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2CV 24-hour race: BLIMEY, THAT CAME ROUND AGAIN QUICKLY...


chaseracer
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It was like the Exxon Valdez had sailed up the Norfolk Broads and beached itself on the far side of the circuit.  

The safety car took the field down to 20mph max. for a couple of laps, then held a long train of 2CVs and Minis in parc fermé on the grid to give the Orange Army a chance to sort things out in peace.  

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7 hours ago, chaseracer said:

The inestimable @Talbot and I were throwing around the theoretical idea of an Autoshite entry (in beige with a brown vinyl roof, natch) and your name came up...

 

6 hours ago, Stinkwheel said:


If this is serious go-er of an idea, I can and will supply a 2CV bodyshell, axles etc

Having said that maybe a few of us chipping in will buy a better 2CV complete?

I don’t have everything needed anymore but will happily be part of this

*edit* I should have replied to chaseracer and not Richard, sorry, poor forum skillz, i shall go and prostate myself in front of a brown allegro as penance

Should this idea be a goer please count me very much in!!

Since watching the race I’ve been Googling about getting into 2CV racing… but have (so far) stopped short of messaging my racer mates to start asking questions… 

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10 minutes ago, big_al_granvia said:

thought the c1 enduro series had virtually take over from the 2cv

Nope.  They did have a class in the 2CV 24-hour on a couple of occasions (like the Mini Grande still does) but they apparently had difficulty understanding that it's a non-contact formula so weren't invited back.

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  • 2 months later...

s'pose it's about time I put some pictures and content up here for this event.  I'll break it up a bit if only for risk of losing the post before it posts... IYKWIM.

I was invited to come along to the 24hr 2cv race.. apparently I might be useful.  Quite how that could possibly be so, I wasn't sure as I've never worked on a 2CV before now.  I sortof understand how they are laid out, and have driven one before, but actually working on it?  No experience at all.  So I barrelled up the A24/M25/M11/A14 to Snettterttton on a fairly reasonable Thursday evening after work.  Followed a lot of signs into the dark abyss of the infield,  and promptly found an already-grumbling-about-having-to-camp @chaseracer, who had kept a rather nice level spot for my tent to go.  So, lobbed that up in double-quick time, and then wandered over to the team tent.  Well, I say tent, it was a massive inflatable "command centre" really, with cooking facilities down one side.  Like this:

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The car that I had turned up to assist with is team 28, S.L. racing, although already modified to S.L.A.G Racing, along with very fetching T-shirts, as modeled here:

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The car looked rather good, it being the first time this car has been on the racetrack in many many years,  @chaseracer will be able to say how many... I think it was something like 15.  New paint job and it's looking good:

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And off it goes to do some practice laps. 

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You'll note the very visible red cowlings for the "Red Engine".  The car came to the meeting with one engine fitted, and two spares.  This was rather fortuitous, as the story later will tell.  Red engine did some laps, but was then found to be rather down on power.   When you've only got about 40bhp to play with in the first place, every hp matters.  Some investigation was needed:

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Closer look at one of the heads:

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That's not right.  The rocker shaft for the exhaust valve was loose at the bottom, the strange flat-headed bolt at the bottom having come completely undone.  That was removed and a socket-head capscrew put in it's place with a "fair dollop" of locktite.  Interesting, as this engine had only recently been built, and had been rolling-road run previously.  Hmmmm.  Ah well, back out for more practice and some qualification on the Friday afternoon:

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More in a bit.

