Robyn Round-up!

Robyn’s had three race meetings in quick succession, so here are her updates:

4th May – Sunny Scunny

Last weekend I went off on my travels to Scunthorpe and District Autograss Club for the first round of the British Autograss Series – a championship run over five rounds through the year.

With 520 drivers signed on, all expecting three heats – and if they are lucky, a place in the final – it was going to be a busy weekend.  This time we had nine ladies class three drivers signed on.  I was looking forward to this as I have hardly raced with other class threes yet this year. As we race off a straight line we have a maximum of eight cars on the start line so we were split into a run of four and another run of five.

Heat 1. I was in the run of four cars so even a fourth place would help towards getting in the final, but I can’t think that way, who wants to come last?! Thankfully I didn’t. I went over the line in third place after having a good start and being in the pack, until I messed up one of the corners with a woozy right foot and a bit of a mid-corner lift. I had the car set up perfectly to drift round the corner, but it snapped straight and I lost a lot of speed.  Still I finished the race in good position and gained points towards qualifying for the final.

Heat 2. Again I was drawn in the four car grid for this one. This time I had a cracking start and I think I was in second for a bit. This was a good solid race on a polished track. Third again.

Heat 3. Overnight one lady dropped out with a damaged car, so we would all line up together for a full grid. We lined up behind two runs of Class one’s. These are 1000cc Minis. Then the water cart came out… it’s everyone’s worst nightmare. I watched where it went so I could pick out the dry line as I knew the Minis would barely scrub off the top and disperse the water. I watched and watched and soon realised that they had completely covered the track. No dry line in sight. They did let it soak in a little, but not enough as I went on to spin the car twice in the same place and came sixth in my final heat.

Not to worry though the car was in one piece, I would be in the final and I didn’t even qualify last. I was sixth qualifier for the final.

The Final. I went flying off the line with an excellent start. So did everyone else. All into the first corner together… who knew where we would all pop out! I think I was running in third for a while and having a great battle trying for a better position. Unfortunaly I was eventually passed by two cars and I ended up in sixth place, but I am not disappointed. Great close racing and overall in the championship so far I am in fifth place. I am hoping to improve on this with our next meeting at Cwmdu Car Club: The Ovals, Lyonshall, Kington, Hereford, HR5 3LN. This meeting is on the 21st and 22nd of June.

11th May – Evesham, Home Track

This was our first meeting of the year at Dodwell Raceway, Stratford-Upon-Avon. This is the Evesham club track, so as I am an Evesham member I always help to run the meeting as well as fit in three races. All of our club members are volunteers and we all pitch in to run a successful meeting. There is plenty to do, we need marshals, scruitineers, pits control coordinators, brake down drivers, water cart drivers, lap scorers, even litter pickers for the end of the meeting… being involved with the meeting is all part of the enjoyment.

I’ve been the Race Control coordinator for eight years now. I need to make sure all drivers are signed on at the beginning of the day for insurance purposes, and I also head up the lap scoring team and collect the points at the end of the meeting. Points go towards end of year trophies and qualifying for the National Championships.  For the last couple of years I have also been part of the British Autograss Series lap scoring team.

This weekend a lot of meetings had been cancelled due to rain so we thought it may be a busy one, and it was!! 205 drivers signed on to race, this time all in one day. Two heats to qualify for the finals.

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I was mixed in with the Class 7’s again and one other Class 3 which was good as I was racing for points against the other lady class 3. There were six class 7 cars so in both heats and the final we had a full grid of cars. My first two heats were frantic, I was right in the pack for the complete race, I wanted to drive round the 7’s, but they drove a very tidy line and out wide the track was very slippery and I wasn’t gaining anything by going out wide.

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Robyn gets past those pesky Minis.

The final was a huge rush, I was in race control doing my lap scoring duties and over the pits speaker I heard “Ladies Class 3 and 7 to the line please”.  What?!! I couldn’t  believe it. My friend Jill and I downed pens and had to run to the cars to get in to race. We were the last ones to the line and first ones  into the corner, neither of us could believe it. The other lady class 3 shot round the outside in the first corner, I kept my line and may have bounced into her a little…

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She managed to pass me so there was Jill in her class 7 followed by two class 3’s and the other 7’s behind us. Towards the end of the race I was passed by another class 7, but she had a huge sideways moment in the middle of the straight right in front of me. I successfully avoided her and ended up in third place on track, and second in class.

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Another great days racing. Next Sunday we are at Radford Autograss Club, Nr Inkberrow, Worcestershire.

