Yesterday I accompanied my team-mate Martin Tolley to the BLiNK Motorsport workshop in Cheshire, along with our MX-5 race cars. Those who compete in Mazdas will know BLiNK well; they are the premier engine builders in the Mk1 championship and supply around three quarters of the field.
We discovered at Cadwell Park that my car appeared to be significantly down on power compared to my rivals. The aim of the trip to the workshop was to try and understand where the performance deficit was – was it in the engine, or was it attributable to other factors such as the differential, exhaust or transmission?
This was my first visit to the workshop and I found it both fascinating and useful to see how BLiNK go about their business. There was a lot of data and analysis tools in use which, as a self-confessed data geek, I loved! The engine was tested on the chassis dynamometer (or “dyno” to you and me) at various rev ranges, including a test moving up from low to maximum revs, to baseline the torque and power output. This generated a dataset that showed not only the maximum output, but also the power delivery over the full range to identify whether there were any anomalous dips in performance at low or high revs.
It also meant making a lot of noise!
After we’d finished making lots of noise, we were able to analyse the results of the test. It was clear as day – the delivery of power was good, there just wasn’t enough power being delivered! We were around 15% down on the front runners, which in motor racing terms is a massive chasm.
The boys from BLiNK did a bit of tinkering with the engine to see what could be extracted, and managed to get me another few BHP to reduce the deficit marginally, but ultimately the engine build wasn’t going to give us the power we needed. So, whilst that’s disappointing in one sense, it’s also good to know exactly what the deficit is and exactly how to address it. BLiNK made some recommendations and Martin was also able to suggest a sensible course of action.
So, food for thought over the coming weeks for me as I look to get the car to a level where I’m competing on an even footing with those around me. There’s no Mazda racing in July so potentially some time to get stuff sorted before we next hit the track at Donington in mid-August.