Random rubbish from the motor sport world

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

AWABA Khanacross 26-03-2006

What the fuck is khanacross I hear you ask? Simple. It’s like what is called Rallycross in the USA, except it’s…. rather better. Since I saw ‘rallycross’ when I was in the USA last year, I have to say you guys have gotten shafted as it’s a bit of a joke really. Blame SCCA I might add, it’s not the competitor’s fault what you get served is a point and giggle. Now before you think I’m talking through my ass, I would download a video I’ve offered up. I think you will see why I have a dim view of SCCA rallycross.

Khanacross is on defined tracks, usually max speed of 80 kph allowed. No straight longer than 150 meters. One run on each test, which is then reversed. Penalties are 5 seconds for a marker, 10 seconds for failing to stop at finish garage, Wrong Direction is either slowest time +5 seconds or double fastest.

NSW has a state championship, which is generally about as hot a competition as you can get for Khana in Australia. The serious guys really ramp up car prep, it’s not unusal to see 300 hp Datsuns or specials flying about. Most of the drivers are retired rally or current having some fun and practice. Like the retired former State rally champions who have a habit of showing up.

A Special is an open wheeler built to basically give the finger to the rule book. You have manatory safety, you have mandatory minimum wheelbase size (2 meters long by I think 1.3 wide), must be 2wd. Other than that, you can go stupid. So, imagine something smaller and lighter than an Atom with a rear mounted Holden 3.8 litre V6. Or a SR20DET. Or a superchaged 1.6 litre Suzuki.

So I think if you can grasp that, you know why I bang on about specials being a touch hard to beat. They also come with directional brake systems that increase manuverability.

The Datsuns are usually not far behind, fibreglass panels are allowed, extreme lightweighting etc. 200 hp plus 800 kg with good chuckability = gold.

It’s basically run what you bring, with classes strictly on wheelbase with just about anything allowed, with the exception competitors under 18 are grouped together, Specials grouped together and AWD grouped together.

I havent tried my hand at a State level Khanacross in years if memory serves me right so with the VR4 once again packed, fuel turned into the noxious mix that the car runs so well on, newly vented bonnet and far, far too fucking early in the morning for a Sunday, we’re off to see what can be done against some rather serious competition.

First thing I noted is how long it took for the VR4 to get to operating temps with the vented bonnet. 40 km on the freeway before it really got happy and still noticably down for the entire 180km trip. Power was a bit up, as well as fuel economy better. Still had 3/4 tank when I got to Awaba.

Second was the mud. We’ve had a lot of rain after the last motorkhana just last week, so the ground was a guggly, stick mess of sandy clay mud. Awaba is fucking awful in these conditions, slippery and traction pathetic. Even for a AWD. Sheesh, this was not looking good. And changing tyres in the slop is just what I always wanted to do.

By the time drivers breifing came about, 40 odd other competitors, 10 specials, big hp Dattos and Hondas, Toyota Sprinter (AE86 for the Doriftu fags) RX7, RX2, V8 Commodore, supercharged Subaru Brat and RX turbo had arrived. And one VR4 tucked away.

We do the convoy run to get a track sighter and as I suspected, it’s slippery and is going to cut up fast. And as luck would have it, the first run no one wanted to go first as a result, who wants to run in front of everyone on a shit surface?…ossrun1and2.wmv


Not once but twice.…nacrossrun3.wmv

And if I didnt talk my way out of it, it would have been run 3 too, still faced up 3rd car. Nearly went off twice, run two being sucked off the road by a mud pit in second gear and as you can hear occasionally, even the VR4 was scrabbling for traction. And also much to my dismay, competitors who I would usually beat worked their way late in the running order, so I was at one fucking serious disadvantage. So a lot miffed with my luck, went to a thankfully much grippier fourth test…nacrossrun4.wmv

And I think you’ll notice the rather obvious killer tree suicide attempt.

Right, so I’ driving like shit, the car feels awful, the road conditions for three tests treacherous, I’m pissed off, moaning about my lot in life. And the woes went on at lunch when the interim results had me 17th outright.

Fuck, I was upset.

Little did I know there was a results problem.

After lunch, tests much drier. Car feels better. Bit low on power I think, handling not what I like, woe is me again.…nacrossrun5.wmv

Nearly went off again.…nacrossrun6.wmv

And was pretty furious with myself as the rather loud murmurings in the cabin show.…ossrun7and8.wmv

Test 7 (3 in the reverse) usually shows up the VR4. Actually felt allright and was a bit happier. And I did get a chance to eyeball the results fromt he test and saw I was about 7th for that test. Okay, that wasnt so bad now, that’s usually the worst test. Test 8 finished the day and managed to grab a time only .5 sec behind the fastest special. Allright, not so bad then.

