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AlexH's Next Racing Adventure (of sorts..)



Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Some of you may remember back about six/seven years ago, I bought myself an XR2 and went racing, see:
http://www.cliosport.net/threads/my-first-race.537339/
http://www.cliosport.net/threads/donington-race-report-classic-stock-hatch.659383/
I sold the car in 2012 and for various reasons didn't see a way back into motorsport for some time and I was right. A few years ago I moved nearer to Leeds and to just down the road from Harewood's Hillclimb course. I'd been to spectate there several times and know some of the marshals so decided to have a look for a Clio 1*2 that I could run as a daily, but also compete in the road-going class in hillclimbing. I had just sold my EP3 (yes, the 1*2 is a better chassis, but I prefered the EP3 as a package). A really cheap Mk1 Focus came up locally so I snapped that up for a daily and in December 16 spotted a project car that I'd never owned before but always had a fondness of - particularly as they were out in BTCC whilst I was first getting into it in the early 00s (hence the EP3 ownership too!)

So I exchanged just a few hundred notes for an ok-ish-looking Peugeot 306 GTI6 from a local guy who had bought it as a project and ran out of time/money/enthusiasm (or had found everything that was wrong with it!!). It had stacks and stacks of spares that filled the interior, including most of a spare engine in the boot. I drove it the 4 or 5 miles home and it was sketchy as anything - the brakes were shocking, the suspension creaking and moaning and some worrying vibrations! I eventually got home after a pitstop for fuel as the fuel light was on and the gauge was at the bottom, so didn't want to risk running out. On fresh fuel, some of the vibrations were gone.

This is how the car looked after I parked it up on the drive and started to draw up a list of what was needed!
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Lots to do, more to follow!
 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Had a bit of time off work in December for some religious holiday or whatever, so wasted no time in having a look around the car to see what was good and what wasn't so good. It mostly wasn't so good. MOT history showed it had been off the road for a considerable time, it passed its most recent MOT with no advisories which is always a worrying sign, especially when the seller works at the garage where the MOT was done...

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Quickly realised that the first thing that needed my attention was the rear beam - it was hanging (in both senses of the word). Pig of a job to do, every bolt was seized and rounded, so cut just about everything off, including the brake pipes which were about as porous as Spongebob Squarepants.
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Had some fun removing the rear hub carriers...
Looking at the state of the braking system next it was all awful too. I only have a handheld brake flaring tool, so didn't fancy making up hundreds of pipes - after a quick check of the regulations I started ripping out everything in the braking system - pipes, flexi, compensator, ABS, loom, the lot. Refurbished rear beam turned up along with some adjustable and firmer rear dampers.
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and got those installed which was easier than I thought considering I was on my own. Also added near rear hubs, discs & pads with some braided hoses..
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Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Car now passed the shoe test..
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and it was time to start on the front - this is where things got interesting. I was sure that if every bolt at the rear was seized and rounded, then the front would be just as bad. I was wrong - every fastener at the front had been undone recently and was hand tight. After I jacked the front up, the damper near enough fell out of the hub. Had the front corner apart in no time to run the new brake pipes and fit some very second-hand Spax coilovers. I think these will be sprung too softly for hillclimbing, but I'm not sure, so going to run them for now and see - will probably upgrade to Gaz Gold fronts when I've got a few events / trackdays under my belt. The driveshaft fell out too when the front end disintegrated.
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The nearside came off in one piece which was handy.
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Dampers have seen better days..
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That's about where I'm up to today, other than fitting a suede steering wheel and messing about with seats and seat positions, which are horribly high if you want off-the-shelf fitment. Nearly done with the mechanical bits, then onto the interior and electrics. Might try to make it look a bit prettier at some point, but looks don't make a car fast! Current plan is to get out for the last round of the season in September, but we'll see!
 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
So I'm well behind on updating this - I'm really useless at taking photos as I go. Today was my first event at Harewood, I managed to get the car finished last week, turned up early this morning with the five mile journey being the longest I'd spent in the car so far. Never driven Harewood before so had spammed YouTube videos the night before.

Practice in the morning was two runs, on what everyone said was a very slippy track. 80.92s for the first run, it was more of a sighting lap than anything.

