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Live Updates - Caterham Entry in NASA's 25 Hour Race 12/6-7

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  • Live Updates - Caterham Entry in NASA's 25 Hour Race 12/6-7

    Attention Race Fans

    Rich Kamp plans to telephone in live updates on the Car and Driver/Caterham USA entry in NASA's 25-hour endurance race this weekend at Thunderhill. I will post his reports here as I receive them.

    Rich is working the race as a member of the Caterham pit crew.

    The race starts at 11:00 am Saturday, and ends at 12:00 noon on Sunday. We hope to have the first update posted before noon on Saturday.

    NASA shows more than 70 cars entered in this race. The Caterham entry is from Jon Nelson - Caterham USA, with drivers from Car and Driver magazine. The car is a Superlight running a new Ford-backed Focus SVT motor.

    Rich reports that there is also heavy trackside factory support from Caterham UK in the persons of Chief Technical Director Jez Coates, accompanied by a crew chief and a head mechanic.

    So this could be exciting.

    As NASA CEO Jerry Kunzman said in a recent press release:

    “They will be driving a very high-performance vehicle, and could do very well. It is an open-cockpit car however, so they might face some challenge if the weather turns on them!â€‌

    Stay tuned.

    Rich H.

  • #2
    As of noon on Saturday 12/6 Rich Kamp reports that the race started on time at 11:00 am, its raining at Thunderhill and the Caterham entry is running in the top ten overall, out of he thinks 80 starters, and 4th in class, essentially unchanged from its qualifying position of 7th overall and 4th in class.

    Rich says that the car started the race on slicks, but pitted on the first lap to switch to rain tires. Otherwise he says that things are running smoothly.

    The team has four drivers. Three are from Car & Driver: Csaba Csere, Tony Swan, and Larry Webster. The fourth is Nathan Downs from Rocky Mountain Sports Cars.

    Rich says that Caterham is running in the Unlimited Production (ES) class, and the chief competition in class so far is the Porsche GT3. So a battle looms between the Porsche's top speed vs. the Caterham's cornering speed and braking.

    The Caterham is a US-spec Superlight with a Brooklands-style aeroscreen, a metal tonneau cover over the passenger side, and the new R500 wheels. The SVT motor produces 190 hp in the Caterham installation, 20 hp more than in the Focus SVT. Rich reports that Jon Nelson and his crew built and tested this car entirely within the two weeks preceding the race.

    That's all for now. We'll try to get another report posted just after nightfall.

    Rich H.

    Comment


    • #3
      Can anyone post some photos of the car?

      Rich,
      Great to have these reports and I wish the little car well. Driving for so long in the rain without the protection that most cars give must take its toll of the drivers.

      Is there any chance of getting some photos of the car at speed and in the paddock? Photos of the new wheels, engine, etc?

      Have you heard if the SVT engine might become an option in the new Caterhams?

      Thanks,
      Steve Stephens
      San Anselmo, CA

      Comment


      • #4
        25 Hour Enduro

        Go Lotus look-a-likes. Sounds like the team is doing a great job. Unlike Colin's beasties this one needs to hold up for longer than 24 hours.



        Originally posted by Rich H
        As of noon on Saturday 12/6 Rich Kamp reports that the race started on time at 11:00 am, its raining at Thunderhill and the Caterham entry is running in the top ten overall, out of he thinks 80 starters, and 4th in class, essentially unchanged from its qualifying position of 7th overall and 4th in class.

        Rich says that the car started the race on slicks, but pitted on the first lap to switch to rain tires. Otherwise he says that things are running smoothly.

        The team has four drivers. Three are from Car & Driver: Csaba Csere, Tony Swan, and Larry Webster. The fourth is Nathan Downs from Rocky Mountain Sports Cars.

        Rich says that Caterham is running in the Unlimited Production (ES) class, and the chief competition in class so far is the Porsche GT3. So a battle looms between the Porsche's top speed vs. the Caterham's cornering speed and braking.

        The Caterham is a US-spec Superlight with a Brooklands-style aeroscreen, a metal tonneau cover over the passenger side, and the new R500 wheels. The SVT motor produces 190 hp in the Caterham installation, 20 hp more than in the Focus SVT. Rich reports that Jon Nelson and his crew built and tested this car entirely within the two weeks preceding the race.

        That's all for now. We'll try to get another report posted just after nightfall.

        Rich H.

        Comment


        • #5
          As of 8:00 pm 12/6, Team Caterham is still running about 7th overall and 3rd or 4th in class.

          Rich Kamp reports that the rain has stopped and the car is back on slicks. All pit stops so far have been routine scheduled ones, for driver changes and fuel. He says that the drivers are doing two-hour stints, the car is getting around 13 mpg, it has not consumed any engine oil, and the brakes are strong.

