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I have always stayed away from thruxton assuming that it was a power circuit and not going to be any fun in the mini.... might have to tick it off the list hearing your feedback :)

Also completely agree with what you have said about how much needs to be stripped to enjoy them on circuit.

I was also glad that I went club sport spec with and kept some comforts in mine, like carpet, door pockets and a radio for the drives to and from track. Its noisy enough on the road with a completely stripped rear, would dread to think what a fully stripped car would be like journeying too and from track.

One thing I doe regret is ditching rather than fixing the air-con when that failed, might have to stick it back in one day
 

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Discussion Starter · #182 ·
Thruxton definitely does favour cars with more power, but the R50s are lapping much quicker than practically everything that was there on the day. Great fun, either way - and those faster corners really separate the men from the boys.
 

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I'd quite like to drive Thruxton, isn't it supposed to be the fastest UK circuit or something? I don't care if I get passed, I'd just like to see how the car does with a slightly longer straight

Car sounds like it was a blast, I bet your Dad loved being behind the wheel.
 
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Sounds like it was a great day and the car performed really well. It’s great that your Dad got to experience his first time too, what did he think?

Glad you’re enjoying the recent changes you’ve had done. Sounds like you were going really well.
I was watching the R50 race the other week and it looked like a mental circuit that really seems to suit the mini. Plenty of offs in those races though!

Shame to read about the intercooler diverted looks like a decent bit of kit from photos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #186 · (Edited)
I'd quite like to drive Thruxton, isn't it supposed to be the fastest UK circuit or something? I don't care if I get passed, I'd just like to see how the car does with a slightly longer straight

Car sounds like it was a blast, I bet your Dad loved being behind the wheel.
I think I recall reading the same about Thruxton too. I wouldn't be surprised for it to be true either. Chatting with one of the guys from the Mini Challenge team ExcelR8 they suggested that the R50s only touch the brakes twice in a whole lap!

The curious thing, which you'll spot from the circuit layout, is that there isn't actually a long "straight". It's a series of long, sweeping corners, meaning that you really need to nail your lines to carry speed. However, it does mean for newbies that there isn't a straight where it's possible to just pull to the side and release the faster cars.

Dad loved it. He's a big car guy, but not a speed freak. In retrospect this was a tough first circuit for him. But being only 45min from where he lives, it made logistical sense. Plus, he knows which end of a spanner to hold...
 

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Discussion Starter · #187 ·
So, my date with Cadwell awaits this time next week!

A group of 6 of us are driving up and staying in a hotel overnight on the Sunday (Lincoln is too far to do in a day from Inner London), in anticipation of a great day of changeable weather. All of the others did the trip last year (that I missed due to being in the US with work - no chance of that at the moment!), so I'm likely to be at a disadvantage in terms of familiarity alone. It's a shame that the current situation precludes in-car coaching, so I'll need to do some swotting up before I go.

The car hasn't turned a wheel in almost 3 weeks now, so I should probably take it for a run and blow the cobwebs out before Sunday evening...
 

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Cadwell is absolutely epic, Coppice is flat out in the dry, 4-wheel sliding through the Gooseneck is face-splitting fun, getting air at the entrance to the mountain and the switch-backs of Hall bends are just insane.

You WILL love it.
 

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Some track day organisers are still allowing in-car tuition, I had some at an MSVT day at Brands last week.

Heard great things about Cadwell, hope to make it there next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #190 ·
Cadwell Park was everything I hoped it would be, and more. In slight contravention of the rules, we booked as a group of 9 cars so that we could take a gazebo etc. to stash tools/bags/spares in while we were out on track. Going as a group is always great fun, because it means you can jump in and out of each others' cars and maximise time on track while also observing as a passenger. Win-win.

101590


As I've mentioned previously, most of this group managed a trip this time last year while I was in the US with work, so they had the benefit of knowing the track. After the long drive up and overnight stay at a nice little Spa hotel, we awoke to biblical rain and a puddle in my battery well - must sort that rear screen seal out! Mercifully the rain stopped around 9am and held off for the rest of the day, barring an odd sprinkling.

101592


However, Cadwell track is covered by overhanging trees in lots of places, so even though a dry line started to emerge bits of the track remained treacherous on semis! I went out on my wet wheels/tyres (MG Straights and Michelin PS4s) in the morning, and the car generally felt pretty stable when driven smoothly. The graceless 60mph 4-wheel drift I pulled off at Park suggested that it wasn't quite ready to be pushed, yet. I came back in and wound a couple of clicks of damping out of the rear shocks, and the car felt a lot more stable.

101591


As the track started to dry out, I took the decision to switch onto my dry wheels/tyres (15" ultra-lightweights and R888Rs) so that I could go straight out and start pushing on a dry track post-lunch. Having managed to swap them over in fairly short order, I found myself at the front of the queue when the track reopened, and was rewarded with a few wonderful, traffic-free laps playing with a 981 Boxster. The car felt brilliant - the chassis behaved well, and the brakes were fiercely strong with almost no fade.

As the afternoon went on, I got progressively braver, quicker and smoother. However, I still couldn't muster up the guts to take Coppice as fast as I should have. One of my group also bought a track R53 around the same time as me, but had the benefit of tuition when he came last year. I took him out as a passenger so I could get some pointers, and it transpired that I'd been in the wrong gear (as you'll hear from the conversation) for most corners all day... Balls.


