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Elise Update

This thread should really read 'Oulton Park Race Report', but then it would have been overselling things somewhat!

Unfortunately i didn't get to race at the weekend, or even qualify. Unfortunately (you must be used to that word with me!), the engine blew three laps into the morning practice session on Saturday. After snatching defeat from the hands of victory in the last round, to say i was gutted would be a massive understatement. Its been a while since i've felt so low, particularly as in testing the day before i was two seconds quicker than my nearest rival. So, another weekend of 'potential'!

It was also particularly crushing as we all put a lot of effort into the weekend's race. On Tuesday i was at a local airfield to work on our gearchanges. The previous failure was put down to the violence of the gearchanges; each time we changed gear, the abrupt slackening and tightening of the oil pump belt caused it to break. The aim of the day was to work on the mapping of our paddleshift system to smoothen things out, reducing the shock on the engine components.




It all went very well. Although we lost the characterful shotgun bang of every gearchange, it was now almost DSG 'box smooth! It also made the pitlane speed limiter much gentler; before it just sounded like it was something broken.

We were limited given the space, but the team had also fitted adjustable traction control which i simply tested by trying to oversteer at the end of the airstrip. Hoping to give it a proper test at a later date.

With the car seemingly all ok, the next trip was to Oulton Park for a track day, where i met a few CSers. I was meant to be getting into a rented Exige S, but it was damaged in a motorway trip on the way up! So suddenly, the Golf was called into action until a replacement car was sourced.




What was the Golf like on track? Well, as you'd expect really. Lots of grip, fail safe handling which would take any kind of abuse. Couldn't seem to disable ESP fully, but if you drove it sensibly, the light didn't flicker. The brakes must have got hot though as i am now missing a centre cap, which must have popped off!

I used an instructor who helped me to make notes for the weekend; i learnt a few new lines and the valuable pointers in case it was wet.


In the afternoon, i was given a Clio to use. It was a 197 with a stripped rear and rollcages. It also had wider wheels (Rotas!) and AO48s. The comparison with the Golf is, again, as expected. The Clio was of course more nimble, and adjustable (or less forgiving, depends how you look at it). It was however gutless, particularly noticeable at Oulton which has a few uphill slogs. I think it was reflective of its hard life, as some newer 200s were noticeably quicker in a straight line. Nevertheless, it was still reasonably quick over a lap and i was pushing a couple of Caterfields.



I then did a day of work and came back for the following test day in the Elise. I was very confident and within the first session i was as quick as the car was with slicks (albeit with the K-Series engine). As the day progressed, we put the wing up for greater stability and i managed to get down to a 1.49.53. As you can see from my previous time a couple of years back (3rd from bottom), i would have been quite high up the field if i was on slicks (3-4 seconds gained over the AO48s).



The car performed faultlessly, which made it quite a shock to hear the engine let go behind me as i was cruising around in practice. I'd only gone out to scrub a new set of tyres in....i didn't expect to be dragged back to the garage!

So, do we give up? No. Racing is like drugs, you just can't resist going back for that next high! Despite my current feelings, it is always worth it for that one great race. So, we are now sourcing another Cosworth Duratec lump whilst Scholar perform a post-mortem on the blown engine. The team phoned up earlier to say it had a massive hole in the side of it! Scarily, if timing is a problem, the K-Series is going back in for the next race towards the end of August. However, changing a headgasket is a piece of piss in comparison with a bottom end going...

Stayed tuned for that ;)

Oh, and this made me chuckle. I made it into the programme in my Production Elise; i treat it like crap and yet it is the one car that never breaks!

Yes, it runs a dry sump system. The chain in that went at Combe; the camchain went on a subsequent test day. It is basically a crate Cosworth engine but fitted with a few bits by Scholar, from their experience in Formula Ford etc.

It was fitted with a WRC spec camchain after the last failures, so there is a chance it wasn't put back together properly, but it RR'd fine (that was only done last Monday). Problem is i think the engine will be too fubard to point a finger, or even tell what caused it all. Will find out for sure tomorrow!
Wondered why you wernt out on track on Saturday!

I saw the team name in the paddocks and it reminded me about your elise.
  Oil Burner
Saw something had happened on TSL. Gutted for you mate, seems that you cant catch a break!

Looking forward to seeing the car out in a few weeks!


ClioSport Club Member
Saw this Parked up on saturday with the diffuser off and I was wondering what was wrong, its a shame as I was looking forward to seeing it on track too, unlucky mate:dapprove:

Looking sorry for itself-


Broken Elise by Niall97, on Flickr
Nice photo Niall; shame it was in that situation though! The team steam cleaned the engine bay i believe and just left it there to dry/sulk.
  Mk1 MX-5 (x3), Westy
What a bummer! Seems like you have plenty of pace - my fingers are crossed for better reliability for your next time out :)
Thanks Adam!

The engine was taken apart today; the cause was a pin attaching a con rod. It is a common part used in many engines, and is from a respected manufacturer. It is being sent to them to diagnosis if it was defective, otherwise i guess we'll be scratching heads! Perhaps it was just co-incidence, and we were unlucky, but seems a bit suspect to me...

Anyway, pressing forward with purchasing another engine. We needed a spare anyway, so looks like our hand is forced early!
  Arctic Blue FF 182
Seemed to be going well while you were out on track. We also had a mixed weekend with the Europa! Made great progress with the dampers on Friday and things were looking good for the race. Started getting a long brake pedal during pre-practise on Saturday, so bled the system hoping it had just cooked the brake fluid. Unfortunately during qualifying the problem re-occurred despite starting the session with a lovely pedal, which meant between qualifying and race I pulled the front callipers off, and replaced the piston seals, bled up and and felt great again.
Come race it was apparent from the pit wall that brake issues were back and on the last lap before driver change we were in the gravel. Driver managed to get the car back into the pits, so we did the driver change and quickly took the o/s/f wheel off to remove the arch liner which had been damaged in the off track visit and back out. Finished the race and seems I have some work to do before next time out to sort the brake issue and fix some other bits which were damaged in the process.
Yeah i think Chris set a good time at the end of testing, a low 1.50 according to my iPhone! Have you worked out what the actual issue is?

I suppose it is worth pointing out there is always someone with worse luck than you, and i think you guys are them! I think it is a shame that the series will probably be decided by reliability rather than pace and ability. Really there should be more points between a win and the other places, as you can do averagely all season and still win comfortably if someone has a DNF.

Do you know what happened with the Maidstone Exige?
  Arctic Blue FF 182
Yeah, Chris put some good times in, and overall Cassidy was showing some of the best driving he has done for a while too.

True, not been a great season but I suppose reliability does play a big part. The stupid thing is, when you look at the actual facts we do have reliability. In the sense that we don't have a re-occurring fault, just a handful of new things pop up all the time!haha!

No I don't really. From pit-wall they did seem to be missing gears when coming down the pit straight, did they DNF?

You guys going to be at Brands for Lotus Fest?
Thanks for the added consolations!

No idea about the Maidstone car James, but yes we will be at Brands, even if it is with a K-Series!

The NSX is feeling sorry for itself in a corner of the workshop, because the engine still needs to be built after it seized at the end of last season. We do have plans, hopefully i can share them soon.