Race Report – Silverstone 10th May


Image copyright Ian Lockley, used with kind permission.

Karen and Richard were a little unsure of how Karen's car would perform compared to others in the CSCC Modern Classics series on the Silverstone National circuit. Silverstone is a bit of a power circuit made up of three straights(ish). It was expected that cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche 911s and Boxsters would romp away due to decent power and higher top speeds. More importantly, how would it compare to Richard Hayes' Celica GT4 which is rapid in a straight line?

Conditions were dry for qualifying and Karen was first out. It was clear to Richard from the pit wall that something was definitely wrong when Karen passed by on her second flying lap. The car didn't sound right and it was visibly slower than the previous lap. After a couple more laps Karen came into the pits. Richard checked under the bonnet and couldn't find anything amiss. After sending Karen back out for another few laps there was no improvement...

They swapped places and Richard drove out onto the circuit. It was immediately apparent that the car was totally flat and there was no reading on the boost gauge. Richard drove carefully around the circuit and straight back into the pit lane. There was no point continuing in this manner. Enough laps had been done to qualify for the race, but as expected the grid position was extremely low. They were 31st out of 32 runners. Virtually last!

Meanwhile the Celica GT4 had qualified in 18th position, this meant he was in a much better position to take class honours.

Image copyright Ian Lockley, used with kind permission.

Karen, Richard and Neville Anderson set about trying to resolve the lack of boost. If they didn't manage to fix it there was little point in Karen and Richard starting the race. Neville was the most successful driver in the series the previous year and it was fantastic to have his help and support. Between them they solved a boost solenoid issue, a loose boost hose and a loose vacuum hose from the turbo. With that done, the car was taken for a short test drive and it worked perfectly. The race was on!

Richard took the start and made steady progress through the field. Towards the end of his stint he could see the Celica GT4 a short distance ahead. The pit stop went well and Karen drove out onto the circuit full bore doing her very best to try and gain pace on the Celica. Unfortunately it was too high a mountain to climb and at the end of the race the pair finished in 20th position. A very creditable finish considering where they started but not enough to beat Richard Hayes who's Celica GT4 finished in 16th position, a mere 22 seconds ahead.

It was the following day when Karen and Richard discovered that Richard Hayes had been given a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement. It turns out he never undertook the penalty and was given two penalty points on his race license. Yet for some reason the race result had not been amended with any time or position penalty. Having spoken to club officials it was too late to change the result but plans are in place to prevent such things happening in future.

The AIM SOLO GPS successfully recorded all the race details and below are combined traces showing  Karen's and Richard's best laps. (Karen's in red, Richard's in green).

As can be seen, the traces are very close with only minor differences. It shows the maximum speed attained was 121mph. Plans are to being drawn up to try and improve this. It will very interesting to see if the traces are so close after the next race that Karen and Richard plan to compete in at Rockingham, which is a much more technical circuit.

Slippery When Wet!


Following the recent problems in wet weather qualifying it was decided that a new set of tyres were required to improve performance. After an amount of research and speaking to several drivers in the series, it was decided that a set of Yokohama AD08 tyres were required.

These look fantastic with a great sipe pattern to best cut through water. However, they're apparently very good in dry weather too which may help out when conditions are uncertain. These tyres would replace the Federal 595 tyres which weren't performing in the wet as hoped.

The wheels that they would be fitted on had received a few battle scars in the past and Richard took the opportunity to tidy them up and also make a change from the gold colour that neither he nor Karen were very keen on.

Another effort to improve performance came in the form of an AIM SOLO GPS lap timer. This piece of kit figures out which circuit is being driven and then derives sector and lap times accordingly. It can also provide predictive lap times and allows the time and speed data to be downloaded to a laptop for investigation and comparison purposes.

No doubt the purchase of expensive new wet weather tyres will ensure that Karen and Richard enjoy perfectly dry conditions for the rest of the racing season!

