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Old 27-04-2015, 11:52 AM   #1
indigorallye
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BritCar 2015

BritCar is a 24hour endurance race which took place at Silverstone this weekend.
I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and managed to get a seat in a Ford Fiesta for the event.
I have always wanted to try my hand at a 24hour race, but the cost of a seat was always prohibitive. The Fiesta seat came up at a price I could not say no to.
There were a few reasons for the low price, including the fact that it was going to be the first time the team (Mensley Motorsport) had entered a 24. Also, the car was a Fiesta.......

The car was an ex Fiesta Challenge car. It was a basic specification with 165bhp up front. The brakes were changed to AP's with endurance spec pads. The tank was replaced with a fast fill ATL cell. We also had to have back lit numbers, race position boards, an intercom and data logger. Other than that it was just a basic race car with cage, seat and extinguisher.
We had to run Dunlop slicks and Sunoco fuel as per the regulations.

So, many months of preparation including lots of fitness training and the event was soon upon us.

I arrived at Silverstone on Wednesday evening, ready for a days testing on the Thursday. The weather was glorious, and we were hoping it would hold


We had a good day on the Thursday and managed to set the car up very neutral, with good tyre wear, but not too compromised that the cornering would suffer.
I can honestly say that I was impressed.......despite it being a Ford!

Our neighbours in the next garage, Bas Koeten Racing had travelled across from Holland. They brought two of their new Seat Leon Euro Cup cars which are absolutely stunning machines. They were one, if not the most impressive and professional teams in the pit lane.



They flew Tom Coronel (WTCC driver) across for the day just to give one of their drivers some instruction!

On Friday morning I had a stroll around the pits to check out our competition:

Red Camel Racing (Holland) who compete in 24hr races all over the world:



WEC motorsport (UK) who have done numerous 24's, including 5th overall in BritCar a few years ago:



Friday also saw us have our two qualifying sessions. We had to qualify in the day, and also night qualifying. It was quite clear where we were going to end up so there was no point in flogging a dead horse. Both went without incident and we qualified 28th out of 29. The car behind us failed to post a time but were allowed to race!

Saturday came and there was a day of racing before we started at 4pm. I made the most of the downtime and tried to get some sleep- but failed.
We soon had to have the car on the grid for the public walkabout etc, and it was very busy!



We had lots of people wishing us well, and asking for autographs. I was quite enjoying it!



The race soon got under way. We had decided on a race order, not with any kind of strategy in mind, just based on what people did and didn't want to do. I was doing my first stint in the dead of night

Paul, the cars owner, took the rolling start and we were away.

The race strategy was simple: drive within your limits to a 'delta' time and bring the car home.

All was going very well until we got to the two hour mark. The rear nearside wheel bearing had gone. The car limped in to the pits and the crew set to work. I was astounded to see it changed and the car back out within four minutes! That included fuel too.
Unfortunately, the wheel bearing issue re-surfaced, again, and again, and again.
Throughout saturday night we went through eight bearings. They were lasting about two hours each.

This photo just about sums up our race:



Anyway, my stint soon came round. In fact it came sooner than expected. James was out driving and it started to rain. He brought the car in to change to wets and a driver change was also decided. At this point the heavens opened in a biblical fashion.





The spot lights had been bolted on and I was sent on my way. It was horrendous! The spot lights were not able to pick out the apexes and I was pretty much driving the circuit from memory, guessing braking points and when to turn in. As I raced down the Hangar Straight for the first time the car aquaplaned on three separate occasions, each time I was a complete passenger. Thankfully race control saw sense and deployed the safety car.
After the deluge the safety car pulled in and we were off racing again. WOW! what an experience. Racing in the dead of night is just fantastic and an experience I am keen to repeat.
As soon as the faster cars lapped me the visibility disappeared again. The spray from their tyres was un-believable.

Anyway, I continued to circulate, putting in some decent times and was happy with how the car was performing.





And then the wheel bearing went as I turned into Copse corner at about 90mph

I managed to get it back to the pits, and I was also told we were changing drivers. Gutted.
As I got out the car, I walked around to see the damage and there was about 5 degrees positive camber on the wheel.........hmmm, lucky escape!
Anyway, the car was patched up and sent on it's way.

I went off to get some sleep.

