Due to an unusual amount of rain leading up to the traditional Easter season-opener the grass areas at Santa Pod were waterlogged, so the family-oriented Festival of Power was swapped with the race-focused Springspeed Nationals, usually scheduled at the end of April, to prevent spectators damaging the grass and having to be towed out. To avoid confusion, I’m simply referring to this weekend as the Easter meeting, as in programmes and online both titles are being used for the same event.
Over the winter Storm got its first ever full stripdown and rebuild with new primary gears, a repaired gearcase (damaged at the last meeting of 2022), a repaired and repainted fairing and, most importantly, a new steering neck to reduce the rake angle from over 45 degrees to a more manageable 42.
We also picked up some new sponsors in the form of Dale Leeks’ Suffolk Pool Company, hydraulic hose company Mobihose, and my employers, BMW tuners AC Schnitzer UK. Great to have them all aboard and joining our existing sponsors listed at the end of this post. We hope to reward them all with increased exposure for their brands during the year.
Our first qualifying session had some new figures in the controller aimed at speeding up the small turbo and slowing down the big one. 60psi manifold pressure needs around 22psi from the big one, but we had nearer 30 at the end of last year. Getting the small one to do more would speed up boost increase off the line too.
Our first pass was a rather disappointing 7.15 @ 183 with a 1.2 to 60′. Returning to the pits we found that the boost hose from the intercooler had come off the big turbo inlet. We tried again – 6.94 @ 199. Better, but still in the 1.2s to 60′ and still not matching the programming. Only 4psi from the big turbo wasn’t going to win us any races. Still, we were qualified #1 and had time on our side.
Saturday morning we had a couple more tries but the engine switched off in the burnout, traced to a loose ignition fuse in its holder (yes, we’ve been here before). In the afternoon a very flat 7.9 @ 138 warranted further investigation, where we found that the exhaust manifold had cracked three quarters of the way around the collector. No exhaust pressure – no boost pressure. Stripping the turbos, intercooler, wastegates and the related sensors isn’t a 5 minute job, but with the help of fellow racer Jake Mechaell from nearby JKE Race Works we got the manifold TIG-welded and reassembled by 11pm.
An early call Sunday morning gave us a the chance of an extra qualifier to gather some meaningful data, but a chance flick of the ignition switch by Simon gave nothing. Panic mode ensued, and a broken wire was quickly twisted together. A feeble burnout was followed by the bike idling down the track with no boost at all. Back in the pits a “leave it to me, I know what I’m doing” pressure line was found to have been left unconnected.
Nothing for it then but to try our best in the eliminations! A holeshot on Roger Moore wasn’t enough to save another low boost launch, followed by our old friend, the accidental 3rd to 1st gear shift. This doesn’t do any damage, except for losing all drive on the run. Roger sailed past and took the win.
Back home it looks like a split diaphragm in the small wastegate was responsible for the low boost all weekend. Without the other issues, we almost certainly would have traced this earlier, but it is what it is, as Simon likes to say!
Congrats to Roger for beating us and class winner by attrition Dave Peters. We’ll be back! Due to the steering changes the bike now handles far better than it ever did, with no tendency to flop towards full lock like it always had. The steering is lighter and more confidence-inspiring, so when all the other issues are sorted we know we can run quicker than our PB of 6.54.
Thanks to our tenacious team Mike Hand, Dave Woodard, Simon Campbell and Mick Bisson for sticking with it, and to all our sponsors listed below. There is still room on the fairing for a couple more if you would like to join them! Sponsoring us for a YEAR can cost as little as what you’d pay for a single ad in a magazine. Contact us if you’d like to be a part of our efforts.
AC Schnitzer UK – the premier aftermarket tuner for BMW & MINI
AS Transport – HIAB crane services. Need a lathe moved? These are your guys.
Mobihose – hydraulic hose and service
Leeks Landscapes – class sponsor
Suffolk Pool Company – design to completion
Owen Developments – suppliers of our turbos and wastegates for many years
Horsepower Factory UK – support with our electronics