Very little change for the beginning of the season with just an engine refresh at Cougar.
The big development came about halfway through the season when we were asked to take part in an evaluation of Pirelli tyres ahead of a possible entry into UK Speed event. We were asked because both car and driver (Chris J) were quick and we did both Sprints and Hillclimbs. The tests were carried out at Blyton Park in a very structured and professional manner with Pirelli Motorsport UK and Triple M Motorsport who were to go on to become the UK distributor for the tyres.
We headed into the second half of the season with very high hopes as the only runner on new Pirelli ultra soft tyres but things immediately went wrong when a chain broke at Rockingham and caused damage that was to take us a few events to rectify. Despite this Chris managed an FTD at Loton Park.
At the end of the year we decided that, after two years running the TA, it made sense to do a professional set up and suspension analysis with Triple M and evaluate the changes with some proper testing at Blyton in November. However, after extensive set up changes the test lasted less than a lap before the engine blew up in a big way. The resulting fire destroyed much of the rear bodywork but thankfully left the tub unscathed.
The aftermath had two immediate consequences. The first was a rush job to clean up the car (many thanks to Angela Mugglestone for the hardest part) and repair and replace the bodywork as the car was due to appear on the Pirelli stand at Autosport International early in January. The second was the choice of replacement engine. With the encouragement of Steve Broughton of SBD we decided to go for the very new/next gen L8 Suzuki GSX R1000 engine. This was to occupy most of 2019.......
March: Castle Combe GWS for the first event of the year. A funny day. After a wet practice, I managed a 137.94s run but somehow got into my first Run Off as 13th fastest! We were bothered by smoke at the back which turned out to be grease leaking out of the loose drive shaft joints. After a 'so so' first run I improved to a 134.62s to finish 12th and take my first ever British Sprint point. Chris surprisingly only came second in class but finished 8th in the Run Off for a good start to the season.
May: To MIRA on the 5th and I managed an average 49.36s (4th out of 6) while Chris won the class and took FTD with a 44.34s
June: June 2/3 at Pembrey. Both days were run on the usual track and on Day 1 I was quite pleased with a 108.30s and second in a reasonable class to Chris who went on to finish 9th in the Run Off. Day 2 I managed a 108.01s for third in a class of seven with Chris again going on to take ninth in the Run Off.
June 23/24 Snetterton saw us on the Outer course for Day 1 with high hopes. I got down to an OK'ish 89.64s while Chris easily qualified for the Run Off in tenth and went on to finish in the same place. Sunday's event was held on the difficult Eastern track and I managed an 88.83s with Chris again qualifying for the Run Off in tenth and again finishing in the same place.
June 30 for my first ever trip to Aintree with the TA. A hot day, I was having trouble getting the car off the line and couldn't lower my times so levelled out at 49.39s and Chis won the class with a 42,82s.
On the 28th I took the Caterham to Combe for the Dick Mayo Sprint and came away with second in a biggish class (68.33s) to Mike Smith and ahead of Dave Rayner and Tony Shearman. The step down
to the Caterham felt really good and very happy to be so competetive.
August: Rockingham on the 19th for what turned out to be a miserable day. It was the last time most of us were going to compete at this tremendous venue. For this round of the British Sprint we were using the the rarely used
full infield circuit. It was our first event on Pirellis and Chris was flying in practice. I did a 65.51s on T1 and then it was Chris' turn. Approaching the last corner he was on for a top 3 qualifying time and the chain brok. He coasted
over the line to post a 55.46s which still qualified him for the Run Offs and won the Class from Derek Sweeney by over 2 seconds! Unfortunately there was quite a bit of damage so that was it for the event. Loton Park on the 25th/26th with the Force with a replacement sprocket and all hopefully repaired. Unfortunately the clutch slave cylinder had taken
damage at Rockingham and air was getting in meaning we had to keep bleeding the clurch between runs. I pulled out but Chris J was able to take an impressive FTD.
September: Blyton Park on 8/9 saw our clutch problems continue and I only managed one wet practice run. We managed to keep Chris J running (bleeding the clutch between runs)
for an eleventh in the Run Off on Day 1. On Day 2 I again only managed one practice but we got Chris J to a seventh in the Run Off.
Shelsley Walsh on the 15th and still searching for a sub 30s run. Despite the tyres, good weather and clutch problems a thing of the past (the clutch slave cylinder had been damaged in the chain break incident) I was stuck in the 31s with a best of 31.35s.Chris J was looking for anther FTD but he ran wide on T2 and ended
October: Anglesey on October 6/7 was to be the last event on the evaluation Pirellis. Saturday was on the National circuit. The weather was fine but I struggled after a spin on P1.A 55.44s on T2
was a PB but with the tyres should have been quicker. Chris J was going well, qualified for the Run Off and came sixth. Sunday on the International circuit went a bit better and
I managed to qualify for the Run Off. The first run was OK but on the second run, with warm tyres I found 3 seconds to come in eleventh just a couple
of tenths away from tenth place with a 86.53s PB. Chris J went one better with a fifth in the Run Off
I entered the Caterham in the Pegasus Sprint and the start was delayed by thick fog meaning we only got one practice. I went for it on T1 and spun at Quarry
which meant T2 was a bit tentative. An 83.52s was a PB and a new 1800cc Class record but just a couple of tenths away from a win. A could have been!