FIA European Finals - Santa Pod 2002
We arrived at Santa Pod with a skeleton crew - Friday was a normal working day - and we were very apprehensive - we were unsure that the lack of cylinder pressure and dropped cylinder(s) problems that plagued us at the Fall Nationals 2 weeks earlier had been solved - despite working every available hour between the races.
We fired the car up for a warm up and everything appeared to be ok - things were somewhat different however when I was on the startline - as I "nailed it" nothing happened... then it suddenly took off but felt really underpowered so I shut it off.
On returning to the pits everything checked out ok - even the bad cylinder pressure came back! - but we were still dropping cylinders - so we put the lethargic performance and strartline hesitation down to our magneto "going away". The magneto was replaced and were ready to run unfortunately the last qualifying session had been delayed so long that the track temperature had dropped drastically so we (as did all the other TMD teams) decided to miss this session.
On the first qualifying session of the day once again the motor hesitated on the startline but when it picked up it felt "something like" so I ran it through to a 1000' and carded a 6.7 @ 184 mph - not good but moving in the right direction.
Back in the pits things again checked out ok - so we decided to make some drastic moves - the fuel system was leaned out significantly from our previous "best guess" and the ignition timing advanced in an effort to gain more power and remove the hesitation on the startline.
On the next run once again we had the "startline lag" but at about 1/4 track the motor came on song and a 6.2 @ 212 mph was recorded - still a long way off but again moving in the right direction.
Finals Day - We were in the show as #4 qualifier but were a long way off the winning pace so once again we decided to make a big change in the clutch in a last ditch attempt to get off the line with some semblance of urgency!
Well it didn't work but the motor seemed to pick up as we went down the track so I kept it going to the finish line (222 mph) despite the race being long lost - to hopefully gather some data for the future and everything seemed ok, however...........
On returning to the pits we were in for a very nasty surprise - on dropping the diaper from around the oilpan - it was full shrapnel - the damage can plainly be seen from the photos.
As I write this report it is extremely unlikely that we can recover from this damage and fund a competitive car for 2003.
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