Buying a 106 for track

106 Track carBeing an excellent handling and lightweight car from the factory, the GTi is the perfect car to get a taste for the racetrack. As parts are readily available at good prices it’s a very good way to learn how to drive a car on and up to the limit in a relatively safe environment. With a sweet handling chassis and lift off overster on demand, you’ll never have so much fun. To learn more read the With trackdays becoming more popular and even cheaper, whats your excuse for not trying it?

Clutch change

In preparation for the next trackday at Oulton Park I wanted to change the clutch as the last one was slipping at the last trackday at Anglesey.

So I got the car up in the air on axle stands and set about clearing the decks of wiring looms, the battery, and airbox etc. The hub nuts were a pain to remove, but once off, I drained the gearbox of oil and removed the driveshafts to give me more space.

Gearbox metal shavingsBox off Snapped linkage mount

I took out the wishbones, purely because I always find it quicker than trying to get the balljoingt out of the hub any other way. Once the gearbox was easily accessible I removed all the allen key bolts that hold it to the block as well as the starter motor 13mm bolts and supported the gearbox on a jack. I removed the offside gearbox mount and gently lowered the ‘box down. After a lot of wiggling and pulling the ‘box eventually came off exposing the clutch. It didn’t looks in too bad a condition for 136,000 miles with just some signs of overheating on the cover plate. The friction plate was worn but would have kept going in road use for another 20-30,000 miles im sure.

Old clutchI grabbed the 2nd hand clutch id bought months earlier only to discover the cover plates were different and the mounting holes don’t match! Typical!  Turns out I have been sent the clutch for a  year 2000+ model and my car uses the older style clutch. So I placed and order at Peugeot for a new clutch which came to £100 + VAT which wasn’t too bad. I always prefer to use genuine Valeo clutches as they have a good reputation and last well. However this meant I had to leave the car unfinished on what was a good day, weatherwise, leaving me only 3 and a half nights of available work in bad weather.

I was happy to see Peugeot had got the right clutch, and so I removed the old one in no time and carefully torqued up the new one using the included alignment tool to keep the plate centred.

Now the real pain! With the days running out until the Oulton Park trackday I spent 4 evenings in the rain and cold, getting the gearbox and all the ancilliaries back on the car. The gearbox was a real pain to get lined back up and over the chassis  at the back of the engine bay. Eventually we got it back into place. Be sure if you do this, that the release bearing on the clutch fork stays in place, as it can fall off easily if you turn the fork while manhandling the ‘box.

Clutch comparisonClutch comparison

With the gearbox back on and bolted in place, I reattached the clutch cable and linkages  and tested it in the car. I could select gears which was good!

I reinstalled the driveshafts and wishbones leaving two problems:

1) I had damaged the near side driveshaft thread when removing the hub nut

2) The ball on the gearbox that the lowest gear linkage attaches to had snapped on when removing it.

Problem one took about 15 minutes to sort with a file, carefully filing down the threads until the new nut went back on.

Broken mountProblem two was more of a pain; Peugeot had initially told me they could get me a new bracket no problem. Turnsout two days later there was no stock available for 5 days. So I took the bracket to be welded, only to bolt it to the ‘box and find out the gear linkage wouldn’t stay on no matter what I did. The weld wasnt 100% in the exact place, and the linkage kept popping off, even when cable tied to the hilt. After a 2 minute test drive down the road, the linkage came off, leaving the gearstick flopping around and I lost patience…

So I gave up  at 7.30 pm on the day before the trackday – in a bad mood, and decided to load up the Evo with tools and tyres and set off for the hotel I’d booked. All that hard work in freezing and raining temperatures and I still didn’t make it.

Bad times…

Oulton Park trackday booked

Oulton Park circuitNow the next trackday is booked, I have to start preparing. The main job is changing the clutch which I’ve been putting off, since it drives ok on the road. However when it gets hot the clutch slips quite badly (It was slipping at Angelesey in April).

I got hold of a cheap 2nd hand clutch from 106 owners, hopefully that will fit ok and I can employ the use of my new air compressor to good effect in removing the gearbox. The gearbox has to come off to do the job before the clutch is exposed and an airgun makes the job a hekll of a lot easier.

Oulton Park has a great history and is held in high regard by the trackday fraternity. With its narrow twisty track the 106 should fare quite well. This day is being run by Steve Hewson at Track-online (His firm ran the day at Brands hatch back in February) Steve himself is no stranger to 106s owning a Rotrex powered supercharged 106 GTi, a real weapon amongst other motors.

Now I hoping for good weather, but this is England and November so fingers crossed!

I found this somewhat scary video or racing at Oulton Park and hope its not an indicator of things to come!

Circuit-days Angelesey trackday

We got up early in Angelsey after a 6 1/2 hour drive there the previous day and plenty of evening beers in a local pub/hotel. A full english breakfast was wolfed down and we headed down the picturesque lanes to the track, with the car fully loaded with wheels, spare parts, fluids and tools.

The briefing was the usual affair, approx 1/2 hour of advice on taking it easy during the morning, learning the lines of the track and gradually improving the pace over the day.

