator twisty section we had marshal’s waving to us to slow down, Unbeknown to us the car in front of us clipped a tyre going through a narrow gateway, causing his front right wheel to point 90 degrees to his left front wheel and after trying to carry on up the stage found he couldn’t steer and ended up blocking the way, we arrived behind the car with nowhere to go.  It’s strange how seconds lost can feel like minutes when the adrenaline is pumping and you are staring at the rear end of an escort, by now we should of been half around the stage.  We finally got free of the escort blockage and powered on around the stage to the finish but looking at the times, we had lost 20seconds and were now down 22nd Overall, one unhappy crew!
We set about making the time back over the next couple of stages and with a change of tyres to a harder compound and a sneaky small suspension change (unbeknown to Cathy) implemented by myself and our chief Mechanic Keith, the car had less roll in the corners and more grip and by dinner we had moved up to 16th.
With a change of direction for the afternoon, we were now heading the correct way around the circuit, as if it was being used on a normal racing day’s event, but this didn’t change anything in the style or commitment to Cathy’s driving, if anything she was going quicker still chasing down cars and passing a few in the process, this was no Sunday afternoon driver here! 
We had moved up to 15th with a couple of stages to go and to be honest we didn’t really know where we could go much quicker, so the last two stages we decided to drive it fast but don’t take any unnecessary risks, which is just what we did and finished the day 15th Overall and 7th in our class on the day.

Thanks again to all the Lotusbits Team for all the work they have done over the year to get the cars ready so we can go and play on the weekends and has resulted in the team due to be awarded various Driver and Co-driver prizes at the Motorsport News Circuit Championship Awards night in June.  There may be a write up from this evening, but it may be in the form of photos as I won’t be remembering much the day after.... Hic- Hic!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Motordrive seats Lee Holland Memorial at Anglesey Circuit on the 19th March, was the next round on the MSN championship.   The circuit has to be the most picturesque venue we visit, with views over the Irish Sea and beyond.

Cathy and I generally have a good run here, so we were hoping again we wouldn't be disappointed.

On the Friday before the event there was a rally track day a day’s event where you can do a bit of a shake down and test the car.   The tyres Cathy went out on during the day were just not working and she was spending more time going sideways than forwards, the life of the tyres had expired.

EXCELLENT! New tyres for the rally.

Sunday morning was overcast, drizzly and windy on go the new wets.
We sat at the start with our normal first stage nerves eyeing up the competition.
The great thing about rallying is that you compete against various makes of cars, today we had MK2 Golf’s, MK2 Fiesta’s, Nova’s, Saxo’s, Peugeot 205’s all front wheel drive, there was Paul Shead in his Mazda MX5 which is rear wheel drive, a very popular weapon of choice are the MK1 and MK2 ford escorts which are also rear wheel drive like ourselves.  One driver that Cathy likes to compare stage times against is Jade, another very quick female driver, who was out playing in a 4 wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo and it was nice to see her out again after a year out of the car.

It was a good first stage but not right, we both felt we could go quicker the tyres were not giving the performance we had hoped, maybe because they were new and needed scrubbing in, either way up to 26th mixing it the escorts but had also gone 9 seconds slower than Jade but only 4 seconds behind Paul in his MX5.

SS2 was better but still felt we couldn't push on, the decision was made to come off the wets and go to softs.

SS3 was better again but it was one of those days were we just couldn't put our finger on the problem, but must be doing something right as we were now only 4 seconds behind Jade in the Evo and still 4 seconds behind Paul who was going to by our target for the day.

SS4 was much the same, but again felt we needed to change tyres to a harder compound for the next stage, but unfortunately for Paul on that stage he had mechanical issues and that was the end of his rally.
Queuing up for SS5 after a long break whilst the juniors did there runs the sun was starting to break through the clouds, good choice of tyres we thought. We then waited and waited, there was a delay getting the stranded cars off from the previous stage and the set up crew changing the layout for the next 2 stages.
Glad we had put the medium compound tyres on “I said” It was at that point the welsh gods must of heard me and sent in the next band of rain. Great, wrong tyres again.  With the strong winds it will soon blow over, well the wind needed to be stronger than it was, so the decision was made to do a late tyre change back onto the wets we had on for stage 1.  Unfortunately by the time the light went green it had stopped raining and again we were fighting for grip, but still better than staying on the mediums. We had lost time now running around 20th which to be fair we were really happy with but looking at the time we didn’t think we could hold onto that with some fast cars coming up behind us after they had problems on previous stages like Peter Jackson in his MK2 Escort, he had gone 51 seconds quicker than us and we were now around 10 seconds behind Jade.

By the time we got to SS7 and SS8 the rain was torrential, on go the Michelin wets, after all we had tried all the other tyres we had so didn’t want to leave these out.  The stages were good and we felt a lot quicker, the car felt like it was cornering on rails.  Finally we were on the correct tyres for the conditions and the times were proving it, 11 seconds quicker than Jade but 22 seconds slower than Peter.  On the last stage Cathy moved us up from the high teens to finish the day 14th Overall, holding on to our position just ahead of Peter by 5 seconds and 18 seconds ahead of Jade.  We had a fun rally and enjoyed getting some air time over the Anglesey Yump.

Next stop Cadwell for the last round 
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