Welsh Water Woes!

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Despite problems with their workshop regularly being flooded lately, TenguDo Motorsport have been swift in getting Karen's car together very quickly. All that now remains is the fitment of new rear discs to go with the uprated calipers and then the engine rebuild.

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Karen made a visit to TenguDo Motorsport on Saturday to deliver the rear calipers and check out the progress. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the gearbox, rear diff, driveshafts and hubs had all been replaced with the uprated items. The guys are now waiting on delivery of Cosworth engine internals before the rebuild of the engine can take place.

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Once complete, it'll be time to organise a shakedown session or two to run in the engine and let Karen get used to the feel of the new set up. Here's hoping this can be sorted before the end of February.

TenguDo Motorsport are also trying to find a solution to their flooding problem...


Karen's Plans for 2012

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Karen plans to continue racing in the Nippon Challenge as part of the GT300 class. This is for cars with up to 300 BHP with a minimum weight of 1110 KG. Before this can happen, TenguDo Motorsport have quite a bit of preparation to complete!

Having blown the engine at Rockingham, a new engine was required. A Closed Deck Block long engine salvaged from a Subaru Impreza STi will form the basis of the new powerhouse. This should ensure longevity and more power than before. To help this, it will be fitted with ACL Race Bearings and Cosworth Head Gaskets and a Kevlar Timing Belt. A new 3 inch exhaust system with an open neck turbo downpipe has also been bought and had been installed before the Brands Hatch DTM meeting, but obviously didn’t help much. It should help increase power and reduce turbo spool up time. A large atmospheric dump valve will also be fitted. Other plans on the engine may yet see larger fuel injectors, a front mount intercooler and a new mappable ECU.

The running gear is also being upgraded to use a 5 speed DCCD gearbox, R180 rear diff, R180 driveshafts and R180 hubs. This will mean the transmission is stronger and the differentials can be locked at the flick of a switch to provide maximum grip at race starts. Two-pot rear calipers have also been bought and will replace the current sliding caliper items on the rear hubs for sharper braking. (Although a brake bias valve may be required to keep the balance and prevent the rears locking up first).

Further modifications will then be concerned with reducing weight and possibly adding aero modifications such as a rear underbody venturi tunnel. The doors may also be replaced with much lighter GRP versions with polycarbonate windows.

Karen is now a member of the British Womens Racing Driver Club (BWRDC). The club holds their own Championship based on the race results from whichever series the lady members race in. Karen will be competing for the Helen Spence Trophy. The club members have also been invited to compete at Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, and the hope is that Karen will be able to compete to experience this local historic venue.


Race Report - Brands Hatch DTM 3rd & 4th September

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Following the engine damage at Rockingham, TenguDo Motorsport pulled out all the stops to ensure Rexy II had a loan replacement engine ready for the Nippon Challenge support races for the DTM meeting at Brands Hatch. The engine itself had recently been rebuilt and was residing in another car, but was untested.

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Nerves were jangling on the run-up to qualifying with lots of incidents in the previous sessions and exciting (and noisy!) practice from the DTM cars. Unfortunately, there seemed to be issues with the new motor. It had problems revving out. As the session progressed the engine temperature began to rise. Obviously, this affected Karen's performance and she qualified about 2/3rds of the way down the field.

She started fairly well in Race 1, but an early incident saw the cars having to lap behind the Safety Car. After several laps, it had been decided that the incident was so severe as to require the race to be abandoned. Luckily, no-one was seriously injured. Due to a similar incident in the VW Scirocco support race there was no time left on the day to re-run the Nippon race.

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Race 2 therfore saw everyone retain their original starting positions from qualifying. TenguDo Motorsport had tried everything to try and get the car running correctly, they even managed to scratch build an Intercooler spray system from the windscreen washer system of Karen's Mercedes Sprinter support vehicle! It was all to no avail, as the car was as bad as before and Karen was forced to limp around and finish 2nd from last.

