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Déjà-blue - The tale of R27 #375



Fantastic write up! Everyone loves a good writeup like this! :up:
MX5 looked terrificly evil! Many more plans for the Clio?

Long term plans for the Huskey? :smile:

Thanks Daz, no major plans for the Clio now to be honest! I wouldn't mind a few subtle exterior upgrades but thats not a priority. In fact the next expenditure really needs to be a NSF hub as the bottom ball joint has started knocking :cry:

Plans for the Husky (should I ever pull my finger out) are reasonably respectful exterior restoration, just lower and wider, but with updated drivetrain and suspension so it will hold its own on a track and B road! I would also like to make the interior semi-practical, with a decent amount of sound deadening and general creature comforts, which should ultimately make it driveable more of the time, which is something that really fell by the wayside with the MX5 build.
 
  Cam'd Ph2 172
Awesome thread! Clio's looking great, love the colour. It's surprising how much of a small world this is - I remember following your 5 build adamantly when I was looking into getting one (unfortunately never did). Was an awesome looking car! Hope to see the same with the Clio ;)
 
Awesome thread! Clio's looking great, love the colour. It's surprising how much of a small world this is - I remember following your 5 build adamantly when I was looking into getting one (unfortunately never did). Was an awesome looking car! Hope to see the same with the Clio :wink:

Thanks for the comment mate, glad you liked the 5 and are liking the Clio! I'm not sure this car will go quite as bonkers as the Mazda build though I'm afraid... That's more the Husky's territory!

Great looking car,mods and write up

Thanks a lot Steve!
 
So our festive frolic over to Wales happened, and I am pleased to report that nobody died.

We met initially at a small services in Swindon, with the temperature gauge atop the Clio’s dashboard indicating a heady 1 degree centigrade. The previous day had also seen a not-insignificant amount of rain, so the conditions were not exactly perfect for an enthusiastic drive on some remote country roads! However, at least I was prepared. I had my flask of tea in the centre console and my arctic expedition clothing on the rear seats. Please note I have never really been on an arctic expedition, but I image they probably wear a 4 year old parker from Debenhams, some touch-screen friendly gloves from Asda, and a stupid hat from somewhere-that-I-can’t-actually-remember-but-may-have-been-Next. Most importantly though, I had packed the camera gear.

This was set into action soon after we reached our second meeting point – Leigh Delamere services on the M4 – where we were joined by a friend in his S5 Cab. This concluded a rather eclectic mix of machinery as you can see, from left to right – the aforementioned S5, a 2014 BMW M3, my R27, a Lotus Exige S 240 (in health and safety pleasing high-vis-jacket yellow no less), a Mini Cooper S, and a Vauxhall Corsa C with a ballistic Red-Top conversion.

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The sun was now poking its head out, which had succeeded in improving temperatures to a sweltering 3 degrees. In fact the maximum we saw all day was only 4, with it hovering around the 2 degree mark the majority of the time.

After a less than exciting cruise down the motorway, enlightened only by the obligatory toll-booth grand prix, we took a scenic route across the Brecon’s to the A4069, more commonly known as the Black Mountain Pass. The chilly and mildly icy tarmac meant that none of us were exactly pedalling at ten-tenths, which meant it was easy for everyone to stick together, following the little fluorescent 2-seater from Norfolk in a chain of howling exhaust notes and whooshy intakes. The pass itself was just as stunning as I remembered from my previous visit back in July (read the thread if you haven’t already!). The views from the top are simply breath-taking and the squiggly route to get up there, and back down, is non-stop excitement and adrenaline.