Six hours later I was back in the garage to see what was going on. I was pleased to hear that the car was still putting the laps in, and that the bearing issue had been rectified.
** Don't use a gun when a specific torque is required **

I was told to kit up as the car was coming in. It had no power, the speedo wasn't working and it was in Limp Home made. The reader was plugged in and it showed an error with the fuel level sensor- which we were not using.
Prior to going in the garage the fuel was topped up:



I then got in the car and raring to go whilst the crew were busy trying to sort the problem.
I was soon sent on my way, but it went back into limp home mode. I was straight back in, but I also reported a vibration at the front nearside.
This was investigated and the CV boot had split.
It seems the boot split, threw grease onto the ABS sensor which then threw up the fuel sensor code.
The shaft was changed and I was off. Driving the full GP circuit on a now dry, sunday morning was epic. The car felt fantastic.





Over two and a half hours later I was brought in for a tyre and driver change. The front tyres were shot and so was I.

As I pulled into the pit lane I knew that my driving duties were done. I felt emotional as I got out the car and strapped the next driver in.

I then celebrated with a brew and a sausage and egg butty.

We still had five hours to go, but the car was running well.

With two hours to go the driver reported a gearbox noise. He pitted and it was investigated. It was coming from the diff. He was sent back out, but came back in not long after.
We then decided to play the tactical game.
In a 24hr race the officials and rescue crew will always do their very best to recover a stricken car back to the garages. However, when the clock reaches 23hrs 30mins there is no recovery.
So, with this in mind, and a finish beckoning the car was parked for twenty minutes- just to give it a rest.
It was soon sent back out and was lapping at a suitable pace to get it home.

At 4pm on Sunday the chequered flag dropped.
We had done it.



A bunch of mis-fits had taken on one of the most challenging races and we had come out the other side.
We had factory teams come and congratulate us, and I think it is fair to say that we were the most supported car out there.

The end result was 14th overall and second in class. A truly outstanding achievement.

I was even congratulated by Sir Chris Hoy


(I think he has more power in his legs than we had in the car!)

The podium ceremony was completed and there ended a truly wonderful experience.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this, and if any racers ever get the opportunity for a 24, then DO IT.
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- North West Sports & Saloons Class F 2014 Champion
- Winner of Dave Simpson Memorial Trophy

- Britcar 24hour 2015, 2nd in class, 14th O/A
- Seat Supercopa

Last edited by indigorallye; 27-04-2015 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 27-04-2015, 12:01 PM   #2
spdpug98
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What a great write up, I've always wanted to enter a 24hr race or even just have enough budget to do a Britcar round- brilliant!!!
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Old 27-04-2015, 12:10 PM   #3
matty_d
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Fantastic read! What a way to spend a weekend.

Huge congratulations to both you and the team!
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Old 28-04-2015, 07:23 AM   #4
Timberland
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Well done Mike, sounds and looks absolutely epic. Brilliant write up too.
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Old 28-04-2015, 09:15 AM   #5
shenparbitch
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Mega achievement fella.. congrats to all involved..

I was keeping an eye on things (both you guys as i also know Big James!.. and also some people involved in the SICL seat cup racer which i found out crashed and retired in the wet i think)

Shame there wasnt form of stream.. i only had the TSL timing and various peoples FB updates to keep tabs on things haha
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Old 28-04-2015, 10:12 AM   #6
Harv
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I was struggling to keep up as well! Live timing worked well, but not even a decently active britcar twitter account seems criminal in this day and age.

Congrats though mate, sounds like a fantastic weekend.
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Old 29-04-2015, 06:48 AM   #7
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Sounds like a fantastic way to spend a weekend! Well done to all involved, and a great write up too, thanks for sharing.

You (or at least the car) has made it onto the pistonheads homepage
http://www.pistonheads.com/news/moto...-reports/32061
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Old 30-04-2015, 12:01 PM   #8
Gus
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Good work to you and the team Mike, looks like a fantastic experience to be involved in.
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Old 30-04-2015, 04:04 PM   #9
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Excellent achievement Mike, well done! The supercopa's are some car, there theres 5 of them competing in the itcc this year
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Old 30-04-2015, 06:20 PM   #10
indigorallye
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Yeah, they've got their own championship too!
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Mike
www.106maxi.co.uk
- North West Sports & Saloons Class F 2014 Champion
- Winner of Dave Simpson Memorial Trophy

- Britcar 24hour 2015, 2nd in class, 14th O/A
- Seat Supercopa
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Old 30-04-2015, 07:44 PM   #11
LukeS1Stoke
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Well done Mike, great read too!
Whats next then back to the 106?
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