RE: PH Competes: EnduroKa - 5hrs of Donington

RE: PH Competes: EnduroKa - 5hrs of Donington

Monday 8th April

PH Competes: EnduroKa - 5hrs of Donington

Round one of the 2019 season went down on the weekend. And guess what...



The opening round of the first ever EnduroKA season saw 24 cars assemble on the starting grid. How good is that? They all looked the part, too. And each put down a competitive qualifying time - meaning that what followed was less a steady-paced endurance race and more a five-hour sprint. Thankfully - and beyond all expectation - Racing Pete did a sterling job, putting car number 98 on the front row of the grid, just 0.109 behind the pacesetter, I P Racing.

Those who’ve followed our car’s progress up to this point will know it’s been a nerve-racking and rushed journey, with our 23,000-mile-old KA having only completed its first test at Brands Hatch last week - but there’s no more time for excuses now. And don’t we know it, because the collective nerves of Pete, Ben, Olly and myself far exceed the ‘bit of fun’ we’ve all signed up for. The whine of 1,680hp-worth of 1.3-litre engines screaming towards the start-finish straight will do that to you.


Granted, even stripped out and weighing less than 900kg, KAs are not fast, so when the field whizzes towards Redgate for the first time, most are barely surpassing outside lane motorway speed. But squeezing two dozen of them through the narrow section and then down the Craner Curves makes for some extremely exciting racing, which, to commend the drivers in the field, includes little more than a few scuffs and bumps – all well within the realms of fair and close competition. EnduroKA is go!

Pete’s start is good and he sticks with the main leading group, trading places and moving from second to fifth and back a few times, with the advantage always falling to the car behind that’s tucked into a KA-shaped hole in the air. It’s so close that drivers are forced to plan their moves well ahead or to make reflex decisions in order to capitalise on minuscule mistakes from the driver ahead. Proper, old school racing then – and about as far as possible from a DRS manoeuvre as you can get.


Pete’s stint is a hard-fought one, and includes an unwarranted trip through the pitlane thanks to a misread penalty board for a rival – an easy mistake to make in the heat of a battle and thankfully one that had no effect on our end result. He hands over to Ben just under an hour later as we make an early driver change to take advantage of a safety car (Ross Brawn eat your heart out) and the call is a very good one. Ben’s consistent pace allows us to creep up the order again. Rivals have minor issues – a car overheats and another has a failed alternator – but our low-mileage KA apparently has all the advantages of youth, so we gradually move up into first position as cars duck into the pits and Ben leads the way until the end of his stint. Much to our surprise, everything is going very well.

Well, aside from the front left tyre. When Olly jumps in, with the clock now past the two-hour mark, there are already signs that the near side Toyo is suffering on such a demanding clockwise circuit. All the fastest corners are right handers, after all. A rush to swap the same boot on a rival’s car suggest that all four tyres are not going to make the end of the race either – not without some heavy management, anyway. But with no data from previous races to go on, no communication possible from Olly (we’re thinking of getting a radio like some of our rivals for the next round) and no ability of seeing the health of the tyre further into the stint, we've no way of knowing whether our tyre is similarly close to its end. We prepare one that lived on the right rear of the car at the Brands Hatch test day (so it spent much of that day airborne!) for the next stop, just in case.

It’s needed. The front left is looking very worn and our stop is a longer one because of the resulting tyre change. But Ben does an excellent impression of Guido from Cars, so before I can even fully tighten the harnesses, the KA’s back on all fours and the engine’s spinning back into life. No excuses now. This is the final leg.


Once the new boot’s up to temp about five bends into the lap, the car’s inherent agility is immediately clear. How the heck can a humble KA that’s been thrashed for nearly four hours still feel so good? The engine’s definitely loosened up since yesterday – staying above 4,000rpm for an afternoon probably helped with that – and despite the tyres bearing little resemblance to each other, the KA responds eagerly to a dab of the brakes and flick of the wheel. It rotates beautifully on its centre, like a proper performance hatch, and then hunkers down as you stamp on the not-very-loud-at-all 70hp pedal.

