STM Race Report

Earlier this week I posted the results from Swede Team Motor’s weekend racing.

Those results didn’t even begin to tell half the story, though. Following is a race report from Anders Johansson, one of the race directors for STM.

It just goes to show what a tough gig racing can be. Ever heard of a racing team competing in limp-home mode?

Read on.

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The race car #93 (9-3 TiD) got new driveshafts and differential, and the gearbox had been overhauled since the last race at Mantorp Park. A new strategy was to be tried out at Anderstorp Raceway; to run on ‘slicks’ and not the ‘semi-slicks’ that we have used the last two years. Saturday was used for testing; slicks needs a different set up/wheel alignment. As slicks were new to the drivers the qualifying time was actually slower than last year with semi-slicks! However, in long distance racing your qualifying time is not the most important and the team were confident that the lap time would improve during the race when the drivers got used to slicks…

The race started at 9 o’clock and everything seemed to be running as usual, we monitored the lap times in the pit. To our surprise the times did not improve after some 20 minutes using the slicks. Over the radio I asked Allan (the driver) what the car felt like. He responded that it was not performing as consistent as with semi-slicks. We were puzzled in the pit, why didn’t the car go faster? And in addition the handicap, to our competitors is reduced when you use slicks instead of semi-slicks!

A few minutes later, Allan reported increased vibrations in the steering wheel. We decided to take the car to the pits and make one of the mandatory driver changes. We were prepared for a tyre change, but did not really believe it should be necessary. To our surprise we immediately saw that the front left tyre was totally worn out, after just some 30 minutes of racing. We are used to being able to drive on our semi-slicks for about 6 hours?!

We replaced both front tyres and let the car out again, knowing that we will most likely have to change strategy. But first we showed the tyres to the tyre supplier and they did not believe in what they saw. The supplier did not have any tyres with harder rubber so continuing on slicks would not be an option. As our supply of Bridgestone semi-slicks was short (as we were counting on driving with slicks) the supplier supplied us with semi-slicks of their make. We had no option but to go for semi-slicks, but as we had increased the front wheel camber to suit the slicks we feared that the semi-slicks would be worn out on the inside quite fast (this would not be the case, it showed after 8 hours of racing).

So the car came into the pits again and we switched driver and front tyres to semi-slicks. Some 40 minutes later we switched driver again and replaced the rear tyres. Now we were on 100% semi-slicks. However, we had spent to much time in the pits to be competitive in the 3 hour race. So we finished 4th in our class and 13th overall. The Honda Civic Type R retired after the 3 hour race, as they wanted to ‘save’ their gear box.

Now we were expecting the car to run like clockwork for the rest of the 8 hour race (5 hours to go), but we could not have been more wrong. After 1 hour or so the driver reported that the ABS had failed and he was parked in the sand beside the track. Fortunately all that was needed was a towing out of the sand up onto the track, then we were off again. We had lost some three laps, though. After another driver change and re-fuelling the ABS was working again! Good.

But in racing you can never relax, after another hour or so I could see that the car was ‘smoking’, and as we have the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) still on the car it is not supposed to smoke. Unfortunately we did not have Peter Dahl on site this time, so we had to call him on his mobile phone. For some reason the Engine Management System switched to ‘limp home mode’ when revved over 3000 rpm (the power output is limited etc), so all we could do was to continue sub-3000 rpm until we could figure out what the problem could be…

We got some hints from Peter and had the car into the pit, we looked for any air leakages on the high pressure air induction side (after the turbine/turbo) but found nothing.

Out with the car, no change reported from the driver and another phone call to Peter.

In with the car, jacked it up and we found a rubber hose under the engine that was cracked.

Replaced it, sent the car out, no change.

Another phone call and the car was in the pit again, removed the hose to the turbo inlet to check the turbine, it was ok. Checked if there could be any air leaking around the charge air cooler, but no.

Out with the car, no change!

In with the car and changed charge air cooler, no change. As a last desperate measure we decided to replace the catalytic converter and Diesel Particulate Filter.

Out with the car, and the driver reported that it was behaving normally.

However we had now spent 1 hour in the pits and we were the last car on the track, which means 4th in our class. The last two hours were without incidents and we were counting with a 4th position. But 15 minutes before the race ended number 3 gave up with broken drive shaft. So in total a third in our class and 6th overall.

The start of this season has not been as we had expected, but from now on it can only be better…

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STM will be participating in the Saab Festival next month. I can’t wait to meet them.

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