FIA European Finals - Santa Pod 2001
Confusion Ends The Day
The European Finals at Santa Pod played out in front of what appeared to be the biggest "live" UK audience years - I doubt if you could have got any more people into the facility on Sunday!
We missed the first scheduled qualifying session due to losing time in replacing a particularly stubborn valve spring. As there was only one other session on Friday and the weather forecasts were "unpredictable" it was imperative to qualify at the earliest opportunity. The last session that day came around just as the sun had gone down and our Swedish friends were complaining it was cold!
The track was extremely sticky but if you got out of the groove you were in trouble - guess what happened? - yep - just before half track the car drifted out of the groove and shook hard (something this car never does) I kept my foot in to drive though it - 6.11 - not what we were looking for but we were in.
Saturday was planned to be a routine check things over day and run in the last session if our qualifying time fell out of the top half of the field - as our regular readers will know nothing much goes to plan here - in the process of removing one of the cylinder heads we found a head stud that was literally "hanging on by a thread" - as this was a job we could not repair at the track we decided to replace the heads - this led to another series of problems that necessitated using one of the original heads and one of a slightly different design - this was to lead to an unforeseen problem on raceday.
The data computer decided to stop recording 2.5 seconds into the run so no useful data - just as well we don't rely on it!
Our 6.11 had held up for the number 4 qualifying position which would mean that we would meet Doug Bond in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
As stated earlier - Sunday was played out before the UK's biggest crowd in years and the weather signs looked good! - unfortunately things were to end with a bit of controversy...
Although I knew Doug has some very impressive 60' times (better than ours) I was taken by surprise how far out on me he was as I changed into 2nd gear - we did manage to get around him at 1000' but our engine started to lose power from that point - although the engine did not quit there was the ominous sign of oil all over the top end of the engine. I then found out that Doug had red lit - although our e.t. was back on track (5.94) the low terminal speed (223 mph) indicated a problem...........
Back at the pits we found the problem - on leaking down the engine we had obviously burnt a hole in #1 piston - the heat was now on to repair the engine in time for the next round. On removing the head we found that we had in fact also damaged #5 piston. News had also come back that our semi-final opponent - Rob Turner was also in the middle of a big thrash to get his engine repaired for the race. Both pistons and a liner were replaced - everything put back together and just as we were setting the clutch - to our amazement we hear over the PA that only 1 car had made it to the start line for the semi finals - nobody had told us to be there! - the same was also true for Rob Turner - and Dave Wilson was stuck in the pits unable to get his car past a parked vehicle....
So this will go down as the race that never really was due to communication problems etc. As well as the team that was ready, but couldn't get there (Dave Wilson) and the two that were almost ready (Rob Turner and ourselves) obviously not being very happy - I am sure that the big crowd would have rather seen a 4 car race than a bye-run - but, I suppose that's life!
Special Thanks to -
All my crew and new member Chris - who I am sure did not know what he had let himself in for, when he said he would "give us a hand if we were stuck" - he is now an integral part of the team - we can't get the new awning up without his camper (but that's a story for another day)
Well done to Susanne Callin - daughter of our Swedish friend ("Rich Uncle Gordon") who had a very nasty crash at full speed in her Super Comp dragster which was completely destroyed (literally) - she then jumped into the two seater "Taxi Car" and won the event!!!
Click on image to see more photos from the race ..................
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