Despite our victory in Round 1 we knew that round 2 at Silverstone would be our most difficult test in the cars' current spec. Rockingham had shown just our powerful some of our competitor's cars were and we were certain that the top cars would be really close in Round 2. Time Attack used the national circuit at Silverstone, basically a triangle, made up of 3 very fast straights and something that would not suit us. The initial development of our Spec C Type-25 Race car focused on chassis and brake performance and this worked really well in tight and twisty in-field at Rockingham. However some of the other tuners had engines with staggering claims of 650-930bhp and this was evident down the straights.
So even though we won the first round we began work on ways of extracting more power from the 2.5 Subaru engine. With the relatively short break between the first two rounds we knew that these performance steps would not be ready in time for the first outing at Silverstone so we set about refining the chassis and brake setup. Working with our driver, Phil Keen, we revisited the AST suspension set-up which now features new spring rates and in-house valving changes. We also changed the brake pad compound that has improved both the pedal feel and stopping distances. Between the first two rounds the car spent a day testing and subtle changes to the 3-way AST yielded a 2 second per lap improvement.
However we were not the only competitors out testing; Abbey Motorsport had recently switched from a Japanese suspension brand to AST suspension. This change meant that their impressive 700bhp ex-touring car R32 Skyline GTR found an amazing 9 seconds per lap around the long Brand Hatch GP circuit.
There were over 80 competitors arriving to Silverstone for round 2 and it's clear that Time Attack fever is starting to take hold. Silverstone saw clear sky's and a hot 30c sunshine throughout the day. The heat of both competition and weather saw a number of big engine failures but the top cars performed superbly all day. The early pace was set by Steve Scott in his 600bhp ex-Ford Motorsport Escort Cosworth WRC race car with the first sub 1:04 lap. Later Abbey Motorsport's Skyline just dipped under 1:04 with a blistering lap. However it was also clear that the main rivals would be the high power Mitsubishi Evos. Norris Designs had their short wheel base Evo 9 that has over 800bhp which had recently achieved a 9.4 second quarter mile proving it's straight line fire power. The equally highly developed RC Development's EVOs which had both had dyno runs of over 920bhp and looked outrageously fast down the straights.
Throughout the hot 3 practice sessions it was clear just how close the final was going to be. Despite our relative lack of straight line power Phil was consistently fast throughout practice and regularly posted low 1:04 laps as we adjusted the car for the warm conditions.
As expected the final was exceptionally close with just 0.8seconds covering the top cars. As in Rockingham the top teams had saved the best to last and in the cooling evening air Simon Norris set the pace with an outstanding lap of 1:02.864. Immediately afterwards Clive Sutton's RC Developments Evo went 0.049 second faster with a lap of 1:02.815. Steve Scott's WRC car went next with a time of 1:03.481 and finally it was our turn. As always Phil pulled out a sensational lap and despite suffering from a misfire down both straights dropped his best time by 0.7 seconds to post a superb 1:03.655 placing us 4th overall. Without the misfire, our first problem in months of testing, we might have challenged for a higher position but probably not for the win this time.
Overall coming fourth, especially given the fire power on display, was a really positive result. We return to Silverstone in August so it will be interesting to see what our performance improvements gain us.
The next round of Time Attack is at the twisty Scottish circuit of Knockhill at the beginning of July. We'll decide this week if we are able to free up the time needed to travel to and from Scotland. The car just needs a quick clean and service and it's ready to go again.