Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Thrill of Victory & Cold Hard Reality of Maintenance

Our new Nitron parts were put to the test this past weekend at the Lotus Challenge Races. Michael proved that he could go fast with these parts on his Cup Exige - he won the Time Trial, beating even 2-11s. We had checked this car completely after our setup day the previous weekend. After three days of hard running the car suffered a mechanical failure. Though we did not support this car during these 3 days, we regret not having checked it. Race parts need attention. You must check them at frequent intervals to ensure they are in good operating condition.

Michael led 6 laps of the wheel to wheel race when the failure occurred. After the car was brought back to the pits and we all cursed our luck (and each other), we found that the lower wishbone had separated from the front upright. We discovered that the Titanium threaded pin backed out half of the way and then wobbled itself loose enough to tear out the remaining threads that held it into the upright. You can see how this occurred in these pictures. After reviewing these pictures with Guy@Nitron, he also agreed with our assessment.

The last picture shows the other upright and how it is also backing off. Steve took this picture as we were scrutinizing the failure. We had marked these joints with a paint line to allow for quick visual checks. Clearly the line had moved - if this had been caught, we could have tightened the joint and averted the failure that manifested itself in the race.

The car is now in the hands of R3 Motorsport who will be managing it for future races. We are bringing replacement parts up to them to get this steed back to it's winning ways. We will also conduct periodic review of this car to see how the parts are holding up.

As we all take street cars and run them hard on track, we will need to be more attentive to additional maintenance. The cars are being taxed beyond the scope they were designed to contend with. Race parts, by their very nature, need even more scrutiny. This cold, hard lesson teaches us all that we need to check each critical nut & bolt before any track event.

Colin Chapman apparently said that if his race cars broke as they crossed the finish line, he did a perfect job in designing them. Since we are only racing for bowling trophies, we surely don't need to take such risk! ;^)

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