Rehosted Blog

I am hosting my own blog now, the redirect that used to take you from this wordpress site to has now expired.  So you now need to navigate direct to

Thank you

NMW: M-Sport opens its doors for Student Engineering Seminar

In conjunction with the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), and National Motorsport Week 2012, M-Sport – the company behind Ford’s assault on the World Rally Championship (WRC) since 1997 – will open its doors for students to attend a unique engineering seminar on Monday 2 July.

Buy a Gift: Caterham Fastest Blogger Challenge

Buy a Gift –

Buy a Gift are a website offering “Driving experiences” with a variety of themes.
Buyagift was founded in 1999 by Dan Mountain. We started in a bedroom at Dan´s family home in Muswell Hill and after eleven successful years Buyagift HQ is now a lively, open plan office in New Barnet with over 70 employees. We have also recently expanded into Europe with our French operation,, in Paris and in Spain.
Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our team we continue to grow every year; currently at a rate of more than 20 per cent. Buyagift Plc made sales of over £20 million last year in the UK and is also proud to be part of an international group of gift experience companies Smart & Co. Smart & Co operates in over 20 countries worldwide and annually makes sales of over €350 million a year.
Buyagift also has its own corporate sales division; Buyagift Corporate who specialise in incentive schemes, loyalty rewards, team building activities, long service awards, corporate gifts and prizes.
Our corporate team work with large and small companies to serve a range of needs, as well as offering competitive discounts and an unbeatable service to help you serve your clients more effectively.
For this event the theme was obviously Motorsport with 17 bloggers from a variety of backgrounds taking part. Not simply Motorsport bloggers, but health, lifestyle and general news blogs. The aim of the day was to see who was the blogger with the best skills in drifting. Clearly previous experience of any form of motorsport was not necessarily an advatange.

The car –

The cars we used are Caterham 7’s, these are based on the classic Lotus 7. They are the latest incarnation of the breed, with 1.6l 150hp Ford Engines. The chassis is a steel spaceframe with independant double wishbone front suspension and a De Dion rear axle. To suit the Drift challenge the cars are set up with softer compound front yres and harder rears, no front antirollbar and a stiff setting on the rear ARB.


The Track –
Set out in a car park at the Silverstones circuit, there were three track layouts used as we grew in expereience. Firstly a single short cuve followed by solitary for completing a rolling donut around. This then progressed into a figure of eight track, with longer turns to drift around. After lunch the “Uber” drift course was set up with a long slalom followed by a donut cone, then another more open slalom with a final donut cone.


Unlike track driving or road driving, drifting is a more aggressive form of driving. More abrupt inputs are used to get the rear tyres unloaded and spinning. The process is to brake hard into a turn, put on lock as the brakes come off then stabs at the throttle. The usual smooth transistion from on-off throttle and braking to turn in aren’t rewarded. It takes several runs to understand the style that is required. As the car switches from drift to grip the steering needs to return to on-centre rapidly, faster than you can turn the wheel so releasing the wheel is required to let it lightly spin through your hands before regaining a grip and steering into the next turn.

The experience

We started on the simple course with trying to get the cars tail kicked out, each driver gets two runs to perfect the technque. In the morning we had three runs on thge simple course and two runs on the figure of eight course. After each run the instructors point out issues with your technique, the constructive advice soon finds you making step improvements on each run.
Common pitfalls are using the cones as apex markers and you ending up running wide for the rest of the turn or worse oversteering into the subsequent cones. A wide entrance is required, with you needign to be 3-4 metres away and alongside the cone before turn-in, then as you come off the brakes, add steering lock and once you’re turned-in stab the power. This kicks the rear wheels out and then you keep reapplying stabs of power to keep the slide going. Being smooth like in circuit racing will just see you running quickly through the turn and not getting into a full tyre spinning slide. Every run you become more aggressive with the throttle. By the time we’ve had a few runs on the afternoons “Uber” drift track, you find the aggression is still there, but you’re merging the slides into a constant drift even with a direction changes.

After a full day with lots of runs, we had the finale. This was a single practice run, followed by more feedback, then a final run for which you’re judged by all the professional drivers and given a score. All 17 of us were given a score based on our drifting skills, which lead to the prizegiving. I came fifth with a score just 6 percent off the leader. I was pleased with that result and overall I was extremely pleased with the Caterham Drifting Driving Experience. Its not a conventional driving day, its part race driving skills and part Top Gear style hooning around with smoking rear tyres. I’d thoroughly recommend it to any petrol head

RenaultSport: Technical Feature on Engine Mapping/Tyre Management

Spanish Grand Prix Technical Feature

I rarely post press releases in their entirety.  This feature from RenaultSport was so interesting I though it worth sharing with you all.