Our decision to put far more air in the rears than fronts pays dividends through the Old Hairpin, McLeans and Coppice, the three fast right handers that make Donington so epic. Lobbing the car at the apex of each with a trailed brake or closed throttle gets the car rotated immediately, meaning you can chase the accelerator before the nose has four-wheel drifted passed the corner’s middle. Even to a former go-karter the result is go-kartish. Familiarity, and the sheer consistency of the KA, means I can drive at my limit for over an hour. Which means - tingles - we’re hunting down the third tier of the podium with only minutes left to run. 


There’s no way I’d have known this, of course, were it not for our team manager, experienced racer and PHer, Dan. Thanks to his smart strategy and continuous use of the PH pit board to keep the driver of car 98 up to speed, we get the job done right at the death – pipping I P Racing on the final lap of 174. Against all expectations we got to taste something like champagne, and that’s all that matters. What. A. Buzz.

Almost as importantly, our KA left the Midlands unscathed, too (barring the scuffs which simply prove it is now a proper race car). And when I say ‘left’ I mean ‘drove away from’ because it departed Donington under its own steam, our trailer-based solution having fallen at the first hurdle. Quite an indignity for a podium-finisher - made worse by the closure of the Dartford bridge, which meant that five hours of service on the track was closely followed by a four-hour commute back to Kent. Room for improvement, then, ahead of 12 Hours of Norfolk on June 15/16th. But we’re up and running. And over the bloody moon.


Previous reports:

PH Competes: EnduroKA

PH Competes: Enduro KA media day

PH Competes: Buying the EnduroKA

PH Competes: The EnduroKA build

PH Competes: EnduroKA track test















Author
Discussion

Sandpit Steve

Original Poster:

136 posts

14 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
What an awesome job guys, I'm sure that the Champagne-ish taste more than made up for the days of effort required to get the car to the start of the race. Well done, and good luck for the rest of the season!
bouncebouncebounce

BenLowden

1,497 posts

117 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
I also want to extend our thanks to Geeks for giving up two days of his time to come along and be our team manager. Dan's experience and enthusiasm was invaluable and helped us to secure our place on the podium. Thanks Dan from all of us! thumbup

Water Fairy

2,804 posts

95 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Snetts is just down the road from me. Might have to pop over in June and say hi. Well done.

Debaser

3,368 posts

201 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Looks brilliant fun, and a great result. Well done!

Lotusgav

22 posts

99 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Hey fabulous stuff well done!! I'm a bit jealous and I never thought I'd say that about a Ford Ka!
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morgs_

1,431 posts

127 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Congratulations guys, really enjoying this series. Loving the livery as well, the runny paint smiley looks awesome.

Geeks proving that (PH)Santa is for life and not just for Christmas too wink

geeks

4,260 posts

79 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
BenLowden said:
I also want to extend our thanks to Geeks for giving up two days of his time to come along and be our team manager. Dan's experience and enthusiasm was invaluable and helped us to secure our place on the podium. Thanks Dan from all of us! thumbup
My absolute pleasure guys, well done again from me. You all did the hard bit I just made sure you did it all in the right order hehe

Onward to Norfolk, we need to defend that podium and also keep Pete's finishing record up or he'll not let us live it down!

geeks

4,260 posts

79 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
morgs_ said:
Congratulations guys, really enjoying this series. Loving the livery as well, the runny paint smiley looks awesome.

Geeks proving that (PH)Santa is for life and not just for Christmas too wink
The fame is going to my head hehe

Maldini35

1,973 posts

128 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Well done fellas!

A podium in your first race... now you’re hooked for life.

Kawasicki

5,942 posts

175 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Well done guys. Good report too! Top level motorsport, imho.


