Monday, 16 January 2017

Hampton Downs Tasman Revival

Hampton Downs is a relatively new track and has several configurations available. The National Circuit was used for the Tasman Revival. We will be on the International Circuit next weekend. The Formula Junior numbers were down a bit as this is not a points race for the World Series.
Hampton Downs National Circuit
I arrived at the track on Thursday morning. Travis, JR and crew had been there on Wednesday for the biosecurity inspection and unloading. New Zealand is very careful about what comes into the country.
UK, Australia, US/Canada containers Cool self-loading flatbed trailer
The containers were just outside the garages, quite convenient for unloading. They got moved to the back of the paddock later in the day to free up space.

The car checked out fine after the trip from Australia. I've been pleasantly surprised with the lack of corrosion. Time for testing new parts. After the clutch blowup at Sandown, I decided to change to a spring-loaded centre in the disk. Of course that change rippled through the gearbox. The disk has a larger spline meaning new input shafts. That also requires the release bearing and support to get bigger. Many chips were sacrificed to make pretty new parts.
Lots of chips 2 sets of parts
I installed the new bits in the spare gearbox to see if I made the parts correctly. The only issue was getting enough retraction travel for the release bearing. A little filing on the release fork got just enough extra room. This makes me comfortable to schedule changing the gearbox in the car on Monday after the race weekend.

Friday practice dawned with overcast skies. It was really coming down by the drivers meeting but it was supposed to clear later. I decided to wait to learn the track in the dry. By noon, the track was dry so out we went. Corner 1 (Pirelli Corner) is quite steep downhill after turn-in. Easy to slide out wide if you get your turn-in point wrong. Corner 2 is visually confusing because this is where the track continues on for the International layout. Had to watch the braking point to make the uphill right then over a crest left. A short straight which was just short enough to stay in 3rd gear, before the first 2nd gear hairpin. Another short straight to the other 2nd gear hairpin. This one having a downhill braking area and tightening exit. Turn in too early puts you off in the dirt at the exit. And how would I know that?? Exit speed is important because this leads onto the second longest straight. The last corner is a wide and looong sweeper onto the front straight. Patience is a virtue at this corner. On throttle too soon will show you the curbing at the exit. Good track with interesting use of elevation changes.

I ran in 3 of the afternoon sessions before parking the car to save wear and tear. Others were not so lucky as Duncan broke a piston in his Mk1 Alexis.

Saturday was nice and sunny pretty much all day. Time for qualifying and the first races of the weekend. I started in a small group in qualifying so I backed off on the second lap to get a gap. Qualified 6th of 12 with a 1:23.890. The results look a bit odd as they were still getting cars/drivers associated with transponder number.
Since Nick Grewal was not present but his car was, Nick kindly allowed Duncan to use his Lotus 18 for the rest of the weekend.

I had a good conversation with the crew of the Elva-DKW in the garages. I have not seen many DKW powered cars before. The 3 cylinder 2 stroke makes a unique sound. Smelled nice too as they were using Castrol R (synthetic version) for lubrication. Little did I know how much I would see of Walter Findlay in this car over the weekend.
Elva 100 With DKW engine
Our first race was the last of the day. Several people had issues with getting into the correct grid position so there was some last second shuffling about. Had a decent start with a bit of a bog. Held position until the first hairpin when the Elva lost momentum (got passed awkwardly by another car) and I was able to get by as well. The rest of the time was racing hard to stay ahead of Walter. I would make some time in over the hill (corner 2 & 3) and through the second hairpin. He would make time in Corner 1 and the sweeper onto the front straight. I had one big moment in Corner 1 with some serious opposite lock due to oil on the track. JR had a good start (up to second by the first turn) and took 1.5 seconds off his best time to finish 3rd.
Sunday had mixed conditions most of the day. Luckily, our next race started dry. Grid positions were based on your quickest lap of the weekend, so I started 6th again, just behind JR in 4th. Got a decent start with the Elva right ahead of me. For the first couple of laps, I was right with him giving me an interesting view. It had a different attitude through the sweeper with the right front wheel a good 4" off the ground. There were a few drops of rain in the middle of the race which made me back off a bit. It cleared, only to come back for the last couple laps. I backed off more as I could feel the grip dropping off. Paul Halford's Autosud and Jim Barclay's Gemini didn't seem to mind the rain and they powered on by making me finish 8th overall.
The rain continued on and off for the rest of the day. The track was full wet by the time our last race came around. I decided not to go out as there are 5 more race weekends to go. Five started and three finished.
I started teardown of the car in preparation for the gearbox change on Monday. It was a good low-key weekend to get some bugs worked out of my and others' cars.

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