Finding a way

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One of my sayings is “Those who really want to do something look for a way.  Those who just want to talk about doing look for an excuse”.  If we wanted excuses, there’s no shortage of them lately.  Quitting is easy.  Looking for a way is hard, finding it even harder.  But not impossible.

There are several things we need to accomplish in the near term.  Driving on the Mountain is about confidence – in self, in the equipment, and in knowing the road.  Confidence is developed with experience.  This year Jonathan has the benefit of last year’s experience, and a car that he is familiar and comfortable with.  Rodney, however, is new to both the car and the event, although owning a regular D4 certainly helps.  So one of the top things on the agenda is getting him as much relevant experience as we can, to build confidence.

We are fortunate to have several customers who have gotten closely involved with the company and have supported us in numerous ways.  Pete Stoppani (the owner of the D2RS) is one, Neil Bradley is another.  Neil owns a D1 and is local here in Portland.  Since the D1 and the D1PPS are extremely similar, I asked if we could ‘borrow’ it to get Rodney familiar with the platform.  Neil graciously agreed so today Rodney and I went to ORP to do some testing.

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We already know the ORP lap time correlation to Pikes Peak time.  Today’s goal was to simulate the whole experience as closely as possible and get a sense for where we’re at.  ORP is an extremely technical track with lots of blind corners and requires learning the layout in order to go fast.  So the program was – take two laps at 35 mph in the rentacar with no helmet (simulates driving the Mountain during tourist days).  Then 4-5 laps in the rentacar at speed, as much as it’s capable of – this can’t be legally done at Pikes Peak but it gives me an opportunity to get a sense of Rodney’s driving before letting him loose in the D1.  Then the D1 – one warmup lap and six at whatever pace is safely appropriate (very much keeping in mind it’s Neil’s car we’re playing with).  Then repeat the whole thing in the opposite direction, and we’re done.

I won’t divulge the exact results for now but let’s just say I’m very pleased and encouraged.  Rodney is a solid driver. As long as we get the car put together and sorted in time, we have an opportunity to do well.

Getting back to the shop around 6pm, I make a call to George to see how the engine is progressing. All the parts arrived and he’s working on putting it back together.  Should be running again tomorrow, barring any more challenges.  Earlier we talked at length about what happened and our consensus was that the engine shouldn’t have just melted after a single un-intercooled pull at 15 psi. We’re running on 100 octane race gas and were generally taking things conservatively.  There had to be some other thing we’re missing.

After many conversations with John, the likely answer emerged – the position of the timing wheel on the crank.  John had assumed it was going to be hand-timed since I’ve used DTA ECUs on the H1 motors, and have one for this engine as well.  So the wheel was located approximately. Whereas George had assumed its position precisely matched stock Hayabusa setting like all of John’s recent engines, intended for using stock Hayabusa ECU – which is what we’re doing here.  Both reasonable assumptions given the context and I suppose it was on me to close the loop.  As it is the timing was likely way too advanced, and combined with the uncooled intercooler it led to the problem.  It’s rarely just one thing that causes stuff to break.

In the meantime the assembly of the car continues.

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Pretty much every single shiny billet aluminum part on there I machined myself in the last couple months.  Fittingly my remaining task for the day was to finish machining the second half of the bellhousing, so that the clutch release bearing can be fitted to it and all the hydraulic lines run.

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Tomorrow is another day. Another way to get things done.  Another way to move forward.

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