|The View From The Top - British Hillclimb Champion Martin Groves|
|Written by Neil Roshier|
|Monday, 29 December 2008|
So what is the key for fast hillclimb driving?
Where did you start in hillclimbing?
I first started in 1989 in a modified Ford Anglia and drove that for two-to-three seasons. Then we bought a wrecked Mallock Clubman’s car and repaired and campaigned that for a couple of seasons. Then from here we moved up to an ex-two litre Dallara F3 car…a loaned 3.5litre Judd EV powered Lola F3000 car, obviously modified from the F3000 car to accept the Ex Judd F1 engine. This was a good car to get used to the sort of performance, slthough it didn’t handle as well as the current GR55B.
What changes have you noticed in the last 5 years?
Certainly when David Gould brought out the DG37, which was based on a RALT F3 chassis, initially with David Grace with a Cosworth DFR engine, the trend was set for a much stiffer car. Prior to this the thought had been that a hillclimb car had to be soft and compliant. If you’ve got a very stiff monocoque (chassis) that allows you to run stiffer springs, the whole car is therefore a lot stiffer, which exploits the potential of the tyres a lot more.
Watching the GR55B it seems to be lifting a front wheel in slower corners. Is that correct?
Yes that’s possible because it effectively runs quite soft in roll in back, but very stiff in front so that’s how it loads up the front enough so it makes it very sharp for good turn-in. Maybe in a slow corner it will pickup a front wheel, with maybe two-to-three inches of daylight under it at times. The droop on the front is effectively zero, but of course this is not the case at the rear.
How do the Judd and NME V8 engines compare?
“Certainly (the Judd was) different to this 2.65, had a little bit more power, more power lower down, but in terms of ultimate performance there’s more to be had from these (the NME V8). Purely the fact that they are just that much more modern and lighter. The engine itself has lighter internals, so it picks up speed a lot quicker. The rate of change of rpm is phenomenal.
Yes certainly that’s partly true, but what you’ve got to remember is that a lot of what you are feeling is the loss of weight (of the whole car). The current car is up to 100kg lighter than the earlier generation Gould chassis, helped by lighter engines, monocoque and gearbox. But I think that a change in tyre technology, then we’ve been able to use a lot stiffer chassis in general and as a consequence we are seeing performance gains from that. The chassis is made very much with weight in mind”.
Martin reported that NME
will be servicing his current engine on his return to the
“NME will do a leak-down test bore scope it, may have the sump off to have a look at the crank and what have you. They (the NME V8 engines) are designed for a life of three seasons.
Is it a gentlemen’s sport?
It’s still a very genuine sport for friendliness, people want to win in the right way. Don’t get me wrong, everybody wants to win. People want to be seen to be winning in the right way, so if your competitor is in trouble and you can help them out, then you do. Its fiercely competitive on the track, but good socially off the track.
What is your current budget for a season?
You’ve got to look at it in context; our series is seventeen meetings (per season). I wouldn’t say that we’ve raised the bar at all, that was raised a good few years ago. There’s a level of expense that if you want to be competitive and in chance of a win then that’s what you have to go to. We do our best to be economical with the tyres. This season we had four-to-five pairs of rear tyres and three pairs of fronts. It would have been very easy to have a new set every meeting, but then at one thousand pounds per set or more, its just not possible. Realistically if you don’t count travel expenses then you are looking at around $30,000 Australian for the season. Any damage and it could get a lot more expensive. I’d say this would be the minimum if you wanted to be on the money.
I’ve noticed that
I don’t think it’s a matter of time, its more a question of when something new comes out that’s quicker. So if there was nothing built that was quicker for ten years, then I’m not going to lose money (on his current GR55B). Inevitably someone will come up with a quicker car, so that’s when all of a sudden a car will drop its value. So one or more generations of the current car, then it is going to lose its value.
What is your preparation for a run?
Make an effort to leave the paddock with the optimum temperatures; we don’t want to be too hot by the time we get down to the bottom of the hill. Running down the hill I’ll have a good look at the track, looking for debris and spills. Honestly, just get the car set up nicely in the pre-start area, a decent amount of tyre warming (burnout) and get your head-right, really!
Start process is different for everybody. I like to do things a certain way and I don’t like to be sat on the start line waiting for the lights. I like to be able to go pretty well straight away when I want. But everybody treats the process a different way. Some see the tyre warming as a bit of a psyching up!
Do you use visualisation techniques?
Probably subconsciously you do, but I am not there thinking my way through the run. I try hard to remember what went wrong the run before and where you can go a bit faster.
What are you thinking of during a run?
Certainly not looking at the corner you are in, you’re at least 50 yards or a good deal up the road and sort of subconsciously dealing with the bit you are in at the moment as well as preparing the car for the next bit.
So you come out of a corner a bit wide and untidy: do you abort the run and save wear and tear, or do you try to make the time up?
The temptation is to always try to make the time up. You rarely do and it happened to me just now. I went over the dipper, the tail got away from me as the car went light and I was on to it straight away but did not make the time up.
Can you recover mentally from such an error?
I think so. I think any error you make, even when you hit the wall, as long as you know what happened (you can recover). The accidents that seem psychologically difficult for people is when they genuinely don’t know what happened.
How are you finding Mt Panorama?
I thought we got a good feel for it yesterday. It’s reasonably open, so you are not faced with lots of blind corners. You can drive it pretty much as you see it and that’s a big help.
The trickiest corner, where you start to lose the most time is the first corner (Forrest Elbow). I think that if you can get that absolutely hooked up and right then you are going to have a good run.
Do you think there are different approaches to Mt Panorama?
I think there’s probably only one correct line. For the first corner; putting yourself into a position where you can get onto the throttle early. I think it’s O.K to compromise entry speed for exit speed. So it’s more important to be on the throttle early, than to go into the corner quicker. Except with the left handed approach into the dipper, just carry as much speed into there as possible and try not to brake before you turn in!
|< Prev||Next >|