Friday 29 November 2013

Breaking News - Spookworks seeded at 18 for next weekends Rockingham Stages

Spookworks confirmed today that they will start 18th in next weekends Rockingham Stages.  The team face 2 days of rallying with 97 miles over 12 stages. The event is also the final round of the 2013 RAF Rally Championship and the team need a very strong finish to bring home any silverware.

More details to follow.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Subaru Gravel Wheels - there is only one choice...and its not what you think...

As winter starts to take hold people are swapping there trusted tarmac wheels and rims for gravel tyres and wheels.  However wherever we go, everyone keeps saying Speedlines Corse are the way to go.  Why? because they are the only gravel 15" rim that will fit over Subaru 4 pot calipers and are up to the job.


There is no denying that they are delightful wheels with a fine rally pedigree but there is another choice...

Revolution make their awesome Millennium Wheels is a 15" and as you can clearly see they fit perfectly over Subaru 4 pot calipers.  Made in UK by a UK company since 1967 these are as tough as anything out there and comparably light with anything currently in production.

So as you stick your tarmac rims in the shed....visit Revolution before you stick anything else in its place.

Revolution Wheels - leave the competition behind....
 Experience a Revolution

Spookworks confirms entry for Rockingham Finale

Spookworks HQ confirmed today that the team will be competing in the 2 day Rockingham Stages. 97 fast and flowing stages miles at the UK's best motorsport venue.  The event marks the finale of the RAF rally Championship and the team is a long shot to remain the crown for the 4th year running but rallying is anything but predictable.

2013 Rockingham Stages - A pre event test session at the secret Spookworks testing ground

A Spookworks spokesman said:  "We are very excited about the final event of the year.  We have had a dramatic season and some really bad luck but our good result on the Fat Albert and some intensive work behind the scenes at a top secret Spookworks test facility mean that we will enter Rockingham with the best car of the year. We are very confident about our chances and Spookworks will be 100% fighting fit and ready to battle it out with our old sparring partners; Blackstone Rallying, Force D, Gravel Factory and of course JFP - bring them all on!"

Sunday 17 November 2013

Spookworks Fat Albert Stages Report 2013 - its all about preparation

The real story of the Spookworks 2013 Fat Albert Stages is not so much about the 70 miles over 7 stages or about the record breaking 88 cars that started the event (which 24 failed to finish) but more about the preparation that went on in the days leading up to the event.  Spookworks always likes to take inspiration from history and we had to look back no further than the great Benjamin Franklin who stated:

     "An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure"
File:Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffrein Duplessis.jpg
Benjamin Franklin knows all about rally prep...
With our recent run of bad luck we decided to go all out and get the Spookworks Impreza in tip top condition for our "home" event at Keevil.

No I meant cut the other one......Sparks fly at Spookworks secret development centre

Truckloads of parts were ordered not least 2 complete new front hubs to replace the 1 that exploded at Woodbridge. New radiator and STACK gauges were installed to monitor engine temps, and new wheel studs were obtained to replace the worn and stripped wheel studs.  There was also a lot of fabrication going on with some welding and various heat shields being made - in fact the whole 2 days was a bit like an "A Team" montage where lots of things were going on in no particular sequence, large pieces of plywood were being carried around and lots of comical knowing glances exchanged and then "hey presto" the car rolled off the ramps and onto the trailer. In fact one of boffins known only as "Woody" was even heard to say ...."I love it when a plan comes together"
Spookworks Boffins - We think Woody is one on the far right.
A late arrival at team accommodation was (as usual) followed by an early start.  Not sure what time it was but it was still nighttime when we got back up again.  Scrutineering highlighted 2 minor issues a slightly loose seat and the horn had decided not to work for some reason.  Back in service these were quickly rectified and the car started in good shape.

Rallies always seem to start at stupid o'clock.  Here we are really to start and its still night time.  

