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Thread: Eastern Europe Tracks by Caterham

  1. #1
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    Default Eastern Europe Tracks by Caterham

    As I have done for a number of years now, I rented one of the Bookatrack Caterham R300 racecars for their European tour, this year Eastern Europe. The plan in the week of October 10 was to fly into Budapest, spend 2 days enjoying the town then pick up a rental car and drive to Brno in the Czech Republic to meet the group at the hotel. First circuit was Brno. We travel then to Slovakia Ring, which is roughly 35 miles east of Bratislava in Slovakia. After that it is drive back to Budapest where we run the Hungaroring, home of the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

    For those that have never been to Budapest, you are missing one of the great cities of Europe. Lots to see and do and very reasonably priced.

    Naturally I sampled the local brews in my favorite cafe by the Danube watching the world go by!

    Brno Circuit, Czech Republic

    There was a famed Brno Circuit. But like the other great tracks of Europe – Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, Pau, even Nürburgring, it has changed dramatically over time. The original 19 mile circuit was discontinued and a move was made to purpose built facility nestled in the hillside and valleys on the outskirts of Brno city in 1987. I drove some of the original 1930s track, as it is now the access roads to the current circuit. Even some of the original pit buildings remain present on the sides of the road.

    The track is known for hosting MotoGP bikes, Formula 3 Euro Series, DTM, FIA World Touring Car, Superbike World Championship, and FIA GT1 World Championship.

    Sadly the weather forecast was not encouraging. The day was cold, high 30sF, overcast with rain forecast late in the day.




    In Fall with the leaves changing color it is a magnificent setting



    The track map shows a fairly lengthy track nothing special in layout.




    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 06:50 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  2. #2
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    But, the story of Brno circuit is all about elevation change. It may be hard to read the following graph but there is close to 250 feet (75m) of elevation change in the track from top to bottom. You start up high, wind your way down to the lowest point and then it is a very steep climb back up to the start finish line.




    This photo illustrates the elevation. This is me about half way down the circuit and in the distance, lower, continues the circuit and it is not even the end of the elevation drop.




    Yes I know I missed the apex Tom (as some of my "friends" on here will be quick to point out!) - with so much water on the apex you had more grip hold the car well out from the apex.

    The trusty rental Caterhams all lined up. The R300 have orange stripes and the 620R are red stripe.




    I did enjoy how the Bookatrack photographer lined up the cars at opposite angle to pit exit!

    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 06:53 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  3. #3
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    My trusty R300 for my days on track is here. A standard S3 chassis with de Dion rear end. 2L Duratec making 180hp. Redline is 6800-7000 but I usually change at 6500 for sympathy. No frills race car – no lights, indicators, extra gauges, or heater/blower unit. It is usually set up with fiberglass Tillet shells, although I use a foam seat arrangement when I run this car. Its nice to see Bookatrack gave her a shiny new coat of black paint and orange stripes since I last used it.






    A bit about Bookatrack. I have been running with Bookatrack for 5 years now at various UK and European circuits, always running Caterham R300s. Jonny Leroux, with his wife Sarah, run the best track days of any operator I have run with. Handy with the wheel himself, I think he still holds the lap record at Spa-Francorchamps in a Caterham R300 – the video is on YouTube somewhere. But Jonny’s best skill is building a group of loyal repeat customers who are just all welcoming and friendly to anyone that joins one of his track days or annual Europe trip like this one. The laughs are frequent around these days – no egos. I have tried a bunch of UK/European track day operators over the years – Bookatrack are the only ones I will run with now. Even if you never run a Bookatrack track day, Jonny is a passionate Caterham supporter and in the last year opened Caterham Midlands, based at Donington Circuit in the UK - worth a look if you are in the Midlands of the UK.

    The format of the track day is open pit lane. The track breaks for lunch for an hour but you can guarantee 7 hours of open track time. I would average about 3 hours on track in a day with lengthy breaks in between to keep the car and myself fresh. You do not lack for quality track time. Someone told me there were 30 cars but apart from the first 30 minutes there was never anything close to this out on track at once. You really did have quality time on the circuit.

    So some photos courtesy of Bookatrack. One feature of a Bookatrack track day is their practice of 2-3 sighting laps for people new to the circuit to get a basic familiarity before you go out and plant the size 11s to the floor. So I took out my Avis RentaCar, who for once gave me an upgrade to a nice Mercedes…. low powered diesel…sigh…




    Some pit photos



    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 06:56 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  4. #4
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    Sadly it rained in Brno.














