2006 Exige S

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Location: Leeds

andybond wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 3:55 pm
Fonzey wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 2:01 pm Chapter #2, alignment. Do I seek perfection and try to adjust again, straightening out the wheel... or leave it? It was probably less than 5 degrees out...

Yes, you should seek perfection. Only because it winds me up no end if I dont have a level steering wheel. I find just about nothing else as annoying as this
It's a pity it's not a bit further out, you could just move the steering wheel one spline :lol:
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Wonky wheels annoy me a lot, I've taken cars back to alignment places before to sort it after getting my fancy printout saying everything is perfect.

Just sat in my garage it's obvious how easy it is to not line it up right, the tiniest play in the rack or play generated between the tyres and the floor can make the wheels be slightly offset to the wheel.

Once it's very close, you then have various road cambers playing with your head... So I don't think it can ever be perfect for all conditions.

I'll have a go though :) the state it's currently in wouldn't be bad enough for me to return the car if an alignment specialist did it, it's very close to right.
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Oulton Park Update.

Attended Oulton with MSVT a week or so ago, fantastic day but not without gremlins.


Weather never really threatened anything other than a good day, which was a welcome relief as I'd never seen Oulton in the dry before, and haven't done more than sighting laps in a Lotus.

On the runup to Oulton the alignment of my suspension had changed probably a dozen times a I matured my techniques a bit and ironed out the inconsistencies but on the drive over I was very happy with the car, and it did not disappoint on circuit.


Garaged up with the only other Lotus' in attendance we felt massively outgunned. This was going to be a seriously quick day, with radicals, supercars, TCR cars and various other bits of incredible machinery lining the pitlane. Rarely for my Exige, I felt like we were in the slowest 10% of attendees that day!

I have a few good friends from the Lotus community who all live local to Oulton, so they descended down either as attendees or spectators which meant I got some great photos without buying the MSV ones, so thanks for that :thumbup:

The car felt quick out of the gates, despite the intimidating paddock it wasn't too hard to find free air and I was rarely having to pull over - so got some rhythm down early. This was disrupted mid morning when I started getting some engine knock warnings on the dash. :? Little bit worrying, but my knock protection strategies are all my own work so it would not be surprising to find I'd cocked something up.... but why now? They haven't changed in probably a year and 10 trackdays.

The warnings seemed to flash up as soon as I hit WOT coming out of a corner or during a gear change. I knew that the knock events were probably happening some time before I registered the warning on the dash so I went back to the pits to check the logs and see if I could spot any problems. It was quite clear that the events were happening on rapid throttle changes, either on or off... so highly unlikely to be real knock. I then turned my search for something loose/clanging about but couldn't find anything obvious.


I went back out and tried to mentally tune out the warnings, which was harder than it sounds so I came back and decided to take some timing out of the map during throttle tip-in (where the events generally occurred) to give me a safety net. This slowed the car down for the rest of the day, but not by much - and only for fractions of a second on acceleration.

The warnings continued and then by late morning they were joined by a quite nasty clanging noise on deceleration. Hmmmm

At lunch I jacked the car up and found my exhaust backbox was battering the diffuser, it had come loose at the slip joint and had rotated around. This was most annoying, because it's a fresh clamp and I spent ages getting it perfect without leaks. I (quietly, internally) threw my toys out and started muttering about chopping this slipjoint out and replacing with a vband once I got home. I was concerned about tightening the clamp again because generally they get very brittle after a few heat cycles, so I gingerly nipped it up and spaced the diffuser down to give me some clearance if it happened again.

After lunch the clanging initially stopped but the knock warnings persisted. I took a bit more timing out and just decided to crack on, if it blew up - at least I'd know it was real.

Despite this, I was having a great day and felt like I was pushing the car more and more. Oulton was very new to me though, and I felt like I could take every corner a totally different way from lap to lap and I had no idea what was working and what was not!