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On the friday, while there was various sessions of practice happening, there was also a number of other classes of car running about.  I'm not sure if they were racing, or just having a general bimble about, but there was some interesting stuff (and also some bellends, but hey, that's just how things are sometimes)

Over:

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Porkie Porsche:

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EEEEfurty:

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Is this a Dino?  Not entirely sure:

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More efurtie action.  (this one was really quite rapid)

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Rover, on the track:

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Porsche and a Morgan I believe:

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Car 47 again:

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While this was going on, various other things were being done to various 2CVs, in preparation for the race event:

Tracking being checked:

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Make sure all the lamps work:

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Lamps, wipers, horn, indicators, wash, wipe, rinse, spin, blow-dry:

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Make sure your 2CV engine is environmentally friendly:

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Apply stickers to the car.  Apparently there had been a bit of a rule change, so now the cars had to have a much bigger number on both front doors.  Also had to be illuminated, so the doors ended up with number-plate lamps on them downlighting the race number.  Looked a bit odd:

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Drivers names in stickers on the rear window:

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Another practice session, so off everyone went again for a run out:

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In case anyone wasn't aware, the big black cross on a yellow background indicates a novice driver.  In the case of car 28, that was actually only one driver of the three who was a novice, but all drivers have to display it as you can't cover/uncover it every time there's a driver change.

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What's a mini doing on the track then???

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Well, they are a guest class.  Over the weekend, there were 6 minis racing along with the 2CVs.  Understandably they are a goodly bit quicker than the 2CVs, as they are 998cc and water cooled, rather than the 2CVs which are all 602cc and aircooled.  Despite being mainly at the top of the leaderboard for pretty much everything, Pete Sparrow's car (well known in 2CV circles) still managed to get the fastest lap and a couple of other 1st places.

Classic racing:

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Oops, almost missed it.  They're so fast*

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I regularly mistook car 28 for the other blue car shown here on the left, as it also had a rookie marker on it and looked quite similar from the back... assuming you'd forgotten that car 28 has a white roof (which I did, several times!)

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A relaxed driving style perhaps?

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Blueberry tarts car here.  One of at least two, perhaps three all-female drivers teams.  Car 28 had actually "buddied up" with three other cars, this one included, so we had a large team of many mechanics and numerous drivers (although they couldn't swap cars) to keep everything going.  This would also prove very useful later.

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More in a bit.

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I should mention at the moment... this was the first "real" outing for a new-to-me (but actually really quite old) Canon DSLR camera.  As many people who I bored to tears by prattling on about it will know, I used to be half-decent with a completely manual 1970's Pentax film camera many years ago, but I've not had the chance in a goodly long time to do any nice photography.  Even a 2005 DSLR (which this D20 is) is a monsterous leap forward in technology from what I'm used to.  It's like being a decent driver in a 1972 Cortina, and then suddenly being shoved into a 2005 Mondeo... it's all sortof familiar, but there's a lot more to learn.

None of these images have had any post-processing carried out on them, not even being cropped.  I do have raw files of most of them, so might start attempting to process them a bit differently and see if I can get the colours a bit more vivid.  It was a generally overcast day, but the .jpg images straight off the camera do look a bit washed out.  If anyone else wants to have a twiddle with any of these images, I'll post the full size and/or raw image.  Post-processing of digital images is one of the things I've not really played about with yet.

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It doesn't look it, but these two cars are at about 70mph, and there's about 6' between them.  That wasn't (by a long way) the closest I saw the racing over the weekend.. some cars looked like they'd been welded together and were unable to get apart.  Quite amazing that there wasn't really any contact between cars at all:

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and back into the pits again:

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Snetterton is apparently a bit odd as the pits are "inside" the track, and the pit lane is "left handed" meaning as you look out of the pit garage, the cars go from left to right.  It felt entirely normal for me, but I understand other tracks are the other way around..

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Turns out, one of the restrictions with 2CV racing is that there is no radio communication allowed between the pit and the driver, so all communication has to be done with a pit board and hand signals (not that kind..)  We didn't have one, so some plywood was swiftly nicked from a mechanics work van, painted white and some labels attached to it to tell the driver what to do (again, not that...)

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The back of the pits.  Slightly odd arrangement wherby if a car was recovered by the track staff, it was returned to the pits via the hatched out lane shown, so that had to be kept clear.  All the teams had their kitchen/admin tent/spare car behind this lane.  It worked out quite nicely, as it meant there was a walkway behind all the garages.

