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February 28, 2006

RBB Round 1 – Buckmore Park

All in all, it was a good performance at Buckmore Park. We showed we've got the pace to be right up the front of the field and, apart from some small problems, we would have been. I can't be bothered to repeat someone else's work, so below is the press release we issued for the Club 100 report.

We arrived at Buckmore hoping to challenge for a podium, but were ultimately pretty happy with 5th place in the circumstances. We had the worst handling kart we've ever experienced with Club 100 – massive understeer. With hindsight we should have pulled a prima donna and had it changed, but thought maybe it was a characteristic of all the new chassis. As the race went on, however, it became clear that while everyone else was enjoying a dry day at Buckmore, we were the only team driving in the wet…
Somehow new team member Peter O'Connor dragged the thing round to 4th in qualifying, leaving Dan Gore to make (in his own words) an absolutely dreadful start. He was still in the leading snake of karts though, until he was black flagged, apparently for hitting an invisible cone. This lost us over a lap and put us back to 31st.
Thanks to some quick and aggressive driving from Simon Young, and seemingly everyone falling off at the start of the second hour (Dan spent 2 laps behind a back marker waiting for a corner without yellow flags), we were back in 6th with 20 mins to go. This left Peter with one stint during which to make up half a lap on Piston Broke, which he managed with a few laps to spare, justifying his new place as team ringer. With a pit-stop technique refined through previous years in Club 100’s British Universities Karting Championship, this should be a good season for RBB, so long as we can avoid both the kart we had at round 1 and those tricky phantom cones.

The report even does me the honour of omitting the spin I had in my second stint! Here's a superb photo of me, trying to counter the understeer by throwing my weight on to the outside front wheel:

Round 1

February 24, 2006

Team RBB revealed

Follow-up to A return to motorsport from Syncspeed

I posted yesterday about RBB Economics Racing's attack on the Club 100 Intermediate championship. Here's a rundown of the team's three drivers.

Drivers - Dan
Dan works for RBB Economics; his company is sponsoring the team's efforts this year to a modest degree, hence our team name. I met Dan three years ago – he was at Warwick on a one-year postgraduate course in 2002/03 and raced in the BUKC on a couple of occasions.

Since then, Dan has done a few Club 100 events, including a full season with Club 100 (in their now-dead City Challenge championship). Two of those races were with me as his team-mate: we came second and fifth, the former being his best result towards an overall third place. The winners of that year's championship are now racing in the Premier class.

Dan's probably a tenth or two per lap quicker than me around most circuits, but not always as keen to take a risk in traffic. It kind of balances out.

Drivers - Pete
I got to know Pete through BUKC too: he captained Kingston's uni team last year. Kingston had a reputation within the championship for being a bit nuts, very fun-loving, and always up for a laugh. That said, they had some very quick drivers, Pete included. Pete nearly won his first BUKC sprint race the same day I did, but ended up winning a couple of weeks later - although perhaps it should have been me that race again!

I'm not sure exactly what level of experience Pete has, but I know he's also done a fair bit of racing in twin-engine prokarts. This has included a couple of Kingston's races at the legendary 24 hour race held at Spa-Francorchamps' kart track, and some other successes too.

Pete's definitely our quickest and most consistent driver, even if it wasn't him who set the best time at our recent test session.

Drivers - SiY
And then there's me! Not really having done any racing before uni, I found myself to be quick in indoor karts (helped by my low weight) and in outdoor prokarts etc, including a good showing at the 2003 Varsity prokart meeting. This wasn't reflected in my early Club 100 experience though: 8 seconds off the pace at a cold and damp test day at Buckmore, and several spins in both my races of the 2003 season.

2004 started with a race alongside Dan (mentioned above) and a good second place against Loughborough's finest at a pre-BUKC event. My four BUKC rounds that year were still poor, with no top-10 finishes and a few more spins, but my pace was improving – thanks in part to buying my own helmet and a seat insert which stopped me being thrown around when cornering, dramatically improving my "feel" for what the kart was doing.

The '05 BUKC season saw me up another three steps in terms of pace. I won a race and was a regular A-team driver. I also helped win the BUKC O-Plate race for Warwick, which allows us to use 0 as our race number this year, and drove Warwick's incredibly fast Formula Student car in competition. After setting RBB's quickest time at our test session this month, I'm looking forward to showing some speed and picking up even more in the coming season.

