Karen Scores Her First MR2 Challenge Points.

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Upon the arrival of the "MR2zine" (a printed bulletin for MR2 Challenge competitors) yesterday, it was pointed out to Karen that she'd actually scored points in the championship from her placings at Snetterton. Seth, Darren and myself were busy working on the car whilst Karen showed us the results and Seth congratulated her on her point scoring. After a short period of bemusement from everyone else there was a cheer and Karen was delighted with scoring some actual championship points!

It appears a total of 15 points is awarded for 1st place, down to 1 point for 15th place. Karen had two finishes in 14th place and had thus been awarded 4 championship points. Karen therefore currently resides in 14th place in the overall championship and in 2nd place in the Women's Trophy behind Sarah Wherry.

With more cars joining the grids from now on, Karen's personal challenge is to keep scoring points in each coming round.


Are you Positive?

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It seems the front camber certainly was!

The car was taken to Powerstation (www.powerstation.org.uk) this morning for a full geometry setting, and we discovered that all had not been quite right. The front wheels had a tiny amount of positive camber and the driver's rear wheel had a considerable amount more negative camber than the other rear wheel.

When the car was put together for the first races at Snetterton, there simply wasn't time to sort out the geometry and we ended up with the TRD recommended toe settings. Now the Powerstation boys have rectified the problems and we have a reasonable amount of front and rear camber, front castor, and toe settings.

Another interesting fact learnt on our windy way home, was that when on song the MR2 can match pace with Darrens 2001 Subaru Impreza Turbo which is fitted with a Prodrive Performance Pack. That was a revelation to us both, and means that the induction modifications have really livened the car up.

The afternoon was spent removing all the interior sound deadening, and now only a quick attack with the paintbrush is required before the car will be ready for the double header at Cadwell next weekend...


"Lose weight with the MR2 Plan."

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Darren and I spent a good deal of last night removing some superfluous weight from the MR2. Darren was busy with a hammer and screwdriver, removing the sound deadening material from the passenger side floor. Meanwhile, I removed the bonnet, engine, and boot catches and all the associated cables and handles. The windscreen washer bottle was also removed. This had been full during the Snetterton races, so that's a couple of kilos removed immediately!

More sound deadening is to be removed from the drivers footwell, and then the only remaining material is the thick stuff on the rear bulkhead behind the seat(s). That will be more of a pain to remove and will probably require use of the heat gun.

We plan to remove the window winding mechanism from the passenger window which should be good for several kilos. We'll have to make up some aluminium brackets to hold the window in position.

Now, if I can just persuade Karen to go on a diet...


Snetterton Race Photos.

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A couple of action shots of Karen's first ever race at Snetterton. Many thanks to fellow competitor Sarah Wherry, who supplied the photos. Check out Sarah's site: www.sarah-wherry-mr2-racing.com


The Bigger, The Better?

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Karen's MR2 was forced to race with a standard induction system, as our cone filter setup had not arrived. I've since cancelled the order, and yesterday I stripped the K&N cone filter and some piping from our Subaru Impreza Turbo road car. I then set about doing some bodgery and successfully grafted the massive cone filter into the MR2. (As pictured above)

Darren and I had previously removed the resonator box from the induction piping before race 2 in an effort to give Karen a bit more power, and it may have worked. We'd filled the hole left when removing the box, by plugging it with the top of a brake fluid bottle That was clamped tightly with a jubilee clip and sealed with superglue! Well, it certainly seemed to work at the time. Yesterday I replaced that piece of pipe with another, without such a bodged fixing...

I took the car out for a spin last night, and the induction roar over 4500rpm is intoxicating. I'm sure the car now revs more freely and is subsequently quicker. However, it could just be extra psychological horsepower.


Race Report: Snetterton 14th & 15th April

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Having driven the MR2 from our B&B to the circuit, Karen went to sign on at Race Control, whilst the boys removed the number plates and then carefully applied Karen’s racing numbers for the very first time!