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Racing begins.  With more Mini action:

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Blueberry tarts car again:

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Blueberry muffins car:

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Despite the race starting mid-afternoon... it was very quickly night-time.  Dark photos next.

 

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13 hours ago, Talbot said:

Is this a Dino?  Not entirely sure:

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That, I believe is a Porsche 904. There was a dark green one at Goodwood which I also thought was a Dino but it didn't sound like one so I had to look it up.

Some excellent shots throughout here.

13 hours ago, Talbot said:

Snetterton is apparently a bit odd as the pits are "inside" the track, and the pit lane is "left handed" meaning as you look out of the pit garage, the cars go from left to right.  It felt entirely normal for me, but I understand other tracks are the other way around..

Can't say that this is particularly unusual in my extensive* knowledge of UK circuits. Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Oulton Park, both pits at Silverstone, are all inside the track and have cars coming in from the left. Cadwell Park and Castle Combe are both "outside" pits but I can't think of a huge number of others.

Certainly most circuits I can think of, have the main road of the pit lane on the left, and you pull off right to go into a bay/garage (i.e again, cars pass left to right).

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2 hours ago, Crackers said:

Some excellent shots throughout here.

Kind of you to say so, but having not used a "proper" camera in decades, I was really just trying to get a feel for it again.  I took *thousands* of photos over the long weekend, with the vast majority of them ranging from "a bit pants" to "what is that even a photo of?"

Can't do it now, as I'm typing on a tiny-little reduced-size window at work, but later when I get home I'll put the night-time shots up, many of which I was experimenting with long shutter speeds, capturing the variety of multi-coloured LED lighting that adorned many of the cars.

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55 minutes ago, Talbot said:

I took *thousands* of photos over the long weekend, with the vast majority of them ranging from "a bit pants" to "what is that even a photo of?"

Always the case. Plus, you wouldn't want every photo to be perfect. Imagine how long you'd take uploading them!

The other weekend at Goodwood, I took around 1600 photos. Of those, I shortlisted 40, and several of them aren't too clever, so I've finished up with 27, most of which are from the Sunday after I'd had the previous day to get my hand in again.

Would be interested to see how some of the raw shots come out from an older camera after processing. If you fancy firing a few over I can wang them though Adobe camera raw which is pretty powerful.

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Really?  You actually want more of this?  Are you sure?

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Fine.  Calm down.  Keep your knickers on!

Night time racing is very different to daytime.  The sights, sounds and smells are all subtly different, and the racetrack has a different "feel" to it.  Everyone has a sense of purpose and is ready for the long haul ahead.  There had been some evening (dark) practice on Friday night, but saturday was special:

Beginning to get darker:

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Properly darker now:

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And beginning to be able to see the LED lighting on some of the cars.  Some was quite inventive!

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As it got darker, I decided now was the time to start playing with some long exposure times.  I've never done this before, so it was completely experimentation:

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Now was clearly the time to go walking about to find a different vantage spot.  Just near the bridge at snet there is another viewing area, and you can see a fair bit of track:

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As the night wore on, mist covered the back straight.  It was a bit strange:

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After that I went and got some kip for a few hours.  Something I'm about to do now too.

 

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Yes, there's moar:

Pitstop for the Muffins:

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Lap after lap completed:

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Worth mentioning at this point (and more detail possibly later) that the car was now running on the emergency "yellow" engine.  This was a rather un-competitive engine that had been brought along as an emergency "get you home" engine, which is exactly what it was doing.  I didn't get photos of it, as I was helping do the changes, but overnight we had managed to somewhat kill both the red engine and the grey engine, which were the two "race tune" engines, at 39 and 42 hp each.  The red engine had another loose bolt in the other cylinder head, so was swapped out for the grey engine.  That one somehow managed to have a carburettor fire, which completely melted the primary venturi and wrecked it.  Whilst we did try putting the inlet and carburettor from the red engine onto the grey one, it then absolutely refused to start, so the yellow engine was shoved in.  It has a somewhat more standard camshaft, a smaller carburettor and an un-lightened flywheel... it's far closer to 30hp than 40, and consequently lap times suffered by about 3-4 seconds per lap.  However, it was ultra-reliable, the only issue being that it shredded it's alternator belt at one point.  Not exactly a disaster.

