Motorsport News Rally Championship 2015/16

 

October 2016

It has been a quiet time on the Imp front. ‘Kitty’ has been ‘resting’. We were hoping to have it ready for Ormskirk Motorfest but we are still in the process of tidying it up to get it on top form.

The first rally was Pendgragon on 11th September at Warcop Ranges, Nr Brough. We have spent a lot of time tidying ‘Kitty’, we’ve painted the engine bay and front boot, front panel and front wings. All this whilst Andy had the engine for sorting out, after Anglesey. The engine came back, now fitted with Dellortos and a distributor putting out 125 bhp. We put Kitty back together with only a test drive on the Saturday morning. When Alan came back from the run there was gearbox oil dripping from the bellhousing so we took the engine out again, swapped the oil seal and put it back together – just like that! Loaded the car on the trailer and set off to Brough. Got the car scrutineered in time, then put ‘Kitty’ to bed and back to Brough and the hotel. Nice place, bit pricey but nice meal and slept well. Early breakfast and off to Warcop. Nice sunny day.

The stages are really difficult so we both had to concentrate. It’s also difficult to read the map as it’s quite small and the car is bouncing a lot. On the 3rd stage I tried the Tulip direction, but that wasn’t much better so it was back to pointing out the important corners and although I missed one Alan managed to catch it. The car was going really well until stage 4 when the oil pressure disappeared, so we coasted to a stop With very little oil pressure we managed to get off the stage during the stage change. Rally over – time to go home. The Pendragon takes no prisoners. After only 4 stages there were damaged cars all over the place and some badly damaged but fortunately without any injuries. We found the sump guard buried into the sump when I removed the engine.

I took the engine out and back to Andy. We have decided that although the 1390 engine is extremely well thought out and executed it is not really strong enough for rallying, but on the road it will be awesome.

We are happy that we entered the Pendragon because it gave us a shakedown and the decision to go back to an 1150cc bomb proof engine. We have entered the Motorsport News circuit championship again in 2016/2017. Hopefully this year we can improve the results, watch this space. The 1sr round is on 5th November at Oulton Park. We still have some work to do and improvements to ensure we do better than last year. Come and watch, it’s a great rally and firework display.

 

“Fire in the Tail”

When we finished the Lee Holland Stages Rally, Alan took Kitty home Sunday night.  I stayed at the circuit until Monday morning and had a very relaxed journey home.  After returning the motorhome Lorraine and I decided to take Kitty off the trailer and put it in the workshop.  When I tried to start it the engine locked up.  I carried on trying to start it while Lorraine was shouting “Flames, Flames”, by the time I had got myself out of the car the carbs were well alight as well as the wooden floor of the trailer, before I had a chance to do anything, a passing van screeched to a halt and a man ran over with his fire extinguisher and asked if it was O.K. to spray it.  YES.  He put it out in a flash and then was off.  “Who was that masked man” – I am indebted to him.  We pushed Kitty into the workshop.  The damage was not too bad, I have no idea what went wrong. Now we have no compression on No. 1 cyl!

We have pulled out of the last 2 rounds of the championship to give us time to re-group, take our time to sort some jobs and tidy the car up for when it reappears at Ormskirk Motor Fest in the livery of our new sponsor “Octagon Wealth Management”, of which more later.

We hope to debut the car on the Pendragon Stages before entering the motorsport News Rally Championship starting in November.Will keep up with the writeups.

 

Round 6 – Anglesey Rallytech Lee Holland Stages

As always a mad panic at the end.  We had sent the transaxle to Dave Weedon who sorted it and changed the ratios.  We arranged for it to come back via Parcel2go and TNT.  When I went to P2GO site to track its progress, it said it had been “delivered in good condition” but it wasn’t here!  Panic set in and I went up and down the road looking for it without any success.  Then I had a brainwave (first one ever) remembering a delivery driver in the past phoning from Firwood asking where Firswood Road was.   I checked on the computer and discovered there was a Firwood (different postcode) some 3 miles away.  I set off and found the transaxle at 10 Firwood??  P2GO  and TNT couldn’t have cared less.

Got the car back together, lost a lot of brownie points.  Got to the circuit Sat afternoon, had borrowed a motorhome for the weekend – That’s the way to do it!  Parked next to Century Motorsport and Haggis.  Scrutineered and ready for the morning.

Sunday dry and grey  Anglesey, Rallying,  stunning circuit. Love it.

The stages were quite tricky and 5 miles long a concrete “yump” had been built for the event, we had a walk up to look at it and it wasn’t a rally expert who built it because it had too short a peak and the camber changed where the cars would land.  The other way was a rough landing, good job we put the sump guard on.