The car felt really quite planted at the higher speed corners such as Dentons, Clayhill/Watertower. Corners types at other circuits I'd have a big lift for I was able to take flat. Watertower was more of a 'half lift' by the end of the day because I found when taking it at full chat I couldn't slow it in time for Druids... and that's scary.

Lower speed direction changes not quite on point, maybe an issue with my suspension alignment but it wasn't a million miles away.

It was also rather warm, and I was starting to struggle physically. Really need to get my fitness up as it's detracting from my trackdays!


The car had no issues with the temps though. IAT's are the highest I've seen since adding the chargecooler due to the smaller diameter pulley I'm running this year, but still way lower than the original A2A intercooler. My ECU is pulling a small bit of timing at full WOT loads to compensate, but nothing that is noticeable. Critically it seems to handle longer sessions perfectly well, I tried to drive till' the flag in the final session but bottled it with 5mins to go due to fuel level, it was a good 30+mins on track though and IAT's were stable from about the 15min mark onwards. Gearbox temps also in check thanks to the new cooler setup.

The clanging got worse again as the day came to a close, and it was a rather noisy drive home - but we got home safely nonetheless.

A few days later I got the car on the ramp to sort the exhaust out, and quickly found what I believe is the root cause. The rear engine mount was quite loose :roll:

Actually "engine mount" is a bit of a misnomer, as it bolts into my gearbox casing and in this case both the M10 bolts had backed right out - and were only stopped from coming out by the back of the mount arresting their progress.

Very annoyed at myself, as this sort of thing I'm usually very obsessive with when rebuilding a car - but I'd clearly neglected the torque spec on these bolts. What's worse, I had a sinking feeling that there's no way the threads would be intact after such forces being loaded on loose bolts... and sure enough, the top of the two threads was trashed :cry:

Initially fearing yet another gearbox removal to sort, I had a few days off and just sulked about it. After a few nights sleep, I looked at it again and found that with the manifold off I had pretty good access to this particular threat. Actually, of all the engine mount threads on the box this is the only one which can be restored with the box in situ, so perhaps I got lucky.

I had some M10x1.25 helicoils in stock already, so built myself up to taking a drill to my gearbox. I did half consider bodging it with a bonded in stud but those thoughts quickly moved on, luckily.

I did add a gadget to my toolbox though - a drill guide to help me drill it exactly straight. The casing here is very narrow, and the last thing I wanted to do was end up chipping a corner of the casing off with crap drilling.


It works for the tapping too, very handy. Not quite pillar drill accuracy but the next best thing.


After a couple of false starts, the coil was in and to my relief held the torque spec for the bolt without breaking a sweat.


Job well done, hopefully. The lower thread is fine so I'll leave that one alone.

This was almost certainly the cause for my phantom knock warnings so I'll revert my timing changes and hopefully will have a warning-free day next time out.

Still not got my trouble free motoring I promised myself this year, maybe now is the start :mrgreen:
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The highs and lows of this post perfectly summarises Lotus ownership!

Drill guide looks useful, I may have to add one of these to my toolbox. I’ve had to helicoil threads a few times on my Elise over the years and although it’s gone ok, it’s always a bit butt clenching when you’re tightening up the bolt for the first time :D
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An interesting read and findings!

Also found a new tool/thing that I didnt know I wanted ..
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I really enjoy reading your posts and the in/outs of the gearbox ;)

I commend you with your efforts, determination and resolve. I can also see a change in your driving style, you are getting smoother with the controls, your throttle and braking have improved along with the attack of your lines.

Do not give up and keep up with the posts on here :thumbup:
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Thanks Gents, glad you're all enjoying.

I pretend that I'm annoyed to be constantly fiddling with the car... but you know me by now, I enjoy it really.
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Fallen behind a bit on updates, so I'll get some housekeeping out of the way before my bigger updates from the weekend.

First up, was time for some new tyres. I've had Avon ZZR's on since I bought the car, the first set were old and perished so I swapped them for a newer, but still second hand set. These have lasted over 20 trackdays and to my feel with no real loss of performance - but the wear rate on them slowed to almost a stop! That suggests to me that they've gone a bit hard, but I persisted with them (because Yorkshire) and finally managed to get down to the wear markers on the inside of the rears.