We were fairly pleased with some of the engine change times that were achieved though.. on one occasion the car came in and we had it back out again on the track in I think 11 minutes after an engine change.  That was definitely a good one!

More racing:

Pit boards in use:

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Having someone permanently on the Pit wall worked very well.  Having a lookout to check on the drivers, alert the pit that a car is coming in, call the drivers in for a driver change etc.etc... one member of a great team:

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This mini had an absurd lighting bar on the front of it, which appeared to be a collapsed sun:

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Tailgating:

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This was the eventual winning car:

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All a bit too much for some:

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Thumbs-up between drivers, as everyone is getting a bit tired now, and it's important to keep everyone on their toes.

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and a thumbs-up back to confirm:

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Racing finally over, the cars all go off for scrutineering:

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Lots of opportunity for photos:

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Team effort (although not everyone's in this one:

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Interior of the car:

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Bouquet seats:

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One thing I really liked about this event was that as soon as the racing was over, everyone *didn't* immediately start packing up and running away.  The race was from 15:45 on the saturday until 15:45 on the sunday... but it was of course bank-holiday monday, so everyone was in no hurry to leave.  As most people hadn't been able to have a drink (or indeed sleep very much) over the previous few days, a fabulous evening of food, drink and superb company followed, with no stress about packing up at all... that would be done on Monday.

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So what did everyone do on the Sunday evening?  Well, one thing that was done was we walked the track.  I wondered why on earth we would want to do that initially, but it was actually a superb 45-minute walk around the site, with the drivers explaining what they are doing at each point as we went around.

The first thing that was pointed out was where in qualifying the car's owner had somehow lost the back end of the car and ended up smacking the armco.  We did manage to straighten it all back out again, but some of the qualifying laps were done with the emergency front end on the car, and some rather bent tinware on the engine.  We straightened the blue bodywork back out again for the race though, as the car looked terrible!

Impact point and smear of blue paint, as shown by the driver!

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Under the bridge:

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Monday packing up:

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By that point I was rather feeling the effects of 4 nights (well, 3 really) in a tent, one night of mechanic-ing, lots of driver changes, lots of engine changes (I think the final count was 5 changes!) and a fair bit of other general work.

 

Absolutely brilliant weekend.  Highly recommended.  This is absolutely the Autoshite of racing.. everything is bodged together, held on with gaffer-tape and baler-twine, done down to a minimal cost, and there is no pretenses that you are doing anything other than shoving a 30+ year old very cheaply made french economy car around a track as fast as it will possibly go.  Superb fun!  What also struck me is that everyone is very friendly... there's no anonymity between teams, tools, time, help, parts and expertise are all shared, and it's a lovely place to be.  Everyone wants everyone else to finish.  Racing how it should be:  Fun!

Next installment:  Donnington sprints.

 

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Magnificent! I am 100% up for mucking in on future shenanigans. I have the facial hair of Mansell, the thirst of Kimi and the sponsorship clout of Perry McArthy. Oh, I’ve crashed at the ‘ring in an Alfa, Spa in an Audi, Oulton in a Mazda, Curborough in a Porsche, Llandow in another Mazda, a Cossie at Cadwell, I’ve been black flagged at Zandvoort, caught fire at Donington, later crashed at Donington, busted by the pigs at Monaco and was called a twat by Noel Edmonds at Goodwood. I’m happy to be your tea boy! 
 

