We have a saying over here at The Real Gran Turismo; "Par for the Course".
Whilst this could be considered a golfing terminology, we use it a little differently. "Par for the course" means that we need to expect the unexpected as, more than likely, with every track day that passes, we are getting closer to another issue that needs addressing. For every track car hire that takes place, or arrive and drive track day we operate, we inch closer to something dramatic taking place.
Random un-identifiable mechanical issues, internet booking system meltdowns, engine management lights, airbag lights, basically any kind of light coming on in a car that shouldn't be.
So recently, I spent a lovely day on track at Abingdon airfield instructing Tim in his 510bhp Audi S4 Avant. He had advised that there would be a group of at least 4 people sharing the car, some of whom were novices. With that in mind, I thought it prudent to drive up in our 10AE edition MX5 affectionately referred to as 'Annie'.
This MX5 has been recently rebuilt, with new engine, coilover suspension, roll cage and brakes, and has been available as a track car for hire since the turn of the year and has been superb fun and has not missed a beat. Nothing to worry about.
After a great day at Abingdon, the day needed cutting short due to 'lack of tyre tread' on Tims Audi, leaving him just enough to get to the tyre fitters on the way home. A great shame having to cut a track day early, but at least everyone was getting home safe.
Unfortunately however, as I was nearing my destination en route home in 'Annie', all revs dropped on the M25 and whilst I retained electric, it was only the gears contually spinning that kept the engine turning.
Grinding to a halt on the hard shoulder on the M25 was not my idea of a good end to a track day. First we end the track day early, now I'm breaking down in a freshly built track car? what else could go wrong? Not believing in things coming in threes however, and with an optimistic attitude the gloves go on and one-by-one I begin the fault-finding operation.
First, no engine light on and we have electricity so it's not battery related. Second, all connections under the bonnet look clean and no wires hanging out of place. All fuses and relays look fine. Must be the coils as these are notorious on MX5's, despite having only done a few thousand miles on the new coilpack.
No spark confirms my suspicion of coils, and its lucky (or just good prep) that I have a spare coilpack in the MX5 car hire box of parts. Swapping the coilpack only takes 20 minutes if you know your way around an MX5. However, having swapped them over, still no spark. *Sigh.
Undoing the cambelt sensor however reveals the real issue - not the sensor as suspected, but the actual cambelt itself! Without a hint of a whisper of a suggestion; its cut itself in half. Marvellous.
So whilst sat on the side of the road awaiting rescue to come and tow me back to RGT Towers where we can begin the road to recovery, my phone rings. It's my wife. "Meet me at the hospital" she says, "I've broken my leg".
Par for the Course.