Breezemount Motorsport: Pre Season Test Miles
March 4, 2013 by Stuart Parker
Testing is well underway now that the first buds of spring are showing on the verges of Ards peninsula on route to Kirkistown racing circuit. It’s not a case of just hitting the tarmac, we have a scheduled testing program laid out determined by our objectives for the year, which for us is a concentrated learning curve with the front wheel drive Seat Leon and of course shaving those tenths off a personal best lap time in our monopostos. Pre season testing is also the stage to try out and evaluate any modifications and chassis changes conjured up during the winter lull, of which our Seat has been the mule of these changes.
It was noted that when the Leon came into our ownership last June there were indeed quite a few racing hours logged in the engine history, something to watch as a tired engine can simply just let go and throw a leg out of bed. For those not familiar with that term, that’s a piston connecting rod exiting out the side of an engine block, terminal damage requiring a new engine complete to rectify. Therefore it was only fair to pull the engine out over the winter and send it on a pampering holiday, where new bearings, pistons and connecting rods were installed and lashings of fresh oil to reinvigorate the well seasoned block for a years racing with Philip at the helm. With engine back on its mounting blocks within the comfy confines under the front bonnet of the Leon, it is now time to try out those other aforementioned changes.
From the outset Philip noticed that front end grip varied hugely depending on how he threw weight on that axle. Not a situation you want to think about when you have your hands full, fighting for position in race conditions with other equally matched machinery. Obtaining consistent chassis balance has been the engineering priority here. Getting a solid understanding of what’s happening with the chassis will unlock tweaks that I can then implement to stabilise car and bring calm comments from the driver. Pre season testing has seen the team trying different chassis setup configurations with different tyre brands and gauging for ourselves what works and what doesn’t. It is a slow process with lap times not always indicative of actual pace but like I said before, an understanding of dynamic chassis balance has to be understood. With over 60% of static weight bearing on the front axle and remember it is also the driving and steered axle, this can be a somewhat overtaxing affair for the front tyres to handle. After a raft of setup permutations I do believe we have reached a setup which is a good compromise, well it may still need a tweak here and there but Phil says it feels good
and predictable. A real litmus paper test was the fact that 2013 BTCC eBay Motors driver Colin Turkington took a surprise outing in our Leon during last test. As Colin was down at Kirkistown tutoring his younger brother James, Phil and Colin got talking with Phil offering Colin a spin, just as a friendly gesture to check out Breezemount Equipment you understand. Was I worried about this 2009 BTCC champ finding holes in my setup?..hmmm maybe slightly but I had to fear not, Colin came back in after a bunch of laps sporting smiles and quipping ‘great front axle response, exactly how I like it’. Phew, that will do me fine. I of course pretended I knew Colin was going to say that but in all honesty, just glad that a current BTCC pro reinforces we are heading in the right direction with our efforts.
So we now move forward into the next stage of pre season testing with some back to back runs comparing brake pad coefficients of endurance pad brands in preparation for a Kirkistown endurance event touted later this year. We also need to get a move on with the Formula Master as of yet it has not turned a wheel. There certainly is some driver thought readjustment required when jumping from tin top to single seater mode. In all fairness Phil has learned to recalibrate himself when he switches from one to the other. Nevertheless the brain will initially be shocked to outright speed and some muscles that will have forgotten the torment they suffer when exposed to the Gs that winged cars induce.
So then, with all that said, lots of work awaits as there is more testing to be done, and remember you can follow our pre-season efforts on our Breezemount Motorsport Facebook page.
In the meantime, stay race car hungry!