I have to say the experience was a lot different to the summer, back then even though the car was still very new to me, it was massively confidence inspiring. But today it was the polar-opposite, the once super-responsive steering felt somewhat soft and vague. Of course the slippery road surface wasn’t helping the matter but that could not be the whole story, what else had changed? Then it dawned on me, it had to be the tyres. This was the first real test for the Uniroyal’s since they were fitted and I must say I am very disappointed. Don’t get me wrong they seemed to have a reasonable amount of grip in such testing conditions, but they simply do not communicate this back to the driving seat in any way shape or form. You need to force yourself to chuck the car in, hoping it will stick, rather than knowing that it will, and this is not the way I like to drive, especially on the road. I feel like I have shoved a scrunched up sock into the mouth of a once uncontrollably talkative chassis, and then secured it with a big length of Gaffa tape. What a mistake, I can’t wait to get my Nankang’s back on now!

Anyway, we all made it to the pass without incident, and stopped a short way up for a breather and a leg stretch. We just about managed to squeeze all the cars into a tiny section of gravel on the verge, perilously close to the bank of a small river. Annoyingly there were no classic You’ve Been Framed moments and nobody had to continue the trip in damp undercrackers, but on the plus side it was a perfect setting for a couple of photos.

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We made a couple of runs up and down the pass, dodging in between various hikers, cyclists and kamikaze sheep, before heading east to pick up the A470 then down to Merthyr Tydfil for a refuel and a Big Mac meal. From here a couple of the guys decided to call it a day and proceed back to base, I, however, had different ideas. On our brief stint on the A470 I had spied a familiar road sign containing five characters, individually insignificant, but when put together made my heart have a little flutter. They were A, 4, 0, 5 and 9. As the last few French fries were ingested I declared my intention to retrace some steps and tear up this amazing stretch of asphalt until the very last ray of sunlight had disappeared. Happily the drivers of the Exige, Corsa and Mini were game to join, so off we went.

I’m sure I speak for the collective when I say how glad I am that we did. What a god damn, rooting tooting, out of this world, incredible, adjective-consuming road. It is so open, so fast, and so flowing, a proper white-knuckle ride from start to finish. Twice we made the full trip from A to B, and then for good measure we returned to A-and-a-half for some snaps, looking down into the valley as the sun waved its final farewell below the horizon. By now the cars were absolutely filthy, but looked very purposeful sitting on top of the world, quietly clicking and ticking as abused brakes and exhausts were finally allowed to cool down.

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What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. You can keep your football matches, your hangovers, your onesies and your slippers, just give me an exciting car, some super unleaded, and some Welsh A-roads forever more, and I will be a very happy man indeed.

Happy New Year.

Rob
 
Nice write up!

I'm sure I recognise that Punto too, were you on fiatforum? I was karbineftw on there if you remember me

Thanks @dann2707, glad you enjoyed it.

I was on FiatForum yes, although I didn't post much, my main haunt during my Fiat ownership was PuntoSportsClub. My username on all forums has always been Godders though, or at least Godders with some numbers/letters following it if some selfish bugger had taken it previously, as is the case on here!
 

Gaz_

ClioSport Club Member
  Extreme mode
Punto sports club. Christ there's a blast from the past, I had a Gt3 and was on there circa 2002 ish!

Loved that wee thing :)
 
  A4 DTM/iceberg cup
Lovely car and a great write up. Credit to you!

Want to see a thread on the hillman though....
 
Thanks all for the lovely comments!

the krypton green lotus :smile: ... want so much!

It is a quite phenomenal machine, its got some kind of uprated intake too which means the supercharger screams like a banshee, properly gave me chills listening to it echo around the mountains!

Punto sports club. Christ there's a blast from the past, I had a Gt3 and was on there circa 2002 ish!

Loved that wee thing :smile:

I was only 18 back then and the Punto was my second car, oh how much I lusted after a GT though!

One for the Hillman?

Want to see a thread on the hillman though....

I haven't actually created a thread for it anywhere yet I am afraid to report, but once I do I will be sure to post a link!

Great write up!

I see the mx5 at RAF Odiham quite often.

Yeah that's where the new owner is based I believe, his name is Lewis. It's off the road at the moment though 😧
 
A reasonably brief update today, starting with a photo of a photo.


