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The Gymkhana Slalom Test

Our second, and last, activity in the 2015 Club Le Mons mini-gymkana was a test of our car’s handling ability. As mentioned previously, a nice skid pad and some proper instruments to measure G forces would have been good, but all we had was a bit of airfield and some cones. So a slalom it was to be!

And fun it was! Anyway as they say, a picture tells a thousand words..

Bruce having fun on the slalom course

Bruce having fun on the slalom course

Bruce taking the slalom course very seriously

Bruce taking the slalom course very seriously

Angela giving it all she's got!

Angela giving it all she’s got!

Neil trying really hard in the SLK

Neil trying really hard in the SLK

The GT86 on the slalom course

The GT86 on the slalom course

The RX8 coming up to the end

The RX8 coming up to the end

The Z3 showing off some bodyroll

The Z3 showing off some bodyroll

The FTO going round for another go

The FTO going round for another go

The MR2 caught mid slalom

The MR2 caught mid slalom

Can you believe the G forces?

Can you believe the G forces?

Getting ready to go. Concentration faces on!

Getting ready to go. Concentration faces on!


So, what were the results?

Slalom results

Well, in the absence of the S2000 and MX5 – two very strong contenders – it looks like the FTO, with its sticky tyres and handling focused chassis takes the win.

Considering the SLK’s performance in the brake test it did surprisingly well here, but once again the Toyota GT86 was disappointing.


The Points

So, what does this mean for the overall points?


Brake Test Driver Car Distance Rank Points
Bruce RX8 29.70 1 100
Alex FTO 30.00 2 90
Angela Z3 30.30 3 80
Simon MR2 30.40 4 70
Adam GT86 30.90
Becky TT 33.80 5 60
Michelle MGF 35.75 6 50
Neil SLK 38.30 7 40
Steff S2000 Joker 30
Duncan MX-5 DNF 20


Slalom Test Driver Car Time Rank Points
Alex FTO 33.61 1 100
Simon MR2 34.56 2 90
Neil SLK 34.67 3 80
Bruce RX8 35.77 4 70
Adam GT86 37.00
Michelle MGF 39.78 5 60
Angela Z3 40.15 6 50
Becky TT 48.55 7 40
Steff S2000 Joker 30
Duncan MX-5 DNF 20


And with the May points awarded the final drivers leaderboard stands at:

Driver Car End of Month Points Difference
Simon MR2 1524
Bruce RX8 1425 -99
Alex FTO 1395 -30
Steff S2000 1320 -75
Neil SLK 1287 -33
Angela Z3 1218 -69
Becky TT 1099 -120
Duncan MX-5 1055 -44
Michelle MGF 944 -110


Simon still leads, but Alex manages to claw back a place from Steff, and Bruce is closing in on number 1!


And The Best £2,500 Sports Car is?

So, after 11 challenges and 12 months of ownership we decided to have a look at how the cars have done, points wise.

As you know some of our challenges have been based on the drivers (driving test, etc), so if we take all of those out and leave in just the points awarded to the vehicles, we *could* say that this point, that the best £2,500 sports car is:


The Mitsubishi FTO

FTO Review

Driver Car Points
Alex FTO 925
Angela Z3 899 -26
Steff S2000 842 -57
Simon MR2 835 -7
Bruce RX8 788 -47
Neil SLK 711 -77
Becky TT 705 -7
Michelle MGF VVC 677 -27
Duncan MX-5 654 -24




And Don’t Forget..

Our gymkhana will be best experienced in an upcoming episode!


Video Coming Soon

The Gymkhana Brake Test

Right, so we’ve done all the introducty/explainy bits, lets get down to the results.

Gymkhana brake test

Michelle brake tests the MGF from 60 mph

Gymkhana brake test

The might Toyota GT86 getting ready for her run.

Just as a reminder, there were two criteria we were testing.. how well would our £2,500 sports cars do, some nearly 20 years old, against a brand new £25,000 sport car AND how well would we do against the Highway Code, from 60mph:

Highway Code Stopping Distances

Well, the results may surprise you.

Gymkhana Brake test results

First of all there wasn’t much in it. With the exception of the Mercedes SLK. But then, as Neil pointed out, he should probably have taken all the camera equipment out of the boot.

All of our cars easily beat the 55 metres the Highway Code considers typical, so you’ve got to wonder what rust buckets they used to measure that.

What was surprising was that the GT86 didn’t win. Now, this test was in no way scientific, so we can’t say with absolute certainty that if we did it 100 times over this would be the result every time. But on the day, this is what happened. It got beat by 4 other cars.

The winning cars were in fact the oldest and newest in the Le Mons fleet. They are also, both, the only cars wearing very sticky -track day- rubber. Now, what does that tell you. Oh, and the FTO? No ABS, unlike all the other cars here.


Next time – the Slalom.

Challenge 11 – The Gymkhana

…and we’re back.