The conditions were probably the worst we had seen on the Fat Albert for a while.  Heavy rain in the lead up to the event had made the stages very slick and they were covered with a thin layer of mud which was only going to get worse as cars dragged even more mud on to the stage.

Stage 1 and it proved to be the ice rink affair everyone expected. Lots of slides and opposite lock and in some parts of the stage even a walking pace was too fast and resulted in some chaotic scenes similar to a muddy car park after a music festival.  Even those who opted for a gravel tyre fared no better and it really was all about survival.  We managed to get home although it was not pretty, but better than some, I will never work out how any rear wheel drive escorts made it round but we were glad to have 4WD!  We posted a 12:47 to set the 15th fastest time - although it was a complete lottery.

You can see the mud on the road in this pic.  A rare shot of the car almost in a straight line!

Stage 2 was exactly the same route and after some tyre pressure adjustments to try and get some heat into the tyres we ran into heavy traffic and lost quite a lot of time.  The second stage was worse than the first in terms of grip as grass section had now turned to cut up mud and the mud that was already on stage 1 was well and truly spread round stage 2! We set a 13:26, over exactly the same stage we previously did a 12:47 and as we looked the results we were reassured to know that almost everyone had experienced the same troubles.

Easy does it - might look good but we actually we trying to go straight ahead! 
Stage 3 saw the stages beginning to dry a bit and we managed to press on.  Still plenty of traffic but it seemed to be hurting everyone equally so there could be no complaints.  The so called "nadgery bit" was still at walking pace with any sharp stabs of the throttle being rewarded with a trip into the undergrowth.  A few close calls and some slides and we set a 13:00 on stage 3.  We still had some overheating issues so we used the anti lag sparingly turning it off for the nadgery bit and using it only on the far side of the airfield where the grip was coming back.

Caution! watch the sign on the lef......nevermind.

Stage 4 and with the sun breaking cover and approaching midday we set one of our best times of the day a 12:18.  Grip was returning to normal levels and the Michelin tyres we had on simply lapped up the mileage. For some unknown reason the washer motor decided to pack up meaning we had to be careful not to get our windscreen dirty.  Thankfully a trouble free run with hardly any traffic got us home without any need to use them.  A quick bash with a hammer freed the motor and it worked all day with no problems.

As the stages started to dry up we managed to keep the car is a straight line for longer and faster!

Stage 5 and the field was really starting to thin out.  A few big names had gone and our class had got considerably smaller.  Oddly despite the conditions it seemed that most retirements were mechanical as cars limped home to retire. Apart from our overheating issue, kept at bay by economic use of the anti lag switch we seemed to have no problems and just focused on our own rally keeping things neat and tidy with as little drama as possible.  We came home in 12:42 which was a reasonable time although the stage was now dry and grippy and although the lack of anti lag did hurt us coming out of the slower corners it was not enough that we could use it as an excuse!

The 4WD made it easier to cut through the slower cars - especially on the gravel.
Stage 6 was a repeat of stage 5 and another uneventful run.  Had some moments where we dived down the inside of a few slower cars but they moved kindly out of the way so little or no time lost. We managed a 11:55 overall and that put us squarely in 10th place with 1 stage remaining.  A check of the leader board saw us a mere 3 secs from a pretty quick Mark 2 Escort and we decided to try to see if we could make a dash for 9th overall to round up a pretty good days rallying.

Thumbs up.  Not a bad day for us given our luck this year.  Car is in good shape. Shame about the focus of the one of the occupants
Stage 7 was sadly not to be.  A plucky little mini sadly had a big off (thankfully they are OK) the incident closed the stage and as a result it was cancelled.  Shame really as we had a terrific run probably our best run of the day.  We also saw a few stricken competitors from our class which would not have made it home but as the stage was cancelled it made no difference - some you win some you lose.

Actually there is no gold at the end of a rainbow - well we didn't see any.

