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Once again, we've been kept rather busy with racing committments and some repairs. Please keep an eye on the site for details on the Snetterton double-header and the final race at Mallory Park.

Karen will also be writing her end of season round-up, and giving details of her various plans for racing in 2008.


Race Report: Silverstone 22nd September

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Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission


Karen had spent the previous day practising on the Silverstone National circuit. The first two sessions in the morning were done on the old Yokohama A539 tyres and the two sessions in the afternoon were used to test some Toyo T1-S tyres as possible control tyres for the MK1 cars in the 2008 season.

Karen found difficulty in re-creating her 1:18 lap times from the Power Nights event in August. In fact she was a good couple of seconds down on her best time. We tried to figure out why and assumed it might be the use of heavier alloy wheels and comparatively cold track temperature. Not forgetting that the Toyo tyres were actually totally brand new.

Race day certainly began cold and fresh! Karen, Richard and David left home at 5.30am and arrived at the circuit with the Dawn sunlight at about 7am. Silverstone being so close, it made little sense to pay to stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast place. The race car had been left at the circuit overnight and was soon unloaded from its trailer.


Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission


All the drivers had been told to report for signing on a mere five minutes before scrutineering time began, yet race control and scrutineering were at opposite ends of the paddock! Obviously it took a genius to organise that little gem… Richard took the car through scrutineering and the only sticking point was the fact the car was equipped with a video camera, but there was no form to allow its use. Luckily, as this was being discussed Karen appeared, having jogged the length of the paddock. She produced the required form and all was well.

Richard had noticed on the Friday that the N/S driveshaft was throwing out some grease and so the time between scrutineering and qualifying had been ear-marked to fix this little problem. With the clock ticking, Richard re-packed it with grease and replaced the cable-ties securing the cover with some more sturdy jubilee clips instead. He felt like a mechanic for a WRC team, only much slower and less well paid!

The qualifying session began at about 9.15am, in dry and bright conditions. Richard hadn’t intended to bother timing the session but he and David soon resorted to using their mobile phones for rough times. Things seemed to be going pretty well and Karen was certainly quicker than during the previous day’s practice sessions. Unfortunately, our friend John Wilson in the www.ifdevracing.net sponsored car made his first appearance onto the main straight with his bonnet pressed firmly against his windscreen! John drove carefully off circuit and found his way through the safety barriers. He emerged and removed his helmet and we feared he’d not re-join to qualify for the race. Fortunately, the marshals were really helpful and between them the bonnet was secured, John strapped back in, and the car let out in a gap. He might have missed a couple of laps but he continued on and qualified in 22nd place! Karen continued to improve her times until she qualified in 25th place with a time of 1:18.601 which was only a few hundredths off her personal best. That meant she was several cars ahead of the other lady racer, Sarah Wherry in 30th place.

During the lunch break, Karen’s father and brother arrived and were very happy to hear of her qualification results. Not only did Karen do a great job, but it was a relief to know the car was working well after so many repairs due to the incident at Mallory Park.


Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission


The race itself began at 1.40pm. Karen was initially baulked by a slightly slower starting Jorge Calado #24 in front of her. Sarah Wherry #23 meanwhile got a clean run down the outside following the MK2 of Dan Parker #65 to get in front of Karen at Copse. A big crowd formed through Becketts and Sam Hare #62 got around on the outside. Yellow Flags were waving at Brooklands thanks to a couple of MK2’s playing in the kitty litter. As Karen navigated Luffield, Jorge steered inward ever so slightly to give her a little nudge and then out-dragged her along the main straight. The recovering MK2’s blasted past Karen as she chased down Sam and Jorge. Nigel Royle #87 also got past her as they braked down into Brooklands. Without any more interference from the MK2’s, it was a four-way battle between Jorge, Sam, Nigel and Karen. Nigel and Jorge double-teamed Sam down the main straight into Copse as Karen got ever closer. After a couple of laps of trying hard, she got past Sam into Copse and was then after Jorge and Nigel. As a couple of MK2’s made an appearance to intervene in her battle, it seems their group had caught up Sarah who went a little wide defending her line at Luffield and span off into the pit lane! Nigel had to go wide to avoid her and Karen’s greater speed carried her past him. Jorge lost time going very wide at Copse and got caught amongst the MK2’s, allowing Karen to catch up. As Karen and Jorge fought, Nigel had made a recovery and passed Karen through Maggots into Becketts. It was very close between the three of them and next time around Karen tried to squeeze past through Maggots on the wrong side to gain the inside at Becketts but it didn’t work and she couldn’t out-drag Jorge up the following straight. That’s how things stayed for a great close finish. Karen was 26th overall and 10th in class for the MK1’s.