They’ve been the talking point of the season so far: Pirelli’s P Zero tyres. As the sole point of contact to the track, and thus the point through which an engine delivers its power to the circuit, tyre wear is of vital importance to Renault Sport F1’s engineers too.

And, as Renault Sport F1 Williams’ track engineer David Lamb divulges, its importance is something of which engine engineers are only too aware.

“For the first couple of races tyre wear really wasn’t so high, but in Shanghai and Bahrain the tyre wear was a lot more noticeable and became one of the key performance differentiators. The rears are generally the first to go because of the stress they are subjected to under braking and accelerating, so we immediately knew we could help in preserving the tyres.

“When a driver lifts off the throttle, the rears are unloaded, but when the power is reapplied, the forces going through the tyre are accentuated. This constant on-off pressure really increases the wear rate and if you lock the tyres under braking it doesn’t just cost lap time, it also heats the tyres up, which accelerates wear.

“The first thing you can do to reduce locking and improve the wear rate is to keep some torque from the engine when the driver lifts his foot off the pedal, so even when you’ve got zero percent input from the pedal you can still ask for some torque from the engine. This will be done in the way you map the engine. It squares up the rear of the car, stops it from locking and reduces the tyre wear as a result. It is actually still a negative torque because it is illegal to ask for a positive torque from the engine if the pedal is at zero percent. The driver will have probably three or four options available to him, dependant on in-race scenarios.”

The concept thus seems simple enough, but it will come as little surprise to learn that the benefits of utilising such a technique must be measured against its shortcomings.

“The big downside to this is that fuel consumption will, of course, go up: it increases incrementally depending on how much of a push you use. The fuel consumption increase can be as high as one or two percent per lap, so you’re looking at maybe an extra three kilos of fuel at the start of the race. The weight leads to slower lap times, to the tune of a few hundredths per lap. It’s an irony that you can use the push to help tyre wear but carrying the extra weight of the fuel to facilitate this push may have a negative impact on tyre wear!

A further disadvantage is that operating temperatures can increase: “As you are using the engine on overrun and therefore using it for longer over the lap, you are also looking at a slight increase in operating temperatures. Generally it shouldn’t be a problem in Barcelona, but in Bahrain where ambient temperatures were a lot higher we were on the edge.”

Firing on overrun is not the only tool available to Renault Sport F1’s engineers however. As David explains, throttle mapping has never been more crucial.

“The other factor in terms of tyre wear that is important to factor in is the use of pedal maps; that is, the percentage of pedal application in relation to percentage of torque being used.

“A crude example could be if a driver says, ‘OK, when the throttle is at 30 percent, I want 15 percent of the engine torque.’ A soft pedal map is when a driver has quite a bit of modulation initially, but correspondingly he will always have less progression at the higher throttle positions because 0% and 100% throttle position have to correspond to minimum and maximum engine torque (again as per the rules) – i.e. anything you take at the start to increase progression will be paid for with a loss of resolution at somepoint later on.

“This, of course, has a huge effect on the manner in which the tyres are used as we have to be very specific for each driver, from track to track and even corner to corner to ensure as little wheelspin as possible. As engineers, it is in this mapping that one of the more enjoyable challenges lies.

“There are, of course, limitations that have been placed upon pedal maps so that a version of traction control doesn’t edge its way back into the sport and the FIA is quite strict on how we use pedal maps, especially on launch procedure. But Fridays now see us working incredibly hard to make sure that we hone our pedal maps for each corner and for each driver to make sure that they are happy with throttle application and power output.”

Renault Sport F1 certainly seems to have got on top of the challenges presented by the new competitive face of Formula 1 in 2012, with the running order at the last race a clear sign of the progress made over the opening rounds of the championship.

“The Bahrain result was fabulous for everyone at Renault. To have the top four powered by Renault was a great result. It gave everyone a boost going into the Mugello test and now this race in Spain.”

Nissan and PlayStation GT Academy: virtual-to-reality racing competition

Nissan and PlayStation have once again joined forces to run a fourth instalment of the innovative GT Academy virtual-to-reality racing competition. While the four previous GT Academy graduates line up in top-level race series in 2012, the programme that set them on their path to motor sport fame has once again opened to competitors, starting on 1st May 2012.

Jann Mardenborough, the 2011 GT Academy winner, has got his career off to a flying start. He achieved a podium finish in the Dubai 24h race in January and is now competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series in a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. We have been following Jann during his preparations for the 2012 season and in his first race in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza. The link below is a film of Jann competing at Monza. I hope you agree it demonstrates the emotional side of the sport, highlighted when the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 was in 14th place overall and slowed to an agonising crawl at the final corner of the three-hour Blancpain Endurance race. The GT Academy RJN team managed to bring the car across the finish line in 34th position overall. Jann and his team mates will be competing in the next round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at Silverstone on 3rd June.