So we finished a credible 10th overall and 4th in class. Shame we didn't nominate it as a Championship round really we would have come home with some good points!  We did pick up highest placed RAF crew which added some very welcome silverware to the Spookworks treasure chest.  A great event, car in one piece and barring the temp issue no extra jobs to do before the season finale at Rockingham Stages on 7-8 December. Some top effort from Josh and Woody in the service area kept things going reliably all day, but the real work and the reason for the success was those 2 days of prep beforehand which saved us lots of "pounds of cure".

Job done.  10th overall out of 88 and 4th in class - all the bits still attached and mostly everything still works.  What more could you ask for. Just needs a wash and a polish before Rockingham.

Monday 28 October 2013

Breaking News - Spookworks get late entry to Fat Albert Rally and grab some silverware!!

Spookworks grabbed a late entry into last weekends Fat Albert Stages and after 7 Stages and 70 miles came home with the silverware for 1st RAF Crew home and a significant 4th in Class and 10th overall amongst one of the biggest turnouts for the events history.

But it was not an easy ride.  Overheating troubles and a cracked exhaust manifold meant the team was down on power but not enough to influence the overall result.  Givent the recent run of bad luck for the Spookworks Team this result means things are back moving in the right direction.  Shame the event was not a round of the RAF Rally Championship for Spookworks.

Full report to follow.

Despite some niggles Spookworks powered home to 4th in class and 10 overall. 

Monday 23 September 2013

2013 Woodbridge Stages Report - Never Give In!

Another emotional rollercoaster weekend for Spookworks Rally Team with drama at literally every turn.  At one point the only option available was to pull out of the rally before it even started and take the Spookworks Impreza home on the trailer!

In a truly epic weekend of motorsport the team covered over 550 miles, experiencing sheer despair one minute and pure elation the next.  There were some heroic efforts both on the stage, in service and in support - a total team result.

In the end the results of 8th in class and 38th overall simply do not do the weekend justice.

It all started so well...

Friday saw the usual last minute tweaks including changing the thermostat, installing a fan override switch, a clean and polish - you know the usual.  Then upon turning the key to start the mighty Spookworks flat four engine - nothing.  Try again. More nothing, then the noise of a fork being put in a paper shredder.  All stop. A check of all the basics, spark plugs out, leads changed.  Try again. More fork in shredder noises. Only one thing for it now - panic stations and a quick call to the Oracle.  He led us through several bizarre procedures most of which felt like some sort of medieval Subaru witchcraft and incredibly all done while holding a mobile phone near the engine while the Oracle was on route to a poetry recital.  But then the engine fired back into life.  Back in the game.

Saturday 0530 and the Spookworks cavalcade rolls away from the Spookworks HQ like a modern day rally version of Alexander the Great's War Elephants;  loaded up to the hilt with all manner of spares, tyres and tools headed for Castle Combe Rally Day to display Spookworks Impreza on the Superpro stand with some of our other RAF competitors.  A great feeling of expectation filled the air....

The calm before the storm.  Spookworks on display at Castle Combe.
After a few hours on the stand we decided to give the car a quick shakedown on the small clubman stage.  Everything was going well then after a few hundred metres the temperature gauge was sky high and the car was withdrawn back to the Superpro stand to try and work out what was wrong.  Must be something simple we thought.  Several hours of scratching heads and asking expert advice (Many thanks Alex Taylor!!!) the only option was that a head gasket must have let go and a new engine was required. A quick call to the Oracle was made to confirm this and the subsequent options were all bad and expensive!

Hot and sour - this short stage caused the car to overheat and we considered pulling our entry to Woodbridge

The feeling of despair and disappointment in the Spookworks Camp was overwhelming. We had endured so much to get this far and it now looked like we would have to pull our Woodbridge entry.  Even though we were surrounded by the finest rally machinery known to man morale was very low.  As the day drew a close, a final last ditch effort was made by Alex Taylor to cut out the thermostat in an effort to help the water flow round the engine to hope bring the temperature down.  The car was driven around the car park as the crowds departed and astonishingly the temperatures seemed ok!  Could it be a miracle!  From the depths of despair it was decided to push on to Woodbridge and run the car a few times upon arrival to see if the problem was fixed and therefore enter the rally.

