Race Report – Silverstone10th May


Image copyright Ian Lockley, used with kind permission.

Karen and Richard were a little unsure of how Karen's car would perform compared to others in the CSCC Modern Classics series on the Silverstone National circuit. Silverstone is a bit of a power circuit made up of three straights(ish). It was expected that cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche 911s and Boxsters would romp away due to decent power and higher top speeds. More importantly, how would it compare to Richard Hayes' Celica GT4 which is rapid in a straight line?

Conditions were dry for qualifying and Karen was first out. It was clear to Richard from the pit wall that something was definitely wrong when Karen passed by on her second flying lap. The car didn't sound right and it was visibly slower than the previous lap. After a couple more laps Karen came into the pits. Richard checked under the bonnet and couldn't find anything amiss. After sending Karen back out for another few laps there was no improvement...

They swapped places and Richard drove out onto the circuit. It was immediately apparent that the car was totally flat and there was no reading on the boost gauge. Richard drove carefully around the circuit and straight back into the pit lane. There was no point continuing in this manner. Enough laps had been done to qualify for the race, but as expected the grid position was extremely low. They were 31st out of 32 runners. Virtually last!

Meanwhile the Celica GT4 had qualified in 18th position, this meant he was in a much better position to take class honours.

Image copyright Ian Lockley, used with kind permission.

Karen, Richard and Neville Anderson set about trying to resolve the lack of boost. If they didn't manage to fix it there was little point in Karen and Richard starting the race. Neville was the most successful driver in the series the previous year and it was fantastic to have his help and support. Between them they solved a boost solenoid issue, a loose boost hose and a loose vacuum hose from the turbo. With that done, the car was taken for a short test drive and it worked perfectly. The race was on!

Richard took the start and made steady progress through the field. Towards the end of his stint he could see the Celica GT4 a short distance ahead. The pit stop went well and Karen drove out onto the circuit full bore doing her very best to try and gain pace on the Celica. Unfortunately it was too high a mountain to climb and at the end of the race the pair finished in 20th position. A very creditable finish considering where they started but not enough to beat Richard Hayes who's Celica GT4 finished in 16th position, a mere 22 seconds ahead.

It was the following day when Karen and Richard discovered that Richard Hayes had been given a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement. It turns out he never undertook the penalty and was given two penalty points on his race license. Yet for some reason the race result had not been amended with any time or position penalty. Having spoken to club officials it was too late to change the result but plans are in place to prevent such things happening in future.

The AIM SOLO GPS successfully recorded all the race details and below are combined traces showing  Karen's and Richard's best laps. (Karen's in red, Richard's in green).

As can be seen, the traces are very close with only minor differences. It shows the maximum speed attained was 121mph. Plans are to being drawn up to try and improve this. It will very interesting to see if the traces are so close after the next race that Karen and Richard plan to compete in at Rockingham, which is a much more technical circuit.

Slippery When Wet!


Following the recent problems in wet weather qualifying it was decided that a new set of tyres were required to improve performance. After an amount of research and speaking to several drivers in the series, it was decided that a set of Yokohama AD08 tyres were required.

These look fantastic with a great sipe pattern to best cut through water. However, they're apparently very good in dry weather too which may help out when conditions are uncertain. These tyres would replace the Federal 595 tyres which weren't performing in the wet as hoped.

The wheels that they would be fitted on had received a few battle scars in the past and Richard took the opportunity to tidy them up and also make a change from the gold colour that neither he nor Karen were very keen on.

Another effort to improve performance came in the form of an AIM SOLO GPS lap timer. This piece of kit figures out which circuit is being driven and then derives sector and lap times accordingly. It can also provide predictive lap times and allows the time and speed data to be downloaded to a laptop for investigation and comparison purposes.

No doubt the purchase of expensive new wet weather tyres will ensure that Karen and Richard enjoy perfectly dry conditions for the rest of the racing season!

Race Report – Snetterton 11th April


The first race of the 2015 season saw Karen and Richard returning to Snetterton to race on the 300 circuit configuration. They practised on the day before the racing and things were going well. Hopes were high for a good result.

