Watch: Citroën C1 racers shows true sportsmanship

by Web Editor on 18th May 2018

The spirit of motor racing well and truly lives on, as this clip of a Citroën C1 24 hour race shows

There’s probably nothing more painful than battling for more than 23 hours and 50 minutes, only for your car to stumble at the final hurdle. Just ask Toyota. But that’s what happened at this 24 hour Citroën C1 race at Rockingham in May.

According to the video’s description, car 318 and 402 were battling for eighth place before 402 took the position with 30 minutes remaining.

Then, it all went wrong as car No 402 slowed, having run out of fuel 10 minutes from the finish, and just a corner away from the entrance to the pitlane.

The driver from car 318, in a show of incredible sportsmanship, proceeds to help push his rival’s car into the pits.

15TH MAY 2018

Whilst Le Mans 24hr is a fantastic event with an understandably huge and fanatical following, the cost to buy, enter and run a competitive racing car is very high. For drivers who are new to the racing scene, or experienced racers who want a low-cost alternative, the C1 Racing Club has quickly gained a reputation for providing extremely fun yet competitive endurance racing on a budget.

Scott Parkes, Evans Halshaw Citroen Regional Director, is part of the GMP Developments with QSP Motorsport C1 Racing Team, and we caught up with him to find out more about Citroen C1 endurance racing from a driver’s perspective.

Citroen C1 RacingMore Photos

What drew you to C1 Racing?

C1 racing is a unique proposition for UK motorsport, it offers the lowest price endurance racing in the UK and with over 50 cars on the grid it is the closest most competitive series outside of Touring cars.

How many races have you completed?

This weekend (Rockingham 3hr, May 12-13 2018) was the team’s first outing in C1 Racing but we have 2-3 cars out at Snetterton 3hr, Rockingham 24hr, Croft 4hr and then the season finale at Spa in Belgium for the international 24hr.

How much does it really cost to buy, enter and run a Citroen C1 racing car?

It is costing us on average £4,000 per car to build and entry fees are between £1,500-£3,000 dependent on the circuit and whether it’s a 3, 4 or 24-hour race. Each race we use between 3 and 8 sets of tyres (which are £150 per set) and we use over £300 of fuel.

The C1 isn’t the most powerful car in the world, is it frustrating not having more power?

On a general track day, the power can be frustrating when you have Aston Martins out with you, but when it’s just the C1 racing it’s fine and the cars drive and handle great.

Have you done any other forms of racing, and how does C1 racing compare?

As a family we have raced for over 15 years now. Myself personally, I’ve held my race licence for 3 years, I have raced in the Blue Oval Sports Saloon Championship and the Classic Touring Car Series. Our previous racing experiences were 15-minute sprint races so completely different to C1 endurance, as with sprint races you have to fight from lap 1 whereas in endurance racing you have to ‘finish first to finish first’.

If you could race any car what would it be?

I would love to try BTCC. As a tin-top racer, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport.

Favourite thing about C1 Racing?

It has to be the great team spirit in the pit lane. With over 350 drivers at Rockingham this weekend it was like a huge family party, everyone willing to help everyone. Also, the cost is great!

Any future racing plans?

We plan to continue in C1s helping the club grow and we would like 5 cars out next year. Beyond that, we don’t know as we always need good sponsors to create the budgets.

How have Quickco/QSP supported your C1 racing endeavours?

QSP (Quality Sourced Parts) have been great. They have supplied us with all the initial parts required for 3 cars, from oil and filters to discs and pads they have been amazing and without their support we would not have been able to get out on track this year.

After an impressive P5 finish (as well as cars in P25 and P29) at Rockingham 3hr everyone at Evans Halshaw would like to wish Scott and the team best of luck for the rest of the season.

Want to get involved? Check out the C1 Racing Club on Facebook.

Only a few days to go now until Rocky, so we thought that a round up on admin and where to find things would be a good idea.

Firstly, a lot of you have been asking about where you can watch the race live.  We have a number of live feeds that will cover the whole race, including our own YouTube Channel, the club website and on:

Car Magazine at
www.carmagazine.com

MotorsTV at
https://motorsport.tv/

Motors1 at
https://www.youtube.com/motor1

There will be further videos and articles on the race in Car Magazine and on their website; and on Motors1 website; and potentially a short program on the race on the main MotorsTV channel:  we’ll post more details on that as soon as we have them.

Scruffybear Productions have been hard at work this week putting the cables in place and installing the rest of the equipment for the coverage.  The drone will be up throughout the race; and we have cameras covering the pit lane and roving the track, as well as a number of static cameras.  You should expect to have a camera lens pointing at you regularly; and the commentators putting a microphone in front of you just as you fall exhausted out of your car at the end of a stint; especially at night, when the track action is less effective.  There will be in car cameras in a number of cars which we thought might be particularly entertaining.