Silverstone in-car video here

A good result for Karen, having come back from a miserable DNF in the previous round. Exciting close racing against Jorge and Nigel, and a better result than the other lady racer. Things were beginning to look up again!


Post-Mallory Repairs

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The incident at Mallory had left Karen’s car in quite a state. Two crushed front wings, a broken bumper and front valance parts, a crushed radiator, bent front light covers, a heavily creased driver’s door with smashed glass, a mildly dented passenger door, a badly dented driver’s rear quarter panel with a missing side vent and finally an errant driver’s front wheel thanks to a sheared track rod end.


Image copyright Richard Senter, used with kind permission


Our friend David came up from Wiltshire for a weekend of repairs. He and Richard stripped the damaged parts from the front of the car. They then set about removing the worst of the dents in the rear ¼ panel by using David’s slide-hammer to pull the panel back into some sort of shape. Darren also made an appearance and lent his strength to help things along. Where holes had been drilled to allow use of the slide-hammer, they were filled with fibreglass and filler was used to smooth things out.


Image copyright Richard Senter, used with kind permission


Richard and David then removed the steering rack from the donor car and replaced the one on the race car. At least moving the race car about was now a lot easier with the steering returned to a working condition!

The donor car had already had its driver’s door removed for storage as a spare and this was now brought out to replace the badly damaged one on the race car. David made short work of swapping the door lock barrels to enable the use of the original key on the new door and solved a small wiring dilemma presented by the new door thanks to some interesting bodgery by a previous owner. After some messing with the hinges the new (red!) door was fitted to the car. The window winder turned out to be a bit clonkey, but at least it worked.

The next weekend, Tim Cartledge #42 came up from Sussex to help install a new Exedy clutch. Quite a drive to spend your weekend struggling with a clutch change, and that’s just how it turned out! One of the first jobs on Saturday saw Tim spear his finger with a screwdriver, yet despite this nasty wound he soldiered on for the weekend. Many hours were spent trying to get the gearbox back onto the car and it was on what was decided would be the very last effort that everything just fitted into place! Richard finished replacing the ancillaries and exhaust. Just after Tim had left for home, Richard discovered the loss of reverse and a very floppy gearchange. The linkage levers on the gearbox had come apart and were found to be damaged. Replacements were soon robbed from a spares car and everything was returned to a working order. Richard certainly learnt an awful lot that weekend!


Image copyright Richard Senter, used with kind permission



Image copyright Richard Senter, used with kind permission


During the following week, Richard won a pair of front wings in an eBay auction and collected them from close to Oxford. He also managed to bag a spare radiator, and a driver’s door for John Wilson #17 who’s car had received some damage at a recent PowerNights event.

John kindly donated a driver’s side headlight assembly, and with the help of our friend Lance, the bulkhead was re-shaped to allow the correct mounting of the pop-up headlights.

In previous repairs, Richard had taken the time to prepare panels and spray them in an attempt to match the colour of the rest of the car. This was a costly and time consuming process. To simplify things, Richard decided to brush paint the required panels in a blue/black mix of Hammerite that was as close as he could get to the undamaged parts of the car. Lance also helped to paint the headlamp covers, front valance and sideskirt parts. Richard even painted the original bumper which had bounced back into a decent shape. Part of Tim’s fee for helping with the clutch was that Karen’s car should be fitted with a fluorescent pink air-intake which he’d brought along with him. It certainly helped take peoples eyes away from the damaged rear ¼ panel!

A new radiator had been ordered and arrived within a couple of days. The original one had been crushed from beneath and was removed. The radiator support was bent back into shape and the new radiator was fitted and the coolant system was flushed and carefully filled and bled to avoid air-traps. The operation of the electric fan was also checked.


Image copyright Richard Senter, used with kind permission


Finally, Richard re-sprayed the previously black GRP sunroof panel with a colour very close to the original blue of the car. This meant when the MR2 Only graphics were applied the resulting effect was really rather good! MR2 Only decals were also applied to the front and rear bumpers. The race numbers were applied to the new door and the car was complete.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank MR2 Only and its staff for their support and offers of spare parts. Thanks must go to David, Darren and Lance for their help with various repairs to the car and a special thanks go to Tim Cartledge for spending the weekend changing the clutch – We really appreciate it!