February 23, 2006

Kissing Penguins

Kissing Penguins

I'm sure everyone recognises this – received wisdom is that it shows two penguins kissing. What do you make of it?

Date: March 2005
Camera: Casio EX-Z40
Aperture: f/4.6
Exposure: 1/640
Post-processing: None.
Other: Posted last year – taken on the first really nice summery day of 2005.

Critical comments always welcome.

A return to motorsport

The graduate world isn't always what it's cracked up to be. I'm doing a number of things to keep life as interesting as possible, and high on this list is keeping up my motorsport activities. I was at Silverstone with some of the Warwick guys – as reported here by Nathaniel – but even better than that is maintaining my passion for kart racing.

As Random Exec Member, then President, then Captain of Warwick Motorsport, I raced in the British Universities Karting Championship a fair number of times. The championship is run using Club 100's fleet of near-identical two-stroke 100cc karts – capable of 70 mph and accelerating from walking pace to 60 mph in around 4 seconds. (There's no 0–60 time because the karts are clutchless: if the driver stops, or spins, the engine will stall and he/she will have to wait to be push-started).

Club 100 also runs its own championships, open to the general public. I'm entering one of these this year, the Intermediate Endurance championship, as part of a team called "RBB Economics Racing". The season is made up of 11 races at 7 different national-level outdoor circuits, each race meeting consisting of 40 minutes' practice, 5 minutes' timed qualifying and a two-hour race. Pitstops are necessary every 20 minutes or so (in which time the kart empties its three litre fuel tank).

The first round is on the International circuit at Buckmore Park, Kent, this weekend. It won't be RBB's first outing, though: the three members of the team met up at the start of the month to reacquaint ourselves with the karts. The occasion was a BUKC pre-season test day: most of the top university teams were present for the morning session which we took part in. RBB finished a very creditable second overall in the session – a good sign of some real pace. We're very fired up for the race and looking forward to running at or near the front of the field.

Expect a post about the team members tomorrow!

February 21, 2006

Captain and crew

Captain and crew

My godfather (and, reflected, my Dad and I) sailing across the Solent. The picture really needs that nasty bright patch in the top-left corner to be darkened down a bit – easily done, I've just not got around to it!

Date: September 2005
Camera: Casio EX-Z40
Aperture: f/4.8
Exposure: 1/250
Post-processing: Not even a crop.

Critical comments always welcome.

February 20, 2006

Frosty rose

Frosty Rose

Despite being quite late for work, I had to stop for a few photos of this incredible frosted rose in the back garden. The shot was handheld – I was really pleased with the sharpness of focus.

Date: November 2005
Camera: Casio EX-Z40
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure: 1/60
Other: Macro mode
Post-processing: A little colour correction for the blue of the flash and the wintry morning light.

Critical comments always welcome.

February 19, 2006


06-02-19 Together

Shadows of myself and a friend projected on to the beach below us, in a little town outside Dunedin, New Zealand. I like to think there's something ethereal about the image, but at the same time strangely comforting. It's quite an abstract picture.

Date: September 2001
Camera: Olympus OM4, 50mm lens
Film: Ilford FP4 Plus (ISO 125), self-processed
Post-processing: Negative scanned using a Nikon Coolscan III and levels normalised. Adjustments were uniform across the photo.

Critical comments always welcome.

Photos – me too!

No posts for ages – only one so far this year, in fact. Not that I've got nothing going on, but its relevance to Warwick Blogs is seeming ever smaller. New plan for this blog, if it can be called a plan, is to use it as a memento of my forthcoming kart racing championship – which starts next weekend! – and for posting the odd photo, to keep me active on that front.

I've been commenting for a while now on various Warwick photo blogs. It started with Max, whose real website is here, but has spread recently to others.

Nathan has been the mainstay, reliably churning out a great photo every day for a month or so now.
Gemma got in on the act a little while ago, and then Nick; my turn now!

I'm sure mine won't be anything like as regular as the others', but a couple a week would be good. See below (which is technically above) for my first effort!

January 30, 2006

My horoscope said…

From Friday's Metro (London edition), a typically tongue-in-cheek horoscope:

Virgo Aug 24 - Sep 23
When all hell breaks out at work today, just be glad you have a sweetie at home ready with a glass of wine and a sympathetic ear. No sweetie? Forget work, get on the internet and find one.

Quite. Well, here I am; what now?
Actually, amusingly, work was pretty hectic (I've been assigned the task of managing the upgrade of the two-site office network) and I spent the evening round at my friend Nikki's drinking wine. However, not my home and not my sweetie! Sorry Metro, better luck next time.

