Tag Archives: trackday

MX400 AT CASTLE COMBE, MARCH 2015

So, Castle Combe – a nice fast circuit! Very well organised and marshalled day. The MX400 garnered a lot of attention, which is always appreciated. Despite a poor forecast, even the weather proved to be fair all day.

The car was well suited to Castle Combe, punching toward the limiter in 5th on the approach to Quarry. The longer diff was an appreciated upgrade. Castle Combe is about balls as much as anything, and the MX400 is forgiving enough to try some fairly high entry speeds. As an added bonus the marshals didn’t seem phased by a bit of drifty fun (even when I brought in enough turf to relay the garden at home… Ahem…)

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Quick pad change after sighting laps and the first session. New pads gone by 4pm, time to pack up. Not sure what the solution is, but it seems excessive to be changing pads each trackday. The discs are also getting pretty well chewed up. Potentially a victim of the pad choice as much as anything. That said, it stops very well and Castle Combe is hard on brakes in places. Maybe I’m just too abusive? (Olly – I think it’s the 45 minute, and beyond, enduro sessions you do)
The tyres held up far better.  Holding up well despite being repeatedly on, and  over, their limits. I wonder what it’d be like on slicks…?

Fuel consumption is also impressive… It’s very thirsty on a fast, dry circuit. Two jerry cans and a tank full of fuel is not nearly enough for a full day of fun. More fuel storage required……

MX400 AT CADWELL, FEBRUARY 2015

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Another long weekend, taking the opportunity being up north to get the branding finished on the MX5 and the Ranger. The forecast for Cadwell had been poor all week, but when the day arrived, it looked set to be dry until mid afternoon. That said, for what it lacked in rain, it made up for in bitter cold.

Car felt good on the sighting laps, and the first session was great: car felt very quick, passing lots and was passed by nothing else. Most importantly, the tyres still felt good after the hammering they’d got at Oulton. Issues with a leaky hydraulic handbrake union spoiled play time until lunchtime, by which with some help bleeding the rear brakes the car was back to being drivable just in time for the rain to start.

After a dry morning, it took some adjustment in driving style to account for the reduction in grip, but the car proved to be as forgiving as ever, even with my heavy right foot. The afternoon was spent finding the limits by crossing them frequently and dialing back when required. Looking back, taking some time adjusting the setup for wet would have been prudent, but given the uneventful morning, a tail happy MX5 was a good giggle in the wet.

Had some interesting “moments” involving patches of standing water. Hard on it down park straight, 5th gear under load, it’s quite disconcerting when you go from driving in a straight line to having the backend step out. Equally disturbing, again on park straight, getting to the end of the straight, coming over the brow, to be greeted by a scene of broken polystyrene and chunks of turf.

The rain was pretty much horizontal in the afternoon, and most people packed up around 4pm and I was no exception. Never normally one to “waste” the opportunity of track time, the MX5 is now a lot more mentally demanding, and I didn’t fancy the prospect of an incident in such foul weather, at the end of a day when everyone I knew had left.

There were a few quick cars being driven quickly there: a Nissan GTR that was going well (but you’d expect it to, being largely driven by a computer….), a Mk3 MX5 which was being peddled very very well and, in the morning, a hayabusa powered RWD mini which was pretty quick. There were also some quick cars being driven quite slowly….

Cadwell is a great circuit, and I don’t think I’d get bored of it, but it is incredibly exposed when the weather is unpleasant. Won’t be going back until the summer!

MX400 AT OULTON, JANUARY 2015

Despite a few traumas getting there, and the ever present shadow of foul weather both en route and at the circuit, 31st January at Oulton Park was a cold but bright day. Albeit with patchy cloud threatening to steal the sunshine.

A first outing at Oulton Park. The circuit is great, with fast sections, where you can be very quick if you have the balls to join up the dots. You can be really on it until the few hard braking areas. Whilst the early part of the day was spent more carefully finding my way through the layout, by the end of the day it was really flowing.

The MX400 was absolutely on the money at the moment and I don’t think there’s anything fundamental to change right now, which is a good way to leave a trackday. The car is now pretty much like it was before the conversion but with a shed load more power. The major component on test was the new front ARB setup. Same 24mm BMW E36 ARB, but with redesigned brackets and rose jointed drop links to get the bar positioned in exactly the right place. Combined with the an uprated rear Ultra Racing bar, the car is well planted and suffering far less roll in the corners.

It was the second outing on the Caterham CR500 tyres – the only 245/40/R15 on the market, and this time was the first time they’ve been put through their paces in the dry. A square setup is proving to work well, with the car feeling well balanced in the corners, and making much better use of the brakes and power than it did on the previous 195/50/R15 tyres. The proof of the pudding though will be how they perform at the next event, having been cycled.

Had quite a bit of interest in the car, which is always appreciated. Driver and car both, I think, performed well.