6 August 2013

The 360MRC 6hrs of Donington - An Entrant's View

The following has been lifted from a post by Mike Bell, proprietor of Canada Garage, in the 10/10s Historic Forum.  I think it demonstrates what this event is all about and whilst as an endurance race it may not float everyone's boat, this is really about the teams and drivers.  By the Way "Tango" is the name given to Mike's Porsche 924.  The drivers were John Hindhaugh, Andy Meyrick, David Smith and Paul Dunk.

See what Mike had to say:
""Hi, I'm Andy Meyrick, and I've been asked to report to you". That was the greeting I got on arrival at Donington from the young man looking precisely like a professional racing driver! OK, I thought, putting my race licence back in the van, I won't be needing that today.... 

Having done the first three 360 races at Snetterton, this years 4th at Donington wasn't supposed to happen for me. Clashing with the HSCC Croft Nostalgia meeting, and sandwiched between the 5 day Silverstone Classic and 5 day Nurburgring Oldtimer. Not good timing!

But then the enquiry came from Claire about running a charity entry for the Stroke Association, along with Radio Le Mans involvement. Still keen to go to Croft, Tango was offered as a suitable car. Subsequently, when I realised that a 6hr race at Donington could be achieved in one day as opposed to at least 3 for HSCC up North, and Claire broached the subject again, I volunteered to "run" the entry as well. Tenther David Smith, or MGDavid to be precise, joined John Hindhaugh and Paul Dunk as third driver, but possibility of a fourth was still under discussion. I packed race kit and licence just in case.....

Two qualifying sessions went fine, Andy posting our fastest time near the end after about 3 laps in the car......

Plan was for 45 minute stints with refuelling every other stop. With Paul and John being novices in the eyes of the MSA, and with no experience of racing for 90 minute periods, it seemed best way.

MGDavid took the start, holding a place somewhere around our qualifying position. One or two cars came in with early problems, then the rain came..... One by one cars came with water related problems, fix damage or to change tyres, while David 'felt' his way round steadily and reliably. (Apart from one trip through Coppice gravel- admitted later...) by the time he handed over to Andy, we were well inside the top ten. Showing his pro experience, Andy suggested the driver change be done in the garage to keep everything as dry as possible. So we did just that and it worked. With some competitive laps for a 30 plus year old, 130bhp car on still very wet track, Tango was somehow up to second briefly before Andy came in to hand over to Paul, and for us to put in first fuel. The self modified dump churns used in previous years worked fine and not a drop was spilled. Slowest bit was adjusting belts and seat for different drivers!

Talking of refuelling, if you think the regulations regarding clothing, extinguisher, fire person etc are OTT, you should have been at Donington to witness why they are not! One of the Mazdas came in to refuel and I turned to watch from pitwall. As the dump churn was removed an amount of fuel continued to pour out- onto boot of car and ground behind. As the driver started engine it erupted...... Amazing reactions from the guy on extinguisher had flames out before the pitlane fire truck could start it's engine, but the result could have been very different!

At end of Paul's stint on by now dry track, it was obvious looking at the temperature gauge that Tango was running hot. Then while stopped, the rad spewed an amount of water out of the overflow, so we waited for it to cool down enough to take the cap off and top up. John strapped in and away, it wasn't long before he was back in with a lethargic accelerator pedal. Basically it was just about to break in two, and indeed did when I pulled at it!

So, I set to under the dashboard to remove offending item- not easy as it was never designed to have the alloy 'Les Leston' extension that precluded normal removal! Bit of work with mole grips and eventually it was out, and David appeared with a portable welder from garage 8. Thanks Guys, never found out who you were! After a bit of tweaking (turning all settings to max!) I managed to fuse the two halves together with David holding one bit and mole grips the other, and then dived (literally) back under the dash to refit. Not really built for that sort of work...... Main problem was sweat misting up specs and working half blind! With cable re-connected John was sent out again with a round of applause form the watching audience. Sadly he was in again far too soon with temperature reading high, alternator light on and low voltage. With high pressure injection pump not good.... On opening the bonnet it was apparent the overflow was spewing out an unpleasant emulsified liquid straight at the alternator, which was not happy about it. After a short discussion it was decided not to risk the car or indeed anyone else so Tango was pushed into the garage to cool down, the plan being to get out again for the last two laps and hopefully classify as a finisher. John went back to his commentary, and David, Paul and I waited. Good job David, who was going to do the last two laps, decided to fire the old girl up just beforehand, because the battery would not turn the engine over. Quick borrow of a starter pack sorted that (thanks to you Guys as well!) but we couldn't risk leaving the car running until going out, so David shuffled his Beemer estate into the garage alongside, we connected jump leads onto Tango's battery and charged it......

So Tango took the chequered flag, and qualified as a finisher. Another 360MRC 6hr race was over. Last year Cliff Ryan Esq and I did the race without ever opening the bonnet, so guess it was never going to happen this time. But did it stop our enjoyment of the event? Certainly not! I don't think 6hrs has ever gone so fast, and there was never a dull moment. OK, the journey home was pretty boring, but that's about it.

Big thanks to everyone for entering into the spirit of racing for charity, especially young Andy, and hopefully help raise loads of dosh for The Stroke Association.

Tango will be back!"

There will be a 2014 version and each year the entry gets bigger go to The 360 MRC website for further details.

The picture by Dave Brassington shows John H at the wheel.

No comments:

Post a Comment