I’ve been meaning to transfer some of my recent shots to print form for a while now. It’s all well and good taking lovely photographs on an expensive DSLR, playing with them on an expensive piece of editing software, and then flaunting them around social media and internet forums the next day (or the next week… month… decade… Okay I admit I’m not always the speediest at that game) yet it all seems a little futile if you can’t enjoy them yourself, right? Right.


So when Photobox (uncommissioned plug) announced they were having a mega New Year’s Day sale on all wall art, I jumped on it like a puppy on a tennis ball. I ordered myself a couple of humongous 100 x 76cm canvasses, one from the farewell shoot of my MX5, and this one from mine and my friend’s trip to Wales back in July.


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In case you need reminding, that was taken deep in the Snowdonian National Park on the 2nd day of our trip, on a truly spectacular road boasting some of the most breath-taking scenery I have ever seen from behind a steering wheel. Anyway, you can read more about that on the dedicated thread if needs be. I love this photo, not just because it’s actually reasonably decent from technical standpoint, as much as I hate personal trumpet blowing, but because every time I look at it I am transported back in time. I can remember absolutely vividly being stood on top of the rock, camera in one hand, a half-eaten packet of crisps in the other, the sleeves of my hoody rolled up to my elbows, revealing faintly goose pimpled forearms, partly from the light breeze ricocheting between the mountain sides, and partly from the unadulterated driving pleasure that led me here. I remember smiling, grinning even, filled with happiness from what I had done and what I was witnessing. I remember uploading a picture to Facebook with the tagline “My day was better than yours”, and I continue to stand by that statement. Right then I was experiencing a moment very close to perfection, and I managed to capture that moment flawlessly in pixel form, to relive again and again. Every day in fact, whenever I enter my kitchen. It’s not all about memories though, but looking at it only catalyses anticipation for future adventures to new destinations. Scotland 2015 planning is underway. I cannot wait!


Moving on, before the less romantic of you feel any more nauseous, I have a wheel related update. You may remember I had been forced to remove the NS2R’s from the front of the Clio to avoid guaranteed death, or at least a telling off from a man in a flashy blue and yellow Mondeo. I missed them. Fortunately although they had rolled their last mile on public tarmac, they were still prime for some abuse on track. Swapping them back onto the standard wheels was a no-go, as I still had to drive to and from the track, so I decided purchasing a couple of spare wheels would be an ideal plan. A quick browse of the ‘Bay revealed 197 rims to be carrying some pretty healthy price tags, yet the very similar Laguna Silverstone’s were practically ten-a-penny. Luckily I tracked some down just a few miles away and picked them up one evening after work. The tyres were shot and the paintwork less than showroom, but more importantly they were straight and true with very minimal kerb rash.


Back home and on the bench they went, it was time for a ghetto refurb. A quick flat back with some wet and dry, followed by a couple of coats of grey primer, a couple of coats of grey topcoat, and a dusting with some leftover BMW sparkling graphite for a bit of added bling. Lastly a good dowsing of clear lacquer went on to protect and add a glossy finish. Hardly a professional operation I admit, but not a bad job considering my tiny little halogen heater was struggling to compete with sub-zero temperatures outside! And yes I did paint the tyres, ain’t nobody got time for masking.


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I got the knackered and semi painted tyres popped off and the Kangers back in their place and stacked them in the corner of the garage patiently waiting for the next outing. They didn’t have to wait too long, Brands hatch was beckoning, courtesy of Open Track Day’s boxing day sale. I love a bargain at the best of times, but even more so when it involves a track day - £109 for a full open pit lane day at one of countries best circuits? They needn’t ask twice!


The days between booking and the event seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye, and soon I was chucking tools, wheels and skid lids into the R27’s acceptably sized rear. I headed east late on Sunday evening to my overnight accommodation in Dartford, having decided that attacking the M25 first thing on a Monday morning probably wasn’t the best of ideas! The Ritz it certainly wasn’t, but it was more than adequate for catching some Z’s at least, and the view out of my room window wasn’t too bad either…


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After a quick shower and a truly dreadful cup of tea I hit the road, calling in at the local Shell garage to top up on super duper motion lotion, arriving at the circuit just in time for noise testing. It easily passed at 92dB, a little louder than usual due to chilly ambient temperatures and a relatively chilly engine.


