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Snetterton Testing

posted 1 May 2011, 04:35 by Kieren McDonald
We managed to avoid the Royal Wedding by burning some rubber instead at Snetterton 300 race circuit with the newly rebuilt engine...obviously disappointed though there wasn't a big screen showing the ceremony!! :-)

It was a trackday so everything and anything was out on track - a fair few red flags were shown due to some guys spinning out! In all, an absolutely fantastic day out for us - hugely productive, for Simon mechanically and for me behind the wheel.

As well as doing the usual nut & bolt check, Simon also had to investigate a small oil leak at the side of the block beneath the water pump area - nothing major but a bit more oil than we would have liked to see.  A few bolts were tightened and this seemed to reduce the leak.  The biggest worry was when I experienced similar symptoms to the previous testing at Silverstone, where I could not put down any power so I limped it back into the pits.  Following investigations and a call to Rob, the obvious was asked - How is the fuel? :-D Amazing how great the car pulls with a bit of fuel lol Admit it, I'm sure you have all done it!! :-)

Throughout I was pretty cautious following the incident with the engine last time out but I soon settled in. I would only do a few laps at a time - beginning with 3, then up to 6 at the end of the day.  I slowly built the revs up throughout the laps, starting at a max of 6000 rpm and then up to 7500 rpm and ensured I downshifted only when I got the revs right down.  I had been told how easy it is to slip into 1st gear instead of 3rd and I proved it...I managed to dip the clutch by around 8000-8500 rpm, thankfully the one and only time - hopefully never again!! Each time into the pits/paddock, Simon would check tyre pressures, fluids, leaks and tape up the rad if the water temperature was not high enough - all to ensure reliability was maintained and that we were on top of any issues.

I started getting a really good feel for the car - experimenting with the handling but also trying to learn the track.  What a fantastic feeling when playing with the throttle to steer in the rear...was certainly giving the Porsche's and M3's a run for their money through the bends!  I wouldn't say I've mastered it by a long shot, but the laps were invaluable to getting a feel for everything - I cannot wait for next weekend!!

Being the only mini, we generated a fair bit of attention - everyone checking it out on run down pit lane, few taking pics in paddock/track and best of all a few friendly faces came over for a chat in the paddock.  A few were quite surprised with the small engine size and commented on how quick it would get through the bends and the distinctive noise over everything else :-)

A big thanks again to Rob Selby for his helpful input over the phone during the day and to Simon for his time and great work (and of course to Row for putting me up and feeding me!!).

Bring on Snett next weekend - come and say hello!! :-)