Manfeild Report, RSK Business ...... Stewart Collinson
Manfeild was a first for me. First day at the track and first run of the RSK. This was going to be n important shakedown in the run up to certification.
There were a few desperate actions needed to prepare the car. I’d removed the rear toe arm mounts because my garage tour laser show made it clear I had bump steep toe out. This would have made my normal bad driving atrocious because as it was the back wheels would have tried to pass the front around every corner. This was finished on Friday before Manfeild with a dodgy wheel alignment using string.
Then a brake bleed in an attempt to cure a mysterious soft pedal. No air bubbles but still no real firmness to the pedal. Very effective brakes though, huh ….. Then a light went on in my head to match the red brake light. The brake pedal lever arm is 7:1 and the master is a small 19mm diameter. With this much force I was massively over pressuring the brake lines – maybe over 3,000 psi . This explained the two blown hydraulic brake light switches. So content that I had the brakes to stop well, this problem went into the fix later category.
Hire a trailer, buy 100% cotton overalls, clean helmet, get video app for the android (surely the most important bit) and examine weather forecast. Rain showers in Feilding grrrrr but since my club night show and tell I’m used to getting wet. Nothing prepared me for the 2.5 hour trailer haul with cross winds and sheeting rain. Arghhh.
Frustration mounted at Feilding as I went to the wrong gate twice – slow learner. At least the deluges were now down to a half hour basis.
Excitement was mounting. My son Nick and I ensconced ourselves in the last available (and flooded) garage and signed in. Video footage shows me babbling like a coked-up chimp so the adrenaline must have been flowing.
First session, reverse out of the garage. Engage first gear and snap… I must have turned into Popeye as I’d snapped a gear change rod where it joins the change cables.
In swoops Robin Hartley who declared himself a master butcher of bodges. In 20 minutes we had concocted a repair using a 6mm bolt, a vice clamp, a chip of wood and a piece of string.
Then on to the track. First sensation, back wheels sun up on the wet pavement. Robin was following and said I left two dry lines into the first corner. I was so wound up I’d almost forgotten how to drive. Goodness knows what gear I was in. Second sensation, the blow off valve gasped and my heart skipped a beat. This always gives me a start.
Then on to the inner straight with puddles everywhere. First right, the front wheel noisily scraps the inner wheel arch, and I feel the clerk of the course swinging his binoculars our way. Then foot down. I hear Nick alongside saying, “Oh shit oh shit” as the tyres bit and the car accelerated.
In the right hander on to the back straight the rear steeped out slightly in the slippery conditions but it was an easy catch. Back straight was a blur of wind, roaring and gasping – and that was just me.
Coming past the pits my mind finally caught up with the car. This is a beginner’s session with a strict max speed and I’m a beginner in an unproven car with my son as passenger. The next few laps were sedate.
Boost seemed to be on again off again. Scraping of the front tyres was disconcerting. However, the car ran straight, no vibrations. The vice grip gear change was easy. Power plentiful. Smiles aplenty.
Back to the pits and all was well with no leaks only some spilt oil burning off the manifolds. Robin spotted a nut working its way off. And we need a bilge pump for wet tracks!
Rear vision was almost nil. One mirror had fallen off on the trailer trip up and the centre mirror doesn’t clear the rollbar harness mount.
Nick had a go and proved to be a cooler driver than me. As passenger I watched the gauges like a mother hen over her chicks and looked out for traffic. All well. Nick flicked the boost controller and 5psi become 10. The monster in the engine gasped and we were rammed from behind by a runaway locomotive. Yikes back to 5psi please.
And so the day went on. Massive fun and no disasters. It was great to see the more experienced club members driving in the faster sessions spouting rooster tails of water.
On the last run I selected 10psi again. The driving gods surmised that they needed to stop me doing something silly. As I lined up the back straight they struck. Kapoof! An intercooler hose blew clean off. Testament to Subaru’s limp home mode I returned to the pits at an embarrassing 20mph blowing black smoke like Puffin’ Billy.
The clear message was stop while you’re ahead. The shakedown was invaluable. The fix list is remarkably short and includes: master cylinder size increase, inner front wheel arches, rear mirrors, bead roll the intercooler pipes. I’m also a bit worried about the low speed centring but maybe I’ve been spoiled by rack and pinion. High speed is very stable as the caster takes over.
My thanks to the organisers and officials, the master butcher Robin and my son Nick who proved to be a calmer customer than me.