Monday 28 September 2015

Rockingham Track Day - with Videos

With my previous escapade involving an 'estimated' increase of 40bhp, you can guess I was chomping at the bit to get out to sample this newly found performance.

I was left with two swimming pools of water underneath each seat due to the soaking I got on Monday, so towards the end of last week the car was partially stripped, cleaned, re-assembled and the suspension and tyres were put back to their base settings.

After the torrential rain, the weather turned into glorious sunshine, but I just couldn't get the time to get out in the car...  So, having investigated some local track days, Rockingham seemed like a good chance to blow the cobwebs out of the engine... However it was a pretty quiet noise limit at 98dp, so I called to see what would happen if I failed the noise test - to which I was told I would lose the entry fee... Not wanting to lose a couple hundred quid we agreed that I would 'reserve' my place, turn up, get noise tested and should I pass, I would then pay the entrance fee; fail and it was ok to leave without paying - so a no brainer... I donned the Raceco can, packed the carbon airbox and headed up to Rockingham early yesterday morning.

Needless to say, I passed the noise test with the Raceco exhaust fitted, (although I think I didn't pass, as they made me run half revs, not the usual three quarters), so I signed on, the briefing was given, sighting laps were completed and it was then onto the open pit lane sessions.

The driving standard was pretty poor, with cars not moving out of the way, not indicating, undertaking into corners, overtaking mid corner and as a result there were five red flag stoppages (in the morning alone!) due to cars in the kitty litter, engines letting go and so on... I've never seen anything like it, and was left thinking I'd made a mistake in attending.  The organiser held an emergency drivers bollocking just before lunch, and things seemed to calm down.

(an apt video from the afternoon session)

I think the organisers felt that lunch couldn't come quick enough and at 1pm we stopped for lunch, during which time the paddock seemed to empty somewhat.

After lunch I went out for a few runs, and when upping the pace the rear seemed a little too loose for my liking, but was quite good fun for a little bit of sideways action...
A nice bit of sideways at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Long Circuit
A nice bit of sideways at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Long Circuit
Some front and rear shock tweaks and a bit of tyre pressure adjustment later, the car was handling much better... The track seemed to have cleared a little too, so I took the opportunity to try and blast out some clean laps, but there were a few mistakes and a little traffic in most instances...  Below is a video of three consecutive laps which I'm reasonably happy with.
After taking the car to Track n Road, I'm confident that the car is running far better than it has been (for probably the most of this year), but there are a couple of things I'd like to clarify:-
  • "they thought the throttle was never setup"
    >>> I think it setup was initially, it was just a long way out when I took the car to them.
  • "you were down 40bhp"
    >>> quite possibly, but that was due to the throttle bodies being out of balance, and not additional power they found - it was more getting the power back.
In summary it was a good track 'afternoon' with he morning a bit of a write off, but as the weather was so good I once again had a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

Tuesday 22 September 2015

R500 (not) Wide Open Throttle and first power run with video

A bit of background info:-
Some of those avid blog readers will recall that I've attended only a handful of track days this year, starting off with Folembray in France...

Whilst at Folembray I noticed that going up the hill in fourth and fifth gear the car felt, dare i say it a little 'under powered'.  I took note of it, and put it down to the ZZR tyres, but thinking back to it I've always thought the car hasn't really pulled that well in fifth and sixth gears...

The car was then flat floored by Rob at Ratrace motorsport, and I went to Cadwell Park for another track day... And once again, I noticed the same feelings... Again putting it down to the additional weight of the ZZR tyres I made nothing of it and just thought that was the way it should be.

Nevertheless, a week or so ago at Snetterton, I had to fit the RaceCo exhaust and going down the back straight there the car felt like it was considerably hesitating.  A few calls to Rob at Ratrace, he suggested it could be the throttle bodies out of balance or a top end misfire, I discounted the throttle bodies being out of balance, as the car had just been returned from a service by CC midlands, and this is part of the service.  I decided not to run the car anymore on circuit and headed gingerly home.

A few more calls to Rob at Ratrace motorsport, after which he suggested I contacted Steve at Track n Road performance, to get a power run done and take things from there.

Onto the session with Track n Road:-
So... yesterday the weather couldn't have been better for an hour and a half blat to Rainham - torrential rain!  Not one to cancel an arrangement, I donned my wet weather gear and headed off.

The car wasn't running great on the way there, and even though the rain was pretty much the worst we've had this year, I was happy to be on my way to get some answers.

I arrived after a slow two hour drive and a proper soaking, and it was straight down to business for Steve and Jim. The aim was to run the car with the cat bypass pipe and standard R500 can, then with the Raceco can, then with the Raceco can and carbon airbox to see how this effected the fuelling...

