|Posted by Nathan Ward on July 20, 2010 at 8:38 AM||comments (0)|
With qualifying at 9:15 and the race being at 18:00, this was the longest day I have ever had at Castle Combe. Qualifying was an eventful session as all drivers desperately tried to make themselves a gap to set a hot lap. On lap 6 a car had an incident at Tower corner and was stranded on the exit kerb. Yellow flags came out and although the session continued, very few drivers managed to improve their fastest lap while trying to negotiate the stricken car. My best time, 1:12.7 was good enough for 10th place on the grid.
After what felt like an eternity (8.5 hours) we were called to the formation area and then released onto the grid. After a quick warm up lap we were ready for a race start. The meeting was being run by the British Automobile Racing Club and this meant a slightly different format at the start. Instead of our usual light sequence, where 5 lights illuminate sequentially and then extinguish, we were using the BARC method of 5 on/5 off. This meant that some of the drivers started to accelerate when the 5 lights came on and the rest when the lights went out. Unfortunately, I had misjudged the biting point and my start was not as good as it should have been. I managed to make up some ground and was able to get to the first corner in 9th.
After a very intense series of opening laps, the pack settled down and I was running in the lead pack. First and second place had pulled ahead and were starting to break away until contact between them meant that both were unable to finish. I was running in 8th but within sight of 3rd. I managed to work my way up to 5th within 5 tenths of 3rd place when a back marker decided to make a nuisance of himself with only 1 lap to go. This put me back to 6th place where I finished. At the line 3rd to 7th positions were separated by only 0.86 seconds.
This was the closest but also most enjoyable race of the year so far. I am very glad that the car now looks and feels as good as it did before the accident.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on June 21, 2010 at 10:53 AM||comments (0)|
For the second year running the Summer Racing Carnival round at Castle Combe has proven to be a weekend of both extremes. Last year a DNF in race 1 was followed by a storming drive through the field up to 15th place. This year started with a very tricky qualifying session. The session on track before the Formula Fords had left almost half of the circuit covered in oil and this meant that the first 3 laps of the session were spent driving through plumes of concrete dust with almost zero visibility. Eventually I was able to put together a clean lap and qualified 10th overall and 7th in class with a time of 1.11.94 and eight of the drivers ahead of me were all within 9 tenths of a second of that time, meaning one of the closest grids in many races.
The race was extremely eventful and I was involved in a race long battle for 7th position. After changing position 2-3 times per lap it was extremely close racing! Unfortunately, an accident at Camp corner meant that the race had to be red flagged and ended after only 8 racing laps. In this situation the race results are declared as the finishing order of the previous lap which meant that I had finished 7th overall and 2nd in class by only 9 hundredths of a second.
Starting 7th for the Sunday race put me in a great position to have another fantastic race, unfortunately an accident at the first corner meant that I was unable to compete in the race.
I had a great start and was challenging for 5th over the rise and as I was turning in to Quarry corner I was hit on the right rear corner and another car launched right up and over mine, coming down across my cockpit as it landed.
The race was quickly red flagged and I was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the medical centre. After an assessment I was transferred to the Royal United Hospital in Bath and after a couple of hours in A&E I had my humerus Xrayed. Thankfully there were no breaks and no evidence of any hairline fractures. The diagnosis was that I had suffered deep tissue/muscle damage, which sounds a lot more serious than it actually is. With a week or so of rehabilitation exercises I should regain full range of movement and strength. The next round of the championship is not for another 3 weeks meaning I will be ready to carry on with the championship and I am looking forward to some more close racing.
It is less than 48 hours after the car was recovered from Quarry corner and it is already back on its own wheels; with both wishbones, the push rod and steering arm all back together. A new roll bar has been manufactured and the bodywork moulds are being prepared. I cannot express how grateful I am to Gary Cann of Swift Cooper who has worked so hard over the past 18 months ensuring that I am in a competitive and reliable car as well as being easily the best looking car in the paddock.
I would also like to say a big thank you to all marshals, recovery crews and medical staff for their rapid response and kindness throughout the aftermath of the collision.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on June 17, 2010 at 8:50 PM||comments (0)|
This was a very successful test day with even more improvements in lap time as I was able to consistently put in lap times around the mid 11’s. This sort of lap time would put me in the top 6 of the grid come race day, so I am really looking forward to a successful race weekend.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on June 3, 2010 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Nathan Ward on June 1, 2010 at 10:13 AM||comments (0)|
After having two test days in a row where I had improved on my personal best, the pressure was really on to translate this into a solid race performance.
The qualifying session was one of the most interesting that I have taken part in because in the previous session a car had dropped oil on the fastest corner of the circuit. This meant the affected area was covered with a layer of concrete dust, designed to absorb the oil.
Being only the 4th car on the circuit, I found myself in a 'smokescreen' unable to see my steering wheel let alone the car in front. Even though there were 37 cars in the session, it still took 2-3 laps for the circuit to become truly drivable. Unfortunately, by the time the track was clear enough to set a decent lap time, my engine was not running properly due to a couple of bent valves. This meant that both my acceleration and top speed were compromised.
To my surprise I was still able to secure 8th place on the grid (3rd in class).
Huge thanks must go to Gary Cann of Swift Cooper, who then spent the next 3 hours stripping and rebuilding the head of the engine, which removed the effect of the bent valves and meant I was able to start the race knowing that I would have a little extra pace in hand for the 12 lap sprint to the flag.