Secondly, we are really pleased to announce that, as part of our partnership with Trade Team, Peugeot Citroen’s genuine-parts subsidiary, that TradeTeam are not only providing the winners hats for the entire season (which have just arrived and are gorgeous); but have also provided winners prizes for the whole season as well, including Spa.  They will be on a team basis as follows:

  • 1st place:  £200 voucher
  • 2nd place:  £100 voucher
  • 3rd place:  £50 voucher

The vouchers can be redeemed against Citroen & Eurorepar parts including lubricants and Trade Team merchandise (including Jackets fleeces etc.) purchased from Trade Team Robins and Day parts in West London.  As the saying goes, terms and conditions apply and will be printed on the vouchers.

Paddock access will require a pass for vehicles from Friday morning until Sunday evening; and these have now been sent out to teams.  The paddock is going to be very busy, so the Club will be removing any vehicles that have not got a pass clearly displayed.  Motorhomes should be parked at the back of the paddock, away from the garages:  happily the C1 is quiet enough that the noise won’t keep you awake, but its safer back there; and we need all the space we can near the garages for the race cars, pit crew and equipment.  The end of the paddock near Club HQ will be the area where you will find the trade stands, pop-up Citroen dealership; and one of the food areas.  Again, please don’t park there, we’ll just move your vehicle to somewhere you won’t be able to find it.

Thank you to all those who have volunteered to drive the safety car.  We have ended up with 20 people in the safety car over the weekend; the rota has now been published.  Hopefully, there won’t be too much for them to do, but its been a big help to BARC for the weekend and a great way of getting more people involved in the race and on the circuit.

The supplementary regulations have been published for the weekend.  Probably the most important is the 30 kph speed limit in the pit lane.  This is deliberately low, so that we are able to use the pit lane next to the garages, rather than the remote (hot) pit lane.  Its narrow; we will be using the Club’s speed gun all weekend; and there are suitably draconian penalties for those who break the limit.  None of us want to see any one hurt; and if BARC do not feel comfortable with how we have behaved, we may end up not being able to use the nearer pit lane in the second Rockingham 24hr.

The link to the supplementary regulations is below, please make sure that you have read them:
https://barc.blob.core.windows.net/barcnet/2018-24-hour-specific-8t9lb.pdf

The Club breathalyzer will be in action at signing on and throughout the weekend; and we will be applying our usual zero tolerance approach to alcohol consumption for those driving, or running a team, in both races.  At the test day in April, one person was caught and was not allowed to drive, so don’t spoil yours or anyone else’s weekend.

Driving standards are also very close to our heart.  All four directors have completed the Driving Standards Observers course, which the MSA kindly ran for us.  We are all recorded as DSOs and Judges of Fact for the weekend.  This is a low-cost endurance series; and accident damage materially hikes costs.  In a 24-hour weekend, whatever Senna said, all you can do by “going for a gap”, or trying to win on the first corner, is lose the race, and ruin someone else’s (including all your team mates).  We will be out there watching; and we have TV coverage recording the entire race, so please remember that motor racing is a non-contact sport.

The timetable has been live for some time now, here’s a link in case you’ve lost it:

https://barc.blob.core.windows.net/…/2018-hq08-rk-v1-e9ni8.…

Unrelated to the 24hr, we are planning on a limited run of our rather dashing embroidered Club polo shirts.  If you’re interested, let us know.  We will put them up on the website after the 24hr, so that we can collect orders, colours and sizes and have them made up.

Lastly, we look forward to seeing you all there.  We will be arriving on Thursday evening and setting up camp.  Our mobile numbers will be on the wall in the Club HQ if you need us, but Club HQ will be manned throughout the 24hr.  We can’t wait.

The C1 Racing Team

The first race of the season is nearly upon us, and it certainly feels like that at C1 Towers, where we are working feverishly to get everything ready for a great weekend at Rockingham. This newsletter will focus mostly on the upcoming 24hr and 3hr races. See the promo video above and also available on our website, facebook and youtube.

Citroen UK have provided us with a safety car; and in order to involve as many people as possible, we are asking for up to eight volunteers to drive the safety car for two-hour stints.  Neither previous experience, nor a race licence is needed; all you would have to do is follow the instructions of the marshalls in the car with you.  As usual, it’s going to be first-come, first-served.  Please email meyrick@c1racing.club to volunteer.

BARC have now published the full weekend timetable, which can be found on:
https://barc.blob.core.windows.net/barcnet/2018-hq08-rk-v1-e9ni8.pdf .  We will not have access to the paddock until 1900hrs on Thursday night; and need to clear the paddock completely by 1000hrs Monday morning.   Rockingham has very kindly agreed to open the Diner on Monday morning so you can have a bacon buttie to speed you on your way.