2172cc

441 posts

37 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
What an eventful weekend but a really enjoyable one for us. We went from dispare to elation and every sort of emotion in between. What a lot of people don't know was the winning Burton Power car was being extracted from a hedge in the middle of nowhere on the night before the race when the trailer became unhitched (don't ask!) thankfully with only very minor damage and our second car had a steel wheel completely fail sending us into the gravel at Redgate. We did manage to get back in the race after being recovered and fitting a new wheel but we were well out of it by then. Big well done to all that took part.


Munter

28,510 posts

181 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
2172cc said:
our second car had a steel wheel completely fail sending us into the gravel at Redgate.

Did it take any damage before hand? Seems pretty unusual for a steel. I think of lightweight alloys failing not mass produced steels...

2172cc

441 posts

37 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Munter said:
2172cc said:
our second car had a steel wheel completely fail sending us into the gravel at Redgate.

Did it take any damage before hand? Seems pretty unusual for a steel. I think of lightweight alloys failing not mass produced steels...
Nope, it had only done 4 or 5 laps after it was changed on the last pitstop. The driver afterwards reported that the car felt odd when that wheel went on. It was fitted to the nearside front which was taking the most punishment . When the scrutineer examined the car after it was recovered, he found the center of the wheel still attached to the hub with the four bolts done up to the correct torque

I Love Cake

2,350 posts

111 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Great stuff. I saw you in the sane traffic jam approaching the Dartford crossing on Saturday evening.

Krikkit

14,778 posts

121 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
2172cc said:
Munter said:
2172cc said:
our second car had a steel wheel completely fail sending us into the gravel at Redgate.

Did it take any damage before hand? Seems pretty unusual for a steel. I think of lightweight alloys failing not mass produced steels...
Nope, it had only done 4 or 5 laps after it was changed on the last pitstop. The driver afterwards reported that the car felt odd when that wheel went on. It was fitted to the nearside front which was taking the most punishment . When the scrutineer examined the car after it was recovered, he found the center of the wheel still attached to the hub with the four bolts done up to the correct torque
Frigging hell that's scary. Luckily it gave up on a racetrack instead of in the hands of a 17 year old down a backroad somewhere!

BenLowden

1,497 posts

117 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
2172cc said:
Yikes! That must have been a scary moment and a real shame for your team. Worst thing that happened to us was our one and only key snapped on the final pit stop, which we definitely weren't prepared for. Although that probably won't make you feel any better... Fingers crossed Snetterton goes a bit more smoothly for you.

morgs_ said:
Geeks proving that (PH)Santa is for life and not just for Christmas too wink
hehe

ribiero

355 posts

106 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
2172cc said:
What an eventful weekend but a really enjoyable one for us. We went from dispare to elation and every sort of emotion in between. What a lot of people don't know was the winning Burton Power car was being extracted from a hedge in the middle of nowhere on the night before the race when the trailer became unhitched (don't ask!) thankfully with only very minor damage and our second car had a steel wheel completely fail sending us into the gravel at Redgate. We did manage to get back in the race after being recovered and fitting a new wheel but we were well out of it by then. Big well done to all that took part.

Steelies in C1's fail every so often too. Was there any contact or kerb hopping?

2172cc

441 posts

37 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
ribiero said:
Steelies in C1's fail every so often too. Was there any contact or kerb hopping?
No contact and fairly sure no kerb hopping as that wheel only did a few laps. But then not everyone had issues although we did get a wheel develop cracks in testing as did a few others. We did C1's also last year and had a few buckled steel rims. They sure are quite soft but then again their not designed for racing. Hope the organisers take note and allow alloys to be used.

splitpin

2,733 posts

138 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
Water Fairy said:
Snetts is just down the road from me. Might have to pop over in June and say hi. Well done.
I'm a serial offender for watching the racing (cars and bikes) at nearby Snett, but no way do I want spend money to watch 12 hours of Kas crawling around such a high speed and technically complex circuit. Think I'll go to the dentist and have some root canal treatment instead.

(But well done anyway Team PistonHeads clap)

Mr Tidy

7,945 posts

67 months

Monday 8th April
quotequote all
That's quite an achievement! thumbup

Good luck for the next round!