It only seemed like yesterday when we were getting ready for Knockhill for the Final Round of the 2013 season, lots has changed in the last 6 months. We have a new car in the form of the DW86, two new team mates with Chris Smiffy and Rich Grindrod as well as a new truck and trailer to finish off the new outfit. A lot has changed in Drifting over this period and a lot of teams have upped their game with new cars, liveries and drivers.
Many drivers from seasons past have also returned to the Sport, Allan Green in the Falken Tyres S13 and Danny Eyles in the Japspeed Subaru are just a couple of the big names who have made a comeback.
The atmosphere in the pits wasn’t dampened by the terrible weather that was forecast over the weekend, drivers and fans were excited to see the DW86 in the flesh just staring at the car as it went up on the air jacks or when we were running the rear pads in. It’s something that I personally hadn’t experienced before and was taken aback by the sheer number of people that were interested.
Changes to the timetable this year meant that Phil in the DW86 was one of the first out on the damp track. We were all a little bit worried about how the car would handle as we had never tested the car in the wet. Unfortunately on the very first lap Alex Laws span out in his S14 and Phil was driving too close to take avoiding action and just clipped the driver’s door, rear wheel and arch on the DW86. Not too much damage was done but we missed the rest of the session inspecting the damage.
Other drivers were struggling with new cars and damp conditions but as the track dried, the standard started improving. Dan Chapman, another driver returning to the series was looking good in the CMR S14.
In the Pro class our two new drivers were both out practising in freshly built cars. Smiffy was struggling in his S14 due to too much grip (thanks to his new rear geomasters) but managed to put in plenty of clean runs.
Rich in his freshly engine swapped Supercharged LS2 E36 was having teething problems with his new fuel system so only managed to get 1 run in before retiring the car before too much damage was done to his engine.
During the first practice session the DW86 tore a seal on a brand new AP Master cylinder in the handbrake, which meant that under a certain combination of hand brake and footbrake there were no brakes at all. Thanks to Mark Lappage who kindly lent us a master cylinder which solved the issue and got the brakes working perfectly for the rest of the weekend.
In practise session 2, the DW86 was working better than ever, we were still having issues with too much grip thanks to its short wheel base, rear biased weight distribution, and awesome Nankang NS2R tyres
Due to Rich’s mechanical issues he was unable to do any more practice but Chris was able to get a few laps in, however his car wasn’t revving properly and being very hesitant between gear changes. He managed to mostly drive round the issues and got 5 clean runs in, gaining confidence with the new setup.
Onto the Qualifying rounds, the DW86 had developed a bit of a missfire under load at high revs, which got worse as the day progressed, but Phil managed to put in some safe runs and we jumped onto fixing the problem straight after. It turned out our posh fuel tank and the pickup for the fuel pump had been blocked with crud from a jerry can that was peeling paint from the inside.
Lots of disassembling, cleaning and filtering later and the car was back together, but we had damaged the fuel filter during cleaning and it leaked. Buff and the SATS team came to the rescue, and leant us their spare Aeromotive filter with some fittings to convert to our -6AN lines. Cheers guys!
Thankfully we managed to qualify in 13th place in what Phil described as his weakest ever entries into the first corner, 13th place meant he would be up against Mark Luney in the SATS Supra.
Chris was up next in the pro qualifying but a combination of a troubled engine, gearbox issues and too much grip caused him to just miss out on the top 16.
Sunday was scheduled to be wet almost the entire day, with this in mind we set about prepping the car for a damp track. Unfortunatley Mark had issues in the SATS Supra and pulled out so as not to risk any further damage to his car, so we were promoted to 12th and now against the Jack Shanahan, the 14 year old from Ireland in his S14a with a Turboed M3 engine. This was going to be a good battle!
Everything was working well and we were all confident and excited for the battles, but as Phil pulled onto the track and set about warming the tyres, we heard an almighty and all too familiar bang as the propshaft snapped the massive front UJ. This meant we were unable to compete and had to be towed away from the line. Gutted…..
This is the 4th driveline failure we’ve had in the car, despite choosing the absolute best and strongest parts. So we’re going to have to dampen engagement with a Tilton adjustable flow delay valve and hopefully dial some of the shock loads out of the transmission.
Congratulations to Jack Shanahan for taking the first win of the season.
Although the weekend wasn’t what we had expected, we’ve still come away with Championship points and when the DW86 was working it was spectacular. With 6 weeks to go before Knockhill there’s plenty of work to do to rectify the issues we’ve found, but we’ve had a glimpse of how good it can be now and we’re hungry and excited for more.