I was very aware that it was my best qualifying ever as soon as I lined up on the grid. The lights that I previously had to squint to see were larger than ever. After a unusually slow rolling up lap, the grid was ready for the start. The lights seemed to take an age to extinguish, but when they did I was ready for them and made a fantastic start. I leapt past two drivers off the start and was running beside another before deciding to tuck behind and defend into the first corner.
I was running in 6th place until an incident ahead of me took out two drivers and the safety car was deployed. This allowed time for the pack to regroup and 2 laps later when the incident was cleared, we were racing again. I soon found myself in a race long battle, with positions changing at least twice per lap. The moves were hard but ultimately fair which meant that we were not losing time and I managed to hold the position to the flag and finish just 2 seconds behind the battle for the lead.
Fourth place overall and second in class was not only the best result to date, but also promoted me to second place in the Class B Championship and fourth in the Overall Championship.
This race has to go down as my favourite so far due to the finishing position and close racing throughout, with an extra bonus of yet another personal best lap time just to make it perfect.
Roll on next month!
|Posted by Nathan Ward on May 28, 2010 at 9:23 AM||comments (0)|
With the second May race rapidly approaching I took advantage of the good weather and went to the afternoon session of the pre race test day at Castle Combe. After a series of punctures during my first few sessions I was a little disheartened but glad that we found the problem on a practice day and not during the race. Lap times reduced very quickly until I was improving on my old personal best almost every lap. By the end of the day I had reduced my P.B. to a 1:11.93, which if I can replicate in a qualifying/race situation would definitely put me in the top few rows on the grid.
For the first time ever, I am hoping for a dry race on Monday, because I feel I now have the pace to do as well as I am able.
Remember to come back after Monday to see the full race report.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on May 3, 2010 at 10:18 PM||comments (0)|
The second race of the 2010 season saw a later start for the Castle Combe Formula Ford?s. With qualifying in the mid morning and no race until 15:30 it made a nice change to not have to be at the track in the early hours. The qualifying session was a difficult one due to a busy track with backmarkers at every corner and I was also struggling to find rear end grip. I ended up qualifying in 19th overall and 6th in class. Clearly there was some work to be done in the race.
The long break between sessions allowed time for the car to be fully checked and no problems were found with any of the suspension geometry or brake distribution.
As I lined up on the grid, it felt like a long way from the start line although I was really in the middle of the pack. After an eventful green flag lap, where the field had to navigate its way around the stricken pole man, I was aiming for a good start which would allow places to be regained into the first corner.
After a monster of a start, I found myself leapfrogging two rows of cars by the time I reached the first corner, and tucked myself to the inside of the track in order to defend my position. Unfortunately I hit a patch of still damp tarmac which sent me round the first corner sideways although I was able to hold position and only lost three tenths of a second in the process.
The rest of the race was spent battling with two A class drivers as we picked our way through the field until the flag came out and I had finished 10th overall and 3rd in class. After a fantastic race it was a real bonus to have won a class trophy and I am now running joint 8th in the overall championship and 3rd in class.
Many thanks to all my supporters in attendance and I hope to continue the success at the next event in 3 weeks time.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on April 5, 2010 at 7:54 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Nathan Ward on April 1, 2010 at 10:29 PM||comments (0)|
The pre race test day saw a lot more Formula Fords returning to Combe. In fact there were too many to fit in one track session, so whoever made it down to the grid first would be allowed out and the remainder had to wait for all the other sessions before getting on track.
It looked like being wet later in afternoon so I was eager to get out for a session or two of dry driving. After two sessions dedicated to getting the car ready for race day, I was fully up to speed. The wind speed at the circuit was the main problem of the day, as unexpected gusts could suddenly upset the car and once, whilst in a crosswind, I was pushed from one side of the track to the other. It also made cornering difficult at some of the more sweeping corners as the car turned into or out of the wind.
The rain never came in as expected although the last session saw a burst of rainfall just before we were released onto the track. It is still an exciting concept that half of the track can be soaking wet whilst the other side is bone dry. Finding the limit as the rain cloud moves over the circuit meant that no two laps were ever the same!
It was a very productive day and I am now thoroughly looking forward to the first race on Monday.
Happy Easter to you all.
|Posted by Nathan Ward on March 25, 2010 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
It may seem like an eternity since my last post, mainly because it has been 5 months since I was last out in the car. Since then there have been a few changes to the car: I now have a freshly rebuilt engine which has been fine tuned by the Formula Ford specialist Neil Bold. I have also fitted a Race Technology data logging system and have spent a great deal of time learning about the interpretation of numerous graphs and tables which are generated.
Today saw my first test day of the year and with a dry morning/wet afternoon, it was the perfect situation for taking my car out and dusting off the cobwebs.
The first session was used to give the engine a final run in and the whole car had a bit of a shakedown, moving under its own power for the first time since the Walter Hayes Trophy last year.
The second session saw the fresh engine prove itself immediately, as I was instantly down into the 1:12?s and up to the same pace that I had only achieved in the latter stages of last season.
I then proceeded to start testing with different suspension settings and tyre pressures, gathering lots of useful information before the rain came in.
The rain stayed for the rest of the afternoon as I once again began serious testing. A new wet setup was found which will no doubt prove useful during the rest of the year as I was able to run on the pace for the entire afternoon session.
The end of the sessions soon came and I was extremely happy with the day?s performance. Now begins the long task of downloading and understanding all of the data collected, and then using it to give myself the edge on the competition during the championship.