Scrutineering was the first major challenge of the day. Obviously, Darren and I had done everything possible to ensure the car would pass, but we were all extremely nervous as we queued outside the Scrutineering Bay at 8.00am. Our scrutineer was very friendly and made short work of checking over the car. He was very happy with everything and reminded us to keep lubricating the cable pulls to stop them jamming up. The result of weeks of work? A nice little blue ticket to show the car had passed scrutineering which we had to tape inside one of the rear windows.

The MR2 Challenge qualification session was due for 9.00am and Karen was getting more nervous as time progressed. At 8.45am the cars were called to the Assembly Area. I followed the car into the area, and chatted with Karen and some of the other drivers until time came for Karen to get ready to go out. A quick final check of the bonnet pins, remove the extinguisher pin, and she was out on the circuit with everyone else.

Karen was a total novice to Snetterton, and her qualifying times were a reflection of that, but more so of the fact the car was very uncompetitive. It was carrying far too much weight, had a standard induction system, and the exhaust seemed very restrictive compared to every other car. Karen qualified as 16th out of 17 for race 1 with a time of 1:51.79 and 15th out of 16 for race 2 with a time of 1:52.24. The drivers who qualified behind were experiencing mechanical difficulties…

Karen’s first ever race was at 12.35pm. She formed up on the grid in last position due to non-starters. She didn’t get the best of starts but had frankly only driven the car in its current form for ½ hour by this time! Karen’s position throughout the race remained static at 14th and last, but her lap times improved to a best of 1:47.56 and she had a clean race and really enjoyed the whole experience. We were really happy with her improvement.

The 2nd race was on the following day and we arrived at the circuit at about 9.00am, and checked over the car. Karen had driven it to the circuit from the B&B, so one of the first jobs was to remove the number plates again, and black tape that had been used to cross out the racing numbers for the road.

The MR2 Challenge race was due to start at 11.00am, but everyone was called to the Assembly Area very early and the cars ended up forming on the grid for a race start at 10.30am. That’s the first I’ve ever known races start early, let alone on time!

Karen once again formed up in last spot thanks to non-starters, and got a slightly better start this time. She stayed in sight of car no.17 (Paul Barber) all race. Apparently she could begin to catch up to him in the corners, but he’d re-establish distance along the straights. So that sounded like a job for Darren and myself to sort out. Obviously, she found it a fantastic experience and her lap times improved further to a best of 1:43.94.

All in all Karen had a fantastic weekend, made all the better by meeting the friendly people involved in the MR2 Challenge, be they drivers, their mechanics, family or friends, etc. She’s really looking forward to the next race at Cadwell Park, which at least she has driven before and loves as a challenging circuit.


"Are We Nearly There Yet?"

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I believe we are!

The car is now finished, bar an oil change and some extra rollcage padding. Those jobs are being done this morning, whilst the weather is supposed to be bright and clear.

The car was weighed on a public weighbridge yesterday and came out at 1040kg with a full tank of petrol, but no driver. This is good news for us as the series minimum weight including any petrol and a driver is the same 1040kg. This means we don't have to worry about running with any ballast weights and can play with our fuel load to maximise performance in the future.

For Snetterton, however, we'll play safe and start the qualifying session with a full tank and see how much is used. Then decide what to do for the first race.


It Never Rains...

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...But snows/sleets/hails! Gotta love the British weather.

Afer a couple of days hard graft over the weekend putting the rollcage back in, wiring, and plumbing in the fire extinguisher it was time to re-fit the seat and to fit the harness. Karen was called upon for her fitting. The picture above shows Darren pulling a "Carry On" style face as he adjusts Karen's 5th strap (If you know what I mean).

When that was done we decided everything was set for the first test of the car on the road. It's still legal(ish) and was equipped with its registration plates and tax. However, it was getting dark and it suddenly became apparent the sidelights and front indicators weren't working. The rear lights weren't working either, or the dash illumination!!

