Can Jonny return to the podium at one of his favorite circuits on the calendar?
After Cadwell, like any round of the championship, we checked the car over. Making sure its ready to go for the next one. While doing this we discovered some slightly concerning issues that could become major problems if not resolved before Brands.
As a result, we rebuilt both driveshafts as the CV boots had come loose. The exhaust manifold was also removed to have the flange flattened after excessive heat cycles had caused warping.
Jonny also had to re-fit his drivers window after it had vibrated loose at Cadwell and install a rear view mirror to meet the regulations.
The decision was made early, before making the long trip South, not to waste any time once at the circuit. We always plan to make the most of warm up and practice sessions but it doesn’t always come to fruition.
This time however, Jonny was able to get out straight away and made good use of the 15 minute session. First familiarizing himself with the track he loves before building up the speed. Jonny finished warm up with a 54.609 second lap time, set on the last lap of the session, putting him 3rd in class. A positive start to the day.
The only negative from the morning running was a misfire that had developed on the car towards the end of the session. It was identified as a mechanical issue and we deemed the spark plugs where coming to end and of their usable life. We stuck in a new set of plugs to see if it cleared.
It was now time to start finding the limits after finding confidence in the car and track after the first outing. It was also the first opportunity to find out if the new plugs had cured the misfire. From initial impressions it had, which was promising, as where the lap times. Jonny ended the session with a 53.825. Just 5 tenths off his personal best and only 0.8 off the 52’s. Unfortunately the misfire began showing signs of a return. Pointing towards faltering coil packs as temperatures increased.
Over dinner we focused on getting the coil packs changed. we always carry a spare set for this exact eventuality.
The session started off as planned, building up towards faster laps as the busy field spread out over the 1.2 mile circuit. With all the cars jostling for position it’s difficult to get a clean lap on the board. Just as gaps in the traffic where becoming available the session was red flagged after a car ended up in the gravel at turn 1. everyone headed back to the pits waiting for the cars recovery.
This stoppage resulted in traffic becoming even more of an issue. With all the cars bunched up again with only half of qualifying remaining. Frustratingly Jonny was unable to find a gap in the chaos and a clean lap eluded him.
With around 3 minutes left Jonny manged to post a 54.734. The lap immediately following was looking quicker again before another red flag ended the session early. Jonny ended qualifying in 6th position, but had the pace to break into the podium places.
Knowing how bad traffic can be around Brands, Jonny made a point of getting to the end of the pit lane as early as possible. Getting himself at the front of the queue and maximizing track time.
As soon as the track was open Jonny head out, getting heat in his tyres ready to push on ASAP. After two warm up laps Jonny went for it, maybe a little too much as he ran ride in the last corner taking a trip into the gravel. Fortunately the car wasn’t beached and Jonny was able to crawl back onto the tarmac and straight into the pits.
With a quick check over the car, we deemed it good to go and Jonny went back out in an attempt to salvage what was left of the session. Within 3 laps, his lap time had dropped into the 53’s but still nearly 5 tenths off. Knowing much more was in the car Jonny set about reaching his 52 second target.
Aiming for more
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. After good first and second sectors, on board telemetry predicted a low 53s lap time but Jonny overcooked the final corner, losing all the time he had gained. Grip levels just weren’t the same as they where earlier in the day, evident from several other drivers being unable to better their lap times. The session was over and Jonny was left rueing what could have been.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the result we had all hoped for but it was still a solid performance and the car ran great after the misfire was resolved. There was potentially enough in the car to fight for the win. Snetterton is next on the calendar, the penultimate round of the championship. We’ll see you in October!
Image Credit: Eat My Pixels, Time Attack UK