September to October 2001 rambles

Yokohama A032Rs, Tillet seat at Cadwell, Seven Club meeting report, Caterham spending spree.

Yokohama A032Rs

Did I ever mention how comfortable the A539s were? Bumps were well concealed, but probably at the expense of handling. They had provided fine service for 15,000 miles, but the rears were just about down to the legal minimum, so it was time to shop around for replacements. I'd always fancied some stickier rubber, but I managed to talk myself out of it on the basis that I drive mostly on the road, and I couldn't justify the expense of rapidly-wearing boots. Trying some Yoko A021s on friends' cars at the Curborough Handling Day in June convinced me that I needed to try something better on my car, even if only so that I knew what I was missing. This impression was merely reinforced when I had to put up with blatant sliding at Wroughton and Cadwell Park.

I wanted to replace the A539s with Yoko A021Rs, but Yokohama UK told me that they are winding down for the winter, and they probably wouldn't have any in my size until the New Year. So... I got Yokohama A032Rs ("soft" compound) fitted all round yesterday, and they're not comfortable. The extra sidewall stiffness is instantly apparent. They also only have about 4.5mm of tread, according to my gauge.

Of course the up-side is that the 032s grip. Early impressions were favourable, but I found out that they had been inflated to 22 psi (despite my request for them to be set to 17). I got chance today to set them to 16 psi, then go for a drive, but it started to rain almost as soon as I left the house. These tyres are fantastic in the wet. I obviously didn't push them too far, but they are in an entirely different league to the 539s.

The main questions remaining are how quickly the 032s will wear, and how the grip (particularly in the wet) will change as they age. When the tyres were fitted I'd done 40149 miles, so the clock is counting.

I bought the 032s from Bracknell Tyres (01344 411323), where I also bought my 539s, and I can recommend them. They charged £68 each, all in, which was a pretty good match for George Polley once you add the postage and cost of fitting. Much more convenient too.

Saturday 20th October 2001. Link to this ramble.

Tillet seat at Cadwell

Steve and Phil came round on the 29th and fitted my new seat for me. It's great; really cossetting, and no less comfy than my old leather seat. My only initial criticism is that the black glassfibre gets quite cold. It will be interesting to see what it's like in the winter.

My new seat got it's first proper workout on the 5th at the Slipstream track day at Cadwell Park. No complaints. It's reassuring knowing that you are planted firmly in your seat, and you're not going to move around under braking or have to hold on to the steering wheel when cornering.

My friend Simon came along as a passenger, and we both stayed at his parent's house in Nottingham on Thursday night, so as to shorten the Friday morning journey. We had a leisurely drive up (with Simon in his Impreza), arriving at 8:30 which was supposed to be the end of signing-on. Fortunately this had been extended so we both managed to sign our life away before the driver's briefing. We also met up with Steve (who was hoping that 40 bhp more, wider, stickier tyres, and aeroscreens would be enough to keep him ahead of me) and passenger Phil. Simon's got the hatch / estate version of the Scooby, and it was very civilised having somewhere dry to dump our stuff during the day.

The track was sodden, so I tip-toed my way round the first session. Simon joined me for the second, but it was still pretty slow, with lots of concentration required just to keep the car pointing in roughly the right direction.

At about 10:40 the rain started to pour down, and the track was closed until just after 11. By the time I got back on the track was drying nicely, and it just got better through the rest of the day. At first the dry track was still a little slippery, but the last few sessions allowed maximum attack.

Next year I should have Yoko A021Rs fitted, and hopefully my JPE aeroscreen too. It will be interesting to see what they do both to my lap times (about 1:55 with a passenger this year) and max speed (mostly 99.something mph, with a best of 100.7).

The day was very well run. One complaint I've had with other Cadwell days is that its difficult to figure out which session is on track next (especially when people crash, or rain stops play). This was the first time I've heard the paddock PA system being used, to great effect.

Phil caught the Cadwell bug, and will be back in his own car next year.

Simon headed off back to Nottingham, and I convoyed back home with Steve and Phil. Phil navigated and chose an entertaining route down to the A1(M); I must remember to find out what roads we used.

