After the race at Alastaro and having made adjustments to the engine tune up which increased our performance from 5.75 Et @ 260mph to 5.37 ET @ 273 mph we felt we could congratulate ourselves for finding the right direction to improve our performance this year.
Well once we got around to qualifying at the next race at Mantorp Park in Sweden some doubt began to creep in regards our performance gains, but then it became apparent that we were not the only team experiencing an unexplained lack of performance. It seemed to me that a number of cars in our class were running somewhat slower than I would have expected which left us after the first qualifying session in 4th place with a run of 5.65 @ 265 mph, overall a very satisfactory performance compared with the rest of the nine cars attempting to qualify for this race.
Strangely the lack of performance problems seemed to affect the nitro engine cars like ours much more so although we were overall qualified 4th we were by far the quickest of the nitro fuelled cars.
We had been a little conservative with our engine settings on the first qualifier partly due to the track being a somewhat unknown quantity having been resurfaced for the first half, but the track crew had obviously done an excellent job of preparing it in recent weeks and was better than we expected, all it needed was more cars running on it to put more rubber on the surface.
Unfortunately the weather then threw a spanner in the works by raining and preventing any more runs on Friday.
For the first qualifier we made changes to the car to increase power and performance, but either we were wrong or the right lane we were running in (as against the left on Friday) was not as good! Our time had dropped off at 5.74 @ 254 mph.
That led to a serious rethink of what we had changed between the first two runs, so for our third and final qualifying run we made some changes that took us in a different direction with regards to tuning the engine.
The result was an improved ET overall but more significantly it was greatly improved at the start line and the first part of the track (an area where our performance had been lacking lately).
In view of our good performance at Mantorp Park last year when we were able to run 5.301 ET @ 273 mph and taking into account the new improved grip in the track after qualifying on Saturday we made the decision to change our new engine for our old one and return our complete tune up back to exactly what it was a year ago to see if we could come close to that performance and maybe re-establish a baseline to work from.
After making the decision to do that at 5 pm on Saturday, the crew went about the task brilliantly. The aim was to have the changes (motor and Fuel System) done by 9 pm Saturday evening as the noise curfew comes into force at that time, therefore, you cannot start your engine after that until 9 am the next day, which would be less than 1 hour before the scheduled first race for us. So the importance of having crew willing and able to get the job done in the allotted time just can’t be over stressed and as I expected they all rose to the occasion and the engine burst into life at 9.53 pm and ran perfectly during the warm up ready for race day, and still time for a barbeque and a few beers.
Race day morning dawned bright and sunny but the weather forecast was for periods if rain later. Well it came earlier than expected and before our run could take place the track needed to be dried and prepared, but despite the valiant efforts of the track crew with sweepers, track driers and anything else they could lay their hands on, every time they got the track into a “go condition” down would come some more rain and they would have to start again and I’m sorry to say finally “the rain won”!!
Which leaves us in a state of suspended animation to see how we can run at the next race in 2 weeks at Hockenheim in Germany?