Race day dawned damp and drizzly. The decision was taken to qualify on the Federal FZ01 race tyres but as Karen waited to go out onto the circuit the heavens opened with a massive downpour. The tyres would be fairly useless in such an amount of water. The only option was to switch the car into full 4WD with the diffs locked 50/50.

Despite the poor performance of the tyres, the diffs kept the car (mostly) on the tarmac. Understeer was much greater but the car was predictable and when the power was applied it was shared out and didn't overwhelm the rear tyres to cause a spin. Ultimately, they qualified 28th out of 37 on the grid. Still not a sparkling performance, but nowhere near last. Their class competition was in the form of Richard Hayes' Toyota Celica GT4. He had a better qualifying session and began in 18th place.

The race had a rolling start and Richard took this. Within half a lap he'd passed several cars and had caught up with the Celica GT4. Thinking the race was going his way, Richard was stunned when the Celica simply romped off into the distance along the back straight. Slowly but surely he would track it down again, only to suffer with wayward handling each time he got close.

It transpired later that the Celica was dropping coolant onto the track, and began to overheat. It went in for its pit stop and never returned to the track. This meant that Karen simply had to finish the race to achieve a class win. That she certainly did with style, holding off the advances of Nick Sanderson in his rapid Sea Leon Turbo.

A great result for the team, but it looks there's stiff competition in Richard Hayes' Toyota Celica GT4 when it runs without trouble...

A rapid weight loss program!


It's been a long running plan to replace the doors with lighter GRP versions and all the window glass (Other than the windscreen) with lighter lexan. This task was entrusted to Russ Hennessey Motorsport Ltd. Russ made a fantastic job which required an awful lot of bespoke work.

It's certainly made a difference. Running on fumes the car now weighs 1109kg without a driver. Yet there are still more plans for further weight reduction...

Race Report – Snetterton 18th October


Qualifying at Snetterton was in the dry, but the circuit itself was still very wet and greasy. Karen and Richard felt it was a bit of a struggle but they still managed to qualify in 10th position and ahead of their class competition.

Karen drove the rolling start, but was immediately mugged by Carl Owen's Audi TT which meant class honours were now at stake. There was a safety car incident which helped keep in touch with the Audi. Meanwhile she was working hard to stay ahead of Rob Baker's very rapid Smart Four Four.

Once again Karen and Richard were operating alone, yet their pit-stop seemed fairly good. Richard didn't fail to notice that he'd come out just behind Carl's Audi and he tried rather too hard too soon. He tried to carry too much speed into the chicane after the Bentley Straight and ended up going off circuit. Not only did this lose him time against the Audi, but he had to yield to a Porsche 944 as he recovered. It didn't take him long to regain the position, but he then went too deep into the hairpin and had a major drift on the greasy surface off-line. This resulted in another visit to the grass and it looks like these disturbances helped loosen a front boost pipe. At the end of that lap the exhaust note changed and there was a major power loss resulting in retirement.

A very disappointing DNF which Richard felt responsible for...

Race Report – Oulton Park 20th September


Karen and Richard qualified 13th out of 19 runners. The race began with a standing start and Karen had the first stint. Conditions had been wet but the track was drying by race time. Karen really enjoyed her drive and the car seemed to be performing well.

The pair were operating alone and had to perform their pit-stop without any help. Despite this it was a good stop and they leap-frogged the MX5 that Karen had followed into the pits.

Richard also thoroughly enjoyed his drive, the track seeming to suit the characteristics of the Impreza very well. Towards the end of the race Richard was passed by a BMW 1 Series, but later on he re-took the place as the BMW began to have a problem.

Karen and Richard finished 11th overall and 1st in class.

Race Report – Donington Park 30th August


Another CSCC Mondern Classics race saw Karen and Richard driving at Donington Park. Despite concerns over the weather, conditions were dry. They knew that the circuit would favour some of the faster cars and this was borne out by them qualifying 15th out of 28 entrants.

The race began with a rolling start, which was a first for both drivers. Karen braved this challenge and at least it was incident free, although not the best of starts. Just before the pit-stop, there was an under-bonnet problem which certainly surprised Karen and also resulted in a loss of power.

Their pit-stop was helped by their friends Mike, Darren and Hayley. It was a great change over and Richard was soon out again, but he noticed the missing power and it made things a little more difficult for him.

