On the hottest weekend of the year so far, everything was looking good at the HQ on Saturday ahead of OUMF's first race of the season. The Riley was running beautifully, and by mid-afternoon all prep was done, bar adjusting the clutch - which appeared to need simply bleeding to fix. However, it didn't respond, and with the help of our new Easyview inspection camera inserted into the bellhousing (what a superb bit of kit!), we were able to see that the inaccessible clutch pivot bush had collapsed. Rather than remove the engine at this late stage to get to it, the team ingeniously adapted a smaller diameter clutch slave cylinder to fit. This gave a heavier pedal, but a longer throw - and proved an excellent temporary fix. This allowed us to leave Oxford later than planned, at 7pm, but to still reach the Rising Sun pub near the circuit in time for food and a good evening before quickly setting up in the Brands Hatch paddock and retiring to bed.
Our 2016 HRDC race season has come to an eventful close, full of many spectacular highs and a few emotional lows, but rounded off with a spectacular finale at the superb Donington Park circuit on October 15th. For the Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation it was an event that will be remembered well by many a veteran and newcomer to the team, for a long time to come.
Leaving earlier on Friday evening, Ding, Vlad and Jack O’ Connell formed the OUMF ‘vanguard’ and successfully secured a pit garage at the circuit. They dropped off the Riley race car and trailer before rendezvousing with the rest of the team at a great local pub called The Plough, a few minutes from the circuit. Following a hearty meal there, the team of 16, in 4 cars, had very little trouble making the 4 tickets and one car pass go a long way on re-entering the circuit! Our thanks to Dave Constable Berry, Andy Parsons, and Jack Swarbrigg for driving and helping the rest of the team with lifts.
We had successfully signed on a happy bunch of students by mid-afternoon, so Iury and I ‘wobbled’ over to our idyllic Oxford countryside HQ (aka ‘the barn’) in the back of Dominic’s ‘road racing’ Morris Minor…having hot-wired it to get in going. Safely there, we swiftly completed the race preparations as the rest of the team arrived, loaded the Riley racer onto its aged trailer transport, and packed the van with way more than needed before setting off at 7pm – almost as planned!
It was late and dark on Friday night at the barn when we eventually left for Castle Combe… We had aimed to leave at around 3pm but after re-installing the Accu-sump after lunch, the racing Riley would not register any oil pressure.
On Monday May 2nd, the OUMF team raced in both the HRDC ‘Coys Trophy BTCC Celebration’ and ‘Touring Greats’ races at the beautiful Donington Park circuit. This was a splendid opportunity to use the straight through side pipe specially made for us by BTB Exhausts, as the Donington Classic has no noise limits due to being under the flight path of East Midlands Airport. We had only had the opportunity to use the side pipe once before – at the same event in 2015 - where it had received a great reception from spectators, and we hoped that this year would be no different. We were also testing the modified adjustable front lever arm adjustable dampers, which we hoped would give us an edge by significantly reducing the unsprung mass of the car.
After leaving the HQ late on Saturday afternoon, the team quickly set up in the paddock and headed off again for dinner at a nearby pub. We then retired to our tents to escape the chilly April night.
We rose early to find bright sunshine and set to work checking the car. After finding no issues, the car was taken to scrutineering and approved for racing on the day. A quick clean was all we had time for before sending the car out for qualifying. The Riley’s times fell throughout the session as the track warmed up, and our racer qualified 6th on the grid and 2nd in Class, auguring well for the race later in the afternoon.
On the 2nd April, OUMF fielded the Riley 1.5 racer in the first race of the HRDC season at Silverstone GP circuit. Everybody was expecting a great race, mostly due to the 47 cars which were racing (the largest HRDC grid anyone could remember) but also due to the power of some of the cars lined up….e.g. E Type, TVR Griffith, Lister Jag, 7 litre Ford Falcons, Galaxies and Mustangs, etc.,
A cracking first attempt at Novice clues for co-driver Andy Parsons on the last great rally of 2015 last night. The fast, open, drovers roads north of Oxford, with their sweeping corners and wide verges made for a real thrash to end the year.
The Golf's 'tread challenged' TOYO 888's would not perhaps have been most peoples' choice - especially on the damp and muddy sections - but it proved as sure-footed as usual, and after its recent head fettling by Dave Crisell, it's engine is going better than ever!
There were several exciting sections where 3 or 4 cars were 'moving along briskly' in convoy, with the Golf giving no ground at all to the 4 wheel drive Subaru's.
It was a very exhilarating, close and hard fought rally, and while we think we may have finished in 8th place (easy when we somehow missed no less than 5 codeboards!) the 3 way tie for first place gives you an idea of how hot the competition was out there!
All in all, a really great night out (Including the drive to the start at Brackley - and back!) and just a shame that nobody was out with us, or in the rear race seat to share a very memorable experience.
The meeting for this ill-fated rally was at Gipsy Lane for 6:30pm, with myself, Ben Harvey, and Ding in the TOYO Golf and James Martin, Andy Doyle, Yadash Suresh, and Joe Pearce in the Clio Cup. Our convoy swiftly took the A34 to Newbury, then onto the starting point for the rally: The Craven Arms in Enborne.
On arrival we attended the drivers briefing and were warned about the tricky road conditions caused by the near torrential downpour that had recently fallen. After a few preparatory Jaffa Cakes, we lined up in the car park, with the Clio as Car 10 in the novice class, and the Golf - as one of two beginners - lining up as Car 12. The rally started poorly with Ben and I directing Ding the wrong way almost immediately, but after a few more wrong turns we arrived at Time Control 1 (TC1). However, we were so late that the control had already decamped and left. Another competitor told us that the control had closed just before we got to it, so we pressed on to TC2 in an attempt to regain some ground. Luckily this was successful and we made the checkpoint whilst it was still manned. By this point, we were starting to get into the swing of things, and excluding the occasional wrong turning we were slowly but surely making up time on the subsequent stages.