We have not had such a low start number @ 34 and we always finish lower than our start position, So it was going to be tough to improve our finishing position.  We were 3rd in class on stage 1 and held on to that all rally until the last stage when car 17 who had been 2nd in class most of the rally dropped out on the last stage so we finished 2nd in class and 26th overall and were higher than 34th in all but the first stage.

Good to see Andy, Jen & Russell Jones there with moral and technical support and the support from Century Motor Sport.

Great rally, good organisation.  We will be there next year on Motor Sport News Championship.

 

Northwest Stages 2016

That was fun, exhausting but fun. Preparations went down to the wire, all the best rally results come that way.

Took the car to Andy’s workshop on 25th January to have him refit the engine after a check over and give the car a good run, sadly an electrical fault stopped that and I had most of the bolts and the starter hidden under my bench. Alan came over on Saturday 30th January and we got all the bits plus our own list of jobs done but still couldn’t get it started. Haggis came over on Sunday and traced the fault to a broken wire on the crank sensor and it fired up just fine. I got it through the MOT on Monday and noticed a smell of gearbox oil after a test run and oil on the sump guard. It appeared to be coming from the output oil seal. Stripped the rotoflex off and swapped the oil seal which was on the same side as the Cadwell drive shaft failure. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the seal but replaced the rotoflex which had split on one of the welded steel inserts.

Andy had been thinking about the engine(as you do) and came over Friday morning, checked it on the laptop (that is so not my Imp stuff), modified the timing chain adjuster, road tested and drove it on the trailer while I packed the car. How close was that?

We were under the Care of Century Motorsport in service. Haggis was due to replace the crank sensor plus and was happy to look after us which was a great help.

Friday night cold and wet. Queueing up at the start, Mike Dent, master of observation, stuck his head In the car and wiped the rain out of his eyes and said “it’s wet out there”. He was spot on.

One of my favourite stages in Lytham Hall, the “way in” has changed which led to a long wait to start the stage but what a stage, the new Michelins helped. After the stage, the co-driver had a senior moment, turning over 2 pages of the road book! By the time we sorted it out, we had lost about 10 minutes in real time and 50 seconds of stage time. I was not a happy co driver. I think the long wait for entry to the stage helped and the second run was better still. On to the prom, which this year was 3 miles long, over the last few years it has been a lot shorter so it was much quicker and trickier plus the dark didn’t help. We rose from car 68 to start car 34 for the Saturday morning restart.

Sat started with the Fleetwood prom stage followed by Fleetwood docks. Fleetwood prom very fast stage, twisty good spectator stage. My first time on Fleetwood docks, Alan’s first time finishing a stage on the docks and apart from broadsiding a fence, it went well. Even better when we came back and got our first Subaru Impreza scalp when he slowed, moved over and let us through because we were faster, how embarrassing!

Weeton is still a car wrecker but this year has an added water splash which Alan insisted on going through full speed, I left my window open the fist time and Alan got wet and I am sure I saw a fish floating around in the water on the floor. Then Alan played skittles with the cones and I think he got a strike.

Back in service at the Blackpool Prom, the transaxle was still leaking and over the rally we added 2 litres but it held up to the end. The Blackpool Prom stage was even quicker in daylight and we clipped a drum and another fence. Back around the same stages again with no real problems and after 23 stages, 119 road miles and 73 stage miles we finished in one piece, 24th overall and 2nd in class. 109 starters, 50 finished, so we beat 59 cars although some of them beat themselves. Another totally enjoyable rally, can’t wait for Anglesey on 20th March.

 

Round 3 – Rockingham – Short & Sweet

After Cadwell, I replaced the rotoflex couplings and used Mike Dent’s heavy duty bolts.  We also fitted the new shock absorbers.  We could use another 3 sisters test day but I don’t thinks that is going to happen.

Andy Jones stripped and checked the engine, repaired a casting flaw in the head, fixed the manifold and re-checked on the dyno, he upped the rev limit and then came and refitted it.

I set off with ‘Kitty’ lunchtime on Friday, it took ages to get there and even longer to find the circuit. Some of the signs were blacked out and the end of Marshall Road that the sat nav took me to was shut.  Finally got there and got ‘Kitty’ scrutineered and waited for Alan to arrive, finished the scrutineering, parked the pick up and off to the B & B.

Saturday.  Saw the circuit for the first time ever for both of us “will this wind be so mighty as to lay waste……..” finish the rest yourself – flipping heck it was windy!