Due to the late departure from Castle Combe and the 200 mile + epic journey across the country to Woodbridge we arrived too late to test the car so we decided to use Stage 1 as a test and just roll the dice. If she lasted a stage then it was better to try and fail then to not try at all.  However that was tomorrow and right now we were all exhausted after the days events, so sleep was the only thing on the agenda as we were rallying in about 6 hours!

Sunday 0853 - After successfully completing noise, scrutineering and documentation we lined up on stage 1 ready for the 9.1 mile test and no knowing how far we could go or if we would make it round at all.

Stage 1 - it was all uphill from here.

Approx 6 miles in everything seemed fine - the car was going like a rocket ship all systems go.  Then suddenly the temperature gauge started climbing began to point vertically in the red. We switched the anti lag off, short shifted and dropped our speed to make sure we got to the end of the stage.  Perhaps there was something we could do in service?  We crossed the finish in 10:16 setting the 28th fastest time out of 71 starters - not bad considering but our situation and our caution had lost us some time.

Still overheating but not until the end....what was going on!!!
In service the engine was red hot but cooling, there a great deal of confusion as the car seemed to have plenty of power and none of the usual symptoms of head gasket failure were present.  We cooled the engine down as much as possible, topped up with water and thought what the hell might as well go and do Stage 2!

We decided for Stage 2 to leave the anti lag switched off ( as this medieval device causes intense engine heat and will not help our situation.  To our great surprise, with some short shifting to keep the revs down we completed Stage 2 in a respectable 14th fastest with a 9:36 and the temperature although very hot was not off the scale....we could be back in the game here!

Stage 3 saw us have a good run on the 8.3 mile with our mix of no anti lag and short shifting keeping temps down.  We were having some great battles and despite our slight lack in power our incredible Alcon brakes were keeping us competitive as we were able to brake later than any other car we came across during the entire rally.  We went on to set the 13th fastest time with a 9:26. Putting us inside the top 20 on the event.

Temp issues sorted it was time to start making up ground.
Just as our spirits were soaring and everything seemed to be going well we were dealt a crushing blow.  After a few miles in Stage 4 an incredible mechanical knocking noise was coming from the right front.  The brakes felt spongy and it all felt very terminal.  We stopped in stage to have a look and the issue seemed to be a right front hub.  We limped slowly back to service and the crew confirmed the right front hub had completely destroyed itself. The ball bearings on the hub had been flattened and welded themselves to the hub itself.  We did not have a spare.  Quite simply game over. Despite the effort that had got us so far and the hope that had been generated, this was a final blow none if us could withstand.  The time card was completed detailing our retirement. No one spoke. And then one man spoke to all of us....

Winston was right. Never give in.  We had come so far and endured so much but we will never give in.  The service area was scoured for a spare hub and amazingly after searching almost the entire service park someone said they might have a spare.  After rummaging around in the back of a service van a hub was found and it was exactly the right one!   It was rushed back to the Spookworks Service area and was heroically changed in 20 mins!  The car drove out of service and off to continue battle in Stage 5.

Hub change anyone?  This crack team changed it in 20 mins flat. 

The remains of the hub.  That small lump in the centre of the pic used to be one of a number of ball bearings that have now been vaporised. 

The 8 miles of Stage 5 were a revelation. The car was back on song and we battled hard with our old sparring partner John Franklyn Price and ironically the generous crew who had lent us their spare hub.  We completed the Stage equal 14th fastest with John Franklyn Price, enormously pleased with a 14th overall fastest time.  The comeback begins here! Only 2 stages to go.

Stage 6 saw some of Spookworks best efforts.  The car effortlessly consumed the 8 miles of special stage and saw a 12th fastest stage time of 9.05. Stages like this make it all worthwhile.