We called it a day as the sun was heading down, and packed up ahead of the 4hr trip back to London. Gross. The drive home was largely uneventful, but it seems like the heat that the XP8s are putting through the front brakes has caused the calipers to bind a little on both sides. No damage done, but hot/smelly brakes on the way home were a bit of a pain. I'm also dealing with a bit of a rattle from the front-left that @CarsOrBikes suggests might be a loose coilover collar.

Either way, the next job is to drop it to BMS in Leatherhead for a bit of a post-track, lockdown fettle. I've also been chatting with a company called The Tuning Society, based in Basingstoke, about the idea of fitting some bigger injectors and mapping so that I have a bit more headroom in my AFRs at the top end of the rev range. A winter project, perhaps?

101593
 

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Lovely write up, looks like you had a great day and got some luck with the weather too.

Looks like an immense track with those elevation changes! Seems quite skinny width wise too which I'm sure adds to the adrenaline.
 

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Discussion Starter · #192 ·
Lovely write up, looks like you had a great day and got some luck with the weather too.

Looks like an immense track with those elevation changes! Seems quite skinny width wise too which I'm sure adds to the adrenaline.
The nickname "The mini-Ring" is pretty apt. It's very unforgiving in places, as a couple of other attendees found out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #193 · (Edited)
So, BMS in Leatherhead proved useless when I called them up to book the car in.

After a bit of digging on the R53OC Facebook group, a chap called Scott from Autotech Motorsport (based in Carshalton - London/Sussex borders) who run cars in the Mini Challenge got in touch.

Net is that I'm going to drop the car down to him for:
  1. Figure out why my front brakes are binding (probably cooked them at Cadwell)
  2. Fit some ducts if it appears that overheating was the root cause
  3. Check out the rattle from the front-left suspension (suspected coilover collar)
  4. Oil and filter change and a general check-up
After some early disappointment with Mini specialists down here, resulting in me driving all the way to @CarsOrBikes for all of my work, I'm keen to see whether I can find someone reliable to pick up the ongoing smaller maintenance jobs. I'm cautiously optimistic, and will report back.

Upgrades are going on the backburner for a bit while we figure out buying a house in the countryside, hopefully with a garage so I can move the Mini off the street and out of London. Maybe it might even encourage me to do a bit of my own spannering? Probably not...

If anyone was interested, the 2-series hybrid is probably going back to the leasing company at the end of the year. Current favourite is the Rav4 hybrid, which should make trekking between city and countryside fairly painless (until I can justify something a bit more fruity for myself next year - current fave is a M235i).
 

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Reliable people really are hard to find, don’t blame you for travelling all the way to Sean tbh.

Mrs is a big fan of the new Rav4 hybrids, they’re on the shortlist for when we change the family wagon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #195 ·
So, early indications are the the brakes got VERY hot at either Thruxton or Cadwell (or both), which isn't surprising given that both have big braking zones. Autotech are going to rebuild both calipers, and drop the foglights so that we can fit some vents. Ducting looks like it's going to go through the arch liner, and directly onto the disc via a modified backplace (as they do in the Cooper Challege).

Frustratingly Scott has struggled to replicate the suspension clonk, and suggested that everything looked to be bolted up nice and tight (classic @CarsOrBikes attention to detail). I've asked him to keep digging, because I'd prefer the peace of mind of being as thorough as possible.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to getting it back ahead of another Christmas holiday run in rural Norfolk (sadly we need to take two cars because of various family duties - so I get stuck with the Mini!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #196 ·
Looking at 2021 trackday bookings already. Currently locked in for Snetterton 300 (a new track) on the 23rd of Feb with the usual group, which is another track I've been wanting to do for ages.

My big goal for 2021 on track will be to do a proper trackday at the Ring. It's expensive at £500 for the day, but the closed track and limited numbers should make it worthwhile. I'm aiming at an early July date, with the hope I can take a nice little group over and stay for a few days (maybe do a bit of TF around the trackday).

Update from Autotech is that we might have solved the suspension noise by nipping a bolt up by a half turn. Fingers crossed! Calipers have been rebuilt, and ducts should hopefully be going in tomorrow, so I can pick up on Saturday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #197 ·
Well, the Christmas run to the countryside and back proved that the caliper rebuild, while probably needed, wasn't the silver bullet that would solve the binding.

Looks like it's off back to Autotech to take another look. Slightly frustrating, but this does seem to have only been a feature since fitting the Carbotechs.

Current trackday plans include another Thruxton day in mid-April (this time with a larger group), and hopefully convincing a few of the group to book the Ring for July (now up to £600 because we didn't book by the end of Dec!).
 

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Get the calipers off & see how free the pads are in the calipers.

Several times over the years I have had to dress pads up a bit with a file/dremmel/angle grinder to get them to move freely in the calipers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #199 ·
Get the calipers off & see how free the pads are in the calipers.

Several times over the years I have had to dress pads up a bit with a file/dremmel/angle grinder to get them to move freely in the calipers.
It seems a bit like this might be a feature of the Carbotechs, so it's off to Autotech again. Would be good to just get this sorted, because it's a pain to use the car on the road.

Thruxton booked for the 6th of April.
 

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Discussion Starter · #200 · (Edited)
Just remembered that my MOT is due at the end of the month!

Will be booking myself in with my friend-of-a-friend mechanic in North London. I'm sure he's not short of work at the moment, but given the state of the economy I'd prefer my cash went in his pocket.

MOT history suggests I've managed about 3k miles in the past year, which is surprisingly high.

ETA: Looks like my late Feb trackday at Snetterton is in jeopardy, but I'm staying optimistic in the grand scheme of things.
 
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