Clare Horner was prevented from taking further part in the third round of the British Autograss Series at Stroud when her Class Eight car failed a noise test after her first qualifying heat.
The decision was taken by the organising club’s scrutineers and backed up by chairman Dave Smith. “The car had failed a noise test at scrutineering and they knew that we would check the car again. It failed and that is the end of her event,” he said.
The programme of random checks on cars in all classes that is being carried out at all BAS events, continued at Stroud. Horner was the only BAS-registered driver to have a problem during the course of the event.
The scrutineering checks were overseen by BAS Committee member Simon Bentley who said NASA would be notified of problems on ten cars, none of which was driven by registered BAS competitors.
All specials will have to be fitted with steel floors next year. © Tim Whittington
The April meeting of the Scrutineers’ committee resulted in unanimous support for a proposal that all specials must have a steel floor from the start of the 2010 season.
“There have been some accidents recently that, while they may not be connected [with thin floors] have served as a warning. I think that by specifying a stronger floor safety could be improved,” said NASA’s technical director Dave Walker who added that the proposal has been discussed with and has the broad support of constructors. The proposal put to the directors specifies a 2mm steel floor, welded to the chassis.
There is likely to be a further change to the specials rules as a proposal to make ‘downtubes’ (from the top of the cab to the front of the chassis) mandatory is also under consideration. “I think forward facing bars will also be approved, at the moment we’re looking at what’s out there now to help decide a spec,” said Walker.
There will be stronger floors for specials if Walker's plan progresses.
Autograss specials will have to be fitted with steel floors if changes to the regulations being discussed are approved. NASA’s director for technical issues, Dave Walker has revealed that he is looking closely at specifying a minimum standard for floors on open-wheel cars for safety reasons.
“There have been some accidents recently that, while they may not be connected [with thin floors] have served as a warning. I think that by specifying a stronger floor safety could be improved,” said Walker, “I’ve spoken to all principal car builders and they are in broad agreement that a ruling on the type and thickness of material the floors are made of would help. I perceive that most car builders are marketing their cars on weight – no-one wants to be the only one to add weight by using a thicker floor.”
In addition to working on proposals for a new rule for floors, Walker said that he would push for ‘downtubes’ to be mandatory on specials. “We’ve seen bars from the top of the cab to the front of the chassis for long enough now to see their worth, I’d like to move towards them being used on all specials.”
Phil Cooper's new Rade was on show at the NEC. © Tim Whittington
British Autograss champion Phil Cooper’s new Rade made it public debut in the recent Autosport International show where it was exhibited by K&N Filters.
The new Class Eight is the first of two development cars from Northampton-based Rade which will also equip National champion Mark Grice before offering production cars for sale for the 2010 season. Grice’s car was shown in the Oval Racing Experience. Rade is better known for its rallying work and is moving into Autograss after boss Ian Littler took part in events with a self built Class Nine special last year.
“It was a flat out rush to get the car to the show and we’ve still got to finish some of the wiring and bits like that but I’m very pleased with the way it’s all come together so far,” said Cooper, “We’ll be ready to race for Nottingham on March 15 [the first event of the 2009 season] and I’m looking forward to getting back into Class Eight, I think it’s going to be very competitive this year.”
Cooper will race the new car in Class Eight and also continue to drive his existing car in Class Nine.
• Class Six autograss racer and sometime car builder Allan Weston has replaced his Vauxhall-powered Fiesta with a Peugeot 306. “It might be backward in age of car but it’s forward in performance!” said Weston who says the Peugeot has better dimensions to be competitive in the front-wheel drive category.
• Junior Autograss graduate Sam Gould will race in Class Nine this year. The 16-year-old will continue to race alongside older brother Ben and father Martin who will remain in classes Six and Three respectively.
• Class Eight British Autograss champion Russ Shepherd will race a 2009 Xtreme chassis in this year’s Kent Cams/Maxsport BAS. The new chassis features detail changes but Shepherd has ‘taken a gamble’ by opting to use a Suzuki GSXR engine in place of the favoured Hayabusa with which he won last year’s title. The GSXR engine is not as powerful, but is 20kgs lighter.
• Former National champion Steve Smith will race a new Xtreme-built Fiat Sciecento-based car in Class Seven this year. The Stroud racer returned to competition a couple of years ago after a break but has been unable to find his old form in self-prepared cars. Smith will retain his Chevrolet V8 engine for the new car.
• After a year in which he showed consistently improving form in Class Seven, Matt Corbett is hoping to continue his progress when he moves to a new Xtreme-prepared twin-engine Fiat Sciecento for the 2009 season. Corbett drove his old car in the Live Action shows at Autosport International last weekend and will contest the Kent Cams/Maxsport BAS with his new car.
• Former double British Autograss champion Kraig Murley has traded his twin-engined Class Seven Peugeot for a single-engined Mini-based challenger built class winning constructor Xtreme Racecars.
• Rising Autograss star Dan Mackenzie will drive a new WL Racefab Class Eight special in this year’s Kent Cams/Maxsport Tyres British Autograss Series. The 19-year-old is making the move after selling his old car. “Martin Bowen bought my car to replace the one he crashed at Blyton. I went to WL and saw the new car at Christmas, it’s got some good new ideas and looks very nice,” said Mackenzie who will use the running gear from his old car in the new chassis.
Former British and National champion Laura Morgan will race a new Class Eight car in her second year of open wheel competition.
Morgan moved to the class last year after a successful period racing a Vauxhall Nova in the ‘production saloon’ class and has replaced the car she drove last with a new chassis from Bennett-built.
“I feel much more confident about this year because I’ve had a season of learning about Class Eight and also because I managed to get a couple of wins at the end of last year,” said Morgan. “The new car looks absolutely lovely, I’ve just got the last few bits to collect and it will be finished. [Car builder] Graham Bennett is going to help me to get the car setup and I hope his knowledge will be a help to me this year.”
Morgan will race the car in the Kent Cams/Maxsort BAS and the Ladies National championships.
New PG car has a two-pedal arrangement. © Tim Whittington
Autograss racers Steve Moss and Phil Olsson will start the season with a pair of identical new Class Eight cars built by fellow racer Paul Garrett. The cars, the first built by Garrett not for his own use, were displayed at Autosport Internationalrecently and feature a two-pedal setup with a hand-operated clutch.
“I’ve had lots of ideas and designs for cars but this is the first time I’ve put them all together and come up with a complete car,” said Garrett. “The rules are tight enough that the cars beginning to look quite similar to one another, but the two-pedal arrangement is something new. We’re trying to get the car out of the grid as quickly as possible and for the drivers to use left-foot braking. The clutch is hand controlled and there’s a flat-shift system so that they don’t need the clutch after the start.”
Garrett plans to work with Moss and Olsson during the coming season to develop and sort the cars and will build a third example for himself later. He is also working on plans for a Citroën C2-based Class Seven saloon racer.