Despite this, Karen and Richard finished 13th overall and 1st in class. It was a great result for them both. Luckily the power loss was soon diagnosed to a boost hose which had come away from the top of the Blow Off Valve (BOV). This was quickly resolved when they reached home and shouldn't be a problem again.

Race Report – Anglesey 3rd August


Neither Karen nor Richard had ever driven at the Anglesey circuit. They'd taken the opportunity to walk the course the evening before the race and were amazed at some of the elevation changes. They were looking forward to the racing the following day...

Unfortunately, race day began very wet and although it wasn't raining during qualifying the circuit was still quite wet with a drying line only appearing later on. Due to the conditions they had chosen to run on their treaded Federal 595 RSR tyres. Despite this, they both struggled and were quite disheartened to qualify 15th out of 17 runners.

They decided that Richard would drive the first stint and they would be using the semi-slick Federal FZ201 tyres due to drying weather. Richard got a reasonable start making up a few places straight away. Conditions were still not perfect and the final corner before the Start/Finish straight had him drifting wide first time around!

Karen was having fun in the second stint, but right towards the end of the race the tyres either went off or the handling had gone awry in some other manner as she had a couple of incidents. This resulted in them finishing 12th overall and 2nd in class.

Despite this, the pair really enjoyed their race and driving at the Anglesey circuit. They vowed to return next time and improve their result.

Spoilered Rotten


Given the problems with rear traction recently thanks to cold tyres, it was decided to update the rear spoiler. It's been changed from the original mid 90's low version to the final late 90's high version. It's hoped the aggressive aerofoil shape will provide that little bit more rear grip.

At the front end of the car, Powerstation have fitted an oil-cooler. With this and the fuel swirl-pot the car is now capable of longer races. Karen is sharing the car with her husband Richard. The two of them are running as a team in the Classic and Sports Car Club (CSCC) Modern Classics series. The races are 40 minutes in length with a diver swap in the middle.

Race Report – Castle Combe 12th July


This was Karen and Richard's first race with the Classic and Sports Cars Club (CSCC) Modern Classics series. Each race is 40 minutes long with a driver change. Karen and Richard were competing in the 4WD turbo class.

Qualifying lasted for 30 minutes and it seemed to go quite well. Conditions were dry, sunny and warm. The pair qualified 10th overall out of 24 runners.

Richard drove the first stint, with Karen driving the second. Richard had a tussle with one of the BMW M3s with both cars having gear selection trouble. Karen's stint went well and she managed to fend off another hard charging BMW M3 for the rest of the race.

The race was red flagged towards the end due to a Volkswagen Golf GTI which had rolled at Quarry Corner. Karen and Richard finished 8th Overall and 1st in class. It was a fantastic result for the pair and they were incredibly excited about the new racing format.

Race Report – Donington Park 8th June


This Nippon Challenge event was mixed with the Tricolore Trophy for qualification. This resulted in a large grid of 39 cars! Karen qualified 21st from this mixed group which meant she would start in 8th position in the Nippon Challenge only Race 1.

Karen got a great start and jumped from 8th to 4th by Redgate Corner. However, cold rear tyres caused a spin down the Craner Curves. It could have ended very badly, but luckily the car wasn't too damaged and Karen recovered from last to finish 11th overall.

Race 2 was a mixed affair with Nippon and Triclore cars racing together. Karen started in 20th position, but seemed to struggle and finished the race in 22nd and 2nd in class within the Nippon Challenge.

Race Report – Castle Combe 5th May


Image used with kind permission of Lance Wittenberg

The Track Attack Race Club (TARC) Bank Holiday meeting at Castle Combe had combined Nippon Challenge and Tricolore Trophy grids. This meant the grid was going to be pretty packed and qualifying was going to be a bit of a lottery.

By getting to the Assembly Area early, Karen was at the front of the queue to go out for qualifying. This helped Karen give the engine a decent warm up and get the Federal tyres up to some kind of temperature before pushing on. Qualifying was still tricky but Karen managed to qualify 5th out the Nippon Challenge cars.