You may have noticed we’ve been a bit lax when it’s come to updates lately. That’s entirely due to the fact that in June we hosted the amazing Roundel Run, a 75 car & bike strong adventure through the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent, all in aid of the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight and our charities. More on that on the Roundel Run website, Facebook and Twitter feed.

Although the Roundel Run was a great success, raised a nice amount of money for charity and will be held again next year (hint hint) it did mean most of the team were flat out, so catching up on sleep and work were required.

That said, on to our gymkhana!


What’s a gymkhana?

Well, basically, and according to Wikipedia, it’s roughly:

“a place where skill-based contests were held”

From an automotive point of view you might know it best for a gentleman named Ken Block, who does things like this:

Obviously that’s slightly more adventurous (and skillful) than we might manage in our £2,500 cars, but we thought we’d take the name anyway and test our cars to their maximum too. Just slightly less insanely.


Where can you properly play with your cars?

Obviously, unlike Mr Block, we couldn’t have closed any roads, and with our limited budgets we couldn’t exactly rent a whole track or airfield. But, a couple of quick calls to our friends at Car Limits later and we had a small section of the North Weald airfield for our very own! A massive thanks to Andrew and his team for making that happen!

Map of North Weald Map of North Weald



What’s this about a special guest?

Ah, you’ve seen our tweets!


One of the things we’ve been trying to achieve is to see if a £2,500 sports car is as much fun as a super car. For this event we thought we’d ratchet that down a notch and see how our cars compared to a modern day sports car.. and what better opposition than-the-already-future-classic Toyota GT86.

And thanks to the great folks at Hills Toyota of Bishop’s Stortford, we we’re able to borrow one, plus a driver, for the day. Adam was so excited about taking part he arrived before anyone else, in a gorgeous black ’15 plate ’86 auto, with the Aero pack. An absolutely stunning car. And fantastic to drive too.

We chose the ’86 as it matched many of our cars – RWD, reasonable power (200 bhp), coupe styling and, like 5 out of the 9 Lemons – Japanese. A few of us left that day, more impressed with it than we already were. It would be fair to say it’s on a few must-have lists now.

A massive thanks to everyone at Hills, they couldn’t have been more welcome, accommodating or sporting! In fact, they even joined us on the Roundel Run!

On the down side though, two of our drivers couldn’t make it on the day. Steff and his S2000 and Duncan and his MX5 were all sorely missed, as we believe they would have done very well in our activities. Still, more points for the rest of us!



So, what were the activities?

The idea behind the day was based on further testing our cars. We’d had them on the dyno, we’ve tested their acceleration, some of the cars have been put through their paces on track, but we’d never really tested braking and handling in a comparable way.

With limited space (just one long straight) and technical resources (i.e. no official timing gear, just stopwatches), we needed to keep things as simple as possible.


The braking test was based on the publish Highway Code for Typical Stopping Distances. We wanted to see how our cars might do against each other, the GT86 and the official numbers.

Highway Code Stopping Distances

Each car was driven up to 60 mph and then stopped as quickly as physically possible. We ignored the Thinking Distance element by setting out two cones through which the cars would pass, and at which point they were to start braking. Our target to beat – 55 metres.


What better way to test a car’s handling than putting it on a skidpad and seeing what G numbers it’ll achieve? Well yes, except we didn’t have a skidpad or something scientific to measure G forces with. So we settled on the next best thing – a cone course. A quick slalom down, followed by a big turn, slalom back and then a quick sprint to the finish. Our GT86 set the benchmark, and we all followed!


The results!

They were, surprising. But you’ll have to wait for the next post to find out!

Challenge 10 – The Driving Test

If you had to retake your driving test, today, how well would you do? Would you even pass?

It’s been a good 20 years, or more, since any of the Le Mons drivers took their driving test, so we thought it would be a good idea to see if they still have the right stuff.

Turns out, they don’t. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

This was a secret Challenge. The drivers weren’t told what we would be doing, just where and when they needed to be. Everyone took part, except for two drivers – Alex, who organized the challenge, and subsequently withdrew, forewarned is forearmed, and all that. Additionally Duncan couldn’t make it, owing to a new job, which was a shame as his son Fergus had only just gone through the driving test, so he would have been well prepared.

The Devon Hotel Exeter

After parking ourselves, quite literally, at the Devon Hotel the team were introduced to Ian May, of Top Marks Driving School, and updated on the day’s activity. It would be fair to say a slight panic ensued.

Phones were whipped out and practice tests were Googled.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (3)

The Challenge would consist of three parts – theory, hazard perception and practical. The theory/hazard test results would be combined for a maximum 100 points score, based on results rankings, and the same would apply to the practical. With one caveat. The tests needed to be passed in order to earn any points. As in real life, if you failed, you get nothing. So, no pressure.

