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Pre-Donington update

As you may have read in the last post, there was a catastrophic engine failure at Castle Combe. So, obviously, a fair amount of things needed to be put right in time for the Donington race. Rob had sourced an engine in the week straight after the Castle Combe race, but had then subsequently taken a leave of absence kayaking in Austria.

Before Rob left, he did make one significant change which was to get rid of the power steering assistance. We’d all had enough of the fiasco that is dropping the subframe and fiddling around with fluid and pipes. Ryan had a spare 1.2 Clio power steering rack so we thought we might as well have a go at de-powering it and see how it felt. We opened it up and removed the piston then put it all back together and sealed up the fluid holes. That all went easily enough so we did it with the one in the race car which seemed to go without a hitch as well. It was nice not having to put the pump, reservoir and pipes back on and we reckon we’ve saved circa 8 kg and some parasitic losses too!

The other main job was obviously to sort out the engine out ready to throw back in. Our first task was to re-arrange the FEAD now that the power steering pump had disappeared. After much research, we figured out how to do it; an upper alternator bracket from a Clio 172 Cup/Megane, lower tensioner bracket from a Renault 5, alternator from a Megane and a 5pk880 belt. The solution was flawless and we’ve significantly improved the package space in that area too.

Also, on a few previous occasions, we had experienced some troubles with re-starting the car when the engine was hot. We had attributed this to the starter motor getting too hot, mainly due to it’s position beneath the exhaust manifold! So, our wonderful landlord took his hand to constructing a solution. Adrian managed to replicate the previously used fibre based cover in aluminium and then an additional layer of heat shielding and hey presto, a very neat solution.

Whilst we had the chance, we got a friend to bench test the injectors so we could pick the best 4. We also took the opportunity to wrap the exhaust properly and even stick a few coats of paint on the intake manifold. The engine is now looking nice and fresh, let’s just hope it fires up okay and we don’t have any un-foreseen problems!

We’ve had a bit of experience changing these engines now and it showed, as it slipped back in with relative ease. A few hours later, after making sure everything was clipped in place and all tight, we fired it up. The engine sprung in to life pretty easily and all seemed okay initially, until we spotted quite a leak of oil! As soon as we’d killed the engine, we’d noticed that it was coming straight from one of the pipes that goes between the engine and the oil cooler. The oil cooler had been re-positioned in order to help air flow across the main radiator and must’ve been damaged the pipes in the process. The next day, Ryan managed to get a technician at work to make him up a new pipe and the following day the engine was running again, this time with no leaks what so ever.

After a good old nut & bolt check, we had a sneaky drive around the block to check out the steering and it felt good. Obviously a fair bit heavier than before but much of that went away above walking pace. Time would tell whether we’d manage it once loaded up at racing speed. The car was now ready, so just a case of packing up and heading off to Donington for the race!

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