TIME ATTACK / EDC 2007 Round 3, Knockhill.
Surprisingly preparations for all the cars were completed in good time giving us the last week before round 3 to tweak the cars. After the accident at Silverstone with the blue R32 the last month had seen a mammoth job in getting the car ready but the work was completed in record time. As Barrie & George hadn't been on Knockhill before they took advantage of the track session on the Friday night, unfortunately the traffic to Knockhill caused major delays and the guys were only able to get 15 minuete's on track, enough to give them a couple of sighting laps. There are no garages available at Knockhill so the rest of evening was spent setting up the DCY marquee and getting everything ready for Saturday morning. Saturdays Time Attack didn't start till 12 pm so a well deserved lie in was had by all, the 3am retirement on the Friday night only meant 6 hours in bed though and with a very busy weekend ahead would that be enough?
Mick was ready to final try and put in some good times. After breakdown at Donnington and that terrible off at Silverstone here we was with the car, maybe too powerful for Knockhill but never the less ready.
We had heard a slight blowing on first start up that morning, it seemed to becoming from the manifold which suggested a gasket but once warm it disappeared and sounded fine. If it was a gasket there was nothing we could do, as a precaution we nipped the manifold bolts up a little more.
Mick's warm up run saw him run round a few times, learning his lines again and getting a feel for the car. His time of 106.70. Once he returned to the pit it was apparent that the blowing manifold had intact got worse.
The manifold gasket was causing concern and although it wasn't causing any harm to the engine we wanted to run the car at least as possible as the following day we had a 2 car team running at Ten Of The Best.
Mick went out for the second time of the day in the first practice classification and put in a couple of warm up laps, preparing the car for a fast flying lap, he started his flying lap when the yellow flag come out, someone had gone off.
Brakes were a big problem the Grex 6 pots we fitted, the disc's had been trouble since the first round at Donnington, but with the extra braking you get at Knockhill Mick was really struggling. He was experiencing extreme brake shudder while braking which also caused power steering failure coupled with a tight track and 800 hp it was not a good mix.
The track had been cleared and Mick was off again ready to do his flying lap, He was half way round on his flying lap when yet again the yellow flag popped up. Mick returned to the pits, the blowing from the manifold sounded worse than ever. The checkered flag come out and that was the end of classification.
Back in the paddock it was "make your mind up time" it was obvious that the car wasn't running right with the problem in braking and the blowing gasket was of great concern. The car had to be ready to run at TOTB the following morning so the decision was made........
We loaded the car and Mick set off, destination York back to the workshop. At 2 am Sunday morning Mick had finished and was going home for some well deserved rest. He had fitted a new manifold gasket and the car was ready for TOTB.
After the night practice session Barrie was feeling confident with the EVO 7. Since Silverstone he had fitted a whole new suspension setup, he'd ditched the HKS coil over's for a new set of Hotbits which seemed to do the trick, for the first time in the Time Attack series Barrie was happy with how the car felt.
This reflected in the times he'd got in the warm up on Saturday morning. Barrie ran a 1:00.449 which put him into 6th place just behind George who ran a 59:979. The smile on his face said it all.
Barrie has had very little time in the seat of his newly built EVO this year as breakdown at Donnington and turbo failure at Silverstone lead for an early retirement. This didn't show at Knockhill and on the second outing the first classification run, Barrie improved on his earlier time and ran a 59:562 putting him into 5th place, putting in faster times than some of the Pro's.
He got a great feel for the car and Knockhill was a suited track for Barrie and his EVO. After a very promising start the heaven opened up, which was inevitable looking at the darkness of the sky.
Barrie made the all important decision of weather or not to run the car again. The seconded classification run come and it was absolutely pouring it down with plenty of standing water on the track and a mini river flowing down the start finish straight.
With the conditions playing a very important role Barrie decided to retire form round 3 of Time Attack. He had the intentions of running in the final if the rain stopped and the track dried out but for now he wasn't going to run.
If he'd of been in the running for a top place he'd of had to brave the conditions and go out but as he wasn't in the points he took the sensible option and avoided any further upset.
The conditions out on track didn't improve for the final so Barrie didn't run anymore. He left Knockhill with plenty more experience and a much better understanding of how the car handles and for the first time a car which was able to be driven home. He's now looking forward to Brands hatch and hopefully some dry weather as I am sure every other Time Attack competitor is. It's only the crazy drifters who like the rain.
George went into round 3 at Knockhill in 4th place overall in the championship. So far in Time Attack George has been a tad unlucky.