How do I get involved? 

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Next installment:  Donnington.  This is the final 2CV outing of the year.  Two 15 minute sprint races... which isn't a lot really, as the track at Donnington is something like a 3 minute lap, so 15 minutes is only 5 laps if you're lucky.

On arrival at Donnington, I didn't have a boot full of tools or any other way to get in without having to pay for a spectator pass, which was a bit of a bummer, as at Snetterton there hadn't been anyone on the gates and you could just drive straight in.  The bloke at the gate was having none of it, although was very pleasant about it.  The lady at the ticket gate equally wasn't falling for any of my bullshit, so £16 was forcibly removed from me, and I made my merry* way in towards the pit area.

As the 2CV racing wasn't the main event here, pit garages were not supplied, so it was very much a case of setting up wherever you could.  After walking about a bit (a lot) I eventually spotted the shape of a blue 2CV that I was fairly familiar with.  Much catching up ensued, and then we all went off to the very good and fairly reasonably priced cafe to get breakfast.  Something I very desperately needed, and would be very glad of having had later on.

Car 28 was to have two drivers that day for the two races.  So both drivers need to qualify.  LB goes out to qualify first, and although he managed a few laps, the car (running the grey engine from previously) decided to break down in spectacular style and refuse to run.  So was towed back to where we'd set up and unceremoniously dumped.  LeBugger.  What on earth is wrong with this then?  Front off, tools out and lets investigate.  It has fuel.  Does it have spark?  a fairly massive jolt down my arm says yes, it does indeed have spark.  However something sounds wrong, and the only way I can describe it is that is sounds like the timing is "wrong":  when the engine does fire, it's either spitting flame out of the exhaust, out of the carb, or making the engine stop turning over.

Had both rocker covers off, and nothing untoward can be found.. the valve timing all appears correct, there's clearance etc... so what next?  Time to investigate the ignition.. so fan off, front apart, and after some investigation, it appears that the backplate for the dynamic advance mechanism and the bush on the camshaft that it is supposed to be attached to are no longer one piece.. the stamping that is supposed to keep them together has failed, so the ignition timing is all over the place.  Very frustrating, as a quick blat of weld would fix it in a few seconds... but we have no welder and no way of making the two pieces of metal one piece again.

.... so it's yellow engine to the rescue again.  Last time I did an engine change on this car it was three of us working together, in a pit garage.  This time it's me, out in the open, in the rain... but really not a problem.  Grey engine out, yellow one installed.  It even dropped cleanly on to the gearbox input splines, which was amazing!  The quick-release fittings for fuel, exhaust, electrical connections etc. all worked amazingly well, and within 20 minutes we had a driving car again.  Only slight problem being that the second driver (GL) had missed his qualifying.. so he had to go out and do two laps behind the pace car in order to then be able to start from the pit lane.  Could have been worse... it was good that there was another option available other than qualifying.

To the pictures!  Race one, LB at the wheel, and me not in a very good vantage point... the fence rather wrecks the pictures, which is annoying:

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Muffins car just barely avoided the rather wayward car 81.  There's in-car footage from the muffins on youtube somewhere showing this, and C. Yates doing some fairly impressive avoiding, then some equally impressive off-road to keep in the race

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another "oops!"

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Track was fairly wet at this point:

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Muffins rear NS wing is beginning to come a bit loose here...  Not sure if there had been contact or not.

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Another off at the same corner.  This car would later end up with some rather nasty damage from an off further round the track:

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Tarts car going strong:

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Yet another off at the same corner.. it was quite slippery!

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Muffins wing now hanging on by very little!

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This next car?  of course it's a car.  It's a course car.  of course.

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Being right next to east midlands airport, the blatter of 40hp 2-cylinder aircooled engines was punctuated periodically by the whine of two high-bypass turbine engines overhead:

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First race over, back to the pit area:

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As is traditional now, more later!  (there's the second race and some better pics to come)

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