Club Le Mons Driving Test DVD

The Theory/Hazard tests were taken, with sound deadening headphones, on a laptop running a 2015 edition Driving Test DVD. Each driver took both tests, using the Mock Test functionality, ensuring that everyone had different questions.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (1)

The Practical was taken with Ian. In his Mini. So no home advantage either in location, or in car. Because of time limitations, the test was a cut down version of the official driving test. Twenty minutes on local roads. Eight minor infractions allowed. No majors. Each minor would be worth 1 point, each major worth 10 points. A maximum of 8 points would be allowed, in order to pass.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (2)

So, how did they do?

In short, not great.


Driver Car Theory Hazard Practical
Angela Z3 Pass Pass Fail
Becky TT Pass Fail Fail
Bruce RX8 Pass Pass Pass
Michelle MGF VVC Pass Fail Fail
Neil SLK Pass Fail Fail
Simon MR2 Pass Pass Fail
Steff S2000 Pass Pass Fail


The only person to pass all three tests, and therefore be eligible for the maximum number of points, was Bruce! And even that was by the narrowest of margins.. you see the practical route included a particularly nasty bend. Now, many had argued that if it wasn’t for that bend they too would have passed. Which is true. And if you grew up in these here parts, and drove that route as part of your driving lessons then it wouldn’t have been a bit of a surprise when you came up to it. But isn’t that the point? Driving, and in particular driving well, is all about dealing with the unexpected. And apparently Bruce was the only one in the team with the right reflexes, on the day.

The Points

How did these results translate into points? The Theory test consisted of 50 questions, so each correct answer got you one point. The Hazard test was marked out of 75, so the scores were converted to a percentage out of 100 and halved. Remember, you had to pass each test in order to earn any points.

Theory Points Driver Car Points
Alex FTO 0
Angela Z3 79
Becky TT 44
Bruce RX8 77
Duncan MX-5 0
Michelle MGF VVC 43
Neil SLK 46
Simon MR2 81
Steff S2000 78


The Practical, once passed, would be based on ranking of best to worst, 100 – 20, by the least number of points scored on the test.

As mentioned, only Bruce passed. So Bruce earned 100 points.

Neil did the worst, he earned 43 points on the test, which was based on 3 major faults (30 points) and 13 minor faults (13 points).

Practical Points Driver Car Pass/Fail Points on Test
Angela Z3 Fail 28 0
Becky TT Fail 18 0
Bruce RX8 Pass 4 100
Duncan MX-5 DNF DNF 0
Michelle MGF VVC Fail 18 0
Neil SLK Fail 43 0
Simon MR2 Fail 12 0
Steff S2000 Fail 31 0


So, in total:


Total Points Driver Car Total
Alex FTO 0
Angela Z3 79
Becky TT 44
Bruce RX8 177
Duncan MX-5 0
Michelle MGF VVC 43
Neil SLK 46
Simon MR2 81
Steff S2000 78


So, what does this mean for the overall standings? Well, first we have to look at the April points.


It was a busy month for events, with Alex, Becky and Neil all earning points for going to various events, and blogging about them.

Alex and Neil attended an RX8 Owners Club event, on behalf of Bruce. They took Bruce’s RX8 down and had a jolly good time, apparently. Highly recommended!



Neil and Becky attended the Piazza Italia, in Horsham and drooled over some very nice, very expensive machinery.  

And Becky followed it all up with some blogs:

Becky hangs out with some Ferrari owners

Becky hangs out with some Bikerz

All together this netted Alex an additional 10 points, Becky 40 points and Neil another 30 points.


The Scores

With Alex and Duncan not earning any points for the Driving Test Challenge the rankings have changed, quite a bit! Simon still maintains his lead, and even grows it slightly from 88 points over 2nd to 94 points. But second has changed.. Steff is back! Does that mean Alex is in third? No, Bruce overtakes Alex thanks to his gargantuan 177 point leap.. So, if Alex had taken part, and passed, he could have been in first place by now. Gutted much?

Lower down the rankings Angela overtakes the unfortunate Duncan, but the rest of the field stays the same. With the exception of Michelle, at the bottom, everyone is within 100 points of the next one up.. so things are getting exciting!

Driver Car Points Difference
Simon MR2 1354
Steff S2000 1260 -94
Bruce RX8 1255 -5
Alex FTO 1195 -60
Neil SLK 1157 -38
Angela Z3 1088 -69
Duncan MX-5 1015 -73
Becky TT 999 -16
Michelle MGF 824 -174


And as for our graph?

Club Le Mons Points at the end of April

As always, click on the graph for a larger view.


What’s Next?

Our next event is on the 9th of May and will be a true test of car (and driver). There are rumours that there will be double points, and even a star guest car..



As our March Challenge was a non-points earning challenge, we only have the usual end of month changes. Everyone who turned up to the track day gets 10 points for attending a car or motorsport related event, for Club Le Mons.


Becky earns herself 10 points for making an appearance at the Pioneer Run!

Pioneer Run

Neil and Alex get an additional 10 points for attending the Geneva International Motorshow.


