MSA Sprint at Lotus test track

number_49b03d3c85b22-entryImageSo today Phil has been doing a bit of preparation on Sakura for the sprint on Sunday. I think I mentioned before that we can’t do this sprint in Humphrey as this is an MSA regulated sprint and therefore a dedicated track car needs a cage, however a road car can compete. The difference being how much interior remains in the car! I can’t take any pictures on the day as cameras are banned at the site we are at (Lotus test track), so I asked Phil to prep her fully so I could have some pics today. Hopefully there will be a pro there who will be taking some on track pics.

First of all, Phil got creative with the numbers. Because we are numbers 56 and 57 in the Sprint Series, we have 2 each of numbers 5,6 and 7. Typically, Phil’s allocated number of this sprint is 8!!! So, black electrical tape and white vinyl on our number 6, gives us a rather convincing 8:

Phil then went to the back of Sakura to mark out the towing eyes. This is when he found that the n00b who fitted the bodykit (previous owner) had decided the towing eyes were unneccesary and cut them off :/ So now Sakura has a lovely new bumper borrowed off Humph.

The Toyota Sprint Series does not require the use of a timing strut, however this MSA sprint does. The strut needs to be the first thing on the car that will break the timing beams. Phil made it a few years ago when he did his first ever sprint in his red MR2, it is basically thin aluminium with matt black paint. It’s then fitted to the nose of the car with gaffa tape. Hardcore!

So that’s basically one road car prepped for sprinting. I’m a bit nervous about her going on track and also very very annoyed and frustrated that I can’t drive her.

We had an early start on the morning of the sprint as the gates opened at 6:30, however fortunately the track is only 8 minutes from our house!

Phil had packed the car with all his usual tools that we take to sprints, so we were ready to go. It’s a lot more awkward with a leg in a cast as you really have to plan ahead with things that will need to be accessible etc.

We arrived at Lotus just after 6:30 and there were a few other cars there. Phil unpacked the car and then unpacked me, and went to sign on, be scrutineered etc. The notes he was given said there would be 2 ‘untimed’ (times were given but would not count towards your time of the day) runs and then 2 timed runs, shocking amount of track time really as we usually get about 8 timed runs in the Sprint Series. However there was just over 100 cars at this event so it would have taken about a week to get 8 timed runs!

The cars that were there ranged from farily standard road cars like ours, next to us was a Citroen AX, couple of S2000’s, 205, some Evos, LOTS of Lotuses as there was a Lotus championship, also a TVR championship so lots of TVRs, single seaters such as Van Diemens and Reynards, Caterhams, Westfields and other variants, and Dave Massey’s Bond Bug (with a Fireblade engine!) which looked like a lot of fun!

Phil went off to the drivers briefing in a massive rain shower, and I retired to the car to keep dry! The briefing was broadcast over the tannoy so at least I got a chance to listen, and it was amazing how brief it actually was. I’ve been to too many events with novices now and had things literally spelt out, so it was refreshing to be at a professional event where the basics are assumed to be known by all. A little worrying also though as the guy next to us in his Porsche had not ever done any motorsport before!

The cars were to go out in number order, so as we were number 8, we got out pretty early. For the first run the track was still a little damp, but Phil managed just over 93 seconds, he was aiming for 90. The car he had chosen to be competitive with, and MX5, turned out to be driven by a woman, so was well off the pace at 121. I reckon even I could have beat that.

So once Phil had got back to the paddock after his run, we had a huge wait to go out again. Phil had the luxury of being able to walk round the paddock so I had to just watch the queue of cars waiting to go out, and the occasional roof go past on the track. At once point I heard a rather long squeal of tyres, and then the ambulance went on track to recover a Caterfield type car who had lost it and hit the tyre wall. Fortunately everyone was fine, just probably annoyed at a very short day!

Phil went out for his second run and hit a cone! He got just over 90 seconds on this run but got a 5 second penalty for hitting the cone. Fortunately my car was unharmed!!!

After another long wait, Phil went out for his third run and got just over 91. ANOTHER long wait, and he lined up for the final run. About 12 cars were ready to go when there was an announcement that there was too much gravel on the track and the final run was cancelled as it would take too long to clear up! Everyone was annoyed at this, our places at this sprint had been funded by the Motor Club but everyone else had paid to run, and they only got one time out of it!

So a pretty non-eventful day for us, no prizes but we didn’t expect any in a non-track prepped car!

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Vix Hoult