Race 1 saw Karen make a reasonable start and she'd made a couple of places by half way around the 1st lap, but the Tricolore cars were just too light and powerful. They were soon making a break for the distance. On the 2nd lap, Karen was annoyed to be overtaken by a Tricolore car under waved yellow flags. The car's pace was obvious, but the driver should have waited until the incident was clear. Karen was then left trying to fend off Jon Winter's rapid Clio which she did, as well as overhauling a Citroen Saxo. Jon was now being harried by a couple of MX5s and so the pressure on Karen was reduced a little. She made her best efforts to make an escape, hitting the rev-limiter in top gear along the stretch up to Avon Rise! That's how things remained until the end of the race. Karen finished 1st in GT300 class and 4th in the Nippon Challenge.

Image used with kind permission of InMotionImages

Race 2 saw Karen make another good start and she out accelerated one of the Clios off the line. However, the Super GT MR2 Mk1 had a storming start from the back of the gird and he was soon right behind Karen. The Clio nipped back in front at the Esses. Karen spotted the MR2 Mk1 making a lunge at Bobbies and she went offline to prevent contact. Another MR2 Mk1 followed him and so Karen was down another two places! 

She quickly dispatched the normal MR2 down the main straight and began hunting down the Super GT version. She blew past him at Hammerdown and was then left fending off the MX5 of Kevin Middleton. Soon, Kevin was joined by another MX5 and Karen was now keeping a decent distance ahead of them for a couple of laps. They then got pretty close, helped by having to allow the lapping lead car through. It was just after this that race was stopped due to an incident near the start line. Jon Lord had rolled his Toyota Celica coming out of Camp Corner. It was a nasty incident, but Jon quickly made his escape from the car and was virtually unscathed. Karen was classified 1st in GT300 class and 3rd in the Nippon Challenge!

That was Karen's best ever finishing position in the Nippon Challenge so far and her first podium finish. Unfortunately, due to the combined grids it wasn't a true overall podium and so Karen missed out on the glory of a ride around the circuit waving to the crowd in the special Castle Combe converted car.

Straight line pace in Karen's car is great, but the Federal tyres take a few laps to warm up and even then they just don't seem to have the grip levels of the Silverstone tyres used previously. It may be down to the compound of the tyres which are medium rather than soft. This was to help them last during longer Classic Sports Car Club races. Plans are now in place to fit a shift light in an effort to prevent hitting the rev-limiter. That had robbed Karen of the opportunity to overtake more cars at the start of each race. In addition it should help improve gear selection throughout the races.

Face Off... And on again.


Serious facial surgery was required on Karen's car. Our friend and race mechanic Mike Herbert was called in to help sort out the mangled radiator support. The old item was carefully cut off and one was supplied by a donor car. This was carefully welded in place after a few trial fits of the new radiator.

Luckily, new Impreza radiators aren't that expensive these days! The new radiator and intercooler kit had only taken a couple of days to arrive and were ready and waiting for the welding to be completed. Once that was done, Richard got working on fully fitting the radiator. this was quickly followed by a replacement bumper bar and the new intercooler core and piping. In addition, the car received new headlights and a new driver's side front wing.

The next task was to modify another bumper to fit over the intercooler and to repair the front splitter. These jobs were very straightforward and so after a few hours of careful cutting and painting the front of the car was looking like normal again...

With various parts of the car having been painted and waiting to dry, Richard took the opportunity to make some other improvements to the car. The Corbeau Revolution seat was fitted which only took some minimal modifications to the frame and it still allows the seat position to be adjusted easily. Thicker anti-roll bars were also fitted, which were originally on the TenguDo Motorsport #29 car. These should help sharpen up the handling.

It was a good job that the Easter Bank Holidays gave Richard and friends time to work on the car and it's now ready for Castle Combe. Here's hoping it's an incident free meeting!

About Karen Phillips

  • Karen races her Impreza WRX in the Classic and Sports Car Club (CSCC) Modern Classics series, with her husband Richard as a 2nd Driver. The races are mini-endurance events involving a driver-swap. Karen has previously raced in the Nippon Challenge, a race series for Japanese and Asian cars. Karen has been racing since 2006, having started in the MR2 Challenge.
  • Please check this site regularly for updates on Karen's progress through the season and developments with her race car.

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