Hooking up with my friend Andy, owner of a turbo’d Mk1 MX5, we hunted out our pit garage, and abandoned the cars in favour of a warm signing on office and a good cup of Joe. The sighting laps followed swiftly after, which revealed an unbelievably slick surface around the entire circuit, very unnerving considering I still had the Rainsports up front! Nevertheless the sun was out and doing its upmost to improve the situation as quickly as possible. Back in the garage I slung the Silverstone’s on, discovering quickly that they were a little more aggressive in the offset department than their predecessors. I dabbled with the idea of removing the spacers but the brakes weren’t at all happy about that decision, making their presence well known on the back of the spokes! No worries, I was sure it would be fine.


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And indeed it was, no noticeable scrubbing at all, although I did tiptoe round for the entire first session as grip from the cold Nankangs on the dewy tarmac was pretty much non-existent! As predicted though, as the day progressed the circuit got drier and drier, and I got more and more confident in throwing the Clio around it. And that is the key, it is such a confidence inspiring chassis, positively begging you to attack each corner harder and faster every time, squirming about on the limit but always digging in and dragging itself round the apex. I say always, there was one point coming out of Druids, which was the only corner to remain slightly moist throughout proceedings, where I did run out of tarmac (and talent) causing an impromptu bit of lawn mowing. Embarrassingly this was whilst chasing a white Clio 200 as well! We were pretty well matched through the day I feel, but he definitely had the edge on me through that particular corner, obviously finding rather more stickiness on his Yoko’s than I could on my now decimated NS2R’s! I’m not sure if the owner is on here, I did mean to catch up with him but every time I walked through the paddock I failed to spot the car.


That was the only notable incident throughout the day. The highlight for me was coming around Clearways and Clark Curve ever faster as the track dried out, sliding about on the limit of grip, every nanometer of throttle input switching the car between oversteer and understeer, trying to find the perfect moment to bury it into the carpet for the slingshot into Brabham Straight. That said, the transition between Paddock Hill Bend and Hailwoods Hill, where the track suddenly changes from a plummeting drop to a steep rise, had me grinning from ear to ear every lap. My day came to an end at roughly 4:30pm, when the fuel warning beep (which is more like a ships horn in these for some reason) made itself known. I had burned through around 60 litres of the stuff at a respectable average of 11.6mpg, after which, surprisingly, the NS2R’s were still showing some tread.


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Now I face the tough decision of whether to retire them from duty or risk them lasting another full day of abuse at Rockingham next month… my inner sadist (and cheapskate) is urging me towards the latter. Photographic evidence of exposed cords always goes down well!


All in all it was a thrilling day at a really stunning circuit, one I shall definitely be heading back to in the future. I will leave you with a few photos from the day, taken by the very talented Rowan Harrison. That is one of a few bonuses of booking with Opentrack by the way – the photography is absolutely free. I have well over 50 high res examples I could share with you, but I have whittled them down to my favourite 7. I hope you like them as much as I do. In fact, I may even bang one onto a canvas…


Speak soon!


Rob


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-Jamie-

ClioSport Club Member
Just read this from start to finish, Mega thread. One of the best i have read in a long time on various forums so top work there mate!

Remember reading about your old MX5 and loving it again, was a cracking piece of kit, Proper.

Scotland 2015? Please do let me know when and where you are going to come up, Would love to tag along for the day and show you some of the less known roads up here ;)
 
Thanks for the comments both, glad you are fans of my drivel!

Scotland 2015? Please do let me know when and where you are going to come up, Would love to tag along for the day and show you some of the less known roads up here :wink:

I most certainly will! Would be great having a local to guide us about rather than relying totally on my (often eratic) navigation skills!
 