Race Report: Mallory Park 19th August

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Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission


Having had an early start from home at 5.30am, Karen and her team arrived at Mallory under grey clouds but no rain. The car was unloaded and washed and had no problems with scrutineering. As Karen’s nervousness grew, David, Darren and Richard tucked in to hearty breakfasts made by the lovely ladies in the cafeteria.

Qualifying began at 9.50am and although the track looked dry enough it was still damp and greasy. Karen had a big sideways moment on the exit of Gerrards that left her team with their hearts in their mouths. Everyone seemed to be at least a couple of seconds off their best dry pace and the times reflected that. Karen had posted a time of 1:05.516 which put her in 24th position out of 29 runners.

The cars were called to assembly not long after 2pm and were soon formed on the grid. However, cars from the previous race were still being collected from the circuit upon low-loaders and thanks to having to wait for an ambulance to return to the inside of the circuit they were on the grid for over twenty minutes. The green flag lap proceeded without incident and before much longer the race had finally begun!

David Litchfield #11 was chasing Mark Jessop #73 hard for the lead of the race until a moment on the grass at the Esses sent him headlong toward the tyre wall on the inside of the circuit at nigh-on full speed. The car hit the tyre wall and was catapulted upwards into the air a good number of feet before gravity sucked it back down roof first! Luckily, David was un-hurt and managed to extricate himself from the wreck within a couple of moments to everyone’s relief.

Tim Cartledge had been having great fun drifting his #42 Mk1 around Gerrards, but it seems this was at odds with his rear Falken tyres and it’s likely that the passenger one came away from the rim. This caused the car to slew further sideways and end up side on into the gravel trap. Physics dictated that the car would end up rolling, which it did a total of five times before coming to rest perched on the armco next to a marshal station! Tim was un-hurt except for a gash on his arm received from shards of glass when exiting the car. All the glass had been shattered and yet upon inspection after the race it appeared the roof had not even been pushed against the rollcage. It seems the MR2 is a safe car to roll in!


Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission


Karen’s clutch was slipping badly and every gear change saw her loose ground to the rest of the field. She was chased hard by Arron Pullan #26 who eventually got past at the Esses. Karen used the improved braking power from her CarboTech pads to brake later on the inside of the hairpin but Arron hadn’t seen her and turned in causing a good deal of damage to Karens passenger front wing and bumper. It’s possible the collision either locked the wheel under the arch or broke the steering, as Karen fought for control coming out of the hairpin and tried to avoid a spin. The cars clashed again and Karen was catapulted towards the lapping cars of Patrick Mortell #1 and Steve Lumley #58 who were fighting for second place. Patrick squeezed past but Karen struck Steve’s car very hard. This sent Steve into the armco and Karen bounced away to nose into the armco heavily on the opposite side. With the rear of Karen’s car butting out into the middle of the track the race was finally red-flagged.

Karen was unharmed but the marshals were forced to help her out of the car through the driver’s window (which had shattered), due to the door catch not seeming to operate. Karen was taken to the Medical Centre where she was checked over and found to be in good health. She was surprised when Tim was brought in for treatment!

Richard was unaware of the events that had unfolded and he watched as Steve Lumley drove his car back through the paddock, all the while fighting broken steering. Karen’s car was recovered on the back of a low loader and deposited near the scrutineering shed just as the heavens opened and torrential rain came down. The awful weather would eventually see the meeting abandoned.

Karen’s car was left with two crushed front wings, a broken bumper and front valance parts, a crushed radiator, bent front light covers, a heavily creased driver’s door with smashed glass, a mildly dented passenger door, a badly dented driver’s rear quarter panel with a missing side vent and finally an errant driver’s front wheel thanks to a sheared track rod end!


Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission


Karen apologised to Steve who was supremely understanding of the situation and they commiserated with each other over the states of their cars. It was then left to Karen, Richard, David and Darren to attempt to load the wrecked car back onto its trailer. Sarah Wherry helped direct the crew as they pushed it into place. Karen would like to thank Sarah and everyone else who offered assistance at the time and for help with spare parts if required – It was very much appreciated.

A very miserable end to the Mallory meeting; Karen’s first DNF in nearly two seasons of motor racing. A number of possibly serious incidents resulting in at least two cars being put out of action permanently. Topping it all was the awful weather which ruined the rest of the days racing.

Briefly, there was the hope that with the race red-flagged with enough laps done that Karen and Steve might still be classified with finishing positions. The requirement was 8 laps. Steve had completed 10 laps, and Karen 9. Unfortunately, an obscure ruling was used which saw them both still classified as DNF and Jason Jesse #37 came 24th having only completed 8 laps. Motor racing, you couldn’t make it up!


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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