Some more photos taken by our colleague Roger, from the same meeting:

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Race Reports Weekend of 12th/13th April 2014

Team Racelogic

2013 Funcup champions started their new campaign at Oulton Park missing two of their usual line up. Nigel Greensall couldn’t make it due to other racing commitments (Britcar, at Silverstone, in a 458 – so not a bad excuse) and Joachim Ritter was otherwise engaged. Replacement drivers Chris  and Karsten therefore had the seats. Here’s Julian’s race report:

“Oulton Park was great fun, but we only ended up 9th for various reasons.

Qualifying
I only did four laps, and on my fastest lap I was held up and also made a mess of Lodge corner. Now I have had time to analyse it, the car was capable of a 1:11.4 which would have been pole by 0.2s, so we had plenty of pace.

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Race
I started behind Jon (car 62 TWM Racing) who was driving brilliantly, he cut through the field really well, and then we had a great battle where we swapped places a couple of times. He ran over the kerbs on the outside of the second chicane and this dislodged his rear wing, which then caused him to spin going into Cascades right in front of me.

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I don’t know how I missed him, but my splitter folded in under itself as I bounced over the grass (great video footage!)

This caused a lot of drag for the rest of my stint and I had to fend off back markers until we came in to change drivers and the bonnet in 13th.

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This cost us time in the pits, and then Karsten and Chris drove two stints each really well, and with some good pitstops we got up into 8th. Unfortunately Karsten flicked the speed limiter off just before the line and we got a stop and go penalty, which dropped us a place into 9th going into my last stint. There was a downpour just as I started, and Karsten had just told me that the wipers had broken! In reality this made no difference, as I thought at least I can see more than I could in Spa! We then had a safety car because Bram (car 263 Nimbus) crashed at Lodge whilst they were holding a comfortable lead.

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Sherardize had dominated up to this point, with Marcus setting a 1:10.991 and Peter did a 1:11.2, the second fastest driver. Marcus then hit some debris at one point which punctured their oil cooler, which cost them about 10 laps otherwise they would have won by almost a lap…My fastest race lap was 1:12.9 with a folded splitter.

My last stint was great fun in the wet/dry/wet conditions, and I caught up with the leaders. I sat behind Honeywell not wanting to overtake, and then let through the second place car so I wasn’t holding up the battle for the lead. However, Scott Fitzgerald in car 99 then overtook me and the second placed guy, and this was for position! I then overtook the car in second (car 22 OBR – new drivers, Zoe Wenham & her brother?) and had a great battle with Scott swapping places and just got 8th place back on the last lap with a dive up the inside at Druids, still trying not to disturb Honeywell who were holding Scott off at the time. Very exciting stuff with no windscreen wipers!

I think our race pace would have been good, but my first laps were in heavy traffic, and then my splitter was dragging, so difficult to tell. Analysing the data seemed to show we still had good pace. A really good fun race, but Sherardize have some very worrying pace. Bring on Snetterton!”

Leonard Motorsport

The VBOX Motorsport-sponsored Aston Martin Vantage, driven by Stuart Leonard and Paul Wilson in the Nurburgring VLN series, had something of a mixed bag on Saturday. Here’s Paul’s race report:

“We worked with Stefan Mucke on the Friday to get the car balance sorted with less aero to give us more speed. Worked really well and although the car is certainly a little livelier in the corners, we can now at least overtake things down the straight!

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In qualifying, six Cup cars tangled in front of me, putting down coolant and all sorts. I was second fastest initially (albeit the times were all off as a result). By the time I was back in the car we were down in P8, but managed to hook a good lap together of an 8.11, which is a lot quicker than I have been before around there, but also it is about 4 seconds slower than it can be off the data due to traffic. This bumped us to P3. Stuart’s last run saw us slip down to P8 as the track cleared and everyone else got some clean air – otherwise we would have qualified higher. Stuart did manage an 8.10 though – therefore out-qualifying me yet again.

I ran the first stint, which was cool. Pretty much maintained P8. I really had a car I could attack with and did my first competitive GT3 overtakes. Also had a bit of contact with the Ford GT3 on the opening lap. He left a gap which I took, he then turned in, minor damage.

Unfortunately, by lap five just after I overtook a car I had no front tyres left, understeer everywhere. I managed to keep Markus Winklehock in the Phoenix Audi behind for two laps at least, despite a few taps. We are definitely mixing it!

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However, there were three separate monster shunts, with the last one taking out 90m of Armco. Red flag. Ambulances, helicopters… one car went through the Armco into the trees… I think everyone is okay, but not 100% sure – information is always scarce.