Tyre choice right now is very limited, almost anything from Japan is unobtanium in the sizes I wanted. Despite excellent experience with ZZR, I wanted to try something new 'for science'. In the end I opted for Nankang AR-1, mainly because it's the only tyre I could source in the slightly wider sizes that I wanted of 235 rear and 205 front (Avons are 225/195).


With new tyres, I unlocked the freedom to do something I've been putting off for almost 2 years which is to get my 240R wheels refurbished. They've been a bit tatty since I've owned them, but I kept rattle canning them (over the brakedust, obviously) to freshen them up between trackdays. Time for a proper paint job!

I'm over black wheels now, they hide the profile/detail in the wheels and I think don't do a great wheel justice. The 240R wheels really are great.

I wasn't brave enough for silver, as Laser Blue and Black certainly 'works' so I had a good chat with my local powdercoater and he came up with a suggestion. I thought it was brave, and was terrified it wouldn't work... but I love it.



Shadow Chrome. If I understand correctly, it's a gloss black base coat and some chromy lacquer/topcoat. Comes out great, and is a really good match for the carbon bits on the car.


One of my wheels always needed a lot of weight to balance it up, the root cause for this was found - one of the rears had a slight buckle. Really minor (apparently) and easily fixed, the wheel now balances up with minimal weight.

The next excuse to throw money at the car came when I was stood in the kitchen one night and could hear a loud beeping coming from the garage. Upon investigation I found the trickle charger for the car was in an error state and it was making a right racket. Disconnected it, and sure enough the Odyssey PC680 was dead. Messed around with it for a bit, tested the charger on a spare battery and all was good - but the PC680 had nothing left to give. Grrr

As I had a PC680 sized bracket already, and my OE brackets had seized and long since removed I wanted to keep to the same formfactor... but the PC680 is a little low-tech nowadays and at 6 or so KG isn't even that light, so in came a Lithium replacement:


At barely 2kg, it shares the same bracket (with a minor tweak) and exceeds the cranking specs of the 680 anyway. It can't be tricked using my existing charger (I believe?) so I need to work out a battery cut-off switch to stop it draining. I also relocated my bracket from upright against the bulkhead to laying flat, just because the old layout made accessing the terminals a bit awkward.


Insulating boots to follow, just to stop a rogue spanner crossing the streams and blowing something up.

Another small job was to make/bodge an ODB to DB9 Serial connector.


When my ECU/Dash was installed, a USB2CAN adaptor was wired in. I could use this to push config changes to my dashboard from the laptop. Recently ECUMaster had advised that I push a firmware update to my GPS2CAN module for some bug fixes using the same USB2CAN adaptor, but I couldn't because it had been wired in to its own dedicated CANBUS, and didn't have connectivity with the GPS Module, as per:


As the original ODB port was on the same bus as the GPS module, I was able to make up a cable that would link the USB2CAN module to the ODB Port, and get the firmware update done. Simple but effective, and this concept could be expanded upon - with a bit more of a robust/better made link cable I could use the ODB port to quickly/easily add or test a new canbus facility such as TPMS or whatever, before digging into the car loom to wire it in properly.

Final bit of housekeeping update is on the fleet front. I (temporarily, rented) added a trailer to the driveway!


Since my breakdown in Anglesey last year, I've been working towards this. Originally had a training course and certification booked, which the government then banned... so after losing the ability to get 'trailer legal' in 2021 I finally inherited the capability on my license for this season. The Volvo V90 had been bought specifically for this use (well, it's my Wife's daily too) and spent an eye watering amount to get the Volvo fold away towbar etc.

The plan was to rent a trailer for some close-to-home trackdays so I wasn't getting out of my depth miles from home, but only following a day of tutoring from my neighbour and lifelong tower/driver Geoff. Geoff helped me with the basics, hitching up, balancing a load, etc- then we got onto driving, and even a bit of reversing. It all went pretty well, and the Volvo had some nice gadgets to help.