Thought I'd better post something just to avoid January's blog looking as empty as the month itself has sometimes felt. Still, I'm feeling pretty reasonable overall, and February is definitely looking up – details to follow. Sweetie still required.

December 17, 2005

Christmas is coming

Reckon we can get an extension?

December 06, 2005

Och aye the snoooo

A little over a week late, this post, but never mind eh? Just some photos from my time up in bonnie Sco'land, on a site visit in Angus.

My flight up was delayed due to thick fog all around the UK. This meant Avis had given away my rental car by the time I got to Edinburgh airport, but it worked out well in the end: instead of the requested Corsa, I landed the next free car, a 1.8i Vectra. I was very glad of this later on. "Steady but a bit soulless" is possibly how I'd describe the car – but being steady came in quite useful.

Horizontal snow on the Thursday curtailed our survey, so I took an exploratory long way back to the hotel in the falling dark and fallen snow – it was either that or be back in the very small hotel before 4 pm with nothing to do all night. I stuck to the relatively clear main roads. Come the next day, I was glad of the practice.

The wind was really quite strong and the snow getting heavier, so I decided to head south before I got snowed in. Roads around Perth & Dundee were reportedly bad, so I took the "main" road west past Alyth, through Blairgowrie and on to the A9 at Dunkeld (placenames mentioned for the benefit of a local friend who might be reading this!). That was the most stimulating part of my driving up there – still lots of snow/slush on the road, and big puddles all along it, with associated sliding and aquaplaning dangers. Very satisfying to drive along the twisty route at a safe but decent pace. The weather did get worse, though. The M90 was horrible – see pics below – and was actually closed northbound shortly after I'd come south past that point.

Then I had a fun time in Edinburgh with a friend and, eventually, came home!

November 27, 2005

George Best RIP

A little late (I've been away) but RIP to a very talented sportsman with a controversial lifestyle very typical of sporting megastars of his era (witness also James Hunt, F1 world champion). A man whose death was long expected – I could almost say deliciously anticipated, by some of the media – and has been publically mourned. This entry isn't about him.

You'll probably have missed it, what with all the front pages, back pages and souvenir pull-outs in the papers in the last couple of days, but Britain has lost another sporting hero far more tragically this weekend, and it happened with barely a trace of coverage. Richard Burns, the first and only Englishman to win the World Rally Championship, passed away over the weekend, aged 34.

Burns had become the youngest ever winner of the British Rally Championship in 1993 with Subaru and entered his first WRC rally in 1998 with Mitsubishi. He rejoined Subaru, coming second in the World Championship in 1999 and 2000, before winning the title at the final round of the 2001 season, the Rally of Great Britain. (I was there, in my first year at Warwick, marshalling on Special Stage 6 with the Motorsport club).

He joined Peugeot as World Champion but, despite not winning a rally with them in 2002 or 2003, was within 5 points of the championship leader going into the final round, Rally GB, of the 2003 season. Driving himself to Cardiff in his road car a couple of days before the rally started, Burns passed out. After extensive tests, he was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and prevented from competing again. Months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy looked to have helped him make a partial recovery, but his condition deteriorated again and even brain surgery earlier this year could not save him.

Family and competitors' tributes have spoken of a very gifted and intelligent competitive driver, a sharp wit and a man whose attitude in coping with a terrible illness was inspirational. May he rest in peace.

Richard Burns, 1971 - 2005

November 23, 2005

Off for a bit

No sooner returned than off again! I've not been anywhere up until now (except away from the blogs), but tomorrow I'm off to Scotland on a site visit to a nice open, windswept location near Dundee for a couple of days.

Scotland, you say? At the end of November? Windswept? What could possibly go wrong?

Check out that 46 mph northerly wind! Nice. Enough windchill for sleet in Portsmouth and Cornwall, never mind somewhere a couple of hours north of Edinburgh. It's gonna be coooold!

November 22, 2005


This is why phone keypad lock was developed, children. See my Sent Messages folder today:

A confused potentiometer salesman I had dealings with last year for Formula Student is probably wondering why Kenneth Williams sent him a text at 9:00 this morning. It was my jacket's fault, honest guv.

November 21, 2005

One year old (and a few days)

Happy birthday to this little creation.
Hoping all the hours it's taken are somehow still worthwhile.