The race restarts but only as a two hour. We put Stuart in for the whole stint. We ran really well, 6th at one point. Unfortunately race control incorrectly advised our minimum pit time, dropping us to 8th, but still in the gaggle of cars for third. We lost 24 seconds on the stop sat still, we were in genuine contention for a podium…

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However, last lap but one, Stuart overtook a car which didn’t see him, turned in, hit our back wheel, and gave us a puncture. They in turn barrel-rolled five times, apparently. Meyrick Cox was at the wheel – the guy who was going to buy the ring. He is fine, their car isn’t.

Bumblebee is fine, apart from a few battle wounds. Stuart pitted, but the car didn’t feel right so he parked it, giving us a DNF.

Far, far more positives than negatives. VLN 3 will be interesting.”

Robyn English

Robyn, Racelogic Production Supervisor, races in the British Autograss Series. She had a great start to her season last week, and it has continued in much the same vein!

“A Radford meeting yesterday.

8 cars on the line with a total of 14 engines all racing together. What????

Must mean I was racing with the Class 7’s. These are known as the Super Saloons in the Autograss world. They are pretty much just a silhouette of the original car, a purpose built race car with unlimited engine capacity, so the line-up for me yesterday was a grid consisting of six twin bike-engined cars,  one with a single bike engine, and me with my 2 litre 16V Vauxhall.  All rear wheel drive.

When I line up in the middle of the grid and two Minis line up either side of me, you may think I would have it easy. Such tiny little cars, but NO. They can really go. It was a great challenge for me as the driving styles are very different and I also had to remember that this was a points meeting for me, and I was being scored separately from the 7’s so didn’t want to have an incident. I still need to finish a race to get my points. The 7’s are very fast on the straight and will drive away from me, but they brake a little earlier than me into the corners. I was also taking a wider line, as with my class 3 I want  to keep up momentum, therefore going faster into the corners. This is where I catch them up again.

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Robyn in action on Sunday, mixing it with the Class 7’s. Thanks to our colleague Rodger for once again supplying such great photos!

In the final I let them get away from me off the start line so I could try and catch them, but also practice my driving. When I find myself with a grid of 3’s at bigger meetings I want to know what to do.

All in all a great day’s racing. My ears were ringing once I was home in the quiet again. I guess that’s what happens when you are surrounded by thirteen bike engines slammed into the limiter waiting for that bungee to lift!”

Robyn’s next meeting is at her home track near Stratford Upon Avon, hosted by her club. She’ll be helping with the organisation as well as racing. Go along, if you fancy the bast value motorsport there is!

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Robyn’s First Race Meeting of 2014

Racelogic Production Supervisor, Robyn English, races in the British Autograss Series, and the 6th April saw her in action for the first time this year. Here’s her race report:

“So 1st meeting of the year done. We had a brilliant day at St Neots Autograss. This is the track that I raced at for the very first time eleven years ago in our old class 8. Also where I came third at the Nationals last year in the class 3. My favourite track I think. This was a non-points meeting for me, so plenty of practice without too much pressure.

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There were three class 3  ladies signed on so they put us out with the ladies class 7’s. They set us off on a staggered start so the sevens had to chase us. They didn’t catch us all day!

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First and second heats I came second behind a very experienced St Neots member who knows the track very well.

The Final. Well.. Best race of the day.

It started raining whilst I was on the start line so the track was quite wet, and it had also been watered on the inside line in trying to keep the dust down just before the rain came. Trish and I both had excellent starts, but she just beat me to the corner, but I was right behind her and decided to go out wide to find the grip. I found myself almost smashing into the back of her coming out of the corner so I thought: “Here we go! I’m going to get around the outside!”

A couple more laps and I found my opportunity. I took a wider line into the top corner so was carrying more speed on the way out. Trish had chosen the tighter line. This is when I nailed it and drove right past her on the straight and I had the lead. Only two laps to go and victory was mine.

Or so I thought???? Last corner, and for some reason (which Andrew told me off for) I went into defence mode, went a little too tight,  didn’t find the grip and just as I thought the chequered flag was about to be waved there she was.

Trish just beat me over the line. On the outside!!! by not even half a bonnet’s worth. It was so close. Kicking myself this morning, but also buzzing from an excellent day of good old fashioned grass roots club racing.”

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We’ve got a stack of fantastic photos, all taken by our colleague Roger Foskett who works with Robyn in the Production Department, in the gallery and in our Facebook albums. Thanks Roger, and well done Robyn! Great start to the season.

A Great Start…

Two of our profiled drivers were racing over the weekend: Leonard Motorsport (Paul Wilson and Stuart Leonard) in the VLN, and Steve Liquorish in the UK Porsche Carrera Cup.