Race Report – Snetterton 11th April


The first race of the 2015 season saw Karen and Richard returning to Snetterton to race on the 300 circuit configuration. They practised on the day before the racing and things were going well. Hopes were high for a good result.

Race day dawned damp and drizzly. The decision was taken to qualify on the Federal FZ01 race tyres but as Karen waited to go out onto the circuit the heavens opened with a massive downpour. The tyres would be fairly useless in such an amount of water. The only option was to switch the car into full 4WD with the diffs locked 50/50.

Despite the poor performance of the tyres, the diffs kept the car (mostly) on the tarmac. Understeer was much greater but the car was predictable and when the power was applied it was shared out and didn't overwhelm the rear tyres to cause a spin. Ultimately, they qualified 28th out of 37 on the grid. Still not a sparkling performance, but nowhere near last. Their class competition was in the form of Richard Hayes' Toyota Celica GT4. He had a better qualifying session and began in 18th place.

The race had a rolling start and Richard took this. Within half a lap he'd passed several cars and had caught up with the Celica GT4. Thinking the race was going his way, Richard was stunned when the Celica simply romped off into the distance along the back straight. Slowly but surely he would track it down again, only to suffer with wayward handling each time he got close.

It transpired later that the Celica was dropping coolant onto the track, and began to overheat. It went in for its pit stop and never returned to the track. This meant that Karen simply had to finish the race to achieve a class win. That she certainly did with style, holding off the advances of Nick Sanderson in his rapid Sea Leon Turbo.

A great result for the team, but it looks there's stiff competition in Richard Hayes' Toyota Celica GT4 when it runs without trouble...

A rapid weight loss program!


It's been a long running plan to replace the doors with lighter GRP versions and all the window glass (Other than the windscreen) with lighter lexan. This task was entrusted to Russ Hennessey Motorsport Ltd. Russ made a fantastic job which required an awful lot of bespoke work.

It's certainly made a difference. Running on fumes the car now weighs 1109kg without a driver. Yet there are still more plans for further weight reduction...

Race Report – Snetterton 18th October


Qualifying at Snetterton was in the dry, but the circuit itself was still very wet and greasy. Karen and Richard felt it was a bit of a struggle but they still managed to qualify in 10th position and ahead of their class competition.

Karen drove the rolling start, but was immediately mugged by Carl Owen's Audi TT which meant class honours were now at stake. There was a safety car incident which helped keep in touch with the Audi. Meanwhile she was working hard to stay ahead of Rob Baker's very rapid Smart Four Four.

Once again Karen and Richard were operating alone, yet their pit-stop seemed fairly good. Richard didn't fail to notice that he'd come out just behind Carl's Audi and he tried rather too hard too soon. He tried to carry too much speed into the chicane after the Bentley Straight and ended up going off circuit. Not only did this lose him time against the Audi, but he had to yield to a Porsche 944 as he recovered. It didn't take him long to regain the position, but he then went too deep into the hairpin and had a major drift on the greasy surface off-line. This resulted in another visit to the grass and it looks like these disturbances helped loosen a front boost pipe. At the end of that lap the exhaust note changed and there was a major power loss resulting in retirement.

A very disappointing DNF which Richard felt responsible for...

Race Report – Oulton Park 20th September


Karen and Richard qualified 13th out of 19 runners. The race began with a standing start and Karen had the first stint. Conditions had been wet but the track was drying by race time. Karen really enjoyed her drive and the car seemed to be performing well.

The pair were operating alone and had to perform their pit-stop without any help. Despite this it was a good stop and they leap-frogged the MX5 that Karen had followed into the pits.

Richard also thoroughly enjoyed his drive, the track seeming to suit the characteristics of the Impreza very well. Towards the end of the race Richard was passed by a BMW 1 Series, but later on he re-took the place as the BMW began to have a problem.

Karen and Richard finished 11th overall and 1st in class.

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.

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