Under his own admissions he wouldn't of got the top spot at Donnington but should of placed second but due to a actuator bracket snapping and loss of power he ended up in 4th place.
Silverstone however was a different story, George had been running low boost all day and was in pole position with plenty more to go. He'd been suffering a misfire all day and when the final come he turned up the boost and went out but the misfire had become worse and resulted in him running much slower than seen earlier in the day leaving him in 6th place.
So Knockhill was make or brake for George, he needed to pick up the valuable points on offer and was out looking for the win.
The Friday nigh sighting laps had helped George to grasp the technical track of Knockhill and he was feeling ready and confident for the Saturday.
The first warm up session of the day saw George run a 59:979 putting him into 3rd place and 8th overall. The track wasn't that suited to the high power of a Skyline so it looked like George would be running low boost all day long and just trying to perfect the corners of Knockhill.
In the 2nd outing, first classification George ran an improved time of 58:244 he was expecting a quicker time but knew he had not judged the corners right and still had a long way to go. This time placed him into 2nd place just behind Kevin Horsley who was in a similar point position to George in the championship.
George knew he had more to learn and was all geared up to start shaving those all important seconds off when the heavens opened. The conditions out on track can only be described as a scene from a winter day. George had never run in the wet before and was uneasy about returning to the track. Unlike Barrie, George had no option than to go out as he was chasing the points "I have to out now and see what the cars like in the rain, it may be like this for the final" said George.
He hit the track closely followed by friend and Time Attack competitor Shane Smith in his R32 GTR, both guys drove round at a very steady pace putting in times of 1:09.714. George was trying to push the car on the corners to see how it would take to the very wet conditions, in his own words he felt very uneasy.
Plenty of competitors had packed wet tyrse, which they were all starting to fit for the final, unfortunately George didn't bring his on the day so had to rough it with the Dunlop Semi Slicks. He knew when he went out what the outcome would be. He placed 14th, putting him in 6th place over all in the championship.
What can be said, the savior of the weekend? the rain man? an awesome performance? balls of steel? Sweeps had an awesome weekend at Knockhill!
Sweeps first practice saw him spin and avoid the gravel trap. On his second run he entered the first corner carrying much more entry speed than he has all year, a perfect angle, slightly twitchy transaction but over all a very good run indeed.
Sweeps got to grips with the Knockhill corners and just improved as the day went on.
The Skyline had just been fitted with some new front wheels and a nice set of Yokohama AO48 semi slick tyres. Giving Sweeps as much grip as he ever needed on the front end.
His qualifying sessions were what can only be described as perfect. Just as qualifying was to begin, the heavens opened unexpectedly. This came with no warning to the drivers and gave them very little time to adapt but Sweeps just gelled with the wet conditions and run one of the best runs he's run before, scoring him a 94 points, enough to put him in joint second place.
Sweeps worked his way though the twin drifting eliminations and as it rained more Sweeps just got better and better. Knocking out Round 2 winner Maciej Polody with an eventful 2 sudden death rounds to determine a winner. Each time the leading car would take the advantage with the chasing car unable to match the pace set. The 6th and final battle resulted in a double spin ending 6 gruelings with Mark Buckle (sweeps) the victor.
Sweeps beat James Grimsey in the semi finals to go onto face the Round 1 winner Mark Johnston.
The wet conditions really seemed to suit the DCY Skyline and Sweeps and he didn’t fail to keep the crowds entertained as he and Johnston completed the first run with a 5/5 run. With no advantage gained in the first run, it would be all or nothing for the drivers. At this point Sweeps didn't realise the score and thought he was behind, so with nothing to loose he set of all guns blazing, carrying too much speed he struggled to keep the 400hp Skyline under control and this resulted in a spin, handing the win to Mark Johnston.
A big well done to Sweeps "the twat in the hat" or how he is now known "The Rain Man" it's a well deserved place on the podium.
With only 1 round remaining a total of 6 drivers could still take the championship including Sweeps. The action will be unmissable for the final round at North Weald on 19th August where the 2007 Champion will be crowned.
Watch the action EDC Round 3 on Motor TV Friday 17th August at 7.30pm.
Full coverage of the EDC & TIME ATTACK from Motors TV can be on
the EDC & Time Attack website. Please click the links below.
A big thank goes out to Mick Wade & Mark Buckle for driving the cars this weekend !!
Banzia Magazine - Geartronics - RB Motorsport - ESS Electrical Switch Gear
Mark Sheed (MADevelopments)