The VLN duo managed to qualify in tenth position for their inaugural VLN race, (even though they’d only managed three laps during the test day) and as it got under way Stuart had gained three places by turn two. He was nudged off the edge of the circuit a couple of corners later and dropped back to ninth. One driver change and two DNFs in front of them later, and they came across the line in a very creditable seventh place.

This is a great achievement from Stuart and Paul, who out-qualified works-team professionals in their back yard. “There’s more to come,” says Paul “I am confident we’ll see a podium this year.”

The only dampener to the weekend was the addition of an FIA-spec logger which seemed to play merry hell with the Video VBOX, so the team couldn’t use their OLED display or record any video. We’ll make do with this photo:

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And here’s a video of Paul at the wheel, recorded during one of their testing laps the week before:

More photos available from our Facebook page.

Steve Liquorish

In the Carrera Cup, Steve Liquorish who is competing in the Pro-Am2 class, had an outstanding weekend finishing first and second in the class, withstanding an onslaught from Peter Kyle-Henney (Parr Motorsport) in the second half of race one. “I’m chuffed to bits, particularly because qualifying wasn’t brilliant. I dropped a bit of time at the start when Victor Jimenez (Redline Racing) bogged down. Then I saw Peter coming strongly, so I had to keep pushing.”

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Superb performance from Steve in his brand-spanking new 991!

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Driver Profiles 2014

For 2014 we are following nine competitors as they progress through the season.

Team Racelogic

Successfully defending their title in 2013 in the UK FunCup series, Racelogic MD Julian Thomas, along with regular co-drivers Nigel Greensall and Joachim Ritter, are once again looking very strong for the 2014 season. However Julian is not complacent: “This season there’s a minimum pit stop time, and the cars are 10kg lighter, but there is also what I’m calling the “anti Julian Thomas” regulation which sees each driver being weighed so that accurate ballast is added to each car.”

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“We also expect Team O Brien, and Team Honeywell who finished strongly in 2013, to chase us all the way. Sheradize UK are a team to look out for, as I have heard that they have been doing a lot of testing and they are already a very strong team. If Nimbus Data have more mechanical luck this year, then they will also be very strong competition.

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Julian Thomas – Racelogic MD and the lightest third of the UK FunCup champions of 2012 and 2013

The season opener is at Oulton Park on 12th April, along with rounds at Brands, Snetterton, and Anglesey. With the largest grid ever assembled, as ever the paddock will be friendly and the racing very close.

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Paul Wilson and Leonard Motorsport

The 2012 Caterham R300 champion took a break from racing in 2013 to concentrate on instruction. At least, that was what he intended, but he ended up racing a Fortec-prepped Mercedes SLS in nothing less than the VLN. Having got a taste for GT3, he is now teamed up with Stuart Leonard – himself an R300 race winner, and a serious young talent – in a factory-backed Aston Martin V12 Vantage. “It’s a fantastic opportunity, a dream really. Stuart and I are both on a steep learning curve but the two tests we’ve had so far at Portimao and Paul Ricard have shown that we are making vast improvements and that we’re on the pace. The car is just incredible.”

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Paul Wilson in instructing mode for DPR Motorsport, with whom he won the 2012 Caterham R300 championship

Not one to miss out on heaping praise where it’s due, he adds: “Video VBOX, as usual, is playing a huge part in our progression – and this time we’re logging a whole range of additional CAN data as well. The AM guys keep peering over our shoulders and find it hard to believe how quickly we can work out where we can make improvements. We are delighted to have a partnership with Racelogic for 2014.” Thank you Paul, as ever.

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Paul and Stuart’s outstanding Vantage in testing on the Nordschleife.

 

Steve Liquorish and Team Parker Racing

Another driver who has made large strides in his motorsport ambitions, Steve bought his Video VBOX in 2011, just as he graduated from racing Minis into a 2010 Porsche Cup car. In 2014 he’s in a brand new 991 and competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

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Says Steve: “It’s a real weapon, this. So much taughter than my 2010 car, stops and goes brilliantly. I love it.” Steve’s car is being run by Team Parker Racing, based just outside of Leicester, and they’ll be helping us to reverse-engineer the CAN identifiers from the new model, which features a raft of changes from the 996/997.

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Martyn Curley

Our Autosport 2014 competition winner, Martyn races a stunning 1972 Porsche 911 in the UK Classic Hill Climb championship which takes in the iconic courses at Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, Harewood House, Loton, and Wiscombe. Winning the VBOX HD was perfect timing: “I didn’t race last year, what with a very busy time at work and getting the car rebuilt. For 2014 I’ve made some upgrades and it’s now running in 2.7 RS spec, but I know that the competition is going to be even greater since I won the championship in 2011, so this prize is a superb boost!”

