Karen's Supercharged Ready For 2008!

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Karen plans to race an MR2 Mk1 Supercharger in the Nippon Challenge next year. The car requires some work to get it ready which will include a serious weight reduction programme and the installation of a chargecooler to stabilise induction temperatures and produce consistent high boost. Improvements will also be made to the current handling and braking.

All these changes will be required to get the best out of the cars modest power to give it hope against the other cars in the 'Challenge such as Mitsubishi Evos, Subaru Imprezas, Nissan Skylines, Honda Civics, etc. The racing should be exciting to watch and have a number of fantastic different sounds coming from the various engines.

Thanks go to new sponsors Red Dragon Autosports for help in providing the Supercharger. Steve Vince of Red Dragon Autosports is the organising force behind the Nippon Challenge and it's hoped this may help persuade other drivers to keep their distance from Karen's car!

When circumstances allow, Karen hopes to participate in rounds of the MR2 Challenge and also the popular and televised Power Nights events with her current MR2 Challenge car.


Karen's End of Season Summary 2007

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The season started well at Snetterton with separate grids for the Mk1 and Mk2 cars, and at one point in the first race I was in 5th place! As the following races returned to mixed grids it was tricky chasing places whilst avoiding the lapping Mk2’s and their slower cousins with their sometimes erratic cornering.

My results this year have been adversely affected by the actions of other drivers. One in particular managed to cause a lot of damage and my only DNF so far, and in a later race sent me spinning off track again after side-swiping me on a straight! (And they say its women that can’t drive).

Despite this, my results have improved over last year and I’ve achieved many new personal best times at each circuit visited. I was delighted to receive the “MR2 Challenge Most Improved Driver 2007” trophy at the end of the season.

I would like to thank my sponsors Rogue Motorsport, who helped out with a suspension problem and provided me with a set of the fantastic CarboTech brake pads. MR2 Only magazine have kindly detailed my exploits throughout the year and I’ve been proud to carry their graphics on the car. Thanks also to Tim Cartledge who travelled a great distance and worked very hard to change the car's clutch. My friends David, Darren and Lance have also helped with the various repairs required. Of course, a big thank you to my long-suffering husband, Richard.

I’ll soon be revealing my plans for racing next year, so please keep visiting this site for more info.

Karen.
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MR2 Challenge Most Improved Driver 2007

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Image copyright Sarah Wherry, reproduced with kind permission

Following the final MR2 Challenge race of the season at Mallory Park, Steve Vince provided a buffet for the MR2 drivers and their supporters. It was during this buffet that Steve took the opportunity to make some surprise presentations.

Karen was awarded the Most Improved Driver 2007 trophy. Steve had decided that Karen's skill and determination had improved so dramatically from the previous year that she was the rightful winner of the award! (This is not an indicaton that her driving was anything other than great last year, be the improvement has been there for all to see).


Race Report: Mallory Park 14th October

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Another 5.30am start saw Karen and Richard arriving at Mallory Park around 7.30am with their friend Darren having met them en-route. It can be difficult to find paddock space at Mallory and this was the reason for getting there comparatively early. The car was unloaded and washed as Karen chatted to Sarah Wherry and the other drivers as they began to arrive.

With the scrutineering bay open, it was decided to get the car inspected early on in case of problems. Of course, there were none and the car was given a ticket allowing it to race. With that sorted, it was off to the cafeteria for a well deserved breakfast!


Image copyright Sarah Wherry, reproduced with kind permission

The qualifying session was supposed to begin at 10.40am, but things seemed to be running slightly ahead. Karen was escorted by Richard to the Assembly Area as early as possible to try and ensure she got out toward the front of the field and would enjoy some clear track straight away. As it turned out the officials let the cars onto the track out of their original order, and thus Karen was in the middle of things. Despite being on very worn Falken tyres, Karen managed a personal best time of 1:00.49 which saw her into 22nd position overall and 10th in class for the beginning of the race. However, given the previous incidents involving Arron Pullan #26, she was concerned he would be starting directly behind her…


Image copyright Simon Fidoe, reproduced with kind permission

The race began at about 2.45pm, and Karen was behind Rob Howes #7 and Sam Hare #62 on the grid. As the lights went out, Sam got ahead of Rob and Karen tried to follow. She had to go around Gerrards with Rob on her inside. Karen was now stuck behind the #44 Mk2 of Andy Woodvine and couldn’t quite get in front of Rob at the exit of Gerrards onto Stebbe straight.