  Mini GP2
Fantastic thread; stunning R27 pal. Very much enjoyed reading and well done for taking the time to write the informative updates.

I need to do a thread on mine once i have done a few jobs which are in the pipeline. I'm drawn to that Krypton Green Exige, absolutely gorgeous.
 
Thanks for the comment Adam, happy you appreciate my efforts! Yes the Exige is a little bit special isn't it, he's entering it into a little all-Lotus race series this year which should be a lot of fun!
 
I must seriously apologise for my absence on this thread, I’m sure you have all been yearning for updates… no? Well you’re going to get them anyway.

I’m not sure anything of any major note happened between my Brands track day and the next one at Rockingham a month later, so we will kick things off there. I picked up my friend Frank, who was going to be success ballast all day as his car was broken, then met up with two other friends in their supercharged MX5’s. We stayed in some dodgy B&B the night before, which is not an experience I wish to repeat in a hurry; they had communal toilets and my morning shower was akin to a dehydrated camel dribbling on me. It did at least mean we could get up at a fairly sociable hour, and had just a handful of miles to cover before arriving in the paddock and laying claim to a garage.

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The morning was chilly but dry, and the track was very, very fast. I was bottling it at about 110mph on the apex of the banked oval. I’m confident the car could have carried more speed, but my testis certainly couldn’t. We were doing the 2.05mile International Super Sportscar Long circuit, and I quickly elected the left-right Pif-Paf chicane and the long sweeping Gracelands left hander as my favourite corners, being able to swing the tail nicely round on the former, and have it squirrelling about on the limit of adhesion all the way around the latter.

I had decided to risk throwing the balding NS2R’s from my last post on the front of the car, and after a few sessions it became apparent this may have been a foolish judgment! They were overheating rapidly and the driver’s side was delaminating badly on the outer edge. As the morning drew to a close I decided it was time they came off…

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Just before lunch, as I was busy with the trolley jack and torque wrench, it started drizzling. The chief marshal had warned us in the briefing that the track would get abnormally slippery if the rain appeared, and as it continued throughout the break another marshal came wandering into the garage with further words of caution. But seriously, it couldn’t be that bad, could it? Oh yes, yes it could. Ice cubes on an air hockey table have more traction that we had at Rockingham that afternoon, it was almost comical! I quickly gave up trying to thread a decent lap together and spent a large portion of the next few hours playing chase car to the tail wagging MX5’s, which was genuinely fantastic fun. I did have to have my wits about me though, as an exuberant Jack (in his supercharged racing green number) insisted on spinning right in front of me on more than one occasion.

As time went on the rain ceased, but the cool temperatures meant the surface never really dried out. I must’ve got a little jealous of all the fun the rear steerers were having, as I decided to have a whirl myself, courtesy of some scandy flicks and tactical lift offs. This went well for a while, and I’m hopeful that it looked mighty impressive from the outside. Until it didn’t go so well, and I found myself in a colossal tank slapper coming out of Deene, ended only by the gravel trap on the outside of the following straight. I went in front first, having fortunately scrubbed off enough speed to avoid a roll, and just enough to stay out of the looming tyre wall, be it only by a few inches! However I was well and truly beached, the front wheels flailing about like the legs on an upturned tortoise.

Mercifully a pick up arrived a few seconds later, expelling two men with high vis vests and impressive facial hair. They kindly dragged me back onto the black stuff, allowing me to tie toe back to the paddock. This spelt the end to my days hoonage, with the next hour spent digging gravel out of every conceivable orifice in the Clio’s belly. Nevertheless I imagine a half decent orienteer could still have traced my 2 hour journey back home, simply by following the intermittent trail of kitty litter ricocheting from deep within the cars unmentionables.

I have some videos from a couple of the morning sessions thanks to my recently acquired Go-Pro, if you fancy wasting a few minutes watching some fairly abysmal wheelmanship, feel free to click the links below.