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Martyn collects his prize from Mike Broadbent, Racelogic Sales & Marketing Manager

Martyn’s enthusiasm is infectious, and we can’t wait to see some of the footage that he’ll be capturing through the season on some of the fabulous courses at which he competes.

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Martyn on his way to a win at Loton Park in his beautiful Porsche

 

Robyn English

Robyn is the Racelogic Production Supervisor, and ably partnered by her husband Andrew who also competes, she races in the British Autograss championship. If you’ve never been to an Autograss meeting, put it on your schedule for this summer – it is quite insane and some of the best racing you’ll ever see.

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“This year we’ve upgraded Andrew’s Class 8 to a Class 10, so it now runs two Honda FireBlade engines. But I’m more excited about our lovely new motorhome, which is big enough to accommodate us and our dogs!”

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Don’t let this comment mislead you: she is a fierce competitor in the saloon class and last year achieved third place in the Ladies National Autograss final.

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Robyn in action a couple of seasons ago. The girl can drift!

The very best of luck for 2014 Robyn!

 

Dan Fuller

An early adopter of VBOX Sport on two wheels, Dan had a bit of a mixed year in the 2013 Triumph Triple Challenge, starting well but fading mid season largely through setup problems that were only sorted out as the championship was coming to a close. For 2014 he’s in UK Superstock, which is a significant step up with the bike being a 1000cc inline four instead of the 675cc triple he raced last year – a big hike in power.

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Dan in action last year – you can just spot the VBOX Sport on the seat unit

His dad Vince, who acts as his mechanic, coach, cook, PR rep, and data engineer, told us: “Vince found the VBOX Sport really useful last year, but the bike just wasn’t up to scratch even with the advantage the data logging  gave us. This year he’s looking great, and the bike is working well. We’ve been using the VBOX Sport in testing and it has really helped him.”

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The VBOX Sport – the most versatile GPS data logger we’ve ever made, and perfect for use on a motorbike.

 

Tommy Chan and Grid Motorsport

Our VBOX Motorsport dealer for China and Hong Kong, Tommy races in the Clio Cup China – winning the championship in 2013 – and is one of the series organisers and instructors of the Ferrari 458 Challenge Asia Pacific.

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Tommy Chan, winner of the Clio Cup China in 2013

Tommy advocates the use of Video VBOX and VBOX HD to everyone he meets in the paddock and as a result now frequently coaches those running at the back of the grid – a very even handed approach!

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Tommy’s scene designs for the post-processed graphics in VBOX HD are stunning

 

Alistair Weaver

Journalist and TV producer Alistair is competing in the Caterham Tracksport championship. He’s using a Video VBOX Waterproof and will be including data and video in articles for the Sunday Times throughout the season. An experienced campaigner, Alistair as raced – and won – in a whole raft of different cars and this year is using his knowledge and experience to help those just starting on the motor sport ladder.

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Alistair is delighted to be putting the Video VBOX to good use: “I’m sure it’ll prove hugely beneficial to both the features and my performance!”

 

Hamish Brandon

Our VBOX Motorsport dealer in Scotland, Hamish had good seasons in the Scottish Mini Cup in 2011 and 2012, before moving into the UK Mini Challenge last year where he finished a creditable 2nd in the overall championship.

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Hamish runs Panda Racing in the Borders of Scotland and has been using Video VBOX for the last couple of seasons, and this year aims to go one better in his second season in the Mini Challenge.

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Landmark Decisions

Any good driver will tell you that you can only go genuinely fast when you are in a calm state of mind, and in rhythm to the flow of the track. Knowing your way around a circuit comes with time spent on it, but endlessly circling without breaking it down into its key elements isn’t going to lead to rapid progression.

So how do you become a calmer driver when the scenery is rushing at you so quickly?

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What’s needed is to take the guesswork out of the equation, and this is where reference points, or landmarks, become crucial. There are four to identify for each corner: braking, turn in, apex, and exit. Learning to recognise them is a skill as important as being able to drive to them, and driving to them is the key to precision. Precision is the key to speed.

As an amateur driver you might only spend a small proportion of your time in a race car, and when you do venture out on track it can feel overwhelmingly fast. Landmarks help in processing all the information you are receiving, and build confidence that you are putting the car in the right place.

How do you set about deciding what your brake, turn-in, apex and exit points actually are? In an ideal world it will be done in conjunction with a coach, and a video data logging system. The advantage this gives is the ability to see precisely where the instructor has determined these reference points are, and can explain them. Once you have them set, you can drive a benchmark lap time before trying small alterations to the line to see if improvements can be made. Once familiar, the aim is to not look directly at the landmarks, but to pick them up in your peripheral vision – otherwise you won’t be looking far enough ahead.

