Rollercoaster continues

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This morning the resin on the bodywork is cured except for one spot which we successfully ‘bump’ with a heatgun.  We load up and head up the Mountain.  Today is qualifying.  The qualifying position determines run order and it’s important because weather tends to deteriorate during the day so the earlier you can run, the better the chances of favorable conditions.  But most importantly we have to qualify in order to race.  The D1 hasn’t run right yet and we have a bit of a dilemma – I can adjust the pressure sensor fake voltage so it will start and idle, but then it won’t rev over 5K.  Adjusting to rev freely makes it nearly impossible to start and idle.  Something to tinker with today.

We arrive at the paddock area, unload and get ready to run.  We apply white tape on the outside of the bodywork to hide the worst of the damage.  From 15 feet away it’s hard to tell.

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Jonathan goes up without an incident and posts an OK time of 4:14.  Then I make a guess at the voltage setting.  We get the D1 ligned up and (reluctantly) started. Rodney goes up.

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First section time comes up on the board, then nothing. On the staff radios we overhear “888 stopped”.  Did the engine blow up?  I really don’t know what the adjustments are doing to the AFR over the rev range.  Then we overhear something about the gearbox.  Did the box blow up? Chain broke?  We try to come up with possible scenarios and ways of dealing with them as we wait for the car to be brought back down.  Eventually he is towed in to our pit and we get to work.

In the meantime Jonathan goes up for his second run and we later get the time – 4:11. Better than last year but we’ll have to see where improvements can be made.  The car does look good, if I do say so myself.

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We are trying to get the D1 sorted. The gearbox does not shift up.  Down works fine though.  We try a few things.  Something is wrong with the pneumatic valve block that controls the actuator.  We look for leaks, then replace the valve body (brought spares).  Nothing.  We are now told that the the current run is the last one.  We make it or we don’t race Sunday.

There are three valves – up, down and throttle blipper.  Up is not working but down and blipper are.  Blipper is not essential – Rodney can just use the clutch for downshifts.  So I change the wiring in the connector while Tristan swaps the hoses to make the blipper valve actuate the upshift instead.  We test it, and it works.   Got to go line up.  With the difficulty in starting and the air compressor pump having been run quite a bit, the battery is now getting low.  We do have a portable jump battery but it requires removing wings and bodywork to connect (item on the list of things later today).  There is a lot at stake and a lot to go wrong.  We push the car to the start line.

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We time the start to give us an opportunity to scramble a jump-start while still avoiding overheating just sitting there with throttle constantly being blipped since it won’t idle.  A few tense moments but the car does start and then he’s off.  First section time comes up, then…. nothing.  It’s a sinking feeling.  We’ve come so far….  But wait – the problem was with a car ahead, Rodney got red flagged and will get a restart.  Whew. For the moment.  But it means we’ll have to deal with the start again.

Once he’s back down, we turn him around, add fuel, line up and go to start.  The engine cranks but does not fire.  Again. Again.  Nothing.  Really concerned about battery now.  I tell Rodney to put the gas to the floor and don’t let up until the engine fires and spools up.  Cranking. A few coughs.  Sputter.  Sputter.  Then VROOOM!  Ok, we have a running engine.  Good thing too because the 10-second countdown is already started.  He’s off again.  First section time is up.  Then, agonizing two minutes later, finish!  Time is 4:18, slower than Rodney would have liked but under the circumstances we’ll take it.

So, both cars qualified. That is good. But we now have a long list of things to do before we test on the middle section tomorrow.  On the D1, we have to be able to log AFR.  For this we’d have to weld an O2 sensor bung on the exhaust where it can be accessed (the existing one points at the transmission, which wasn’t present on the dyno).  And we need to install and wire in an O2 sensor.  There is a wideband sensor and controller in the D2 which we could borrow, but it’s a lot of disassembly to get it out.  Probably half a day.  Preferred option would be to find one to buy locally which Morgan does after some searching.  And the shop – Under Pressure Turbo Systems – even offers to weld the bung on if we bring in the tail pipe.  That saves the hassle of finding someone to do it and likely lots of driving too.  Morgan goes to get the O2 sensor, Tristan and Jonathan go to find connector and cabling for external jump battery hookup, the rest of the crew work on the D1 and I do this post.

Lots of work remains today and then more testing and learning tomorrow.

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