2001 Group One Touring Cars - SPNRacing Overview

Premature End

Well, its been a thoroughly enjoyable year but its all ended a bit early with a blown engine at Oulton Park. It only seems a few weeks since we fitting the engine to the car in a desperate attempt to get ready for Silverstone - where I managed a second in class, and was up to third overall at one point - so it was worth all the effort.

Reliability

The Golf engine performed very well until the failure at Oulton, but the rest of the car wasn't so great. A suspension problem caused by the negative camber modifications meant that the Cadwell Park race was lost before it started. I suffered major gearbox leaks until Snetterton, when the gearbox finally failed completely. In the same race the emergency power cut-off broke, and at Lydden Hill the nearside front wheel was flexing under the car.

Additionally the brakes have been less than impressive - the front wheels lock too easily when the pads get worn (and I can't afford to keep buying brand new pads) and the rear brakes don't seem to work at all.

However during the season I have learned a lot about the car and how to get the best out of it, and I also think I've learned to drive it more quickly - especially after the test day ay Pembrey.

My Driving

Although I'm learning the circuits and generally getting quicker, my driving has started to become prone to errors - I almost lost an easy class win at Mallory by going straight on at the hairpin (when I wasn't even under pressure). And at Oulton Park I threw away a class lead and any hope of the championship in a similar move. I need to get more consistent, and quickly - to have any chance of the overall Group One championship next year (which has to be my ambition now).

On the positive side my lap times are coming down all the time, to the point where I set a class D lap record at Oulton Park, breaking the previous record (set by Will McAteer in 1999 in a similar Mk1 Golf GTi) by over a second.

Improvements

So following another seasons racing, I plan to do some or all of the following over the winter:

1. Get the engine refreshed at Scholar, fixing whatever the problem is at the same time.

2. Fit a lightweight race battery and a new emergency cut off switch - replacing the abortion that currently sits under the bonnet and that cost me the race at Snetterton.

3. Consider replacing the rear drums with disks - or at least improve the drum set up.

4. Consider lightweight four pot calipers for the front.

5. Replace the passenger door which has been dented since I purchased the car in 1999.

6. Replace the nearside front wing and fix the front panel that was damaged at Pembrey.

7. Remove further sound deadening from under the bonnet.

Then I should have a competitive, safe, fun race car for another season of Group One Touring Cars in 2002.