We did a few miles in various scenarios and as it went without drama, I felt confident enough to use it for real.


I had a few comments on social media about the fact I had the car facing forwards with an engine in the boot, but this was the best/safest way we could get a 95kg nose weight on the trailer. The Volvo limit is 100kg, and I wanted to be at the thick end of that to improve trailer stability.

With the car backed on, I had to have it quite far towards the rear of the trailer to keep the weight away from the nose - and considering it's significantly easier to unload/load the car forwards - I so no benefit in reversing on.

I spoke with a few other Lotus towers, and many preferred forwards loading too - those with tyre racks actually finding it mandatory.
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Onto the meat of the weekend. The trailer was intentionally scheduled for this weekend as I had a double header of Blyton on the Sunday and Cadwell on the Monday. It would be an ideal way to get some towing mileage under my belt, but still relatively close to home in case I came into difficulty.

It would also help me to pack the Volvo with 2 days worth of track time supplies, spare tyres, etc.

Day #1

Plot twist, the Blyton event wasn't a trackday - it was Round 2 of the Javelin Trackday Sprint Series and I would be competing with 80+ other cars to set a fast lap. It would be my first time competing in a car, so nerves were fairly lively - but luckily I had the anxiety of towing to distract me anyway :lol:

The towing was absolutely fine, bit nervous for the first few miles on Sunday morning but soon settled into it, and was pretty much an HGV driver by the end of it. I had a bit of a trial by fire upon arrival at Blyton, I stupidly kept driving down the very packed paddock to find a slot, slowly coming to realise I'd have to turn around and go back to the entrance to park up. 3 Point turn, with a trailer in front of many trackday peers. Great :lol: Luckily a friend came to watch me back, combined with a slow but assertive manoeuvre we soon got around and back into the countryside to park up for the day.


The JTSS format is fairly straight forward, you get one untimed practise lap, then 6 timed runs about an hour between each one... so the brakes and tyres are clap cold for every run. Not nice.

The "lap" starts with a launch from the usual pitlane exit, and finishes about 50 yards away from the final corner.

The runners are split into classes, broadly decided by engine capacity and power output - but there are a few modifies for cars such as Lotus' - so I was in J04 with cars "over 2.0 and up to 400bhp". On a more normal weekend, it's a bit of a "Lotus class" but some of the other cars weren't running for one reason or another. J04 puts me quite close to the front of the running, and as the cars run in class order - it meant I was called up for my practise run as I left the briefing room. Eeek, no time to get nervous!


Stickers slapped on, go-faster creases n' all and off we went. Desperately trying to warm up the engine/gearbox oil in the queue.

I wasn't totally inexperienced with launching the car, I'd had a few cheeky practises prior to the event and felt rather confident.... but that didn't really work out. I couldn't find ANY grip off the line, wheelspin galore and this would continue throughout the day. Even launching with something like 2k RPM would initially bog down, then it would just spin like crazy when I tried to throttle up. My 60ft times weren't terrible, but I knew the car had much better in it.

Practise run was a bit shakey, but uneventful. Senses heightened trying to figure out what these Nankang tyres would do, I'd only done 50 or so road miles, really had no idea how they would respond. They were fairly well behaved though - nice stiff sidewalls made the car feel responsive. Car tended to understeer rather than oversteer throughout the day, but probably something I can tune out with pressures once they're properly up to temp on a real trackday.

Brakes were pretty weak for sprinting though, I absolutely love the Carbotechs and they do everything I need them to do on a trackday, but the first couple of stops from cold are really quite scary. This would be a theme through the day, my sector 1 being very weak compared to s2.

After coming back to the pits, I really didn't know what to do with myself. Checked tyre pressure with no idea what to do with that information, so just chatted and sat on the grass for an hour.

First timed run, launch was crap again - but got round the lap without drama, loads of time left on the table and I was making notes as I went around. Typically over braking for everything and minimum speed in the slower corners was really poor. Did a 1.13.25.