And then Alex loses 25 points for having a little breakdown. His car. His car has a little breakdown. Alex is fine.  

So, what does this mean for the point situation? Despite losing points Alex still maintains second place, but Steff gets a little closer. Neil overtakes Bruce to go into 4th.


Driver Car Points  Difference
Simon MR2 1273
Alex FTO 1185 -88
Steff S2000 1182 -3
Neil SLK 1081 -101
Bruce RX8 1078 -3
Duncan MX-5 1015 -63
Angela Z3 1009 -6
Becky TT 915 -95
Michelle MGF VVC 781 -133

March Points

Click on the graph for a bigger version.

Next up – our April Challenge. But this one’s a secret, so no-one will know till the day!


We skipped a points update for December, because, well, we we’re all too busy doing festive things. So, straight on to January! Not much to report as for most of us it was too cold to go out – convertible owners! However, Alex did manage to brave the elements and pop out at 5 am one January morning to join the folks at SELOC and do their Winter Warmer. Seems Lotus owners aren’t that wussy when it comes to driving around with the roof off, at minus-whatever-cold-degrees it was.




Michelle also did her part, in preparation for the upcoming Concours d’Loomies by adding some (more) tat to her MGF.

So, that gave Alex a nice 10 points and Michelle an extra 4 points.



Another quiet month, with just Neil and Michelle being affected. Neil did a run up to Newlands Corner for a celebration of something. We’re still not sure what it’s about, but it involved cake. Michelle had an issue with her exhaust blowing so ended up having to replace the flexi section. Apparently that is not the technical term.

February’s fun resulted in Neil getting 10 points and Michelle losing 10 points!


Challenge 9 – the Concours d’Loomies

By now you will have read the first part of our Concours overview and seen the various driver reviews.

Becky drives the MGF

Steff drives the MX5

Michelle drives the RX8

Duncan drives the Z3

Neil drives the FTO

Bruce drives the TT

Still to come are the reviews of the SLK (Angela), MR2 (Alex) and S2000 (Simon).

First, before we get to the scores, we have to give a massive thanks to the guys at Loomies, who let us take up a load of parking all day, let us film in the cafe and supplied us with enough coffee that most of us are still wired now! If you like great driving roads, and great food, you really can’t go wrong with Loomies.

The drivers were not told how and for what they would be scored on the day. So, short of sprucing their cars up and sorting out any mechanical issues they went into this blind. The scores are broken up into 3 categories; driver scores, bonus points and public scores.


And now, the scores.

First we start with the Drivers Scores. Each driver scored each car, except their own, on the basis of:

1. Visual Appeal (external) – out of 10 points – how good does the car look, for it’s age. Are there any visible faults. Does the car look well looked after.

2. Visual Appeal (internal) – out of 10 points – how good does the car look, for it’s age. Are there any visible faults. Does the car look well looked after.

3. Aural Delights – out of 10 points – how does the car sound, at idle, and while driving. Does it sound like a sports car (should).

4. The Drive – out of 50 points – how well does she go. Do you enjoy driving it. How does she handle, is she fast, does she inspire confidence, does she brake well.

5. Would I Buy One – out of 25 points – is this a car you would buy/own. Would you be proud to be seen in it. Are the running costs worth the expense. Could you live with it’s reputation and appearance.

We took all the scores and averaged them out. Here’s how the drivers scored the cars. Click on the image for a larger version.

Drivers Scores

So, according to the drivers, this was the ranking:

Car Drivers Scores
RX8 75.25 1
FTO 71.625 2
TT 70.75 3
S2000 69.625 4
Z3 67.125 5
SLK 60.625 6
MR2 59.125 7
MX5 57.75 8
MGF 54.75 9


Surprises for all the drivers were the fact that the FTO came second, despite a not great review by Neil. The RX8, newest car in the fleet, was expected to win. The MR2, current leader, came 7th, surprising no one, except Simon. Guess love is blind? Shock of the day was that the SLK, largely mocked for it’s colourful interior did as well as it did.


Then we added on the Bonus Points. There were 3 categories

1. Cleanliness – how clean is the car (max 5 points).

2. Does she have the Club LeMons website URL sticker on (max 10 points).

3. Does she have the Club LeMons roundels on both (front) doors (max 10 points).

So, generally speaking an easy 25 points for each driver. You would think.

The scores (click on the image for a larger view):


So, only 3 drivers scored the full 25 points! Apparently, on the way to Loomies, some of the drivers had some issues with snow and rain, which left their cars less than perfectly clean.


Still, a quick polish on arrival may have helped that. It also seems that Angela got lucky. Not everyone realised that she didn’t have the URL sticker on her car, and gave her the full 10 points.

Biggest loser here was Simon. Not only did he not have a website URL sticker, he also only had one roundel on the car. Plus, driving in from Wales that morning might have left his car a little less than perfectly polished. But how does that affect our overall scores so far?

