Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Castle Coombe

Nick Faure and I were good friends and our friendship grew during this period. I remember Nick asking John and Peter to let him take one of the RGO 2.7 lightweight Carreras down to Castle Coombe, which was under the control of AFN in those days, to do some testing. Nick came into the workshop at AFN and asked me if I would like to come along for the day. I jumped at the chance and it was later decided a few of us would go down and try and optimise the performance and handling of both RGO 3L and RGO 2L.
We took a different selection of torsion and anti-roll bars with us and the required tools to set-up the camber, tracking, fuel injection and ignition timing. After arriving at Castle Coombe, Nick went out and did lap after lap and we fine-tuned the fuel injection set-up. I had done a lot of such testing at Maltin’s, so I was used to working with a driver who could feed me information to fine tune settings.
On the Porsche 2.7 Carrera, which had Bosch mechanical fuel injection, you could adjust the main mixture on the injection pump by use of a very long thin screwdriver that turned a screw located behind the Allen cap bolt. The idle mixture could also be independently adjusted via a spring-loaded 8mm screw just beneath it. You could also check all the six butterfly valves were synchronised and adjust all the throttle linkages and balance the six air intakes via idle screws with lock nuts, for smoother idle running. Whilst we had set-up both cars in the AFN workshops, in my opinion we could possible improve upon this at the track by gaining driver feedback. After trying a number of settings, we settled on the performance of the engines and Nick turned his attention to the suspension.
Nick took me around Castle Coombe, which was my very first trip around this circuit and also sitting as a passenger by Nick’s side on a racetrack. We both got strapped in and wore crash helmets and started our lap. Nick said the car would be a bit slower with a passenger but this passed over my head, as all I could do was try and keep my cool as we hurtled around corners, which to me were at unbelievable speeds. We finished the first lap and then continued on for a second and this time the tyres were warming up and Nick said the car felt better. I can remember to this day, Nick looking across at me laughing, one hand working on the steering wheel and one waving through gestures explaining the under steer problem he was experiencing. I was just petrified and gripping the passenger door handle and seat holding on for dear life! After a few laps I got a little more used to things and my confidence in Nick grew rapidly. He was a very gifted driver on and off the track and eventually I became quite relaxed with him at the wheel.
We changed the front anti-roll bar and Nick took the Carrera out again on his own and he came back and said this was an improvement. That day, we changed these anti-roll bars around and around to finally get the optimum set-up and finally left with a satisfied Nick. I drove back to AFN in one Carrera with Nick and he was a lot of fun to be with.
I loved those weekends away racing, albeit it was a bit “Mickey Mouse” in comparison to other Porsche motor racing I had been involved in previously, but I enjoyed the year and of course we cleaned up and won the Championship for Porsche.
John Stefano owned and drove another LHD Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS lightweight and competed in the same Championship. 

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