I decided to borrow the ramp again the following evening to finalise the gravel evacuation, and unbelievably I still managed to find a dustpan’s worth of the little critters. Whilst the diffuser was off I took the opportunity to level up my exhaust tips as the left hand side had dropped slightly. The OCD fairy was extremely pleased with this achievement.

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I had been giving the poor little thing more than its fair share of abuse lately, so I decided, as way of an apology, to buy it a rear spoiler. Perhaps had it been wearing one at Rockingham the negligible added downforce could have saved me a trip into the stones, but that is a debate for people with more time and brain cells than I. Regardless I always thought the rump end of the car could use a little more detail and aggression. The obvious answer would have been the proper Renaultsport wingy thingy, but for some reason I just find this a bit too fussy for the Clio’s otherwise subtle features. So a Sprint Spoiler arrived instead, courtesy of Simon at Spray Shack, and I wasted little time having it painted in the appropriate hue and lobbing it on the back of the car. I knew those scrap bits of steel would come in handy for something!

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This wasn’t the only thing to arrive in the office post-Rockingham either. Having been put off the Nankangs by their truly appalling performance in any kind of light moisture, not to mention the way they disintegrated as soon as they surpassed the wear markers, I decided to step things up a level. Feast your eyes on rubber perfection (although please don’t type that into Google), Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R’s.

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I had heard nothing but good things about these tyres so decided to take the plunge despite them being a fair whack more currency than the competition. Angel from Cazan Racing made things slightly less painful, and I must say it’s a real shame he has decided to shut up shop. Anyway, I had these fitted all round on the OEM wheels, the remaining pair of half worn NS2R’s then went on the Silverstones to burn off on the next dry track day, and the Rainsports were removed and sold on. Having driven on the Yokos now for the best part of 2 months I have to say the rave reviews are most certainly justified; they are fantastic. Honestly I really cannot sing their praises highly enough, just go and buy some. Now.

Back in the land of chronology, the first drive with the new additions up top and on all 4 corners was a little blast through some of the most B-est of B-roads Wiltshire has to offer, led by my friend Will in his other half’s Mini Cooper S. I know, either she is enviably understanding, or just plain oblivious... Having experienced Will’s driving I can only assume it is the latter. We were joined by Andy in his turbo’d Mk1 MX5 and Rob (owner of the yellow Exige featured previously in the thread) in his work wheels – a mapped 330D M-sport. Rob and Will are both very competent (read: absolute nutcases) at the helm of an automobile, and both knew the roads pretty well. As such Andy and I struggled to stick with them at times, but that didn’t stop us trying for a second! I don’t often get sweaty palms on the road these days, but I definitely had to direct the air con towards the steering wheel that morning. It was scarily fun.

We stopped for a breather and a Costa back in Swindon, where I grabbed the camera out the rear footwell, was pleasantly surprised to find it still working, and snapped a photo.

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Having finally got my good friend Frank’s MX5 back on the road after a torturous 7 months off of it, he was champing at the bit to get out and drive. He assembled the troops, namely Jack and Aran in their similarly specced cars, and never one to excuse such an opportunity, I jumped in the Frenchy. By the way, I apologise for the unrelenting MX5 content… I think I need to get some new friends with Clio’s! Parked up next to the little Japanese roadsters the R27 looks huge and, dare I say it, a little bit boring. In fact I may even have felt a little tinge of remorse at selling my own Hiroshima Hooner as I composed the photographs below. Getting back in the Clio though I returned to my senses, I still reckon it is just as much fun, and on the right road just as rapid, as my Mazda. Plus on the uninspiring straight bits, and whilst stuck behind Cuthbert and Dorris in their 1.25 Fiesta, I can revel in my sound insulated cabin, tweaking the climate control to the most pleasurable half degree!

