Sunday 9 March 2014

Spookworks Rockingham Report Released.

After months of secrecy the Spookworks Rockingham Report has finally been released.  The report was subject to intense scrutiny and internal review due to the fact that Spookworks did not successfully defend the RAF Rally Championship title for the 4th year in succession.  Talk of a cull of personnel and severe rationing of cucumber were just a few examples of the extreme measures being considered by Spookworks top executives.  

A Spookworks spokesman stated:

We have now had a full investigation into the events at Rockingham and have made some substantial modifications to the Spookworks operating model as a result.  I am not at liberty to go into any specific detail as this is strictly a Spookworks internal matter.  I can confirm that there have been some personnel changes and a significant new addition will be joining the team in May. We are very confident going into the 2014 season and look forward to mounting a front running challenge for the 2014 RAF Rally Championship."

The Official Spookworks spokesman addressed a hostile media at the Spookworks Press Centre.

Now the dust has settled it appears that there are no significant changes within the team although an insider source has told us of at least one senior individual from a Spookworks partner organisation has now resigned.  There is no additional detail but when any news brakes we will let you know.

The Spookworks HQ has been a lonely place over the New Year

The full released Rockingham report can be viewed below.

Spookworks Rockingham Report

Spookworks entered the final round of the 2013 RAF Rally Championship with only 254 points; over a 110 points behind the Championship leaders.  The engine fire and subsequent failure to finish at the Jane Cowling Stages during the mid season had effectively ended the year and nothing but an extreme miracle would provide any redemption.

The largest RAF footprint in Corby since 1942.....

The over heating problem that  continued to plague the performance of the car left the Spookworks boffins with no choice but to hold a pilgrimage to the Oracles secret industrial park liar in the Humber for a week long investigation that ended up turning into a performance crusade.  The product that rolled back in to the Spookworks HQ in late December was a very different beast that had been dragged up to the Rover Don.
After a date with the Oracle its was power power power...
Now with a package worthy of contesting the final event of the year only 2 days, 97 miles and 12 stages lie ahead to write the final chapter in the 2013 Spookworks campaign.  The Northamptonshire weather mercifully provided a clear and sunny day with cold temperatures but dry underfoot.  No less than 6 RAF crews made the competition fierce with the traditional Spookworks sparring partners of Blackstone Racing and JFP being joined by formidable opponents Force D Rallying and The Gravel Factory, both equipped with similar performance Subaru Imprezas.

Come the morning of the 7th December a crisp sunny winters morning greeted the competitors and just after midday the Spookworks Impreza lined up to take on the first of 6 stages before the overnight halt. The first two 6.88 mile stages started outside the main arena, effectively in the Rockingham Speedway car park and then roared through the access tunnel to then complete 2 laps of the internal circuit.  Seeded 18th and with 13 cars in Class 5 even winning the class would only bring 92 points not enough to take the title even if the other RAF Competitors failed to finish.  The gameplay was therefore 2 fold; firstly to keep the other RAF crews honest and make them fight to the bitter end and secondly to tackle the morale component of competition and get a great result to end the year on a high. 

What's that saying? "Power is nothing without......"
After assessing the rather cold temperatures, the dry but slightly slick stage surface  the Spookworks Impreza was shod with super soft tyres which it was thought would heat up quicker and provide more grip during the opening days stages and into the fearsome night stages.  Off the line into Stage 1 and the 4 wheels of the Impreza struggled for grip and spun up constantly as traction was continually broken.  After only less than a few hundred metres it became clear that the slipping was not confined only to the wheels but the newly installed clutch decided to join in and significant time was lost throughout the stage as the clutch began to bed in.  Before the second lap of the famous Rockingham speedway was commenced this problem was joined by another as the brake pedal flipped between “firm” and “Bedrock”.  The combination of these 3 problems, tyres, clutch and brakes resulted in a torrid first stage and the time;  a 8:12 reflected that.  By comparison Blackstone recorded a 8:03 and JFP a 7:49.  Spookworks was going backwards and fast.

Back in service, tyre pressures were lowered to try to get more heat into the tyres and the brakes checked with nothing obvious to fix.  The clutch would just have to bed in as quickly as possible.