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A video logging system like the VBOX HD makes this process straightforward thanks to the clarity of the image, backed up with GPS data. Nigel Greensall, instructor and racing driver with vast experience, says: “The aim is to avoid overcomplicating the process of driving. ‘Landmarking’ the circuit relaxes the driver, and having the video means we can do this in the garage without me giving the instruction to them out on track whilst they’re concentrating on everything they have to do. Once we’ve done this I’ll ask my student to go out and drive more slowly, concentrating solely on hitting these targets – and they’ll often end up actually going faster. We want to reduce the workload he feels, so that the car is at its limit but the driver isn’t.”

He has further advice: “I find that turn-in, apex, and exit points hardly change – even from car to car. Braking is obviously the most variable, but can be managed by assessing the conditions and the car’s capabilities first, along with your prior knowledge of it. Braking hard in a straight line when there’s no one around you allows you to get a feel for this before determining your brake points.” It’s also vital to ensure that the landmarks you select are permanent: there’s no point choosing a shadow across the track, or a support vehicle on the other side of the Armco that is there for qualifying but not during the race.

Nigel has mentally catalogued most of the reference points he needs for each circuit based on years of racing, but can’t expect his students to do so: “We can create a visual record from each circuit now, and with the HD video it gives us a very high level of detail and precision.  For instance: I find that in just about every car I’ve ever driven around Silverstone, the turn-in point for Stowe corner is just at the end of the rumble strip on the left side of Hangar Straight. Using the laps I’ve filmed, it’s easy to make the amateur see that he might not be driving to the correct landmarks: perhaps he is braking too soon. Generally speaking, braking early leads to turning early. Because it is so easy to see this in the video, the student can apply the changes I want him to make as he can watch me doing it, over and over again. The realisation dawns when they see that driving to the landmarks makes everything so much easier.”

This is an extract from our e-book on advanced circuit driving techniques. If you would like a copy of the full article, along with nine other chapters, please sign up here.

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The Clearest Way to go Faster

Combined video and data logging is now a very much accepted part of a driver’s or team’s racing setup. Several products have been on the market for the last four or five years that allow for data capture via GPS and/or vehicle sensors that integrates with video, with a view to improving driver performance.

Racelogic have succeeded in this market with the highly popular Video VBOX, used by a diverse customer base, racing in anything from basic Caterhams to professional GT3 class series. The FIA adopted the Video VBOX Pro as mandatory equipment in WTCC at the beginning of 2012.

For some drivers, simply recording video of their races has been deemed sufficient: either as a simple memento of their exploits, or as an ‘incident camera.’ HD cameras that allow for this are extremely common and do a reasonable job, but other than the fact that they don’t really teach you anything they all have one big flaw – the ‘HD Wobble.’

The current crop of high definition cameras record video by scanning from the top to the bottom of the image being taken – it’s called a ‘Rolling Shutter.’ If the camera is being held completely steady this is fine, because the pixels it captures at the top of the picture will still be in line with those at the bottom by the time the scan completes, and as each frame is recorded the resultant footage looks smooth and consistent.

But this simply does not work properly in a race car. The amount of vibration present in such an environment means that the pixels fall out of line with each other as the images are scanned, and it results in video that at best shows distortion. At worst it’s almost unwatchable. It certainly hinders the usefulness or entertainment value of the recording.

Racelogic have worked on this problem and have now launched the VBOX HD, which employs a ‘Global Shutter.’ Designed in-house, the camera records 720P HD video at 30 frames per second but crucially, it captures each pixel simultaneously. It doesn’t take time to grab pixels from the top of the frame to the bottom – each one lands at the same time, so as they’re committed to the final video their positions have remained consistent throughout.

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As per the Video VBOX, all video is synched with the GPS data (speed, acceleration, track position, lap times and so on) logged at 10Hz, and it can be analysed in Racelogic’s Circuit Tools software.

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One of the biggest advantages to having such clear video is that analysis for brake and turn-in points is pinpoint accurate. As any driver coach will tell you, sorting out the ‘landmarks’ on a circuit is absolutely key to a driver’s performance, and the Global Shutter footage that the VBOX HD produces makes this very straightforward. Not only does this significantly aid the driver and instructor, it makes for a video that anyone – no matter what they race – will enjoy reviewing.

Circuit Tools HD

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What is the ‘wet line’, and how do we find it?