A little bit disappointed, I'd done my homework and I knew my car with me driving had a comfortable 1.10 in it, and much lower if I pushed the boat out a bit.

Nerves were gone now, and just wanted to progress - second run was a 1.11.82, step in the right direction but still loads to come.

Final run before lunch was an error strewn one, missing gears, half of bunga bunga in neutral, etc. Still a 1.11:34 so creeping in the right direction.

Lunch ruined everything, the extra hour or downtime I guess was enough to bleed off any residual heat in the car - and the clouds came over, and I went backwards.

Did what I thought was a good lap and clocked only 1.12.42 and the one after barely better at a 1.12.10. This was really rocking me, suddenly I had one run left - the leader of J04 was running away with it in the 1.08s(!) and I couldn't figure out how to go faster. I was blaming the launch a bit, so ended up wasting more time experimenting with it.

In the time before the final run, I got a bit of news that the J04 leader was actually misclassified and should have been J03... that changed things slightly, as I was only 0.2 seconds behind the new leader of J04... all to play for in the final session. The sun also came out, not sure if it was all in my head - but that made me much more confident on grip levels.

I queued up behind my J04 rival in his Honda Civic. I'm crap with Civic designations pre-EP3, but it was old, stripped and apparently rather powerful. I definitely had the edge on the launch and the faster corners, but he was monstering me in S1 for most of the day.

He got off on his lap, his launch looked decent but that's about all I could judge before it was my turn. We were both in the 1.11's and just 2 tenths apart, I was sure if I could sneak into the 1.10's that I could pinch it.

Off we go, launch was going pretty well... right up until I missed 2nd. Grrr, I got it in on the second time of asking and was pretty dejected going down into T1. I half gave up and half over committed all at the same time - but T1 was a mess. Going down towards the wiggler, I braked far too early... not going well. Sod it, I just did what I could in S2 and felt like it was pretty good coming over the line. Nothing lairy, but minimum speeds felt good in the faster stuff.

Crossed the line and glanced up to the clock, 1.10.74! Had I nabbed it?

I parked up, and before I could fumble around for the live timing on my phone a friend came up to deliver the news. "Stonking lap.... but..." My rival in his Civic had done a 1.10.66, 8/100ths faster!

I wasn't disappointed, had a good buzz from how close it was and was glad that I could at least compete. Being honest, J04 wasn't at its strongest this weekend due to non starters etc, so I got lucky. On a normal weekend I think I'd need to be in the 1.08's to be competitive but on reflection I've easily got that time in me and the car.

My 60ft time was 0.4sec up on Marc in the Civic
S1 I was 1.4(!) sec down on Marc
S2 I was 0.8 sec up on Marc

My S2 was right up there with the guys competing for the FTD which is both good to see, but also frustrating. What could have been, etc. My confidence on cold brakes by far my biggest weakness, I wonder if a road biased pad might be much better for sprinting as there's not really enough time to generate fade.

Final results, P14 and P2 in Class. As a nice bonus, I got a trophy - nice surprise at the end, I wasn't sure the J04 class was big enough to award the runner up after all of the none starters!


I still can't decide how much I enjoyed the day vs a normal trackday. The tracktime is obviously much lower, and running on cold brakes/tyres I didn't consider fun, tbh. I spend so much time trying to make my car better/faster - and then throw it all away by going out with no grip. Obviously it's the same for everyone, but I just didn't feel like I was leaning on my car properly - at least not in the first sector.

Despite doing so many trackdays in the last 10 years, I'm still not bored of them and I love driving my own day. Building up through the day, and pushing myself along at my own pace. Sprinting is different, not better, not worse - just different. I don't think I could commit to a full championship campaign because it would just eat into my free weekends too much, and limit how many trackdays I can do... one to mull over, and see what the future brings.

The tow home was fun, and absolutely smashed the reverse manoeuvre into the driveway.

Early night... long day of Cadwell tomorrow.
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