WINTER 2008/09

After years of loyally returning the car to Caterham Midlands for all work (apart from the odd emergency work carried out at Millwood) to the car and being really happy with the advice and results I finally decided to take the car elsewhere.

Many kit car competitors in the HSA and Midland Speed Championships (Chris Jones, John Bradshaw, Steve Day, Dave Uren etc.) had been reporting excellent results from Nigel Keats at Cougar Engineering. So much so that I interviewed Nigel for an article in Speedscene Magazine and was similarly impressed. Clearly an expert on both Caterhams and the K Series, Nigel's premises were closer and his rates were much lower that Caterham's so it was an easy decision.

The car was scheduled to appear on the Richard Egger Insurance stand at the Autosport International show at the NEC in January and as most of the wings were damaged they were the first thing to get changed. The 2008 Blue Book rules regarding catalytic converters meant a search for a free flow can was started. Rather than fit an ugly additional unit an integral, re-packable can from Simpson race exhausts was chosen. How much is ugly worth? About £800 as it turns out!

Actually the work carried out was pretty much a ground up rebuild but stopping at re powder coating and skinning the chassis. The suspension, front and rear, was dissassembled and re-built with new bushes and bearings and the chassis was re set-up. A freestyle rear diffuser was fitted along with a new heavy duty Bosch starter with a nicely engineered heat shield. 'Nice engineering' comes as standard with Cougar with a couple of other examples. Instead of the exhaust collector entering the can off centre as in many Caterhams, the collector had a nice bend put in so that it entered the can centrally. Anyone who has run their Caterham hard at MIRA has probably had oil leaking out of their diff through the long and high "G" first bends. Nigel's solution was to add a breather pipe and collector tank to return the oil back to the diff. Nicely done.

At the last minute I almost decided to take up Nigel's offer to either take the engine out to about 1670cc (his 'ideal' K series') or go the whole way and take it to 1800 and move up a class. In the end it didn't happen but perhaps next year. It may all depend on what the MSA do about Roadgoing classes and their tyres. Its hard to keep up with all the changes and developments which makes running the Formula Ford more attractive where there is a level playing field and I can be competitive without spending huge sums. As I get older and less supple and if I have many more miserable wet events an Evo VI RS lightweight looks more and more attractive!


The only changes this year are to fit the small, headlights from SVC which most other kit car competitors use


No changes at all! Apart from another new starter motor and the suggestion from Caterham Midlands to use Thermo Wrap around the starter/solenoid unit. We'll have to see how this goes.

However, thoughts have turned to 'what next?'. Current options inlcude a 2.0l Duratec engined Superlight and a nut & bolt re-build of the current car including a few lightweight and upgraded parts. I don't really want to move into the larger engined 'kit car' class so the re-build option is favourite particularly as I remain really happy with the car and even the boys at Caterham Midlands think its a great car. If the engine comes out and goes to Wilcox for a re-build there will be a temptation to upgrade the cam but its so driveable at present I don't think so. Maybe a re-map and a few more bhp?


Having decided to run solely in the ALDON/HSA championship the obvious decision was to remove the windscreen and replace it with aero screens. The obvious advantages being weight and drag. At the same time I decided I couldn't hold out any longer and it was time to switch to Stunner Scudo tyres which most List 1A competitors had already moved to. This necessitated 15" wheels and with the aero screens has transformed the appearance of the car.

Back to back testing at Combe with a lap timer showed the Stunners to be a good second and a half quicker than the Bridgestones although in competition it was difficult to realise the performance advangtage. So, at the end of the season the car was taken to Neil Garner Performance Engineering located nearby on the edge of Kemble airfield for a full suspension set up. This confirmed that the toe, rake and camber all needed adjustment so when the car gets back on track in 2007 there should be an improvement in times.


At last the big one. I finally took the plunge and agreed a rebuild/upgrade project with John Wilcox at Wilcox Competition Engines, Hinckley. Why Wilcox? Well, because they had already done some work on the car, are close to Caterham Midlands and because of their strong reputation for quality engineering and development.

So, in early March the car was delivered to Caterham Midlands who removed the engine and took it over to Hinckley. What followed was a bit of a saga mainly down to the choice of suitable ECU. We had discussed this at the start of the project and had considered most of the popular options. Taking advice from Wilcox and Caterham Midlands a number of the more obvious choices were rejected for reasons I won’t go into here. Two ECUs were shortlisted - GEMS and EFI. The initial choice was to go with a GEMS ECU because Wilcox had considerable experience with this product. However, it turned out that GEMS hadn’t fitted their ECU to an EU3 K series and were reluctant to undertake the work to connect their ECU to an EU3 loom. So, the decision was taken to go with EFI who supply the stock ECU to all the 2005 BTCC teams and are familiar with supporting engines from different manufacturers.

This turned out to be an excellent choice and the whole project went smoothly from here on with additional support coming from EFi specialist Ole Buhl of OBR Motorsport. The final specification is Jenvey 42mm throttle bodies, a big valve motor sport head, forged pistons, raised compression ratio and custom ITG air filter. We decided to keep the Supersports cams in the interests of driveability. An extended dyno session was required to complete a full mapping exercise including a look at the CCTV video of the event!