Car With Bonus Points Rank
RX8 100.25 1
FTO 96.625 2
TT 93.875 3
S2000 91.5 4
Z3 87.75 5
SLK 84.375 6
MX5 82.75 7
MGF 79.125 8
MR2 62.25 9


So, what does this mean for our rankings? Well, the first 6 places stay as they are, but the changes happen between places 7,8 and 9. Both Michelle and Duncan go up a place, while Simon and his MR2 drops 2 places to last! Ouch!


Lastly, time for the Public Vote. The cafe was full of bikers and those of us affiliated with our marques’ car clubs had invited the public to come out and spend the day with us. Most successful of this was Alex, who managed to get two fellow FTO owners to come all the way down from up north. You can read their experience of the day here.

The public vote was simple, rank the cars in order of preference. The same as we did at Brands Hatch, way back when. At the end of the day we had 8 unspoilt ballots, so not many, helping contribute a maximum of 10 points in reverse order.

This is how that worked out (click on the image for a larger version):


Which translated from:

Car Place Points
FTO 1 10
SLK 2 9
Z3 3 8
MGF 4 7
MR2 5 6
S2000 6 5
RX8 6 5
TT 7 4
MX5 8 3


Goes to show that it helps to have friends there on the day. Interesting that the public scored the cars differently from the drivers, with the MX5 doing particularly badly.

So, how does this affect the final scores on the day (click on the image for a larger version)?


So, as bit of an upset, this means the scoring ends with the FTO taking first place from the RX8 and the MGF taking a jump over the MX5!.

Car With Public Vote Rank Challenge Points
FTO 106.625 1 100
RX8 105.25 2 90
TT 97.875 3 80
S2000 96.5 4 70
Z3 95.75 5 60
SLK 93.375 6 50
MGF 86.125 7 40
MX5 85.75 8 30
MR2 68.25 9 20


Who saw that coming?

And now for the overall scores, at the end of February. We’ve done a slightly different graph this time, to show the differences in scores, and where the opportunities are for the drivers to over take! As previously, click on the graph for a larger view.


Our next event, in March will be a non-points track day at Blyton Park, thanks to Lotus-on-Track.




Another quiet month, but that was to be expected. Alex and Neil attended Goodwood for their monthly breakfast meet. Alex, Bruce and Neil appeared in the East Grinstead Courier. 10 points all round for each appearance.


Challenge 8 – The MPG Test

This was truly a test of car and driver. That said, we did make it easy. We wanted to see what the best MPG might be, from our cars, so we made it a motorway challenge rather than city or A/B road driving. We plotted a nice route from Cobham Services on the M25 to the NEC in Birmingham. We stopped a few times on the way, but in total we did about 120 miles. Two things stood out. 1. Simon couldn’t make it. He had work commitments so had to miss this event. He used his Joker, as per the Scoring page, so came last, but earned no points. 2. Steff took this challenge very, very seriously. He used all sorts of fuel saving techniques that none of the other drivers used, so his final MPG was very impressive. Be warned, if you are an S2000 owner you may not achieve similar results on your average drive. The rest of us? Well we just drove somewhat normally, and avoided any hard braking or acceleration.

We cruised in convoy at speeds of 60 – 70 mph, depending on traffic. It was not a lovely drive. It was wet, windy and boring. But hey, all in the name of pseudo-science, right? The MPG was calculated by filling up at Cobham, recording this on Fuelly and then filling up again just outside the NEC.

Anyway, the scores:

Driver Car MPG Rank Points
Michelle MGF 45.3 1 100
Steff S2000 44.8 2 90
Duncan MX-5 37.1 3 80
Alex FTO 35.6 4 70
Becky TT 34.8 5 60
Neil SLK 33.3 6 50
Angela Z3 32.8 7 40
Bruce RX8 26.4 8 30
Simon MR2 Joker 0 0

Congrats to Michelle on her first win! And to Steff for proving that a 2.0l VTEC engine with 222 bhp can still achieve diesel like fuel economy. The rest of the group all scored quite similar results (except for Bruce, who had given up before he began, if we’re honest), with really on about 4 mpg between 3rd (Duncan) and 7th (Angela).

The MPGs achieved also differed from the general fuel economy we’ve been recording on Fuelly.

Mileage tracker

Using the figures (above) logged just before the event we can see that some careful driving resulted in some very reasonable gains, with the big winners being Michelle and Alex. Both the VVC MGF and the FTO are high revving cars that make their power at the top ends, so perhaps not have a lead foot really can make a difference!

Driver Car Test MPG Fuelly MPG Difference
Michelle MGF 45.3 32.4 12.9
Steff S2000 44.8 N/A N/A
Duncan MX-5 37.1 34 3.1
Alex FTO 35.6 27.1 8.5
Becky TT 34.8 29.3 5.5
Neil SLK 33.3 28.8 4.5
Angela Z3 32.8 31.9 0.9
Bruce RX8 26.4 19.9 6.5

The Current Points

And all this brings us to the current points situation.