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Midway through our drive we found a nice echoey bridge and Aran decided it would be good idea to set his camera up in the corner, whilst we all blasted through with engines singing. As ideas go I reckon it was up there with anything Einstein ever had to offer, and here is the result…


I think I shall make this update a two part affair as I have no doubt bored you’re all to tears, despite the fact we are still a while away from being up to date. Maybe, just maybe, I will get chapter two in before the week is out. But then again Boris Johnson may top the podium at the next Formula one race... I wouldn’t put my money on either to be honest.

Love and hugs,

Rob
 
how do you find ad08r vs ns-2r ?
Not a huge difference in the dry to be honest, if anything the Nankangs offered a bit more grip right at the limit (although I don't think I've tested the Yokos quite as hard yet).
But in normal driving, spirited b-road blasts and any kind of non-perfect conditions the Yokos are leagues and leagues ahead!
 
So guess what… a floppy-haired political buffoon is still yet to pilot an F1 car to victory, and equally as predictable is the fact I failed to deliver an update within the same week… nor even the same month... but God loves an optimist, right?

Where were we anyway? As it turns out not far from the Spring Action Day at Castle Combe, which is where I shall start this post. I managed to get 2 sessions out on the brand new Combe tarmac that day, both of which were equally as infuriating (slash terrifying) due to some quite horrific driving standards. The idea of chucking that many cars out, with stone cold brakes and stone cold tyres, a lot of whom have little to no previous track experience, is a recipe for disaster at the best of times, yet for some reason I still feel the need take complete leave of my senses and go out and play with them.

Somehow, astonishingly, I managed to end the day unscathed, despite very nearly being t-boned at Bobbies by some chump in an MR2 who thought the apex would be a fantastic place to attempt an overtake. You can hear my displeased reaction around 3 minutes into the following video… probably best to turn the volume down if you’re at work. Alternatively skip to 9:40 for the only clear lap of the session.


My friend Aran set his camera up in the rear of the car for the second session, which gives quite an unusual viewpoint from which to watch the action unfold. I can’t really remember what happened in this one, and can’t really be bothered to watch it back either, but let me know if it’s good!


A couple of my friends managed to pap some lovely static evidence of the cars endeavours as well, which are rather more time and bandwidth friendly.

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Back in the less stressful world of road car use I had finally decided to get rid of the fancy pants Alpine stereo which would only have audio-intercourse with Apple products and absolutely refused to talk to my Android phone. Whilst doing this I also decided to tear out the active subwoofer which lay dormant under the driver’s seat having been turned off on my very first journey. I quickly decided I wasn’t a huge fan of having my nether regions massaged with bass whilst trying to concentrate on driving, although the Mrs would have probably enjoyed it. Lastly I removed an auxiliary 12v socket which had been positioned inside the glove box but had mysteriously never worked. It transpired that this was probably due to the fact the fuse socket on the positive side was completely without fuse, and the negative was connected only to fresh air.

Having concluded that the cars electrics must have been fiddled with by some kind of electrical genius in the past, I thought I’d investigate why the stock 12v socket didn’t work either. As I got involved with the centre console I expected to find spaghetti junction hacked and spliced about underneath it, what I actually found was slightly more… minimalist.

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Nope, I’ve no idea why either, but a bit of work with the soldering iron and some heat shrink and we were back in business. Things were looking a bit grim at lunch time but the gear on the workbench at least indicated it had been a decent few hours of weight saving.

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Eventually it was all back together and the vacant hole in the dash had been occupied by a far simpler, yet perfectly co-operative Pioneer unit. It talks to my phone via Bluetooth or aux lead, receives penetration from CD or USB media, and tunes into Radio 1 perfectly, all for under 100 sheets. Job done.