We set up in the lee of a big camper, cruiser and the pickup, which helped.  We had plenty of time to put a couple of new tyres on and give ‘kitty’ a clean, had a look at the circuit and prepared for stage 1.

Half way through stage 1 I was totally lost, lots of the corner identity card’s had blown away and the stage map needed a bit more info adding (ok if you had been there before) Alan let a car pass so we could follow him to find out where we were going, which helped, we caught a Golf GTI up and passed him, don’t know if he ended up following us!

At the end of the stage getting our stage time we were enveloped in white smoke! Back in the paddock we found a bolt missing from the oil filler and oil everywhere and a smoky exhaust. End of Rally, disappointed but not the end of the world, after all the engine is still a development project.

We have quite a few jobs on the car before the next round 17th Jan at Croft, again if anybody wants any passes call me, we have a limited amount. We also have an entry in for The Northwest stages early February in Blackpool.     Have a good Christmas everybody and all the best (results) for 2016.  Ron

 

Round 2 NHMC Cadwell Stages Rally

After round 1 we were seeded at car 47 to start the Cadwell Stages, good position to start.

I took ‘Kitty’ to Alan’s on the trailer on Saturday morning and we set off for Cadwell. Left my keys with the cruiser key on with Jackie Kitson in case the alarm went off (this is important) and remembered to take the trailer key off this ring. Cold and wet when we arrived at Cadwell (do we still miss it?). Parked up and started to unload except the door key for ‘Kitty’ was in Lancashire on the key ring. By the time I had removed the door handle and unlocked it, my hands were so cold I couldn’t get the nuts for the handle back on (still enjoying it?) so Alan did it.

Scrutineering went well. Tucked up ‘Kitty’ and went to the hotel. The “rally hotel adviser” (Lorraine) triumphed again, excellent room, pub, meal, slept well. Up and out early Sunday. Dry, clear, calm day. Put the gazebo up, prepared ‘Kitty’ and before you know it, stage 1. I love Cadwell Park. A very fast circuit and the “twiddly bit” perfect for the Imp. The torque on the engine really helps especially up the hills.

We were 3rd in class after the first 2 stages, 6 seconds adrift of the 2 Novas in front who were very evenly matched. Stage 3 caught us, a rotoflex exploded on the “twiddly bit” taking out the shock absorber and petrol pipe. End of Rally!

As always, the Imp is surrounded by old Imp owners as in, Imp owners of old, not like me an old Imp owner and the number of youngsters who want to be photographed alongside ‘Kitty’ grows and grows and if you ask them if they want to sit in it, they can’t wait. (Still enjoying it? – you bet we are.)

Round 3, 5/6th December at Rockingham. Bit of work to do before then but we’ll make it.

 

 

Round 1 – Oulton Park 7th November 2015

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this and I had forgotten how much fun it is and how much I missed it. I got to Oulton Park on Friday about 3.30, Alan was held up with a late delivery so I did a few bits of jobs on the car. We got ‘Kitty’ scrutineered Friday evening after Alan arrived then on to the hotel. Very wet when we woke up on Saturday morning, glad we got a garage! Once at the circuit, we checked out a few bits in time for stage 1 which included the Deer Leap forest section. I was a bit concerned that we had not had time to fit the sump guard but we managed without breaking anything.

The car really is awesome, that engine is amazing. After stage 1, we were in 50th position overall and fourth in class, not a bad start.

The troops had arrived when we got back to service (minus a door mirror), Andy, Haggis and Bob Allan. They swung into action and fitted the sump guard, spanner checked the car, tightened up a front wheel bearing, put petrol in and checked the fluids. This is something we are not used to, it is usually just the two of us, but very professional.

We dropped three positions after stage 2, by stage 5 we were up to 46th position, 4th in class, the car was flying. Our nearest class A competitor keeping us off 3rd place and in the awards was 7 positions and 9 seconds in front of us.

The wet surface suited the Imp and there were spinning Escorts and Talbot Sunbeams all over the place. After stage 5 we were 4 places behind the Ford Puma and 4 seconds behind. Stage 6 saw us 1 position below the Puma but 8 seconds slower. Stage 7 saw us in front of the Puma by 9 seconds and we kept in front, finishing the last stage 4 seconds faster with an overall lead of 13 seconds. What a result, first time out in 2 years. I was absolutely knackered.

Getting the new engine and gear box and having the car re-wired has transformed it, thanks to everybody especially Alan who can really handle ‘Kitty’. Cadwell next week.

Photos courtesy of Joe Gowland

 

 

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