People often say that the reason there is less grip on the racing line in wet conditions is due to a build-up of rubber and oil. This is in fact a myth. In reality it’s the amount of physical wear the track has endured which makes the difference, with worn down, highly polished surfaces offering drivers less grip in the wet.

When asphalt is first laid down, there is a uniform roughness to the surface. Over the years, as many cars pass over the same piece of road, the sharp ridges and peaks in the road surface become worn down to a smooth surface.

If you look next time you are on track, you will see that the racing line has a noticeable shine caused by the constant abrasion of racing tyres. Off this line, it is the sharp ridges and peaks which yield greater grip in the wet.

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This occurs because the two dominant forces affecting the performance of a tyre are adhesion and deformation. Adhesion is the chemical ‘stickiness’ between the tyre and the track, and deformation is the force which results from the rubber changing shape to fill in the gaps in the surface.

A wet surface prevents direct contact between the rubber and the surface, completely blocking the formation of the adhesive forces that work best on flat surfaces. Therefore, in the wet, a rough surface can generate far more grip by increasing the deformation of the tyre.

You can certainly feel the extra grip off line, but does the extra distance travelled negate the higher cornering force? The only way to tell is through trial and error, and this is where a predictive lap-timer becomes an essential part of the process. However, the lap comparison has to be based on GPS position rather than distance travelled, otherwise the results are meaningless.

A predictive lap timer displays the difference between your current lap-time and your previous best, in real time, at any point on the track. A positive number means you are going slower, and a negative number means you are going quicker.

OLED-Black with predictive laptiming

You get instant feedback on your technique, rather than having to wait until you complete a lap (or cross a split). As you approach a corner, simply glance at your current ‘delta’ and then check again once you have exited that corner. If the number has increased then you have gone slower, and if it has decreased, then you have gone faster.

Running with a predictive lap-timer for the first time is very enlightening, as you may make a small mistake in a corner and lose a couple of tenths, but due to a slightly slower exit speed, you can then watch the ‘delta’ climb upwards all along the following straight, eventually losing up to a whole second. It certainly makes you concentrate on your exit speeds!

This is an extract from our e-book on advanced circuit driving techniques. If you would like a copy of the full article, along with nine other chapters, please sign up here.

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Starting Out

Coaching is a key factor in a driver’s development if they are to succeed and enjoy their chosen motorsport path.

Starting out in motorsport can be daunting, even for those with natural ability and confidence. Going racing for the first time, whilst very exciting, can be a scary business. It doesn’t matter how fast you might be able to drive during a track day – swapping paint with other drivers in an actual race is an entirely different experience.

The best way to mitigate this is to get some tuition. A grounding in basic race craft will not only help to keep you safe, it also makes the start to your motorsport  career – at whatever level – more enjoyable than struggling along without any direction.

A good example of how both novice and experienced drivers can benefit from driver coaching is given by DPR Motorsport, an official Caterham race team who run a number of entrants in all the series.

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Going racing in a Caterham is a very good way of getting started. The Academy represents the entry point to a motorsport ladder that provides a complete beginner with an easy to achieve entry and, with the same car, develop their expertise over a number of years of increasingly competitive levels of motorsport.

Over the years, DPR race setups have gained a number of championship wins, including James Maclachan’s 2010 victory in the inaugural Supersport championship where he won eleven out of the twelve races in which he took part. In 2011 their customers won the Academy and Roadsport championships.

Last season a DPR customer was either winner, runner up, or both, in Academy Group One, Tracksport, Supersport, and R300, along with nine other top six finishers.

It’s a very impressive record. How do they do it?

Part of their success comes from working with specialist driver coaches like Ben Clucas, a very experienced instructor who has won five championships, several Caterham races and who has an impressive CV spanning twenty years in all forms of motorsport, including F1. Having coached for twelve years, he knows how to get the best out of his students and onto the front of the grid in a short space of time: as well having coached race winners in Ginettas, Porsches, GTs and single seaters he worked intensively with Jamie Orton, coaching him to win both the Caterham Roadsport A and R300 Championships.

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Ben says: “No one is the perfect driver and everyone has something to learn. In every sport in the world people use coaches to try and improve their techniques and performance, and motor racing is no different. In a class of racing as competitive as Caterhams, a few tenths of a second can make the difference between pole and mid-pack.”

To augment the effectiveness of Ben’s coaching, DPR also take a high-technology approach to their campaigns by using Video VBOX a proven system that has been put to use by a number of drivers in claiming championship victories over the last couple of years, across a large range of race series from GTs to, of course, Caterhams.

