MALLORY PARK, 25 MAY 2003

THE LADY OF THE LAKE!

The HSCC meeting at Mallory Park near Leicester proved dramatic for various reasons. From our point of view it was without doubt the low point of the last three seasons – it can only get better!! Planning to take part in three races with a good chance of success in all the day started out with great optimism. The Elva was running well and the Junior engine was back in place having had its broken tappet replaced. Surely now it would run well!!!

Gloomy skies and spitting rain greeted the field for the first practice session of the day – Classic Sports Cars where we were running the Elva. To call the track slippy would be an understatement and the trick was to stay on the black stuff for the first few laps until the track dried out. Four laps in and disaster struck. Coming out of the hairpin bend the engine bogged down a little in second gear. Slipping the clutch and regaining revs was the next step but when the power was fed in again there was a resounding bang and severe clatter. Even to the mechanically inept the diagnosis was easy – a broken driveshaft. Finished for the day the car was trailered away for an inspection. Thankfully it could have been worse (we always have to say these things to prevent breaking down in tears) and the damage was limited. Obviously two new driveshaft assemblies are required as well as a replacement for the somewhat mangled floor pan which took a good bashing from the wildly flailing broken shaft. A gearbox bolt has been smashed off but the box itself looks to have survived (very expensive!!!!). Ho-Hum. At the time of writing the new driveshafts have arrived and work is starting to repair the floor. We will take this opportunity to strip down the rear suspension as we think the handling is a bit skittish.

These troubles left the honour of the team resting with the Lotus Formula Junior. Since it re-appeared we have had several e-mails and notes from people complimenting us on the standard of presentation. This type of thing is nice to hear and all the thanks must of course go to Don Haldenby who has done a truly splendid job. Now adorned with the sponsors logos it really looks well. The question is how well does it go!

The answer to date has been pretty disappointing with two engine breakages in two races. These Ford engines are pretty highly stressed units and do take some time to get right. However, once this is achieved they are pretty reliable and give little trouble. Clearly we have some way to go yet.

Practice went well with a lap time two seconds quicker than last year. The engine felt better than before but still with a strange reluctance to revs that freely. Despite this we were just a little faster than the other Junior in the race – a nice Lotus 22 driven be Ned Spiekler from California. Come race time all seemed to be going well. A good start saw us ahead of the main race rival Lotus and this position was held comfortably for lap after lap. We were faster through Gerards which really is the key to the lap. However one lap from the end disaster struck accelerating down the back straight. A sudden loss of power and loss of one cylinder spelt the end of the worst day for the team since we started. A few weeks down the line all has been revealed. The problem was a broken piston so the engine has been totally stripped and the block bored for a whole new set of pistons. It’s back together now and we hope we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Needless say we will be back – no wiser but somewhat poorer!

And the lake? Well, late in the day the first lap of the Jaguar XK race was halted after a coming together at the exit from Gerards. This is one of the great corners in British racing. A big long sweeper it seems to go on forever and the exit is genuinely quite tricky with grass on the outside and of course the famous Mallory lake on the inside! Need I say more? In all the rough and tumble one of the beautiful Jags ended up perched on the barrier beside the lake – most disconcerting all round. Thankfully however, the driver was fine and the old lady was extracted after a long delay. Considering this event I suppose our problems could have been worse!

 

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