Andy was slow through the Lake Esses and Karen was effectively boxed in. This allowed Adam Lockwood #51 and Paul Barker #16 to drive by. A queue of cars formed on the inside of Shaws hairpin and Steve Woolfe #88 drive past Karen on the outside. Roger Pullan #13 also managed to out drag her and pass her on the Devil’s Elbow. So that was easily four places lost within the first lap!

Karen was now chasing Roger but couldn’t seem to get close enough to make a move on him. On lap three, Sam Hare #62 pulled out of the way after Shaws hairpin on his way to retiring from the race. All the time, she was under pressure from Arron Pullan #26. On the fourth lap, Karen decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and when Arron tried an overtake at the Esses she decided not to fight him on the inside at the hairpin. She assumed that once again she’d probably be knocked out of the race and left with a hefty repair bill. As it was the last race of the season and her birthday she decided to let him through. Oddly, he did seem to have an interesting amount of straight line speed…

By lap seven, Karen was catching Roger again, whilst she was being hounded by Nigel Buttfield #34. On the next lap, everyone overtook an ailing Adam Lockwood in car #51 before the Lake Esses. The status-quo remained, with Karen chasing Roger and being chased by Nigel, until the final lap when Roger moved over too far for the lapping Mk2 of Steve Lumley #58 and got himself on the grass on the outside of Stebbe. He rejoined the circuit, and Karen would have overtaken him but for the fact she had seen Patrick Mortell #1 was already overtaking him on the other side. She therefore left Roger room, just in case he decided to go too far her way this time! Karen finished in 22nd overall ahead of Nigel and George Stoddart. She was 10th in class A for production Mk1’s.


Image copyright Simon Fidoe, reproduced with kind permission

All the cars were collected within scrutineering, where they were checked to see that their alloy wheels were of the size as stipulated in the technical regulations. There was also talk of the cars being weighed to ensure they were all over their minimum weights, but after a while it was decided that wasn't going to happen. We'd rather the opportunity had been used...

Mallory Park in-car video here

Karen was a little annoyed with herself for losing ground on the first lap which could have made things so different, but was happy to have completed the season with no further mishaps. She did manage to improve her personal best time during the race by 3/100th of a second to 1:00.46. It wasn’t too long before she was really hungry and looking forward to the end of season buffet provided by the MR2 Challenge organiser Steve Vince in the cafeteria. Some things never change!


Race Report: Snetterton 29th September

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The weather had initially appeared ominous but things soon brightened up and that’s the way it remained. As usual, the car was washed before scrutineering through which there were no problems. Fuel was added and the car was then ready for the qualifying session.


Image copyright Matthew Holland, reproduced with kind permission

Whilst waiting in the Assembly Area, Karen become more and more nervous as always happens. Once she was out on track the nerves disappeared and she was straight into the swing of it. Her pace seemed good and she didn’t get caught in any battles for track position. She qualified in 27th place for Race 1, out of a total field of 34 cars. Importantly, her consistent lap times saw her qualify in 23rd place for Race 2.


Image copyright Matthew Holland, reproduced with kind permission

Karen formed up on the grid for Race 1 behind John Wilson #17 and Hugh Gilmour #98. As the lights went out she accelerated past Hugh and followed John past the Mk2 car of Andy Winterton #8. At the first corner she was squeezed between the Mk2’s of Dan Parker #65 and David Bryant #38. She ended up getting past David and chasing Dan through Sear corner and down the Revett straight.