Back in business.  Slightly hot under the collar but never stirred

Stage 7, the final test and once again a great result.  11th fastest time over the 8 mile stage with a 8:21.  Most importantly after all the dramas we FINISHED!  The car was in one piece, still functioning and we picked up a very valuable 70 points for the RAF Rally Championship.  Doing some quick calculations if we did not have the stage maximum 19.00 due to the hub problem on stage 4  - we estimate that we could have come home in 7th in class and 14th overall.  What ifs are sadly just that - what ifs.

An exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally, we are completely drained but extremely satisfied with an incredible team effort against all the odds and with an important lesson learnt. In weekend's such as this;  Spookworks sometimes must look outside of it's normal sphere of influence and find inspiration to carry on despite the pressures and the disappointment. In such times there really is only one man who can carry the team forward....


Spookworks had to go right to the big man in our hour of need.
Quick thanks to Oracle and Alex Taylor for their peerless expertise and also to the guys from Car 12 Jim Munden and Dan Hutchins for the loan of the hub.

38th overall and 8th in class. Didn't feel like that from in here!!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Spookworks seeded 22nd for this weekends Woodbridge Stages

This weekend sees Spookworks back in the thick of the action after a disastrous run on the Jane Cowling Phoenix Stages, Fulbeck were the team retired due to a fire on Stage 5.

Seeded 22nd in a field of over 82 cars, the team are hoping for a reversal of fortune in the 60 mile event as Spookworks boffins fueled entirely by hummus, fully repaired the car back to its former glory.

A boffin hard at work at the top secret Spookworks tech centre.  We did not have the heart to tell him the damage was at the front in the engine bay. 

Spookworks Technical Director explains:

"Sadly the damage caused by the fire was quite extensive.  The boffins have been really putting in the hours and the car has been totally reworked for this weekend.  Obviously I can't go into all the detail but we used the damage as an opportunity to bring forward some developments in the car.  We definitely have a stronger and more powerful package than we have fielded all year - we just need a bit of luck. The guys have a crate of Fanta on standby just in case."

Splash back to 2012.  Spookworks had a damp day of drama with problems exhausting the team all day.  In a miracle finish Spookworks came home 18th overall and 7th in class.  Thankfully it netted just enough points to help seal their 3rd consecutive championship.
Currently residing 4th in the 2013 RAF Rally Championship, Spookworks join 4 other RAF entries including their old sparring partner John Franklyn Price who is seeded at 32nd at this weekend Woodbridge Stages held at err....Woodbridge in Suffolk.

Keep up to date with all the development via our facebook site or on twitter @spookworks

Thursday 8 August 2013

Tough luck for Spookworks - Jane Cowling Phoenix Stages Report

It had to happen eventually.  Spookworks had a 100% finishing record dating back to 2008. Even Las Vegas high rollers know you simply cannot beat the odds forever.
Regrettably it came when it would do the most damage.  Chasing a 100 point deficit in the RAF Rally Championship a good result was needed to stay in touch going into Round 4.  The car was prepped to the highest level ever and seemed invincible. A thorough pre event check was carried out and everything seemed great.  There was a feel of an upset in the air.....

Twas the night before and all looked - spectacular!
Sadly it all fell apart on Stage 1.  After leaving the line the intercooler pipe which connects to the inlet manifold detached and left us without boost for the first 7.4 mile stage around Fulbeck.  We limped the car through the Stage dropping over 2 and half minutes.  The service crew were right on it and using copious amounts of zip ties the simple problem was resolved and we naively started to talk about how we were going to approach the next 9 stages to try and play catch up.

Stage 1 and already drama.  Cable Tie origami is used to keep the wayward intercooler pipe attached. 
Stage 2 and off the line the launch control decided to add to our woes and we spent the entire stage crawling round at 3000rpm as the launch control refused to disengage.  We dropped another 2 and a half minutes while we cruised around.  As we limped into service, we were at the complete bottom of the leaderboard with minutes between us and the next car.  Despite the best efforts of the boys in service we were unable to track down the fault.  But luckily for us the Oracle was in the next service bay and he graced us with his golden touch and using his black magic plugged his laptop in to the car and simply deleted the launch control.  Problem fixed.  From now on in it was just about fun, as the time difference for any sort of result had now been completely extinguished.

