Motorsport is a fickle mistress.
As noted in the previous post, the plan was two days of racing this weekend, firstly up north of Napier then a second day over in the Waiararapa. Day one happened, but we had to withdraw from day two unfortunately with a suspected blown or stuffed turbo. To be fair, it’s likely that this particular turbo has done 250,000kms since the car was new. Some of those kms, particularly in the last 30,000 since I’ve had the car have been a little bit enthusiastic. As one of the few remaining original bits, not really much of a surprise that it has had enough.
Some discussions are being had and budget numbers are being crunched to figure out the plan of attack for making it good again. One of the options is to fit the slightly better VF30 turbo that I had in the last car as an upgrade. At the same time the Link G4 engine management system will need to be installed and tuned. And if I’m doing that, then I might as well get the intake restrictor fitted in order to meet Rally regulations so I can actually enter rally events, particularly Rally NZ next year which is my current goal. And probably a few other tweaks and things while that work is being done. So it’s all stuff that on the list, just needs doing sooner than anticipated. May just go the simpler short term solution of replacing the current turbo with the same model.
We shall see what conclusions we come to later this week.
Anyway, the weekend wasn’t all bad. We cruised up to Napier through some fairly wet weather on Friday evening, arriving at the motel to realise that I’d forgotten to pack breakfast (I had one job….). Whoops. Google “supermarket nearest to me” came back with “8 min walk”. Sweet, that’ll do. Turned out it was under 5 mins as, like most walking times, they are somewhat pessimistic. Sorted. All that was left to do was set the alarm and get some sleep.
Saturday dawned still wet with the forecast for showers continuing through the day. Breakfast, pack up, depart for the venue, via BP as always.
About a 45 min drive from Napier to Mokamoka Rd which was to be the venue for the days action. Sorted the usual documentation, unpacked and got the car set up including changing from road wheels to gravel wheels. All done in the rain which set the tone for the day. Basically everything being wet. Fun times.
At drivers briefing we found out they were going to run a tiki tour convoy up the road followed by practice, then 3 official runs, then an elimination shootout of the top 8 in each class (4WD or 2WD), top 4 of each and finally the top 2 in each class. This was useful as a few of us hadn’t been to this road before and in our case, meant a chance to double check the pace notes we’d made from a couple of videos found on YouTube. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were quite a few changes to some of the more optimistic notes. I suspect the video I’d been watching was done on wide angle which tends to make the corners look more open than they actually are. But that is part of the fun. The original notes weren’t meant to be 100% accurate, but more of a base to work from on the event itself. Even the same events from year to year will potentially change in places for any number of reasons.
Back in the pits after the tiki tour, a few minutes to get the rest of our gear sorted and head to the start line for practice where we’re running 4th car in our group which is also the first group to go. So off we went. Very wet conditions still, but at least that meant no dust to contend with. And being an early car on the road, quite slippery still. Completed the run successfully and made a few more adjustments to the notes. Checked the times after that and we were pretty much at the back of the field. Not surprised, also not bothered. Having fun is the aim currently. Getting more experience on gravel and learning the car is the game. I’m unlikely to be anywhere near the front runners in the 4WD class. That’s where the really fast people play.
It didn’t take long before it was time to line up again. Only 20 or so entries meant for a quick turnaround between runs. Fiddled with the tyre pressure, double checked the changes to the notes and it was time for the first official run. Actually pretended that I knew what I was doing, took notice of the notes in a few places where I might have lifted off and generally drove a lot better. The results agreed, taking 20 seconds off the practice run time. Sweet. No complaints about that, and still plenty of places to improve.
Another half hour in the pits while group 2 had their run, then, once again, time to line up. Camera on, diff set, 3..2..1..go. Like in the previous run, pushed a bit harder, listened to a few more notes and got more into the rhythm (of driving, not musical notes and rhythm). Got to the finish line. Hmm, 4 seconds faster again. Not as much as I’d hoped for considering I was still languishing down the trailing end of the field, but ok, it’s still an improvement. I’ll take it.
I wandered back down to the HQ caravan to discover a note posted saying they were going to drop the 3rd official run and just go straight to the shootout rounds to limit the road cutting up too much i the wet. Hmm, that would mean that my last run was the one I’d just finished. Rude. Initiated some discussion with other competitors and the Clerk of the Course around the options and offered the suggestion of keeping the 3rd official so at least everyone got that much, and then go to the Top 8 round rather than starting at Top 16. Reduces the number of runs still but means everyone still got their 3 official runs, particularly as some, like us, had travelled reasonable distances to enter. That seemed to be acceptable to the officials, so we headed back to get ready for the final run.
Knowing that this was definitely going to be my last run of the day as there wasn’t any chance I could get into the Top 4 4WD’s, I decided to keep pushing and see what sort of improvement I could make as I was, at that stage, sitting one second behind the next person in my class. The usual startline routine, gear on, cameras on, datalogger on, diff set, crawl up to the line, time card handed over and then returned with out start time. 30 seconds.
Nervous energy builds as always.
And we’re off into the first tight left hander, struggling for grip again, pushing a bit wide but staying well within the road. Think some new front tyres might be needed soon. Listening to the notes more intently this time and making sure I drive to them as well as what I can see. Feels like I’m carrying more speed through the corners and pushing harder. Certainly the most comfortable I’ve been all day and enjoying the run. Soon enough 6 left over finish and we’re done. Hmm, only 0.7 seconds faster according to the datalogger. That doesn’t seem right compared to how it felt, but the time card confirms it. Weird. We both felt that was a lot quicker. We put it down to sometimes how it feels doesn’t match the actual speed. Still, overall, happy with the day, car is still straight and a lot of fun was had. All that’s left is to tour back to the pits and pack up to come home.
Handed back all the numbers and signs that belonged to the event, loaded the car up back on road wheels and headed back out to the main road to tour back to Napier for a fuel top up and the drive home.
Hmm, wait a minute, what’s that noise. Don’t remember that from earlier. Seems to be whining when it’s on boost. Odd. Boost looks ok but doesn’t feel as powerful as I remember. Oh bugger. Think we might have a blown turbo. Message to my friendly Subaru specialist agrees that that might be the case, but not 100% confirmed as it could be a boost leak.
So, a gentle cruise home using minimal boost and parked up in the garage while I figure out what to do about it. It’s a shame to have missed another gravel event, but that’s unfortunately the way motorsport goes some days. Checking the videos, it looks like it started in the 2nd official run as you can start to hear it in the footage. Certainly even more clearly in the third and final run which I have posted up here.
Overall, we still enjoyed the trip and the day. Big thanks to Hawkes Bay Car Club for putting on the event. Well worth the trip away. We will definitely be keen to try to make it again next time they run it. As well as looking at popping up again in October for the second round of their rallysprint series.
For now though, some investigation into options and logistics. And probably some Lego building if I’m not off around the country to get stuff done on the car.