After much swearing and some worried looks we tried looking for a culprit fuse. The Haynes manual we had was useless, as was the Workshop manually. Our saviour came in the form of the Owner's Handbook which listed the fuses in their respective positions and we realised we'd mis-placed one somehow. Success!

Both Karen and myself tried the car and found it great fun. A lot of understeer has been banished and it feels very tightly screwed together and very very nippy.

We had noticed one of the headlamps had a loose connection and required a tap to work now and again. Today was spent installing new headlight bulbs, fitting the door bars and some rollcage padding, servicing a sticky rear brake, and washing and polishing the car before affixing all the mandatory decals apart from the actual race roundels and numbers. Hopefully the roundels and a sun-strip will be applied tomorrow. We'll also be doing an oil change, fitting more rollcage pdding, and clearing up the garage.

Looks like we're going to be raring to go ready for the first race this coming Good Friday.


The Race Is On...

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The race to finish the car in time, that is. The car needs to be at Snetterton one week from today in perfect condition ready to pass scrutineering and then qualify/race. There's still an awful lot to do. Re-fit rollcage, fit seat and harness, fit dash panel, plumb in fire extinguisher, fit decals, test it drives, and wash and polish it!


Strutting Her Stuff.

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Another eBay victory! We've won the auction for a front strut brace. Apparently these only appeared on the T-Bar cars. Hopefully, it'll arrive in time to be fitted to the car for the first race. Having felt the benefit of such a device on our track Nissan 200SX, I was keen to get one for the MR2.


It's Alive... Dead... Alive/Dead/Alive/Dead!

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Last night was spent installing the new battery cabling from the front of the car, through the interior and the master cut-off switch, and out into the engine bay. Master electrician Darren pulled off another blinding piece of elec-trickery and the ignition worked and the engine started... Only for us to successfully kill it with the master cut-off switch!

We'd revved the engine above 4500rpm to ensure that the result of our tests weren't affected by the alternator. So Darren had chosen the correct wire off the ignition a couple of weeks ago, which had been worrying him. Well done mate. Great Job!

Now that hurdle has been crossed, I can paint the new dashboard panel that accomodates the cut-off, extinguisher pull and rain light ready for installation. Then make the rain light bracket, etc, etc...


Getting Wired...

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Last night was a long session that saw the transponder and rain light being wired up, and most of the other interior wiring being tidied. Darren "Sparks" Hughes did all that work, and then we measured out the required amount of new live battery cable. That should be collected this evening ready to go straight into the car.

I drilled out our new aluminium dash panel which will cover the radio slot. The panel hosts the cut-off switch, extinguisher cable pull and rain light switch. That just needs painting before it goes in.

We also worked out how we're going to mount the rain light off the rollcage. I need to create another aluminium panel which will be drilled at an angle to allow jubilee clips to clamp it to the rear diagonal. The flange mounting rain light will then just be bolted to the plate.


Pimp My Ride!

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It may not look any different, but the car is slowly turning into a racer. This weekend saw the seat mounts welded in and the battery relocated under the bonnet. That's still yet to be plumbed into the electrical system though. The cable pulls were fitted into the rear panel and all the towing eyes were painted a fetching shade of bright yellow.

The car is also now sporting a fibreglass sunroof replacement panel which needs a final bit of fettling before we can re-install the rollcage. (The rollcage prevents use of the sunroof catch, so we need to finish that before the main hoop is re-fitted).

Tonight should see more progress on the wiring, rain light and fire extinguisher plumbing fronts. At least now we're more confident of making the first race at Snetterton. More late nights this week and next week off work should see it done. I suppose as long as I get some rest before driving the trailer to Snetterton everything will be ok!

Thankyou to Terry for creating the sunroof panel and for spending most of his weekend welding before having to rush off to do another family member's decorating. He's supposed to be on holiday, the poor chap. Thanks also to David for being a dab hand with the paintbrush and spray-can, and for donating most of his left thumb to the cause...


About Karen Phillips

  • Karen races her Impreza WRX in the Nippon Challenge, a race series for Japanese and Asian cars. Karen has now 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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