Driver Car Points Difference
Simon MR2 1253
Steff S2000 1112 -141
Alex FTO 1080 -32
Neil SLK 1001 -79
Bruce RX8 988 -13
Duncan MX-5 975 -13
Angela Z3 939 -36
Becky TT 825 -115
Michelle MGF VVC 737 -87

We’ve seen some interesting changes. Simon, despite not participating in the MPG test still holds on to the lead, but Steff is only 141 points behind him. From 3rd (now Alex) to 7th (a big drop for Angela) there are only a handful of points between each ranking, so expect some easy overtaking if the scores from our Concours d’Lemons work well for the likes of Bruce and Duncan. Michelle, despite her win, is still last, but she’s now competing with Becky, as opposed to Duncan, who held 8th for the longest time. Check out (and click on) the graph below for all the ups and downs!


If you’re in the area, join us at Loomies on the 21st of February, we’ll have our public vote scorecards with us, so you could play a part in influencing the next points update!

But now, back to what we’re here for – the competition! So, here’s the points we’ve earned since Santa Pod – our October update, Challenge 6 – the Pub Quiz, Challenge 7 – Let’s Race, the November update, and Challenge 8 – The MPG test!

We’ve got the January update still outstanding, but we’ll do that together with our points from this months event – the Concours d’Lemons at Loomies! A quick recap.. post-Santa Pod, Simon held the lead, with Michelle in last place..


ScoreCard Post SantaPod



October, it turns out, was quiet on the ‘bonus’ points front. The only person to really earn any points was Bruce, when he appeared in a edition of the Surrey Mirror! 10 points to you, Sir!


Challenge 6 – The Car Quiz

Here’s one you won’t have heard about, as it was made exclusively for the TV show. Keep an eye out for an upcoming episode. The premise was simple, each driver was asked pub quiz style questions, about their car or car manufacturer, and about cars or the automotive world in general. So, how did we do?

Driver Car Quiz Points Quiz Place Challenge Points
Alex FTO 13 1 100
Duncan MX-5 13 1 100
Neil SLK 11 3 80
Michelle MGF 10 4 70
Simon MR2 9 5 60
Angela Z3 8 6 50
Becky TT 8 6 50
Bruce RX8 7 8 30
Steff S2000 7 8 30


Challenge 7 – Let’s Race

So, apart from a great night out and raising money for our charities we also had 3(!) challenges at Let’s Race. Firstly, the Batak machine – this is a test of nerves and reflexes. A big metal frame lights up in various places and you have to hit the button corresponding. It’s said that Jenson Button can hit 140 buttons in a minute. Turns out we’re no Jenson Buttons.

Batak Score Place Points
Simon 72 1 100
Becky 69 2 90
Bruce 67 3 80
Alex 61 4 70
Steff 60 5 60
Neil 55 6 50
Angela 53 7 40
Duncan 47 8 30
Michelle 43 9 20

Well done Simon, who achieved a half-Jenson! We we’re equally impressed with Becky’s ninja like responses too!


The qualifying and race!

More points we’re available for our qualifying position and actual race finish. Simon did have to declare that he had been at Let’s Race before, and had, of course, scored well on the Playstation Challenge. Bruce, Duncan and Steff are avid actual racers and track day drivers and Alex has dabbled on track before too. The rest of the field, unfortunately, we’re coming to this, pretty much, blind.

Qualifying Finish Results Points
Simon 1 100
Bruce 2 90
Steff 3 80
Duncan 4 70
Neil 5 60
Alex 6 50
Michelle 7 40
Becky 8 30
Angela 9 20

As some what expect, the ‘drivers’ amongst us took the lead in qualifying. Unfortunately Angela complained that she got completely lost on our Brands Hatch (Indy) circuit, and Becky suffered from motion sickness. Which led to the race!

Race Finish Results Points
Simon 1 100
Bruce 2 90
Alex 3 80
Steff 4 70
Neil 5 60
Duncan 6 50
Michelle 7 40
Angela 8 30
Becky DNF (9) 20

Once again Simon and Bruce took the win, with a surprise from Alex into 3rd. Duncan, who had done well in qualifying lost ground and came 6th, somehow (nerves?) and Angela once again mistook the car park for the race track. Becky had to bail, or throw up. The good people at Let’s Race didn’t want to have to mop up vomit, so she took a DNF, for last place. At the end of the evening Simon had secured his lead with a whopping 300 points – 40 more than second placed Bruce. Despite Becky not completing the actual race she still thrashed last place finisher Angela – that Batak score really helped. Congrats Simon!

Busy, busy, busy..

Well, haven’t we been busy. So busy that we haven’t done a points update since Challenge 5, the Santa Pod event. Sorry!

What have we been busy with? We’ll we’ve brought out Episodes 1 and 2..