The car was put on the rollers, strapped down and plugged into their dyno... Immediately they noticed a few things:-
  • The map is a Cosworth map, even though it's not a Cosworth engine
  • The Cosworth map is locked, so they can't remap this version
  • The car was running poorly
  • They couldn't get full throttle
  • They think the Lambda sensor is burnt out
They ran the car with a small amount of revs, and started to disconnect the spark plugs one at a time to see if there was any difference, and quite worryingly, there wasn't much difference when they disconnected plugs three and four... Whereas when they disconnected plugs one and two you could immediately hear the difference.
Steve fiddling with the throttle
Steve fiddling with the throttle
The air filter was removed, and straight away Steve said that the balance of the throttle bodies was 'miles' out!  Not only that the throttle on the rear barrels wasn't opening to more than 75%, and as roller barrels only offer a benefit when opened over 80%, I was seriously down on power as a result of this - Steve suggested around a 40bhp loss!

With the throttle bodies being awkward to adjust in situ, they removed the inlet trumpets, and the carbon backplate - which was hard to remove as it had what seemed like the factory glue holding it in place along with the bolts.
Jim removing the inlet trumpet backplate
Jim removing the inlet trumpet backplate
With the inlet trumpets and backplate removed here's a look at the roller barrels in the closed position.  I'm kicking myself as I didn't get a shot of the previous 'Not Wide Open Throttle' position, and must admit I had to laugh as my number plate is R500 WOT (Wide Open Throttle) which Steve and Jim are pretty confident the car has never had since day one!
Caterham R500 Duratec roller barrels with inlet trumpet and backplate removed
Caterham R500 Duratec roller barrels with inlet trumpet and backplate removed
The throttle cable was adjusted, the throttle position sensor was also adjusted and then the 'wide open throttle' position was setup to finally be 'wide open'.
Caterham R500 Duratec engine with roller barrels finally in the 'Wide Open Throttle' position
Caterham R500 Duratec engine with roller barrels finally in the 'Wide Open Throttle' position
About three hours after I arrived, the backplate, inlet trumpets and air filter were all put back and the car was restarted with the Lambda sensor disconnected.  The car immediately sounded like a normal engine, with none of the misfiring and lumpiness I've been experiencing all but gone!

So, here's the highly anticipated power run video:-

And the results of the power run, along with the graph:-
  • 255.1 bhp at 8,600 rpm
  • 171.1 lb-ft at 6,174 rpm
  • 148mph top speed
  • 464 bhp/tonne (based on weight of 550kg)
Caterham R500 Duratec power curve graph
Caterham R500 Duratec power curve graph
So what's next?
I'm going to order a new Lambda sensor for starters... The guys from Track n Road are going to make some enquiries as to how to get into the map to customise it, but as it's a locked Cosworth map, it'll be more than likely that they'll get a new map board, and start with a different map and take things from there.

The plan will be to create three maps for the engine:-
  1. Map one will be for standard R500 can, cat bypass pipe and piper cross air filter
  2. Map two will be using the Raceco exhaust, cat bypass pipe and piper cross air filter
  3. Map three will be using the Raceco exhaust, cat bypass pipe and carbon airbox cover
The aim with the new maps will be to improve power delivery and drivability, and if there is any additional BHP then great.  The maps will only be switchable by laptop, so I'll need to take my laptop as well as all the exhaust and airbox gubbins whenever I go to a track day - proper geeky, but... If it work's and keeps the engine and fuelling in tip top condition I'm happy.

Friday 11 September 2015

Snetterton 300 Track Day - with video

A friend of mine (Andy) was keen to get on track at Snetterton 300 (in his R300D), so last Sunday we decided to book with MSV track days, one of their upcoming 'Burton Power' Snetterton 300 track days.

The date was in the diary, and we went last Tuesday (8th September 2015).  The car passed the static 105db noise test at 104db, so off for the first session we went.

Getting pulled into the pits due to the noisy standard exhaust
Getting pulled into the pits due to the noisy standard exhaust
I was pulled in within two laps, having been recorded at 100db which is 5db over the drive by limit of 95db... So it was on with the RaceCo exhaust and re-tested.  This time the car tested at 98db static, meaning it was under the drive by limit too.

Off we went again for a few more laps, but, and similarly to the Cadwell MSV track day I attended, there was always traffic on every lap, so could never really get a clean lap in.  I guess this just shows the incredible track performance of an R500.   I also felt a little under-steer in some of the corners, which I tried to dial out as best I could by stiffening up the rear shocks, adjusting the rear anti roll bar and front tyre pressures.

Adjusting the rear anti roll bar drop link setting
Adjusting the rear anti roll bar drop link setting
Off it was for a few more laps, the car was handling better, but still had a bit of understeer and once again felt a little underpowered in fifth and sixth gears down the back straight... Nevertheless I managed to get a clean lap in!  Yay!  Anyway, it wasn't the best and there's plenty more time on the table to be had, but as it was my first visit to Snetterton, I was reasonably happy with the lap (aside from the tank slapper coming into the last corner)!  Enjoy...