And so, it was time to test the car again! We were off to Castle Combe circuit this time with the intention of validating the chassis changes we had made along with some final driver style prep in time for the Donington race. We had a very eventful night the day before and we barely had a full night’s sleep between us, so the 5.30 start was a tough one!
This time, instead of struggling towing with a golf diesel, we had the assistance of Dave’s dad (Reg) towing us along with a nice old Range Rover. The trip down was hence a nice steady one and we arrived in perfect time to check in and attend the safety briefing.
Our first activity for the day was to just get a few runs in and become accustom to the car. This seemed to take longer than we would’ve hoped. This was our first trackday with Apex trackdays having previously gone with Javelin. As we found out later on, apparently a third party agent had overbooked the day a little and this was noticed as many would queue for around 5 minutes or more each time they wished to go out! We weren’t too impressed by this all in all honesty and the whole operation didn’t seem as slick as Javelin. We all got a little bit of time in the car and were all positive about the changes. The car felt more positive at the front end and we were looking forward to getting some good practice in. Here’s a video of Dave doing a lap of 1:26.0
Having had our first runs in the car, it was obvious that the brake pads needed to be changed over the lunch period. The pedal was now getting too low to heel toe and on closer inspection the inner were very close to the minimum. Lunchtime came and we began the task:
The lunch break was soon drawing to a conclusion so we rushed to get the car in the queue. Ryan was first out in the car after lunch and for the first time, Reg came out with him as a passenger. Reg has been the only sponsor of any description so far, so we were keen to see him share in the fun with us. After another 5 or so minute wait, Ryan was out on track. Barely half way round and they noticed some smoke coming out of the corner of the bonnet. Ryan pulled the car over pretty quickly and got it out of the way at the second chicane.
The smoke didn’t seem to get any worse and we made the assumption that something engine related had let go. When the course ambulance with its tow rope came to collect us, Ryan asked if we should lift the bonnet and they didn’t think it was necessary and it remained closed. The car was calmly towed back in without any more incident…..
Once it returned, we lifted the bonnet to find that the brake fluid reservoir was ablaze!!! Ryan quickly grabbed an extinguisher from the ambulance and the fire was soon out, not without a fair mess of foam spreading around the engine bay though! We had made a cardinal mistake and had not tightened the brake fluid reservoir back up after changing the pads. The fluid had been exposed to the hot exhaust, caught alight, but because Ryan had stopped the car, it had not spread around and it was just the reservoir that contained the fire.
As you can see from the picture, we got away kind of lightly really. The damage has been contained to the reservoir, so we will just replace that and the problem should be sorted, no need to panic. Despite this ridiculous occurrence, we were still upbeat; we even managed to sell our track pass for the afternoon to another gentleman who gave us £70. This should easily cover the cost of the new reservoir and pipes. The car felt positive in the reasonably limited running we had in it and we are now really looking forward to the Donington race where Rob and Ryan will be in the driving seat!