And then of course we had our event at Let’s Race – which also involved us visiting the good folks at KSS Air Ambulance, and us having a little Christmas jolly.



And then, last month we visited the NEC in Birmingham, for the Autosport International Show, as part of our MPG test!

All in all, with Christmas and January out of the way now, we’re back on form. Check in tomorrow for the first new points release of the year!

SteffHonda S2000

Santa Pod - SteffSanta Pod? Never heard of it..

Oh wait, is it that place where they do that pointless drag racing? I had my preconceptions about drag strips, so wasn’t really that bothered about this challenge one way or the other.

I was actually more worried about my clutch and how it would hold up to this pointless abuse. Just prior to the last event it had pretty much given up when the pedal went straight to the floor as I got in to leave for the Rolling Road Challenge.


Santa Pod - Steff S2000 Prep (2)Santa Pod - Steff S2000 Prep (1)

Turned out to be as simple as a leak in clutch master which was resolved with a bleed and tightening everything up. But full chat launches off the line on a drag strip might prove too much.

Santa Pod - Steff S2000 Prep (3)Santa Pod - Steff S2000 Prep (4)

In the end I was wrong on all accounts! Clutch held up fine and drag strips are actually really good fun! The people were not what I expected either, with so many different cars they where a real mix of car nuts who where more than happy to talk about their own cars and showed a genuine interest in ours. Not sure if I’m hooked but will definitely attend another.

Thanks Santa Pod!


AlexMitsubishi FTO

Santa Pod - AlexWell, what can I say, that hasn’t already been said? It was an awesome weekend. Most fun I’ve had for a while, and I’ve been having a lot of fun, lately.

But, before I get on to the disappointing aspect of the day, namely my car, there are a few things I wanted to mention.

Firstly, the use of the term ‘Jap’ in everything. Having grown up with the notion that ‘Jap’ was derogatory it took me by surprise to see everything from the show to most of the clubs using that word so openly and often. Guess I’ll need to readjust my understanding of it.

Secondly, the variety of cars.. naturally lots of Evos, Skylines and Scoobies! GTOs, Supras and even Starlets a-plenty! A whole Celica club. And lots of FTOs too! But I only saw one GT86 there, and only one RX8 – Bruce’s! Guess these aren’t common cars in the culture yet.

Thirdly, the people. I’ve been to a lot of car and club events and so far the folks at Santa Pod (both those working there and the other visitors) were amongst the most helpful, open, welcoming and genuinely interested in things outside their own niche. A real breath of fresh air.

Santa Pod - Alex at the gatesSanta Pod - Alex Queuses UpSanta Pod - Alex Staging

And then there was my performance. As you’ll see, I came dead last in the ET competition. My actual time, although extremely consistent, was well below what I was hoping, and what the online calculators were telling us it would do. It didn’t matter if I ran the car with a passenger, or with the boot full or empty. Obviously blame lies with the driver first and foremost, but here’s what I think went wrong.

One: weight. My ET calculation was based on the weight of the FTO GP(vR) which is estimated at 1190kg. My car was rebuilt, and I do recall the previous owner telling me he’d put in a lot of noise damping materials. So it’s quite possible my car is a fair bit heavier than was estimated. So I re-ran the calculator to figure out how much my car would need to weigh, to get the results I was getting. Apparently that is 1400kgs! Well, there’s no way my car weighs that much, so I figure it’s got to have something to do with number two.

Santa Pod - Alex Comparison


Two: tyres. I got nothing but wheel spin in first and a nice chirp in the shift to second. You can see it on the video.

Didn’t matter what revs I tried to leave the line at, it was wheel spin city. So I did some research into my tyres.

Santa Pod - Alex Tyres (1)Santa Pod - Alex Tyres (2)

Turns out you shouldn’t try to a drag race with tyres that have an ‘ECORUN’ label on them. Seems these tyres are described as “Premium Touring Summer” tyre and “Low rolling resistance tyre developed with comfort in mind“. Here’s a good review of the tyres, with them being compared to standard low rolling resistance tyres. Well, that would explain the wheel spin! Seems I brought a starters pistol to a gun fight.

Stickier, wider tyres next time. The power is there, but it just isn’t getting down. Hello Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R!

That said, I loved it. The first few runs were nerve inducing, and the last one, in front of the whole crowd, racing Duncan in the RX8 was equally nerve racking but I’d happily go back next week and do it again!

Santa Pod - Alex & Duncan Head to headSanta Pod - Alex vs Duncan Results


The Competition

This was not a race against other drivers. We could not guarantee that we would be able to run against each other, so even if you did – by coincidence, we were NOT racing another driver. We were racing against the clock, and against our own nerves!

We also don’t want anyone to ruin their car, in particular the clutch, so everyone was advised to only drive as hard/fast as they felt comfortable. The loss of points and bill for a clutch replacement wasn’t going to be worth the points they might earn on the day.

