The British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) had been invited to take part in a hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the club. As the venue was local and Karen had already spectated in the past, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
With the recent engine trouble hopefully resolved, the car was dropped off at the picturesque hillclimb venue on the evening of Friday 4th May. Karen's car was designated #69 for this event, and we had the pleasure of meeting a friend when we dropped the car off. Simon Fidoe was in #99, a motorbike engined Empire single seater. Quite a different proposition to Karen's WRX!
The following morning was fine and bright. Karen was delighted to meet the other BWRDC runners and soon got her practice runs organised. All the BWRDC competitors were allowed three practice runs on Saturday 5th May with the promise of two competitive runs on Sunday 6th May.
Unfortunately for Karen, her engine troubles were not completely solved. The car was behaving like it had been at Pembrey. Power delivery was idiosyncratic and there was a lot of popping and banging from the motor. In fact this contributed to a minor excursion up a bank in the final corner on her maiden run. Luckily no real damage was done.
On inspection in the engine bay it was discovered that the boost line from the engine to the boost gauge had fallen onto the turbo and had melted! This was soon fixed and it was hoped this may have accounted for some of the running problems, but the subsequent two runs were much the same.
Sunday was again bright and dry and Karen was nervous about her chances with the car as it was against Helen Allen's Zetec powered Fiesta and Jo Hodgson's Lotus Elan in the R1 Class for Saloons and Sports Cars driven by members of the BWRDC.
Jo ran first, posting a quick 37.03 seconds in her gorgeously turned out classic Lotus. Helen was next and she pegged a time of 45.98 seconds. Both times better than the previous days best practice times. Karen was fully committed to her run, having warmed up the tyres, but the car simply didn't wan't to run cleanly.
It was still running very roughly. Popping and banging loudly and not revving beyond 4500rpm. The best it would muster was a 49.62 seconds. Karen was gutted and things didn't improve when the car was inspected back down at the bottom of the hill. An ominous sounding rattle had developed and it was decided that it might be best to retire there and then rather than risk doing further damage on another futile drive up the hill.
Despite everything, Karen enjoyed a very pleasant weekend in a wonderful part of the country on our own doorstep. She had the pleasure of meeting several members of the BWRDC and their supporters and looks forward to meeting them again in the near future.
Karen's not finished with Shelsley Walsh quite yet. Karen is determined to return later this year when the either her car is running right or she borrows something else to put those hillclimb demons to rest. Unfortunately there is no opportunity to investigate the running problems before the next Nippon Challenge races at Donington Park on 20th May and so Karen has had to withdraw her entry.
Suffice to say that of utmost importance is sorting out the engine issues before anything else is attempted and Karen is determined to not waste any more time and funds until the car has proven to be 100% by testing it on a track practice day when it's fixed!
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.