VVB-WP-with Predictive

Derrick Rowe of DPR: “We use Video VBOX because it absolutely sets the standard as a driver aid and greatly enhances our instructor’s tuition. The system provides an on-track record for the driver that is then analysed with the coach to understand the constraints in reducing lap times. It makes a huge difference to how rapidly we can bring the competitor up to speed.”

Anyone taking advantage of DPR’s services will be tutored off-track using Circuit Tools, the analysis software that forms a part of the Video VBOX package. Ben has an excellent understanding of this software and has been putting it to use with Chris Hutchinson, a rookie in this year’s Academy, who has had some early season training.

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“I have used Ben’s coaching with Racelogic’s Video VBOX system, and had my car setup by DPR, and they have all been excellent. Ben has worked with me on several days, making me much faster and pointing things out that I would never have noticed myself. The Circuit Tools software is great for quickly and simply understanding where you are losing those vital tenths of a second.”

Analysis of performance and driving technique has been a major component in the higher echelons of motor racing for some years, but it is only recently that such technology has been widely available to the novice attempting his or her first season. In the Caterham world, the impact of using brain power as well as horsepower is becoming apparent in the rapidity with which lap records are being bettered.

Ben explains: “In tough one make racing like Caterhams every car is very even, so by far the biggest difference is the “nut” behind the wheel.” Derrick agrees:  “Unlike series with more open regulations, Caterham Motorsport provides wheel-to-wheel racing with well-engineered cars, so driver ability is all important. The cars have hardly changed in several years – it’s the drivers making the difference.”

If you are about to embark on your inaugural racing season it’s worth giving these points consideration. Good coaching and effective data analysis are hugely advantageous when it comes to getting the most from your racing, and can make a big difference to your progression.

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Accelerated Learning on Two Wheels

The Quickest Way to go Faster? Using GPS in Bike Racing

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Racelogic have made their name by supplying high-end GPS testing equipment to every vehicle and tyre manufacturer you care to name. Thanks to this core business they have been able to develop products like the Video VBOX, which combines a 10Hz GPS system with synchronised video and graphics. A lot of drivers have benefitted from studying the footage and data produced during their races and test days, and it has proven to be a key factor in the winning of several championships.

Porsche Post

This level of take up hasn’t occurred in motorcycle racing to the same extent. Whilst the Video VBOX is used by a few die-hard trackdayers, it hasn’t found favour in the racing paddock mainly due to its size and cost – it was designed for use in a car after all. Now, though, there’s a new product which suits bikes perfectly: the VBOX Sport.

VBOX Sport_Facing Left

The main issues with using a data logger on a motorcycle are size, weatherproofing, and weight. Racelogic have answered these concerns by creating a 20Hz GPS unit (that’s twenty samples every second) which is waterproof, battery powered for at least six hours, weighs 130g and is only 100mm in length. OK, it doesn’t contain a video recorder, but the amount of data that is generated from GPS alone is substantial.

How can it benefit the bike racer? Well firstly, you get to keep a record of all time spent on the circuit, so you know when you improve. Anyone can keep a list of lap times, but knowing exactly where the improvements have been made is the key. Direct lap-by-lap comparisons can be studied in the Circuit Tools analysis software, whether they were ridden in the same session or months apart.

Let’s look at an example of using Circuit Tools with data recorded at Guadix in Spain. The red trace is a professional rider; the blue trace is a very capable amateur. Look at the ‘Delta Time’ graph: by the end of the lap you can see that the professional has gone 1.84 seconds faster. From the speed trace you can begin to understand that the amateur is braking earlier for almost every corner, and every time he does he loses a few more tenths. In the most extreme example he loses a third of a second in the space of only 150 metres…

Gaudix
Two graphs in the Circuit Tools analysis software, showing speed against delta time over the course of one lap. The software is free and can be downloaded and tried out before any actual buying decision is made

This is a very basic example, but it illustrates how easy it is to understand which areas need improvement. The software can also display acceleration g-forces, distance, heading (useful for reviewing turn-in points) and obviously time. The track map, which displays the path the rider took, can help with drive-line analysis.

These parameters give a comprehensive overview of how a rider is performing – there is no need to log RPM, throttle position, lean angle and so on. Just getting these basics right will give a club racer enough to work on for a long time.

#22 Daniel Fuller - Dannic Racing Triumph

Because it is so portable the VBOX Sport can be handed to a faster rider or an instructor to log bench marking laps. Within a very short space of time any rider, of any ability, can set to work on improving their lap times.

As Rob Barff, GT racer and instructor notes: “You can learn by yourself but it will take years to do so. Using the data massively shortcuts that process.” This might be a comment from a four-wheeled professional, but the principal of accelerated learning remains.

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