The car park was lined with everything from Fiestas to Ferraris. We swapped the wheels over to the semi slick Toyo R888s, and lined up in the pit area for the sighting laps. My brother was given the duty of driving the sighting laps so he could get a feel for the car and the track as it was his first time out on track (and driving the car).

The track is quite technical with long sweeping bends as well as a series of threaded turns demanding your full concentration. As you approach the highest part of the circuit you have a fantastic view of the coast, it really is a spectacular setting, but make sure you keep your eyes on the track!

The weather on the day was nothing short of great, sunny intervals and nice and dry, but the flying ants and midges were everywhere and the front of the car was doubling as a morgue!

Incidents on track included a Porsche 911 GT2 spinning in clouds of dust and dirt metres in front of us, a Vauxhall Corsa empting its sump via the exhaust right in front of us, and a saxo forcing its way through about an inch from our wing mirror! The marshalling was generally good, however there was a distinct absence of blue flags, which often meant following slower cars for lap after lap until they moved over.

As for my brother, beyond not liking the 106 offset pedal layout initially, he got progressively faster throughout the day, and went from being nervous to comfortable and making a real effort to improve his driving.

The 106, yet again, performed flawlessly. The new brake setup was nothing short of fantastic. I could brake very very late with no fade or complaint from the brakes. The best moment was keeping a pair of Subaru Impreza WRX STIs honest, as they couldn’t get near the pug, even by the end of the straights! The twisties was a one sided affair, with the heavier Imprezas falling further and further back.

We called it a day in the late afternoon and headed home in the sunshine, calling by Caernafon Castle, and a nearby beach, all in all a great day.

Next trackday booked!

Today I booked the second trackday of the year, this time I’m off to Wales to drive the Angelsey coastal circuit on the 20th May. I visited Anglesey last year, as I was on holiday in the area, and the backdrop to the track really is stunning offering fantastic sea views. The day is being run by the excellent Circuit days in open pit lane format, at a reasonable price of £149 including free driver tuition. 

Now the race is on to complete modifications to the car ready in time. The main area that needs addressing is the front brakes. I would like to fit some 266mm brakes from the 306 XSi models on the front to offer a little more braking power. An upgrade from the standard 247mm setup, these calipers are well known to offer good performance, fit under the standard 14″ alloys,  as well as being cheap as chips to buy. 

With places still available why not come along and experience driving your car to the limit in a safe environment amongst other enthusiasts?

Trackaction Brands Hatch trackday

My first trackday of the year fell on the 5th of February at Brands Hatch. Run by trackaction online, a regular frequenter of club forums and websites, it was the Indy circuit on offer at a reasonable £125 for a full open pit lane trackday.

Having secured a set of 205 1.9 wheels with Toyo R888 semi slick tyres to use as track wheels, I was all set to pack up the car and set off early for Brands Hatch.

It wasn’t the best of starts to the day as I suffered a blowout about 2 miles from the circuit. The tyre had come completely loose of the rim! However theres worse ways to break down than with a full toolkit and a spare set of wheels in the boot! Wheel swapped, we arrived at the circuit with time to spare.

Safety briefing completed, we headed over for the noise test and out on the sighting laps. Paddock Hill was still quite greasy and cold, with a few wet patches across the track and a very slippy freshly tarmacced section at Clearways.

Sighting lap completed, I headed out again. Lap after lap came round and I was getting more and more impressed with the pug, until a Mini owner binned their car on the Pit straight. Quite how he achieved this im not sure, I’m guessing he got a tank slapper on somehow but quite puzzling given it was a straight. Anyway Mini cleaned up and I headed back out for about 40 minutes of consistent lapping!

What was most notable was how slow some of the Skyline GTRs were. Perhaps they were novices or afraid of damaging an expensive car? Other cars out on track included several tuned Mini Cooper S, Caterhams, Renault Megane R26.R, Toyota MR2, Rotrex powered Peugeot 306 GTi-6s and a Nissan GT-R to name a few.

The chequered flag came out for Lunch, and I took the opportunity to get some petrol from the nearby garage outside the circuit grounds. The track was drying up nicely, and I headed straight out for another long stint. Oil temperatures were stable, and grip was tenacious. I experienced a couple of people with “small-willy” syndrome(!) as in, they were reluctant to let the small Peugeot through, even though it was clearly quicker, and despite the fact they received deveral blue flags.

Other than that, there were few problems; a Mini had an off into the gravel trap, so the session was red flagged while it was recovered, and a Clio overshot onto the grass at Surtees.

I packed up around 5pm as a Mini Cooper S owner wandered over for a chat. We were quite evenly matched for 5/6 laps and he was impressed with the performance of the Pug. He said he was running a few mods taking power up to approx 220bhp vs the 106s 120bhp. So 100bhp down in power and yet the little Pug was quicker!

I was expecting the car to be a little sloppy on presumably original suspension after 125k, but not a hint of it. The brakes even survived the day unscathed, although the pedal was a little long by the end of the day. In summary, I was massively impressed with the 106, such a capable car for the money.