We were unsure whether we would be able to make the last round of the MLR Sprint for financial and mechanical reasons but in the end couldn’t resist the competitive yet friendly atmosphere of the MLR Sprint events. We had attended the MLR Castle Combe track day before the big finale and the car had received a quick service before the Sprint event and all seemed well. We had not made any changes to the car between the Sprint events. Although we were not fighting for honours I wanted to perform well; the excitement grew throughout the week leading up to the event and I wanted the season to end with a bang!!
We signed on, having travelled down on the Toyo R1R road tyres fitted to the new Enkei’s that Darin had kindly arranged for me to collect at the Combe circuit track day a month or so before. After a few checks we were good to go, so signed on and sat down in the briefing room where Jon, Karen and myself caught up with Robin D. The briefing went smoothly with Darin clearly explaining what lay ahead and soon it was off for the obligatory sighting lap, trying to make a note of all corners and how best to tackle them. I had been to this track at the start of the season but the layout was now clockwise rather than anticlockwise as it had been for the first sprint which presented some interesting challenges! Due to the rain the track seemed a little slippy and I understand that someone even spun out during the sighting lap!
We only did three practice runs, having changed onto the R888’s after the first practice due to a lack of grip in the drying conditions. The practice runs were cut short when unfortunately a BMW M3 hit the pit wall front and back.
It took quite some time to open the track again after clean up and moving the start finish concrete barrier back into place. It did however give me an opportunity to have a good catch-up with fellow competitor Bloodspeed. My times throughout the practice steadily decreased from 1:11, to 1:07 to 1:05 although all laps were pretty steady to save the car for the real runs!
The time for the first competitive run arrived and I decided to try a launch. The engine sounded a little different to what I had been used to and, looking back, I should have taken more notice of that (it was more obvious on playing back the in-car video footage later). After my first run I had set a banking lap time of 1:01:30 which was fast enough to place me third in class at the end of the first run. I was quite happy with that being my first run as I knew that there was plenty of time to make up as I had not been able to to string all the corners together properly and was still finding where the grip levels were at in addition to having very cold tyres and brakes – I was confident that there was more to come.
First competitive Run
The second run came around quickly but unfortunately the quicker time that I had been hoping for was not meant to be when off the start my engine decided to go out with a bang! You can hear on the video below an initial pop followed by a bang and a fizz, then plenty of smoke, followed by what sounds like falling glass which was the block falling to the floor. The sound and results you see are the effect of a rod exiting the block of cylinder 1.
So that was a premature end to my day! My third place ranking also slipped as other drivers were able to improve their times throughout the afternoon, an opportunity I was not to have.
Death of an Engine
The car is now with my mechanic and will have a new engine fitted once sourced. It was quite unfortunate timing as I was looking to splash out on a race suit, new helmet with HANS clips, and HANS device. I guess this happens all the time though in motor sport!
Thanks to the MLR staff and other members for making it such an enjoyable day. Thanks Karen and Jonathan for their support throughout the day and the series 🙂 Good luck to all the competitors next year!
It was a shame I could only do one competitive lap before my engine let go and ended my runs. I am sure there was another second or two available with warm tyres, brakes and a little more bravery! It just wasn’t meant to be.