I do have to thank Goons for the fitness tips last year, I’ve been pretty heavily into swimming and biking, I’ve definatly one hell of a lot more able to cope with racing. Still, the VR4 is one heavy and hot thing to throw about, 3 litres of drink downed and still needed more.

Decided to wander up and check results. Got a real shock to find out they had ballz up the interim and hadnt been 17th. I was 5th and well and truly in amongst the specials, .2 in front of the fastest Datsun.

Final results. 3rd outright. 2.5 ahead of any sedan. 7 seconds behind 2nd.

Okay, I’ll stop whinging now. I dont think I was driving like an old man after all.

Actually was quite surprised in the end, I thought it was all going wrong and yet it was in fact going quite right. Yeah the early start in three tests did hurt but not by much, average of 1.5 seconds faster in reverse directions. Handling was iffy, but was that the car or the road conditions? I dont really have times to compare as the last daylight Khanacross I did was when the car was newer and I didnt really know how to drive it. I remeber doing pretty well then, but it was also no state level event. Also that event the car had no restrictor, thence more power. I dont run a gazillion psi boost in competition as the ECU doesnt like it. I got to work out a way to make it hold 14psi for an event – short spurts of 17 psi proves it’s got the power in fifth, but first/second the ECU tends to somehow restrict boost, except if I wire the controller the wrong way and stop the waste gate opening. Not going to do that for an event, I rather like my motor in one piece.

Car underbonnet temps definantly lower and I can tell air is passing through via dust marks behind the vents. I think tho I’ve got a fractured IC pipe, dragged against a ditch I think. That’s no biggie tho.

Right now the VR4 comes off the road for a month and being readied for the year’s first rally. With a 4th and now a 3rd under the belt this year already, it’s looking good. The car is faster and feels better.

Could I have won the event? If I drove perfectly, yes. I did make a lot of mistakes and I feel like it wasnt a partiularly good day at the office, but the results say otherwise. I got to get the car turning better around tight corners.

Or maybe I should shut the fuck up with the whining and get a clue. Big heavy cars shouldnt beat specials, even with AWD turbo. Even if the VR4 is quick, still has to be driven fucking hard. I should be happy that my performances last year and this year have been so good.

Funny how my car speed’s picked up since the ex left. There’s a message there, right?

posted by admin at 5:45 pm  

Saturday, March 18, 2006

VR4 meets dirt once again

Finally got the car running after the crank pulley fuck up. But that wasnt the end of it – I had a few other things to fix and last night found a broken seat mount. Lads and ladies if you want to go rallying, remember how much punishment even a dedicated and built car takes!

In testing the VR$ this week, found it’s quite agile with the new suspension and 17psi is a tad TOO much boost. Backed it off to 12psi, got a boost leak somewhere but not really a problem now. And so finally the car is in fighting shape to race. And race it finally I did, 6 months after it went into the workshop for the Suspension of God. Just a pissy motorkhana but it was good to break the car in and also knock off a lot of rust.

Westlakes Auto Club grounds is my ‘home’ grounds, still 200 odd km from home but worth the drive. Packed the VR$, filled it with RON 98, added a bottle of racing octane boost (70 points) for that fine noxious but sweet racing fuel scent. I might just divert and say some octane booster DO work. Just be prepared to pay 20 dollars for a bottle – been using Nulon Pro for a while and makes hte VR4 quite happy. 105RON means the ECU has no reluctance to let the boost go up and I can run a touch more advance.

The big decision was rally tyres or road tyres? Road tyres work at Awaba and the VR4 has had some handbrake issues and understeer misbalance with rally tyres. And I have done well on road’s there before so the decision seemed obvious – no, not with a water cart wetting the surface down. Awaba is diabolical in the wet so the switch to rally tyres was made.

And I forgot Awaba drains fucking well so after a few runs it dries up. However firwst run it was mud, mud, o so slippery mud.

Well anyway, car one does it’s run, then the VR4 lines up. Now it does has a reputation for being worthwhile to watch, so there’s a few other drivers having a chat, one eye on the course as I line up. A bit of a course check, a bit of a rev to settle myself down then decide to try a full blown rally start. Build the boost up, let it sit at 4500 rpm… boost lights on…. just let the clutch begin to engage….