Stage 2 saw mercifully saw the clutch come in soon after the stage start and the brake pedal even began to behave normally.  The only remaining issue seemed to be grip as the car continued to struggle and the normal leech like grip Subaru’s are famous for seemed to be completely absent. 

After no significant dramas Stage 2 was completed in a swifter 7:45, quicker than Blackstone but still 19 secs behind JFP.  Strangely, in service the tyre temperature was colder than a polar bears bedroom and these tyres should be hot to the point of untouchable. 

Pushing hard but tyres stayed cold......
Stage 3 and 4 were slightly longer tests at 7.7 miles.  The tyre pressures were lowered significantly in an attempt to get some heat into the rubber and the 2 stages were completed without any significant dramas apart from some minor delays due to slower vehicles.  The times were still slower than expected at 8:43 and 8:25 respectively and after Stage 4 the tyre still seemed to be cold. Lowering pressures any further would effectively mean running on the rims!  Despite heading into the 2 night stages, the decision was made to ditch the supersoft rubber and load up the Pirelli RX7 Medium compound tyres.  Even the medium compound must get warmer than these (name withheld) supersofts.

With the lamppod fitted,  the toughest 2 stages of the event lie between now and the overnight halt.  At 9.25 miles each they were also the longest of the entire event.  The temperature had also dropped, the wind had picked up and despairingly a spattering of light rain were all thrown into the mix to make the stage difficulty increase 2 fold.  Survival was going to be the key to these 2 stages and after a few scares, not least the disintegrating Subaru of JFP immediately in front of the Spookworks  car on Stage 5; the car pulled up in the service area much better after the change of rubber and tyre pressures and temperatures were exactly where they should be. The times were much better as well and Spookworks was quickest of all the RAF entries with a 10.11 and a 10.04. Sadly though it appeared that damage to the itsmymotorsport JFP run Impreza were too much and they sadly retired from the event.

Day 2 - Sunday morning brought another dry morning and saw Spookworks lying comfortably in the top 20 and 5th in class.  Stages 7 and 8 were a variation on the previous 2 stages last run last night and at 9.25 miles the medium compound Pirelli tyres would be the perfect choice.  The track was predictably slick and a moment of exuberance seeing  a fellow competitor in the gravel had to be balanced against a Spookworks lazy spin on the next lap round caused a moment of temporary concern.  Back in service after the 2 runs and Spookworks was now 4th in class and 17th overall.  The times were again quickest of all RAF Competitors at 10:39 and 10:03 respectively.  The latter time was the 13th fastest time for the stage.

Spookworks do a little grass cutting to keep Rockingham looking neat and tidy.  Unlike Spookworks....
Stages 9 and 10 were back to 7.66 mile tests and the track was drying significantly with a bone dry line in most places. This turned the stages more into a motor race and getting past traffic proved to be the biggest challenge of the 2 runs.  A few hold ups were evident but it must have been the same for everyone and Spookworks continued to set the pace for RAF crews with an 8:21 and 8:06 the latter 3rd fastest time in class and 13th fastest time overall.

The final 2 stages were only about coming home. Looking at the leaderboard, the car behind was too far away and the car in front too far ahead. Surprisingly due to another retirement Spookworks was now showing 3rd in class and 15th overall. A terrific result given the significant loss of time on Stage 1 and the poor tyre choice for the opening 4 stages.  The stages proved to be straightforward and undramatic with a dry track and no traffic it was a trouble free run to the finish.  A 7:10 and a 7:02 brought Spookworks home in one piece in a total time of 1hr 44 mins, for 3rd in class and 15th overall and as importantly with no damage!

In the end Blackstone (front right) managed to lift the RAF Silverware for 2013.  But we'll be back....
Regrettably in terms of the RAF Championship we came up short with 2nd in the Co Drivers championship and 3rd in the Drivers’ championship.  Full congratulations to the winners Phil Bruce from Blackstone racing and Mike Smith on their 2013 success and thanks to all our fellow competitors, the amazing Spookworks crew and boffins, and all the organisers marshals and of course of sponsors and partners.  See you all in 2014 when we will move the competition up a notch, if only geographically on the map!