At the end of every run we got a print out with the following information:

  • Overall Time
  • Reaction Time
  • Speed
  • 60 ft time
  • 60 ft speed
  • 1/8 mile time
  • 1/8 mile speed
  • 1/4 mile time
  • 1/4 mile speed

We only used the best/fastest results for the rankings and points submission, even if these weren’t necessarily part of the same run.

The points calculations:

1. Points have been assigned based on a ‘Target Time’ result on the drag strip. The ‘Target Time’ is a calculation based on the time it should take each car to travel the full ¼ mile length of the strip. On the print out this is labelled as the “¼ mile time”.

Over the last few weeks we have scoured the internet to find out what time each car should be capable of doing the ¼ mile in. As you can imagine, that’s not been easy. But we did find 4 to 5 online ¼ mile calculators. Some are more advanced than others (allowing you to select the driven wheels, etc.) and some are quite simple. These are the calculators:

We plugged in the basic numbers needed to calculate ¼ mile times (weight and power) and ran each car through each calculator. We then disregarded the highest and lowest values (to remove any outliers) and averaged the rest. As a final step we then deducted the same value from each result, to give us a ‘Target ¼ Mile Time’.

Car Dyno BHP Weight (KG) Weight (LBS) Online Average 1/4 Mile Time Driver Target 1/4 Mile Time
S2000 222.30 1260 2778 14.23 13.98
FTO 192.60 1190 2623 14.73 14.48
Z3 200.10 1360 2998 15.14 14.89
SLK 196.10 1405 3097 15.49 15.24
RX8 178.40 1350 2976 15.74 15.49
TT 175.10 1340 2954 15.80 15.55
MR2 163.20 1305 2877 16.04 15.79
MX5 128.50 1025 2260 16.07 15.82
MGF 127.70 1090 2403 16.46 16.21


Points have been awarded in the usual 20 – 100 manner, with the driver coming closest to their Target Time (or being quicker than their Target Time by the biggest margin) getting 100 points, and so on.

Points have been assigned for each driver’s “Reaction Time”. This is basically a measurement of how quickly they have reacted to the ‘Go’ signal to start their run. Technically its usually measured from when the lights go out to when you break the final beam, about 2 inches in front of the wheels, at the start. This is basically a test of your nerves. But, your quickest reaction time does not necessarily go hand in hand with your fastest ET!

Again, points will be awarded from 20 – 100 in order of slowest-to-quickest reaction time on the day.


So, here’s the results:


Firstly, and not counting towards points, lets rank the cars in terms of 1/4 mile top speed.


Driver Car Fastest Speed (MPH)
Steff S2000 95.9
Angela Z3 90.52
Alex FTO 89.41/90.32*
Bruce RX8 88.39
Simon MR2 86.52
Neil SLK 85.38
Duncan MX5 83.04
Michelle MGF 80.66
Becky TT 78.98

* 1st Result from Saturday/2nd Result from Sunday demo run


Elapsed Time vs Target Time


Driver Car Target Time Best E.T. Difference Rank Points
Simon MR2 15.79 16.0174 0.2274 1 100
Duncan MX5 15.82 16.22 0.4000 2 90
Bruce RX8 15.49 15.9698 0.4798 3 80
Angela Z3 14.89 15.3807 0.4907 4 70
Becky TT 15.55 16.1946 0.6446 5 60
Steff S2000 13.98 14.7817 0.8017 6 50
Michelle MGF 16.21 17.1324 0.9224 7 40
Neil SLK 15.24 16.2331 0.9931 8 30
Alex FTO 14.48 15.8266 1.3466 9 20


Reaction Time


Driver Car Fastest R.T Ranking Points
Simon MR2 0.1081 1 100
Neil SLK 0.1660 2 90
Steff S2000 0.3157 3 80
Duncan MX5 0.3393 4 70
Bruce RX8 0.5030 5 60
Alex FTO 0.5034 6 50
Angela Z3 0.5108 7 40
Becky TT 0.5215 8 30
Michelle MGF 1.1007 9 20


Which makes the final points after this challenge:


Ranking at Start of Challenge Driver Car Points @ End of September Points Earned Points @ End of Challenge 5
Ranking After Ranking Change
1 Simon MR2 693 200 893 1 0
2 Steff S2000 652 130 782 2 0
3 Angela Z3 649 110 759 3 0
4 Alex FTO 620 70 690 4 0
5 Neil SLK 561 120 681 5 0
6 Bruce RX8 508 140 648 6 0
7 Duncan MX-5 485 160 645 7 0
8 Becky TT 484 90 574 8 0
9 Michelle MGF 407 60 467 9 0


So, no one gained or lost a place, but the mid field is tightening! Congrats to Simon for extending his lead, and good luck to Alex & Neil and Bruce & Duncan as their battle gets a little closer. Angela and her Z3 continue to surprise!

And one final image to finish this epic blog off. Sums it up perfectly!

Santa Pod - The End