The journey home turned out to be eventful for Steve, because his right rear tyre blew out on the motorway. By the time he pulled over onto the hard shoulder the inside of the tyre had gone, and the car was being held up on the remaining sidewall. It turned out that a screw had become embedded in the tread, so the 21 dodged any blame.

See a video of a lap of Cadwell, at the Lancer Register web site.

I crashed on an earlier visit to Cadwell.

Sunday 14th October 2001. Link to this ramble.

Seven Club meeting report for July to September

Added Steve Foster's report for the July to September meetings of the L7C Hants. (North) & Berks. area.

Saturday 13th October 2001. Link to this ramble.

Amateur coverage of the World Trade Centre attack

These links will probably expire sooner than most, but here they are anyway. These are the best pictures and article I've been able to find, written by "ordinary" folk. Somehow it makes it seem more real. These photos by professional photograper James Nachtwey are also worth a special mention. Particularly his shot of the ruins.

Friday 14th September 2001. Link to this ramble.

Alternative coverage of the US terrorist strikes

Scripting News is an excellent news and gossip site, particularly if you're interested in open internet protocols such as XML-RPC and SOAP. It is one of many sites that have stepped in over the past few days to both supplement the main news sites, and provide an alternative when they buckled under load.

There are links to lots of good stuff, including pictures of Manhattan from space, articles much more opinionated than you tend to hear from the BBC, and personal accounts from relatives of people who died. Of course you have to be capable of judging what is accurate and what isn't, but this stuff is a lot more thought-provoking than the continuous footage of the planes hitting the towers that we've been getting on TV.

Friday 14th September 2001. Link to this ramble.

New Area Organiser for L7C North Hants and Berks

Simon is moving out of the area, so Steve Foster has taken over the reins of the North Hants and Berks area.

Thursday 13th September 2001. Link to this ramble.

Driving sideways - world record

The latest issue of evo arrived this morning. There's an article about a guy called Simon le Banke who has set a world record for driving sideways in a Subaru Impreza, at MIRA. He managed to last 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 18 seconds! And I've met him! He was on the same Wetter the Better course that I did a couple of years ago, and he was pretty good even then. Don commented that he'd never seen a better pupil, and I remember that Simon enjoyed it so much he went back again the following weekend. Top bloke.

Tuesday 11th September 2001. Link to this ramble.

Caterham spending spree

I went on a spending spree at Caterham on Saturday, and bought two rear wings (with protectors and piping), an R500-style Tillett seat (glassfibre), and a JPE-style perspex aeroscreen. I'd already compared my car's red paint with a standard Caterham red car, and decided that the match is close enough. I took my nosecone with me to Caterham so that I could do a final check, and didn't change my mind.

Phil came round early on Sunday morning to help change the broken wing. It took longer than expected, but it's fiddly rather than difficult. We took the old wing off, and made a template by sticking masking tape to the car-side of the wing, marking where the edge and all of the holes were. We then stuck this on the new wing, and drilled the holes. It fitted perfectly. The only problem was that the new wing only had a hole for the radius arm (?) to fit in one of its positions, and mine are mounted in the other hole, so we had to hacksaw a chunk out of the inside of the wing (hidden when fitted).

Rather than bother cutting up a new piece of piping, we just washed the old one and reused it. We couldn't do that for the bit that goes around the protector, because it's a new design which is taller than the old one (the Caterham guy told me that they made this change in 1996, so my car must have been slightly too old). Hint: when you cut vees into the hidden bit of the piping so that it will go round corners, use a knife, not scissors; much quicker. Also, don't bother trying to drill holes into it before fitting. Just fit, drill, rivet.

The colour match is remarkably close, although you can tell the difference in flat daylight (like when it's overcast). I have no idea why the original owner paid to have the wings painted.

Thanks to Phil for his generous assistance, Michael Calvert for letting me compare my car's red paint with his standard Caterham red car, and Roy Booth for organising a Sevens-list purchase of plastic bolts ages ago.

Next on the list of things to do is to replace the near-side wing. I also need to get the driver's side of my tonneau modified to fit over the Tillett headrest. Until this is done I can't replace the seat and fit the aeroscreen, because I won't be able to use the tonneau or the hood.

Friday 7th September 2001. Link to this ramble.

This page is It was first published on Saturday 10 November, 2001 and last updated on Saturday 10 November, 2001.