Busy Summer for Padmore!

4th September 2008

After a very busy couple of months Nick has finally landed in the UK for a few days and we now have news of the last few championship rounds!

First of all Nick headed to Croft in early May for the double-header (2 x 3 hour) Funcup Beetle race.

With a packed schedule for the weekend ahead, Nick’s main focus the whole time was to bring the car home in one piece.

Race 1 was a pretty clean race with Padmore and Bankhurst in car 14 qualifying 4th and finishing a challenging 7th.

Post race, Nick commented - “It was carnage out there today, everyone has taken their banzai pills before this round….well including me actually, I did a wild one round the outside on the first corner!...gotta be done though, can’t wait to see the on-board footage of that!

Race 2 was a slightly different situation, with small electrical problems, Nick ended up starting 23rd, behind the number 49 car (team mates) in 19th. And the result didn’t differ from that, with Nick finishing in 15th and the 49 car finishing in 14th.

“The boys at Matrix have done a real good job, but they noted that we’re a little down on power, we’re getting nailed in a straight line, and a lot of this type of racing you need every bhp you can get ! But these are all things we can learn by“.

After a scenic round at Croft, Nick flew out to France for round 3 of the Euro VdeV championship at the legendary Magny Cours circuit. After a promising qualifying session, the race looked to be a good result. Jean-Lou started and was running strong in 11th, however when Nick’s stint came around, the Norma suffered massive electrical problems and a burst radiator sent Nick pretty much to the back and ended up being classified 30th by the end of the 3 hour Endurance race.

Nick said “Nothing was really in our favour, the electrics were a problem but I could kind of drive round it, it kind of felt like the engine wasn’t giving me everything…..not ideal but I could at least limp it home, but when the Radiator went, it was game over, nothing we could do. I hope Dijon gives us some better results”.

So, Nick struggling with things in VdeV, the car wasn’t performing, and when there is nothing you can really do about it as a Driver, it’s a frustrating feeling, but Nick had now had to set his sites for the next event on the calendar – Anglesey in the Funcup Beetle.

Anglesey in the Beetle, a fairly straight forward format compared to the carnage double-header last time at Croft. Qualifying went well for Padmore, still being a bit down on power, Padmore managed to place the number 14 car 5th on the grid.

Bankhurst would be first to go out in the Endurance, keeping his place for a fair few laps, Bankhurst came into a bit of a tangle and the car came off the circuit; luckily not serious but a loss of time was a penalty to be paid. Nick was the next to do his stint, and eventually bringing the car home in 16th.

Speaking to Nick after the race, he commented “It wasn’t too bad out there, a bit of bad luck early on, I had a moment myself but managed to keep it, we’re still down on straight-line speed, but the boys think they have that narrowed down now after seeing the data from this round, so fingers crossed we should be at full whack by the next round!”.

After these few races, Nick was due a little training session to keep him sharp for the next race, a few bike rides and one Rotax day at Tilbury kart circuit were to do the trick for that, so Nick was now off to Dijon for round 4 of the Euro VdeV championship.

The rain was looking like it would hold off for VdeV at Dijon but that wasn’t the case, Nick managed to put the Norma 10th on the grid for the 3 hour Endurance. Race day came and the rain came down so Nick would start on wets and try to get to the front early, running a strong 6th Nick pitted for Jean-Lou to start his stint, however this didn’t play into Jean-Lou’s favour as he then had two tyre blow-outs and a serious electrical fault causing the engine to misfire! However the pair managed to bring it home 20th despite the massive technical faults and mechanical failures they had suffered.

Nick said ”It’s a real shame about the tyres, again the misfire is something that’s a problem but the car is still moving, when a tyre goes like that it can throw you off and out quite quickly so we were lucky in that respect I guess. Jean-Lou wants to test the car before the Snetterton UK round to try and dial out this misfire problem, which I think will help things along massively”.

However, before Nick was to jump back into Test Driver mode in the Norma, he had the Spa 25 hour Beetle Funcup race to endeavor, a race he looks forward to every year.

Spa 25hr Funcup - Drivers: Nick Padmore, Tony Gaston, Keith Padmore, Lee Bankhurst, Ricky Gaston.

The weekend of the 25 hour was now about to begin, not only does Nick love this race because of the circuit and the amount of competition, he gets to compete side by side with his Father (Keith Padmore) who got Nick into racing when he was a young.

When asking Nick about racing with his Dad, he said, “The old man is still quick, and he loves all this kinda racing, he’s still racing the mini all over the europe as well! We also have Tony Gaston,Ricky Gaston and Lee Bankhurst, so we are looking good!”

Out of 150 cars on the grid for the 25hr, Nick placed car 14 at 32nd on the grid, which was a very good effort.

Nick was then to start the race and got off to a very good start, getting the car to 3tdh very early on and then handed the car over for a driver change. In the second stint they were eventually running 10th for a whopping 2.5 hours!

This was looking very promising for Nick, Keith and Team Matrix, however an electrical problem cost them a lot of time and started to drop them back quite a few places. In Nick’s final stint he was running steady around 25th when the rear shock snapped causing the rear wheel to fall off, and cause the car to be recovered to the pits which lost Nick loads of time and they eventually finished 82nd out of 150.

Nick said “Its such a shame about the wheel coming off, this is such a fun race and we were running in a real strong position, I was having a really good time out there and I spoke to Dad after his stint and he said it was Mega too! Definitely a race I want to do every year, but next time we’re gonna win!” “Everyone drove really well not putting a mark on the car, its just a shame we had a few problems which cost us a lot of time”.

The long weekend at Spa now at an end meant Nick had to switch on his development Driver mode and go and Test the Norma at Alconbury Airfield with the engineers to get rid of the bug within the electrics/engine area of the car.

Snetterton brings us round 4 of the UK VdeV championship and Nick and the boys at RaceTeam Solutions were franticly testing on the Thursday before the race weekend to dial out there technical issues. And that they did, a new engine loom was fitted to the car which has ironed out the misfire and loss of power they were experiencing in the last 2 Euro rounds.

Nick was very confident before qualifying and did this by qualifying the car on pole by 3 tenths ahead of the Ligier of Bryce Wilson!

At the start of the race Nick didn’t make any gutsy maneuvers that would risk taking the car off, but 15 minutes later he had the lead and started to stretch the Norma’s legs a bit more. A quick burst of rain fell and Nick had a big moment which dropped him to 3rd, but the top 3 had a big lead over the rest of the pack. Nick managed to grab 2nd and stay there for the rest of his stint and then came in the swap with Jean-Lou. After a massive shower in Jean-Lou’s session, they were running a strong 6th; Nick jumped back in and was running second and eventually 4th when coming in for a final stop.

At this point the engine started to misfire again losing Nick about 40 minutes due to a faulty ECU Connector, after this Nick bought the car home in 8th after a very up and down race.

"This was a much better weekend for us as a team. We have had an engine misfire for the last 2 rounds of the French VdeV series which has cost us lots of pace. At last we managed to sort the problem and bang - pole position!"

“Jean-Lou has raised his game this weekend too, managing to beat his personal best lap time!" So a massive thanks to Lee and Gav at Race Team Solutions for getting the car sorted and on the pace!"

Nick is now gearing up for the 3 hour at Brands on Saturday 9th August, so keep an eye out for results and some very exciting new news on the website very soon.

Report by Elliot Weir

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