          Rich estimates that 65 cars total are still running. The class leader is still a Porsche GT3. The big development though, is the retirement of the Radical (also in class ES) from the race while it was leading the Caterham. No details yet on the cause.

          Rich says that the team's accomodations at the track consist of a motorhome and an enclosed car trailer. He's not sure yet where he'll try to sleep.

          In response to Steve Stephens' questions, we probably can't get any photos up until after Rich returns to his dealership - Golden Gate Sevens - hopefully Monday. We don't have an internet connection readily available at Thunderhill. I did pass along your request, however, and he said that he would see if anything can be arranged. He did say that there is a lot of video being taken and he expects that will be made available in some form later.

          Regarding the SVT engine, Rich said that a major reason for racing it this weekend is to assess its viability as an option for street cars. He said that Caterham USA is also testing an SVT-engine street car right now, and that he expects the engine to be available soon from Caterham USA and its dealers. I'll see if we can learn more to post here.

          We'll try to post another race report tomorrow morning after sunrise. The long grind begins.

          Rich H.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the updates

            Hi everyone,

            Thanks for the updates. Really exciting stuff. And, I'm sure there will be a lot of interest and questions generated when it's over. I already have a burning question. What is the fuel capacity on this entry? I am only able to get about an hour of run time on my Caterham with an 8 gallon fuel cell. I wonder what these guys have done?

            John

            Comment


            • #7
              Thunderhill 25 Hour Enduro

              Nelson Ledges West-- Way Cool. And a super fun track to do it on.

              John

              Comment


              • #8
                At 8:00 am 12/7, after an eventful night, the Titanium Silver Caterham is up to 4th overall, but still 4th in class behind a Porsche GT3 train - more on that in a moment.

                A very tired Rich Kamp, reporting this morning after 1.5 hours of sleep, recounted two on-track incidents that tested the pit crew overnight.

                In the first, body contact with another car cracked a rear fender, forcing a pit stop. Jez Coates presence paid off in a big way at that point. Having seen this sort of damage many times before in competition, he directed the crew to patch it together in place, rather losing time replacing it.

                The second incident was more serious when a slower Mini turned into the Caterham on a corner. The resulting collision tore off the right front fender and broke the left rear DiDion ear. It took the crew 20 minutes to make the needed repairs.

                Rich reports that the car has consumed a total of 1/2 quart of oil so far. Its using regular 5W-30 non-synthetic, the same thing that Ford specifies in the Focus SVT owner's manual. He adds that the team expects to go the distance without changing brake pads.

                It didn't rain at all last night.

                Rich says that the prospects for catching the class leading Porsches don't look good. He notes that NASA's Unlimited Production ES rules say that "Anything goes with fenders...", and that the Porsche top speed on Thunderhill's long straight sections is just too much for the Caterham's 190 hp street motor. It might be a different story at tighter tracks like Laguna Seca or Infineon. He figures that a more appropriate match for the GT3s would be a full-race R500.

                The answer to johncg's question is a 15 gallon fuel cell, and the car is using 91 octane unleaded pump gas.

                So with four hours to go the Caterham team is devoting everything to reaching the finish line. We'll try to post again right after the finish.

                Rich H.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For those interested in more info on the SVT installation, Rich Kamp told me that he will have the SVT-engined Caterham USA development street car at his dealership - Golden Gate Sevens at Infineon Raceway - starting tomorrow (Monday). He said that anyone with questions is free to come by Infineon or call him at (707) 933-8039. His e-mail address is:

                  [email protected]

                  Rich H.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Car & Driver/Caterham USA team finished the race 4th overall and 4th in class, obviously a job well done.

                    Special thanks go to Rich Kamp for doing double-duty as both an "over-the-wall" pit crew member and our intrepid live reporter. He fought horrible cell phone coverage at Thunderhill all weekend to keep us informed.

                    Rich says that Car & Driver plans to publish an article on the race experience. It has something to brag about since driver teams from Automobile, Road & Track, Racer, and Sport Compact magazines were all beaten by the Car & Driver/Caterham USA team.

                    More overall race coverage should be available soon at NASA's website:

                    http://www.nasaproracing.com/

                    Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.

                    Rich H.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Excellent!

                      Rich,

                      Thanks for an excellent coverage. If you mail me pictures at [email protected], I'll post them on this site.

                      Tnx again!

                      /Magnus F.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        SVT Engine Dead?

                        Just read on the Zetec Forum that Ford is going to drop the Focus SVT model....

                        Gert

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ford announced the end of the SVT Focus some time back. 2004 is the last year. But Ford has to support the SVT engine for many years to come. In the Focus I think that it now has a 100,000 mile warranty. May want to ask Jon Nelson or Rich Kamp what, if any, difference the end of the Focus makes to the Caterham engine application.

                          Rich H.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            SVT Retirement

                            O.K. thanks, was just curious.

                            Gert

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