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Almost a year of ownership had now past relatively pain free, and I must admit I had become a little ignorant to what French car ownership is all about; fixing things. First I noticed a bit of a knock coming from the NSF corner, which turned out to be this:

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Not ideal, but at least a half decent excuse to upgrade to these:

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And then shortly after began an awful groaning from the same corner under low-speed manoeuvring, which turned out to be (as the vast majority of Clio 197/200 owners will already know) the bottom swivel joint. I got on the blower to R-Speed, as recommended on umpteen threads within this very forum, but was met with the news that they were out of stock, and weren’t expecting another delivery for a while. Rats. Luckily I managed to source a couple of unused second hand ones and set about taking the front end apart yet again. It was a truly unpleasant experience the first time around, and if anything this time was worse, but it did at least cure the noise. No photos of this I’m afraid, as I was too busy swearing and hitting things.

With everything in decent working order again Frank and I made full use of a couple of consecutive sunny weekends by hitting the lanes hard. I really love track driving and would never push anywhere near as hard on the road, but there is something about threading together a tiny sliver of bumpy British highway, never being 100% confident of what will greet you around the next bend, that is totally thrilling on a completely different level. Plus you get to pull over whenever you desire, and whip out the DSLR.

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It wasn’t long before I had to get another fix of maximum attack track action though, and the location this time around was way over on the Welsh coast at a little circuit called Pembrey.

It was a day of ups and downs, and I mean that quite literally as my friend Max decided it would be a sterling plan to turn his MX5 into the boulder from Indiana Jones, careering off-piste and cartwheeling through mid-air. Apparently it managed 4 full rotations before landing on its wheels, and seeing the state it ended up in I find it difficult to doubt this fact. The car was, of course, completely buggered, but thanks to a decent roll cage and a quick prayer to the big man upstairs, Max and his passenger walked away with only minor whiplash.

On the contrary my day went without a hitch, and I managed about 150 miles of driving, seeing off 75 litres of motion lotion, and a fair amount of tyre rubber, in the process. If I had to describe Pembrey in a single word (and that is very difficult for me) it would have to be “quick”. Double the word limit and it would become “f**king quick”. Even the paltry powered Clio was averaging 70mph around a lap, and considering a couple of the corners are tight second gear affairs, that transpires to some seriously big numbers on the straights. If I am being perfectly honest I would probably have traded some foot-to-the-floor-ness for a little more technicality, but that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. Not even close. It was another amazingly exhilarating few hours, and should the opportunity present itself to return I shall be there in a flash.

Hopefully the following video, of a short blat late in the day, will give you some idea of just how full-on the track is, although I always feel video’s make it look far slower than it actually is in real life!


Being an Opentrack organised day meant there was a proper photographer on hand to capture the action, and the fruits of his labour are provided completely free of charge. They did not disappoint either, massive props to Tony Harrison for these puppies!

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I even managed to catch my breath for long enough at the end of play to snap a couple of my own, and I can only apologise for the genuinely expert photo-bombing happening in the latter one.

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And for the moment, that, as they say, is that. We are near as damn it up to date now, which I’m sure is a relief all round. I hope you have enjoyed reading my drivel, and please leave a comment if so.

I’m going to bed. Night night.
 
  Mini GP2
superb thread and great update as ever. How do you find the Eibach's ? would you say they are an improvement over the cup springs ?
 
Thanks very much for the comments!

Like most things in life, the Eibachs are a compromise. I'll be honest and say in my opinion they are too stiff for the road. The standard cup suspension isn't exactly soft, but it is/was bareable, however with these springs fitted it tends towards the annoying.

On track though I think they offered an improvement, the car seemed to have even more grip and composure through the turns. In the slower ones in particular it felt less inclined to spin the inside front wheel or lift the inside rear.

From an aesthetic standpoint the slight reduction in ride height is definitely an improvement. The wheels/tyres follow the arch profile much better now whereas before they looked a bit too big and the car a bit too high.

I can't grumble overall, at the end of the day it was a modification brought about by necessity rather than desire, even very stiff aftermarket springs are far better than snapped standard ones!
 

RMDavis

ClioSport Club Member
Great write up bud! I remember seeing your mx5 up for sale on pistonheads and thought what an evil looking piece of kit! I used to have a mk1. They really are cracking little cars!
 


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