Once mapped the engine was collected by Caterham Midlands for re-installation back into S7 CSB. A new expansion tank was needed as Wilcox installed a breather in the top of the cam cover.

I don’t believe most of the power figures I hear and I don’t expect anyone to believe mine so I’ll keep them to myself. Interestingly though, peak power and torque both occur together at 6,500 r.p.m. For this reason the soft cut rev limiter has been set at only 7,200 r.p.m which is a little lower than the standard Supersport.

As can be seen from the photos (before and after the fitting of the air filter) the engine and installation are very tidy. There is plenty of space (well its all relative isn't it?) under the bonnet without the need for a cut out and a noise test at Castle Combe gave 96.6Db at 4,500 r.p.m. The results are excellent. Idling is smooth and power delivery is even and progressive with a kick above 4,500 r.p.m. and it sounds really throaty. Remember its still a 1.6.

The carbon fibre trumpets weren’t specified I should add! They are only on the engine because no aluminium ones were available at the time it was all being put together.

So, finally many thanks to John, Rita and the team at Wilcox for a fantastic job, Simon at Caterham Midlands for the re-installation and finally, Andy Jackson at ITG for an accurate custom build of the air filter and his help fitting it.

The final mod for 2005 has been the acquisition of a Freestyle Motorsport rear diffuser which Gary and Brodie reckon is worth a few mph on a reasonable straight. So far the "A" frame panel has been fitted but the rest is waiting until I can find time to cut the rear so that it doesn't extend beyond the bodywork - a silhouette regulation in most championships for road going vehicles.

Once I finally got going in 2005 a couple of glitches have occurred. First of all the starter motor gave up the ghost at Llandow on a hot day. Actually, the same had happened to my interim car (see below) too as well as a few other cars this summer I understand. After discussing the problem with Caterham Midlands they suggested fitting a higher spec Bosch starter from the R300, R400 and R500. Simon almost got it to fit but there just isn’t enough space when the 4 into 1 competition exhaust is fitted. In the end a standard unit was fitted with a small amount of heat shielding around the solenoid and a 30amp fused 'by pass fix’ to the starter motor.

A couple of weeks later, returning form a short run there was a ‘clonk’ as if something had dropped out followed by a ‘screeching’ noise although he engine continued to run. On inspection a bolt was found loose in the engine bay and the noise was coming from the alternator belt. A quick visit to Millwood confirmed that the alternator adjusting bolt had fallen out and needed replacing and adjusting.

Because of the delays in getting all the work done I was in danger of missing the first half of the 2005 season. After considering a number of stopgap options (including a Striker Toyota) I did a deal with Nick Potter at Caterham Midlands for the ex Ben Shalders, 1999 Roadsport A, T7 BEW, on a ‘sale and guaranteed buy back’ basis. This worked very well and enabled me to mark up some decent points before getting my own car back.


I was looking for a bit more power but not wanting to spend a lot or deviate very far from the ‘straight and narrow’. In discussion with Caterham Midlands we agreed to try a 52mm throttle body and vernier pulleys as these seemed a popular route from blatchat tech talk threads. Caterham also thought that adding an adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator, taken from a 1.8K would be a good move. In the end Caterham got Wilcox Competition Engines to fit the vernier pulleys and once it was all back together suggested a rolling road session to check everything out.

Interestingly the 52mm throttle body didn’t work too well. Comparative runs between the 52mm and the 48mm indicated better top end power and torque with the smaller unit. Apparently, some years back this had been looked into with MG Rover with the conclusion that there was little to be gained from the larger unit. Anyway by adjusting the FPR and checking the cam timing a few extra BHP were obtained.

The overall results were, subjectively, a small improvement in power and a noticeable improvement in throttle pick up. One worrying problem, however, was very uneven idling and this was finally diagnosed as the shift light (which I had at last got around to having fitted) and the EU3 loom. Once disconnected (by Simon at a Castle Combe Academy event!) everything was working normally again.

I also decided to go slightly wider on the rear tyres moving up to 195 X 60 X14s and keeping the 185s on the front. After a test day at Castle Combe I disconnected the rear ARB for good and changed from a green to a red (16mm) front ARB. OK the car felt more pointy and exciting to drive but it was slower. I recall Derek Moore telling us in Academy days that a rear ARB was of little use with anything except slicks and many of the Roadsport A competitors didn’t use them. Also Simon Lambert’s after sales pages on the Caterham web site confirm that softness equals grip - up to a point of course.


The Caterham Roadsport A upgrade (i.e. LSD, 6 speed box, wide track, Supersport engine, competition exhaust, rear ARB etc,) offer was too good to miss so the car was booked in for all the new bits. As I already had the Supersports engine upgrade I was given a credit for this bit.


I had pretty much decided to go Sprinting and Hillclimbing for 2002 so some more power was required. In order to keep my options open I chose to have the engine upgraded and sealed to Super Graduates spec which was essentially the Supersports engine package with mechanical tappets.


S7 CSB was collected from The Classic Carriage Company (about to become Caterham Midlands) in Academy 2001 specification. This was the first year that the Academy had used 1.6K Series De Dion cars.

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