Second practice run I really noticed that there was no power. Only 167bhp anyway, but it was chugging down the straights and I struggled to break 54mph through the speed trap. Turns out that some idiot had unplugged the Lambda at some point over the last few weeks... oops. Still managed a 78.8 ish which was an improvement.

First timed run was probably the best of the conditions and I managed a 75.75s (five seconds faster than the first run of the day).
Second timed run not many people improved, but I did - 75.47s. Video below - watching from home on the TV there's a lot of time I'm giving away in multiple places, so more brave pills needed!
Third timed run didn't go to plan, the bottom rad hose had been chafing on an errant piece of bodywork and split the hose going down to the start. It's fairly lucky the startline marshals spotted it, otherwise not only would I have come home on a tow truck, I'd have come home with a grenaded engine!

Fair few jobs to do over winter, I'll try to get this updated with all of the other stuff I've done, along with some more pics of the weekend as they come online!

 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Oooo I want to do Harewood in the Westie when it's finished.
Do it! Very technical so good fun, not like some courses that have two corners and are 700m long. Loads of caterfields of varying build quality & engine type, capacity and aspiration.
 

Waitey

ClioSport Club Member
  Rangie Sport, Westie
Do it! Very technical so good fun, not like some courses that have two corners and are 700m long. Loads of caterfields of varying build quality & engine type, capacity and aspiration.
Yeah my 2nd Westie won the 1600cc class back in 2004. It was running a 205bhp 9400rpm K series at the time. Mental s**t.
 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
So didn't really manage to do many updates, but we've now had Practice Day for the start of the season and I was beaten by a takeaway driver in a Micra!
Over the winter I swapped the heavy seats for lighter, cheap OMP ones:

Set to work ripping the front end apart to treat some rust and attempt to do the timing belt in situ...

An idea which didn't last long...

Messed around with some gearing and changed the final drive as the one from the Xsara VTS gives better acceleration, think it's a 4.4 rather than 3.9 FD. Something along those lines. There exists a 5.1 from a 1997 Citroen Berlingo 1.9d out there, but yet to locate one and from my internettings they were only used for months of production.

Got the car back together with a few days to spare before Practice Day, I acquired an LSD but ran out of time/money to fit so set off for the long 15-min drive to Harewood on AR1s in near sub-zero temps. Fun.
 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Broke down quite early on with a leaky oil cooler - maybe dodgy part, maybe terrible fitting. Easiest thing to do was to rip the entire thing off. After all, hot oil has less drag and no oil cooler means about 1kg saving in oil! Car looks pretty decent out there (and not like an Indian takeaway car!). Got to thank local photographer Phill Andrews for the pics!


My best run of the day was a 73.36 (second quickest run was a 73.37!). Two seconds quicker than the September meeting, but still plenty of easy time to find in my driving skills (and i've still done under 60 miles in the car since I bought it). Booked in to Harewood's legendary Academy day in April, so will hopefully find a couple of seconds there. With the LSD fitted later in the season my aim is the 69s.
Here was my best run:
 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
First round a few weeks ago was cancelled due to the weather so today was Round 2, but the first of the season.

Had some running issues again in the afternoon, plus a wayward engine mount was causing the engine to move around far too much - bodge fixed with some folded up coke cans!

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Practice 2 was my fastest time - got slower and slower all day and running really rich. Down to a 71.98 though, from a 73.36 last time. Video:

 

Alex H

ClioSport Club Member
Pretty much a year later - since the above rounds fitted solid rubber engine mounts, Quaife ATB LSD and swapped the rank Spax RSXs for some Gaz Golds. The car feels a lot better setup now, just having some shifter issues which I'm hoping to sort in time for Round 2 in May.

With the addition of the diff, I'm now hitting the limiter earlier in 2nd, so going for a little limiter raise - it's still not worth changing up into third at either spot.

Also, evidenced by the speed trap, the drop off from 2nd to 3rd gear is now dropping too many revs at a steep part of the hill. Having a look at various options to change some ratios which is allowed under the regs.

Fastest run is now a 70.74 - there's definitely a 69.99 in it in current spec - then with some changes to gearing, more practice and some brave pills, should be able to chip away at that.

 

TimR26

South Central- West Berks
ClioSport Area Rep
Have you tried sacrificing some speed through that esses section so you can get a better line through the bend on to the straight?
 


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