Drop the clutch and nail the bastard for all it’s got.


I wasnt expecting that. My head slammed into the headrest as the car fires down the course – The new suspension has far better traction ability and the button clutch just dumped all that torque straight down. First flag, turn in, hard on the handbrake… and the fucking thing even turned! Lost time oversteering and eventually being a clown and showing off, but bloody hell, this wasnt anywhere near the same car from last year.

The other drivers are staring at the obsene traction display on mud. I look back and the entire course has four well defined wheeltracks now cut into it. Oh yeeeeessssss. Joygasm time.

The event has six tests, two runs at each. I’m bloody rusty for the first three tests, end up 4th outright at the break, 5 seconds off the pace of first outright, 4 off 3rd, all three those specials Awaba tends to have – basically purpose built for the grounds and pretty much unbeatable due to their power to weight and tiny size. I’m first sedan, with three other sedans damn close, one by about .02 seconds. Pretty good for a barge like the VR4 or in fact any AWD, they tend not to do well with the smaller tests of a motorkhana. Class D is for big cars and usually they get hammered by the smaller ones and specials – last year I managed to win outright with a Class D (VR4) which was unheard of and upset a few of the small car drivers. Still, did note most tests I’ve lowered into personal best times so that’s gotta be worth something. Test three I’ve lowered it by 5 seconds, but to be honest the VR4 never has done well on that particular set of loops. But it was doing okay today. Making a lot of mistakes trying to adapt to the car, going too wide and missing where I should turn mainly. But the handbrake is making the car turn really well, things feel right and I can make use of the front end grip

Fuck I hate being 4th outright tho. Happens too often for my liking, even if it’s doing pretty damn well, the best the VR4 has done is I think is 8th at an Awaba motorkhana. Make a few adjustments to my mental state (ie get mad), line up for test four and proceed to do my best time I’ve ever done around the particular layout. Test five I also know my best time and I lower it by 1.5 seconds, second fastest on test. Test six…. nailed it. Fastest by a second.

Fourth outright end of the day, the guys breathign down my neck ended up in the dust by at least 4.5 seconds to fifth, sixth 7 seconds behind. Nearly snatched 3rd, missed by .01 seconds. 1st outright got away by a bit, but not much.

Okay, I hate being fourth. But running down the specials and running away from cars that I couldnt beat last year…. I should be pleased. Very pleased. The VR4’s offseason work has made it faster and I can measure the difference. Now back to the garage to make a few more changes in the next few weeks – there’s a group of specials I’m detirmined to beat. Having a barge beat them will certainly be an upset and one I reckon now I can do.

But first there’s a rally to do.

posted by admin at 9:26 pm  

Monday, March 13, 2006

Don’t Try: Homestead 12 March 2006, RallyCross

Well, another month, another Sunday Rallycross at Homestead where I destroy my best official time in the fun run by 6+ seconds. I need to always remember that if I try I will overdrive, and that my subconcious and body are familiar enough with my car that they will do a much better job of driving than my concious mind ever will. My concious mind’s job now is simply cone locator and route determination.

I know I promised in car for this event, but my ghetto camera mount broke and the footage it captured before it did looked like utter shit. The camera my friend let me borrow is worthless for quick motion, and I simply don’t have the funds for a decent one.

Anyway, the weather was pretty nice, topping out around 83 (28C) on the reflective white mix of ooglite and sand. I showed up around 815 and got to work changing my tires. I purchased some SPF 50 on the way down so I was protected from our favorite ball of gas, so no sunburn this time, hooray. But something was wrong. I felt weird, like my brain needed to take a giant shit or something. My head was full of fluff and my body was doped on a mix of tired and light adrenaline, which for me is the absolute worst state to get anything done. I plied my trade with the competency of someone who’s never raced before but thinks they know what they are doing for the first two runs. The times are frankly embarrassing and the only thing that makes me feel better is many of the other regulars felt that the course was a lot slower than it looked and was extrodinarily easy to overdrive.

Lunch rolled around. Lunch turns me into a thing that lets me pretend to be competent and human, and my post-Lunch times were flat out superior and not actually embarrassing. With a full belly and a light need to piss, I let go some. The very curvey course became fluid and more natural. Except for a missed shift on the last run, I was pretty satisfied with the whole thing until I again nuked my time on the fun run.

So yeah, don’t try.

posted by admin at 1:23 pm  

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