It was a very depressing end to a long weekend. It was also to mark the premature end of Karen's season. It had been decided that the loaned engine would be returned to TenguDo and Karen would need to source a new one for TenguDo to fettle ready for the following season. Meanwhile she would miss Nippon Challenge rounds at Mallory Park and Pembrey.


Race Report - Rockingham 21st August

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The 'Rock was a challenge for Karen... Early morning rain had cleaned up any decent rubber that had been layed down during the previous day. The track surface proved to be very low on grip.

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The Internaional circuit was being used by the Nippon Challenge, and as Karen was out on her initial qualifying lap she soon discovered the lack of grip and ended up spinning at the Tarzan hairpin.

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Karen gathered herself and got stuck back in, being more wary of the track surface whilst still trying to get heat into the tyres. Unfortunately, just as she began to get into a rhythm, she noticed power seemed to be dropping off. In a short while she began to notice white smoke behind the car and before too long the cabin started filling with it as well! With power failing and visibility becoming an issue the only safe course of action was to retire to the pits.

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The general consensus was that the turbo had failed completely or the turbo oil seals had gone. A turbo swap might have been conceivable if only we had a spare with us. That certainly might be resolved for future meetings but wasn't an option at Rockingham. Thus it was to be Karen's first ever DNS since she began racing in 2006. Despite doing only 4 laps with a failing car she managed to be classified in 26th place out of 33 runners.

Upon inspection back at TenguDo Motorsport HQ it became apparent the failure was much more severe than initially thought. Number three cylinder had lost its piston rings and the piston had been slightly melted. The rings had broken up and the bore was badly scored. The engine block was written-off. All the oil-smoke had been caused by oil seeping past the piston and being blown through the exhaust. A replacement engine was required before the next race meeting...


Race Report - Snetterton 300 25th June

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The Snetterton 300 meeting was the first event attended since Karen's car had been rebodied by TenguDo Motorsport. Despite some early morning rain, conditions for qualifying were good. Karen was enjoying the new Snetterton 300 layout with its mix of hairpins, sweeping curves and long straights. So much so, that she qualified in 8th overall and 4th in class.

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Race 1 saw Karen get a decent start and she was soon battling with Steve Cassar's Proton Coupe and Kevin Middleton's Subaru WRX. Kevin was chasing hard when Karen managed to overhaul Steve, leaving Steve and Kevin to battle each other behind her. Kevin came out on top but they were both still chasing her hard. Karen was keeping them at bay but suffered bad understeer coming out of the Agostini hairpin. She went off onto the grass and slid across the wet grass into the armco then span back across the track into the infield. The car had stalled and despite Karen's best efforts ito took ages to restart. Meanwhile she could see all her competitors approaching and then passing her. She managed to restart and join the track just as class rival Darren Hughes drove past!



Karen was mindful to check the car out as she tried to catch up, but her recovery was hampered by bad vibration. It turns out the soft Snetterton mud had coated the wheels and had thrown out the wheel balancing! She did a brilliant job of chasing Darren down but had to be content with finishing behind him by 1.5 seconds. Karen finished 13th overall and 5th in her class.

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It was heartbreaking to see the damage inflicted on the new bodyshell... However, the TenguDo crew weren't swayed by sentement and quickly got down to making repairs to enable the car to run again in Race 2. The wheels were swapped for another set and friends and helpers washed the mud from the car to make it look presentable again, even though it was missing the front spoiler which was feared had been destroyed in the shunt by the car driving over it!

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Karen was now forced to start Race 2 from 13th position and it was indeed unlucky for her as she was caught in a queue of traffic behind the slow starting Suzuki Swift of Andy McLennan. Karen then had to recover as many places as she could. She had fun fighting through the field to eventualy finish 9th Overall and 4th in class.



Despite the damage to the car and missing out on podium results within the Subaru Cup, Karen enjoyed her drives and finished the day with a smile on her face. She was possibly cheered up by the guys being able to find the front spoiler intact at the side of the circuit, needing only a little paint to look as good as new.

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Following the meeting, Rexy II was returned to TenguDo Motorsport to enble the crew to repair the panel damage ready for the next outing at Rockingham.


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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