Some thoughts and progress for the first round of the 2018 PBMW championship, at Donington Park in just over a weeks time(!). Firstly it's nice to get the winter out of the way, it's borderline depressing how far away the racing season seemed. It's really dragged. Secondly, (ironically), I wish I had a bit more time! There's been a job change, more increasing attention needed for our 3 young boys, a business to wrap up, and we seem to have been flat out for months without much time for anything else.

The last few weeks I've pushed hard to sort the car out. I've found one gearbox mount bolt loose and it's friend completely missing... The fire extinguisher has had to move to comply with new MSA rules (though thankfully I've kept it serviced so don't have to get a new one!). The new paint job is err, way behind schedule - I have to see what I can do on the drive with a gazebo this weekend. The car has a new home about 2 miles away, under cover in a nice unit, but the body work has suffered quite a bit being sat on the drive in the rain. At the end of the year, the shell really needs a complete strip and repair.

I've been getting some Donington practice in on iRacing using an Oculus Rift VR headset - WOW! It's utterly superb!! Going down the craner curves for the first time the chair felt like it was moving and I genuinely felt a bit queasy! I know my braking and turning points now, the depth perception and immersion that VR gives you I think is far more useful, than a flat screen where it seems more of a scripted set of actions. Mentally I think I'm ready, and it kicks off with a Friday morning test to get comfortable with the car again and a circuit I've never actually driven. Physically, I'm in pretty poor shape though! I need to work on that a lot more.

Image from Donington Park website
Image from Donington Park website

The current timetable shows 15 minutes of qualifying Sunday morning and 2 x 20 minute races. My aim will be to be ahead of a few people again and build on Brands last year.

So it won't be long until I'm here (without the family for the first time which is a bit of a shame), trying to survive and enjoy another weekend of racing. Donington is one of those must-do "ballsy" circuits, so I'm a touch apprehensive but looking forward.

Winter feels like it has really dragged by this year, more than ever. But with February up in a couple of days there is light at the end of a bleak race-less tunnel! Spring is full of conventional images such as lambs jumping around a field, buds opening on trees, flowers poking through. In the same vein, we can also imagine bleary eyed drivers gathering their kit from the bottom of the wardrobe, licenses arriving through the post, calendars being announced... it has the same wonderful meaning: the racing season is almost back for another year!

And speaking of calendars, here's what the 2018 PBMW Championship looks like:

  1. 14/15 April – Donington Park National
  2. 19/20 May – Brands Hatch GP
  3. 16/17 June – Brands Indy
  4. 21 July – Cadwell Park
  5. 11/12 August – Snetterton 300
  6. 8/9 September – Donington GP
  7. 29/30 September – Rockingham ISSC

So it all kicks off mid April at another circuit we haven't been to before. I'll be getting some practice in on iRacing to learn the circuit, watching the Driver 61 circuit guide and reading the UK circuit guide book. I'm genuinely looking forward to it, not bricking myself at a new circuit as before!

This year we aim to do all but one of the races inthe championship (your worst score / no show is dropped), and if we can bring some partners on board to sponsor us we certainly will. Last year ended on such a positive note, again with the car being bullet proof reliable. Steady pace not blistering, but the pace is gradually coming from me and the car.

On the car front this year we'll shave another few kilos off, and shed some very useful unsprung weight with replacement race wheels: More excess cockpit wiring / locks / accessories have been removed, and I'm re-wiring the ignition switches while the dash is out. Considering it was my first attempt at major auto-electrics what 5 years ago, it's not a bad effort as everything has worked up to now. But my grasp of soldering and joining wires has improved dramatically, plus I've gained an appreciation why using a grade up of wire everywhere isn't necessary - it just adds weight!

The car is (very slowly) undergoing a makeover. Again this wasn't a priority previously, it was all about having a reliable presentable car, but now we're pushing on that front too. I'm hoping once it's done it will stand out a touch...

Pink BMW

Stay tuned for a progress update!

We built up a bit of momentum at the end of the summer. Two races in 3 months! But also we acquired a trailer, new tyres, didn't finish last (not including retirements!), stayed at the circuits and generally got more comfortable. If last year's trip to Oulton was a toe in the water, (and 2014's Brands appearance was the rehearsal!), this year we were properly assimilated.

Which means now we're raring to go for next year, hoping to compete in more of the season. But, the winter break is in the way! Racing season is typically off from November to March, and it's depressing. But it does provide some planning time. So, a shopping list is emerging!

Rather than leaving the tools as neatly piles up in boxes as possible, we could really do with an awning. Plus we've got somewhere for us all including the kids to chill in the paddock, usually with electric hook up. Any tent or hotel is often a good walk or drive way. Plus it could even take over from the tent - maybe. See Rock awnings who seem to be recommended.

Yep, it's bright! Which leads me to the next subject... The car is pretty dull so we're talking colours. Mrs Cookracing is a good sounding board having a better appreciation of colours, but we've also given our family and friends (and random followers) a say, in a poll vote off on Twitter and Facebook

A more appealing colour palette will help no end if we try to get some local sponsorship. I'm trying to weigh up photography advice, which is now contradicting the popular vote currently. I personally like the acid Magenta, though it's pretty polarising! I've also had some advice on branding and there's more thinking to do before then.

Until next time...