    Towards the end of the day, I was one of the few circulating in the rain and slowly I came up behind another Bookatrack Caterham, a 620R, which was struggling for rear end grip around the corners. Yes it was Jonny from Bookatrack having fun by escaping his customers. So Jonny nicely pointed me by in my R300 and I continued on my merry way trying to be as smooth as possible, using only 5th or 6th gears to avoid breaking traction. Sadly, 3 laps later, I loop it coming out of the steep uphill right hander just before pit straight. Jonny sails past, probably with a huge smirk on his face, and gives me the thumbs up.
    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 06:58 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  5. #5
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    Because of the rain I did not make a full video of the circuit but a series of slow laps in persistent rain that just accumulated around the circuit. The shiny bits of the track in this video are standing water or drainage channels across the track. Yes it really was that wet.




    I gave the day away after I had a bad aquaplane coming out of turn 1 which I saved and then further down the circuit at turn 11 I aquaplaned again through the braking zone, skated across the gravel trap and somehow managed to haul it up on the grass next to the fence without doing any damage other than tasting seat fabric at the back of my mouth from a big buttock clench. As I am out of the car in the pits after this, I hear of two other Caterhams that had major oops moments from aquaplaning at turn 2. Seemed a perfect time to call it a day.

    I think I will be back. I want to try the track in the dry. I have seen enough to know it will be a fantastic drive when the conditions are more favorable.
    Last edited by Croc; 10-29-2016 at 03:50 AM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  6. #6
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    Slovakia Ring

    I will be upfront and admit, I thought this track would be a bust before I even turned a wheel. On paper it did not inspire me. It looked like a classic case of how many corners can you fit into a flat field. Everyone I talked to in the group said the same view and we all changed our minds once we drove it.



    What an interesting circuit. It was quick. I was at redline in 6th gear at four points in the circuit. But in between those fast bits were some very slow bits. So that led to the surprise on how much fuel a Caterham could consume. The fuel guys were run ragged keeping up.




    Some photos courtesy of Bookatrack:



    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 07:02 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  7. #7
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    I was caught here waiting in the pits to head out for first session of the day.



    An illustration of the confusing layout is in this photo. Besides the track I am driving on there are another 3 elements of the track hiding in the background as it loops back on itself again and again.




    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 07:06 PM.

  8. #8
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    The track was hard on cars. Here is Roger, a former Chairman of the Lotus 7 Club of the UK, showing us how to fix a rear end on his absolutely gorgeous Vauxhall powered car. I never realized how nice a Vauxhall engine could sound until I heard this one.



    Another former Chairman of the Lotus 7 Club (who I will keep nameless to avoid embarrassment) had engine problems which stopped him on the circuit. His K-series R500 had decided to lunch itself at 8600rpm. Scrutiny of the damage in the pits was instructive – it had rods out both sides of the block with clear open holes. Never seen that done double before. In fairness it was said to be well overdue for its refresh schedule of every 3000 track miles or 10000 road miles so the owner was not overly surprised.





    Here is a video. I decided to use the regular roll bar clamp with the go pro plastic mount. Bad move – I should have known better as they vibrate at speed and get the jello wobbles. Still it should give you the right idea of the track.





    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 07:07 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  9. #9
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    Hungaroring

    The last of the circuits we were doing. First constructed in 1986, it is the home of the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix; it has a reputation as a drivers track. It also has a reputation of being tricky in the rain.



    It is situated in a valley so 80% can be seen from any point, which makes it great for spectators. This is the sequence of turns 2 and 3 and in the background turns 4/5 probably my favorite part of the circuit.




    Here is the third and second last corners before the main straight.



    A word here on the cars participating. Nearly all were UK based. Jonny has a couple of tractor-trailer units for the rental cars. He also arranged a few extra trucks to pick up other owner cars (spare wheels and tires) and truck them all to the circuits. So owners could all fly in knowing that their cars would be delivered. He then set up shuttle buses for those not wanting to rent a car so you could be picked up the airport, shuttled to the group hotel and on to the next circuit and so on. A very smooth way of making the entire trip work. The cars were mostly Caterhams. Many R500s, a few 620R, and a couple of R300 (ex-Bookatrack cars now in private ownership). There was a Noble, a Porsche, a track modified Miata, a Lotus Exige, and a Hayabusa Radical. There was even a Lotus Evora whose owner drove it across from the UK to participate.


    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 07:11 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  10. #10
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    Hungaroring surprised me by being perfect for an R300. You only really ran out of revs about half to two-thirds of the way down the main straight. That said the 620s were running 155-158mph down the straight whereas I topped out at around 117-118mph in the R300. The R500s were doing around 145-147mph. Its a loooong straight
    Last edited by Croc; 06-12-2018 at 07:17 PM.

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