2018 Citroen C1 Club Race Series Entered

Watching with interest the Car Crazed Fool‘s coverage of the 2017 Spa Francorchamps C1 race in October, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat jealous in that ‘Can I have a go?’ frame of mind. That, coupled with Mat’s admission that he fancied a go too, a couple of bottles of Pomerol later, we had found a donor car.

We Called Her #MissFire

A cracking and meticulously polished, low milage 2009 C1 was found on AutoTrader, albeit a little over priced. The beauty was that although we would need to rip out the interior to fit the roll cage and race prepare over the winter, it had one previous and careful owner, less than 14,000 miles and full service history. With comments researched finding cars raced with 100,000 miles and a good buy being 40,0p0 miles, ours become a knee jerk purchase. Floyd was in Manchester that weekend and was able to test drive the car. With bank payment made, the car was delivered the following Saturday morning.

On the Monday I insured the car and obtained the necessary road fund license too. It is a prerequisite of the C1 race series that cars should be road legal with MOT. The scene was set to take the car out for the first time and what was no better, than to collect my daughter from school on the school run. The drive was shit. I have never owned a front wheel car and the only such one driven in the past ten years would have been my son’s VW Polo. It lacked punch and sounded very ‘tinny’ with a lot of road noise. The radio speakers sounded like a 1980’s transistor radio and I simply did not like it. “What the fuck have you let yourself in for?” I procrastinated.

As She First Looked
That said and done, I was discussing with other drivers who raced this year in that it was a very fun series with close battle corners with team camaraderie. I had endurance raced a few rounds in 2012 within the FunCup series and now I part owned a car, so in essence man up! Discussions in parallel with Mat as to race team names and with previous Caterham race cars Christened #MissDaisy and #MissIle, our car would now be knows as #MissFire.

Abingdon Track Day

And with that in mind, I arranged a track day in Abingdon with Peter Young of SPY Motorsport who ran his #370 car this year. Peter was happy to lend us his car. I had driven #MissFire to the circuit and my feelings for the car’s handling had somewhat improved and it was giggles all round as #MissFire and I pulled alongside the SPY van. After the rather laborious drivers briefing and sighting laps, Mat and I were ready to take #370 out for the day.

Donning my old race suit and lid from my last race in 2014 at Rockingham, surprised that the suit did still fit, it was off for my first open pit lane stint. “Hold on” I thought, “this ain’t so bad after all. Car #370 was handling much better than #MissFire and our A34 trip. There was a lot of understeer compared to Caterham racing which caught me out a few times and hence braking distances were increased. One new place I had found myself was being passed, having to move off the racing line to let faster cars past. Quite surreal, but necessary etiquette as I got to learn more about the car. Returning to the pit lane, there was a cheeky smile to my face as Peter opened the car and asked ho it went. Now it was Mat’s turn.

Comparing driving styles with Mat on his return, it seemed that he was dropping gear into second on a number of corners that I was not. What was missing was the Vbox data logger. Illegal within C1 Series regulation for testing and racing, together one could argue as being a timing device that is also disallowed on track days, nonetheless it would have been welcome. However, Peter tended to agree with Mat stating that engine revs should ideally be in a higher range. So with this new data in mind, it was off for my second session.
Abingdon Track Day

Clambering into the car a second time, two things popped into my mind. Firstly we would need to practice driver changes to minimise times and secondly to effect a quicker driver change, a more flexible Aurigator would be created with a loss of a few inches around the midriff. For sure, that would also be a positive when it comes to race regulations as with Mat’s rather slimmer stature, we may need some additional lead. So that’s it, weight loss objectives set with immediate effect.

Alas and back to session two. Keeping engine revs in a higher range through some of the tighter corners was working. Heal ‘n’ toe techniques in gear changes was difficult as the pedal box was not suited to race boots, but dropping to second gear did make sense and unless it was my imagination, tended to reduce the understeer. Think of a dog with two broken hind legs on an ice skating rink for a moment, scampering around. This is how I was now comparing this second session. Into the second half, at the corner apex together with a huge lift off the power before hitting the gas hard, mandated the cars’s arse swung around, aligning the nose for the exit. “Ooh!” I thought. “Lift off oversteer”, which made these tighter corners a dream compared to session one and a few laps later, back to the pit lane and debrief with Mat and Peter.

Mat had obviously been fiddling with knobs as when I was strapped in ready for session three, the radio set to some obscure French station on the AM band. Chuckling with amusement, I did wonder if he was taking the piss? Turning up the volume, I was out for the third and final session. It was all coming together and confidence was growing. Granted car #370 didn’t have the horse power on the straights, but she was a ballerina through the corners. It was like the accordion on the radio, a concertina effect with the ‘Turbo Nutter Barges” as they pulled away on the straight, only to find little old #370 and I out braking and nimbly pirouetting through the corners. The car and I were in harmony, not perfect for sure, but my confidence had grown. A thoroughly brilliant end to the day, one’s ego bolstered by confrontation from one of the Barge Nutters back in the pits, stating that “Fuck, that car is quick!”

Off To Rockingham

Rockingham From Above
So that’s it. We are all set. Roll cage, suspension and ancillary components have been ordered. Membership applications have been agreed with the Citroen C1 Race Club with our race number of #332 secured. The #32 race number from my Caterham days with the mandatory 300 prefix. Mat and Peter will race prepare #MissFire over the winter and I’ll be back on the grid for the first race of the 2018 C1 season on the Rockingham ISSC circuit configuration on Saturday 12th May. Four years since my last race, which was in the Caterham TrackSport series and coincidentally on the ISSC circuit in 2014.