More drama - launch control is not so much "go" as "slow"
Another stage another drama.  The car spent more time on the jack than on the stage.
Stage 3 and the Spookworks Subaru left the line like a banshee and catapulted us into the stage.  Back on full song, the car handled perfectly, devouring the distance and ripping up the stage. Despite being only a small stage (4 miles) we managed to catch the previous car released into stage 30 secs before us (also a Subaru).  But still it appeared our luck was not to be as a fellow competitor had beaten the stage bogey time (the quickest theoretical time for the stage) and as a result the whole field was given a notional time of 4.09 meaning that all our good work was in vain!

Playing catch up at the Jane Cowling Rally.  Plenty of go once she gets going...!
Stage 4 was all about driver error.  Pushing too hard to catch up time, 2 overshoots on slippery gravel chicanes meant a time of 3:51.  Ok but 30 secs behind the fastest time set for Stage 4.  However at least all seemed well and the car was in fantastic form and we were ready to tackle the remaining 6 stages at maximum attack.

With the mechanicals fixed - the pink bit behind the wheel needs some tweaking....
They say bad luck comes in threes, but we must have ordered a double! Off the line on Stage 5 and after 3 corners a misfire robs us of vital power and another cruise around the 4.5 mile stage beckons. Upon crossing the finish we pulled up at the time control and were considering what might be causing the misfire and when our luck would change when it did - for the worse.

Even the Spookworks Media Team worked out that all the action was sadly in the Service Area!

Smoke started appearing from the corners of the bonnet and a strong burning smell meant the day was now at its lowest.  We jumped out of the car and emptied 2 powder extinguishers and 1x 20 litre container of water on to a burning turbo.  After some frantic action the fire was brought under control and eventually extinguished along with our hopes for the event and most of our aspirations for a record 4th RAF Championship.  The cause of the fire perhaps summed up the bad luck of our day as it is unlikely we will ever have a repeat of these circumstances no matter how many more rallies we do.

Blaze of Glory and  Rock Bottom - Here it is......a sad end to a difficult day.
In essence the water pipe came off the side of the turbo and sprayed anti-freeze into and over our turbo blanket.  Then completely unconnected but occurring almost in sequence the turbo up pipe welds cracked causing the turbo pipe to allow flames to escape ignite the antifreeze now on the blanket.  The resulting fire took 5 mins to put out and resulted in significant damage to the engine, wiring and turbo.

We immediately retired and pushed the car back into service.  Game over.

A full investigation is yet to be carried out but with the next event looming over the horizon, Spookworks are gonna need all hands on deck to get the car turned around in time for Round 4.

The boys in service proved to be the stars of the show and without them we would not have got past Stage 1!
The Spookworks Management Team would like to thank the marshals at the end of stage 5 for their help in extinguishing the fire and Jase for actually bringing the fire under control and minimising the damage.  Big thanks go to Dean, Josh and Woody from teh service crew who kept us going as long as we could with some amazing work and of course the Oracle for just being the Oracle.

More details and pics to follow as we begin the rebuild.

Next event is the Woodbridge Stages on 22 September.

Lets hope that we can put all this behind us and that the Spookworks DNF record stays at 1!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Disaster for Spookworks - Retirement due to engine fire Stage 5

Sadly after 4 stages of trouble Spookworks finally conceded defeat after an engine fire at the end of stage 5 which ended any hopes of continuing.

The team had been plagued by problems all day including such oddities as launch control failure and a renegade intercooler pipe.  This is the first DNF in Spookworks history.  A very sad day indeed.  Full report to follow.

Anyone bring any sausages?  Spookworks stops for a end of stage 5 impromptu BBQ.