Oxford Motor Club staged ‘The Dragon’ 12 Car Rally in the wonderful lanes between Oxford and Reading, and on the night, the organisers and competitors were blessed by clear skies and largely dry roads. This was my first time experience on a road rally with OUMF, in its unique ‘TOYO’ Golf Mk2, with Andy Doyle navigating, me helping him as ‘Co-co-Driver’! - and Ding doing what he was told in the drivers seat!
On a particularly pleasant sunny Sunday, on 17 th June, the OUMF team set off for
Belgium on what has become, for the past 7 years, an exciting annual pilgrimage to contest the
notoriously tough Ypres Rally. From an observer’s point of view, a trip like any other - but for
OUMF, it was a culmination of an extraordinary effort through the previous couple of months.
After nine years of racing, development and lobbying, the OUMF Riley Racer has been invited to race at this years Goodwood Revival!
Sunday 18th June
After exams finished we were flat-out at the OUMF shed for three weeks of rebuilding and prepping the rally Riley 1.5, from top to bottom. This included Vlad Ardeleanu’s design and build of an entirely new wiring loom; Dom Norman and Andy Parsons leading the team through an axle and two engine rebuilds (as a cam follower shattered on the Abingdon CAR-nival Stages Rally, which we used as a shakedown for the Ypres Rally); Andy Doyle engineered an ingenious reverse gear lockout, and me, Tolga Karabetca who helped overhaul the suspension, steering and brake systems. Getting all this done in time was largely due to the fantastic support we received with sorting the engine and its associated problems from ARP Bolts, Vibration Free, Init Racing, OCS Automotive Engineering, Kent Cams, THINK Automotive, Westwood Liners, Race Winning Brands Europe, 3J Transmissions, FPS Distribution, Cometic Gaskets, Powerlite, Dave Crisell, Dave Knight Engine Services, G & S Valves, Tony Hall, Wosp, and Fuchs Lubricants. Other heroic sponsors - Phillips Tyres of Oxford, Cartek Motorsport, Connector Concepts Inc., Helix Autosport, TOYO Tires, Lesonal, NGK Spark Plugs, Oxford Wheel Repairs, Mintex, SuperB, Lifeline, Classic Oils, to name just a few – helped us with the electrics, brakes, wheels, tyres, diff, extinguisher system, paintwork and clutch. Jim Morris at Lifeline Fire Systems and Julian Thomas at Racelogic respectively provided further icing on the cake by equipping the Riley with a superb 360 electric fire extinguisher system, and a VBox HD2 system to capture all the action. Though still desperately short of funds, we were committed, and it was now time for the big test for both the team and car – the notoriously tough Ypres Rally!
The Donington Historic Festival has fast become one of the most anticipated events of the year, with star-studded grids and three days of nail biting race action. This year was no different and the OUMF boys' hopes were high following on from the teams’ successful first race of the season at Brands Hatch.
Since that first meeting, the Riley’s engine had been equipped with a new Kent camshaft, and been re-tuned on the rolling road at Pitstop, thanks to the generous support of Andy Burns at Kent, and John Yea at British Motor Heritage, and Ralph Saunders respectively. Our excellent new Lifeline control systems were in place, and what tread remained on our tyres had been balanced and deployed on the car to best advantage with the help of Phillips Tyres. We had also fitted a rear anti roll bar for the first time, and the superbly crafted BTB side exit exhaust system had been fitted for the unsilenced Donington Historic Festival.
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.