November 13, 2005

A quick thanks

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Cheers to those who sent a kind word after my post last week. The second half of the week got a lot, lot better as my workload improved and intensified (including having to drive 140 miles to a meeting, and back again; I enjoy driving, especially when being paid!) and I managed to meet up with some friends a couple of evenings.

Tomorrow's my fourth (maybe fifth) attempt to meet up with a Scottish friend from Warwick, who's working in my obscure commuter town down south. Excellent that we're so close, a shame we're both so busy! More photo society meetings are scheduled and hopefully I'll be seeing another couple of mates in the week. Then I'm off on a site visit to mid-Scotland next week, so I finally took the plunge and bought the iPod I've been promising myself for ages. Life is looking a little more funner.

November 11, 2005

Lest we forget

November 02, 2005

Oh the irony

*prints out another draft of the company's 18-page "Environmental Management Manual" and goes to put the kettle on*

In other news:

  • My first real paycheque is in, and it's four figures even net of the "emergency tax rate" I've initially been put on! Am sorely tempted to spend recklessly on exciting things like an iPod and the rent I owe my parents.
  • Boredom snacking continues apace.
  • It's a four-day week this week! I'm taking Friday off to enjoy our Formula Student prize, a factory tour around Triple Eight Racing, who prepare and run the Vauxhalls in the British Touring Car Championship.

October 27, 2005

The two o'clock mooos

Writing about web page http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/You_have_two_cows

Everyone's had the email which uses the metaphor of cow ownership to explain various systems of government. A typical email might include examples like:

Feudalism – You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Pure Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
Representative Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
Communism – You share two cows with your neighbours. You and your neighbours bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.
Cambodian Communism – You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
Bureaucracy – You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

But stumbling across Uncyclopedia (an awesome waste of time - it's like Wikipedia but... not. Go look.), I happened upon a page called You_have_two_cows. It's by far the longest list of variations on a single joke I've ever seen. Including (but by no means limited to):

England – You have two cows. They go mad.
Wales – You hyve two cwws.
Romania – You have two cows. You must bribe them first if you want to milk them.
Zimbabwe – You have two cows, they do not vote for you but you still win. You kill your cows.
Google – Results 1 – 2 of 2 for cows. (0.27 seconds)
MSNBC – You have two (CLICK HERE TO BUY VIAGRA!) cows.
Flamer – yor mom has sex with 2 cows
Shakespeare – Two cows or not two cows? That is the question.
Dickens – It was the best of cows, it was the worst of cows.
Golding – You have two cows. The nerdy one falls off a giant rock and dies.
Tom Clancy – You have two cows. They go to war with each other. It takes 1,300 pages.
Catholicism – If you have two cows, you deserve them.
Islam – If you have two cows, it is the will of Allah.
Pragmatism – There are cows.
Atheism – What cows?
Rammstein – Du… Du hast … Du hast zwei Kühe…
Eddie Izzard – Er… yeah… so… COWS!
Yoda – Two cows you have.
Tetris – You have two L-shaped cows, but you really need two I-shaped cows.
Monty Python's Life of Brian – Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the two cows ever done for us?
Keynesian Economics – You have two cows. Both of them are concrete.
Unimaginative people – You have two cows.
Binary – You have 10 cows.
Floating-Point – You have 1.999999999 cows.
Scientific notation - You have 2.0 × 10 0 cows.


(__) (oo)
/-------\/ ||
/ | ||----||
* ||----|| ~~
~~ ~~
div.cows {
text-decoration: none;
cows: 2;
border-left: 1px solid #000000;
20 GOTO 10

October 24, 2005

New F1 proposals

Writing about web page http://www.fia.com/mediacentre/Press_Releases/FIA_Sport/2005/October/241005-01.html

Just so I can say "you heard it here first": this is what a Formula One car may look like from 2008, or even – optimistically – 2007 if every team agrees. (OK, 2008 it is then).

The big change is the design of the rear wing, to let cars follow one another much more closely and hence, hopefully, get a lot more overtaking. Slick tyres should make a comeback too!

The principle is to massively improve the ratio of mechanical grip (from the tyres) to aerodynamic grip (from the wings) – at the moment, aerodynamics disrupt the airflow so much that a car loses loads of front grip if it gets anywhere near a car in front. CFD simulations (see pic below) show the centreline air-pressure profile of the new rear-wing regulations – bottom – as much better than the current – top – one. If you're not technically-minded, trust me, it does.

With these regs, F1 should actually stand a chance of seeing some more overtaking again!