When exiting Riches on lap two, there had been an incident which caught out Dan leaving Karen to continue chasing John Wilson. Dan quickly used the superior power of the Mk2 to drive past Karen along Revett to rejoin the fray. It was just a shame he seemed to be holding her up through the corners. In the third lap, Karen once again fell victim to the power of a Mk2 when Andy Winterton caught her along Revett to get in front just before the Esses. Karen kept in touch with Andy, but was again overhauled by another two Mk2’s along the Revett straight! This time it was the #9 car of Rob Horsfield and #33 car of Rowland Wooley, who had both recovered from that incident on lap two. As she chased them through Coram they passed Dan Parker who was rejoining the circuit after some kind of misdemeanour.

By lap seven Karen was busy chasing Nigel Buttfield #34, who’d been passed by the errant Mk2’s. This was interrupted by David Bryant #38 who intervened in his Mk2 just before the Esses. At the beginning of lap nine Karen was forced wide at Riches by Dan Parker #65 who had recovered from his earlier off, so once again her chase of Nigel had been baulked. Dan used his superior power along the Revett straight and Karen gained on the battling Nigel and John.

It was now the tenth and final lap, and again Karen was passed by a Mk2 along Revett. This time it was David Weaving in #89! As she drove through Russell chicane, tight behind Nigel Buttfield to run to the finish line she noticed that Roger Pullan #13 who had been following her for most of the race was now joining the circuit from the grass on the infield and finished ahead of her. He’d cut the final chicane gaining an unfair advantage and was later docked 1 second to correct the result and his racing license was endorsed. Karen was thus classified in 26th position overall, and 12th in her class.

Snetterton Race 1 in-car video here


Image copyright Matthew Holland, reproduced with kind permission

Karen’s hopes were high for a better result from Race 2, given her higher grid position and hopefully less interference from Mk2 cars. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as she expected…


Image copyright Matthew Holland, reproduced with kind permission

Rob Howes #7 and Hugh Gilmour #98 managed to keep ahead of Karen at the start of Race 2 and she followed them closely through Riches corner. It was halfway to the next corner, when from nowhere; Karen was sideswiped hard by Arron Pullan #26 and was sent spinning off the track!

With the engine still running Karen managed to rejoin the circuit but was pretty incandescent with rage and set about trying to catch up the rest of the field. She’d now been unceremoniously relegated to last place! As she fought to catch up, Karen passed the other lady racer Sarah Wherry #23 who was rejoining from an incident at Russell chicane. It turns out Sarah had also been struck and spun out by another competitor. So both ladies were now struggling to recover.

By the end of the third lap Karen was hunting down the Mk2 of Richard Weaving #86 and Mk1 of Ivan Thomas #59. Karen drove past Ivan out of Russell to get ahead by the beginning of lap six. Richard had powered away and thus Karen was left to catch the Mk1 of Paul Radford #39. Paul’s car got lairy on the exit of Russell and Karen was forced to slow before overtaking him. Sarah meanwhile got a better exit and out dragged them both. She claimed the inside line for Riches corner and slowly and inexorably began to draw away from Karen.

On lap nine, there was a yellow flag on display at Sear corner, which turned out to be for Arron who’d gone wide and was driving back onto the Revett straight. Karen derived a good deal of pleasure driving past that little scene…Coming into the Esses, she also passed a retiring Jorge Calado #24. Rob Horsfield #9 was piloting his Mk2 back onto the track just before Russell chicane and caused Karen a real headache. She overtook him coming out of the chicane and her crew believed she’d overhauled him only to discover he crossed the finish line 1/10th of a second in front of her! A fantastic recovery effort from Karen, finishing 29th overall and 14th in class. A very exciting race, but for all the wrong reasons.


Video copyright Karen Phillips, reproduced with kind permission

A good amount of time was spent in the office of the Clerk of the Course that day. Karen was not at fault in any incident, but she still felt agrieved at having to make formal complaints. Unfortunately, Karen was not alone as there were several serious incidents that day. Here's hoping the driving standards would improve for the final MR2 Challenge meeting at Mallory Park.


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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