We are going to add a group photograph of all the C1 Race Cars at the weekend.  This will take place immediately after the warm up for the 24hr race on the Saturday morning:  please would the 3hr cars line up in the hot pitlane during the 24hr warm up; we will then guide all the 24hr cars to join them, rather than going back to the pits; and hopefully it will be as bright and sunny as on the test day for the photographs.  We will take pictures with and without drivers, so we would be grateful if all drivers (both 3hr and 24hr) could be in their race suits with their helmets for the photo shoot.  We will aim to clear all the cars from the hot pitlane by 1120hrs, so that it is clear again for the Pickup race, which starts at 1135hrs.

The paddock will be extremely busy for the weekend, not only with competitors cars, but also with the food arena and trade stands including: Citroen UK, TradeTeam and Evans Halshaw, the local Citroen dealer; Safety Devices; Nankang; SmallcarsRUs (who will bring a cornucopia of spares including engines, gearboxes, front headlights, rear lights, bonnets, wings, front and rear bumpers, door glass, doors, tailgates, starters, alternators, exhausts, cats, wheels and various nuts and bolts); and hopefully Demon Tweaks all coming for the weekend.  If there is enough interest, we can also organize tyre changing facilities.  Please email meyrick@c1racing.club if you would like tyre changing and let him know how many tyres you expect to need mounting / changing by Sunday 29th April.

Each 24hr car will be allocated two vehicle paddock passes and 16 access passes for team members.  Drivers should park their cars in the outer paddock.  If you are sharing a garage, please be considerate of the other team; and don’t, for example, grab all the parking spaces just behind the garage.  The paddock police will not be accommodating and may remove passes from those being inconsiderate…

Club headquarters will be in garages 35 and 36 for the entire weekend, which is where breathalysing and signing-on will be; and where all drivers will need to collect their Hutags (£10 deposit each), which they will need to wear all weekend, and teams will need to collect their pitlane bibs (£40 deposit).  The Clerk of the Course will be in Race Control, which is located on Level 2, Stairwell 6; which can be accessed from the paddock via the tunnel next to garage 36, there is a lift next to the Diner; although we hope none of you will be summoned to visit.  There will be two drivers briefings, which will take in the Rockingham Welcome Centre at 0900hrs on Saturday morning.  The first part will be for all drivers and team managers in both the 3hr and 24hr races; the second will be for those drivers that are starting both the 3hr and 24hr races and will follow immediately after the first briefing.  Entrance to and exit from the briefings will be recorded by means of the Hutags, so there will be no getting out of attending the briefings.  If a team manager does not attend, the team’s drivers will not be allowed on circuit; if a driver does not attend, they will not be allowed on circuit.

We will only be using the small pit lane directly in front of the garages for the whole weekend, there will be a pit lane speed limit of 30 kmh, which corresponds to a little under 4,000rpm in first gear, and will be rigorously enforced with the Club’s radar gun.  First transgression will result in a one-lap penalty; second, five laps; a third immediate disqualification.  All team members on the pit wall will have to wear a C1 Racing high visibility bib at all times, four of which will be available for each car.  No pit wall shelters will be allowed, as it would hinder the visibility of teams further down the pit lane; nor may any pit boards be attached to the pit wall.  LED pit boards are not allowed.

A brief reminder on car numbers: all 24hr cars must display reflective race numbers as required by Section Q 11.4 of the MSA Yearbook.  Touring car style and high visibility race numbers are not permitted.

Finally, the 3hr teams will not have a pit allocation, unless their team is also running cars in the 24hr race.  They will be based in the outer paddock, along with the Pickup truck teams; and will only be able to bring fuel, tyres and a working tool box to the pit lane.  We suggest that the remaining 3hr teams pair up with a 24hr team, to be located in front of their garage.  We would be very grateful if those 24hr teams would help out those 3hr teams with tools and by providing some space if possible.

Finally, please make sure that you have read the SSRs for the 24hr race, which will be published on the BARC website shortly, and any other bulletins that come out.  All the Club directors have been published as DSOs and Judges of Fact for the event; and you will see us, especially at the first corner, sporting our identifying DSO bibs.

We will be arriving on the Thursday night and will be staying at Rockingham for the whole weekend, so please come and join us for a drink the night before – although bear in mind that the club breathalyzer will be in action again for drivers and team managers throughout the weekend.  See you then.

The C1 Racing Team

Thank you all who made the Test Day at Rockingham such a success, although the glorious weather certainly didn’t hurt.  We saw 57 cars out on circuit (which collectively made less noise than the single rather marvelous Aston Martin GT3 that was running in the other session);  pretty good driving standards overall with only one material incident all day; and virtually all cars running in the final happy hour of open pit lane.

The new club breathalyser was in action at signing on, which will be a consistent theme of the season.  One person failed the breath test and was not allowed to sign on or drive; everyone else sailed through with a zero-alcohol reading.  Hopefully, with Caryl having processed a lot of membership issues and handed out a lot of membership cards, the signing on process will be quicker as the season progresses. Anybody that couldn’t collect their membership card will have it sent in the post by the 27th April.

At lunchtime, Marvin Hall managed to get some great photographs when we managed to get virtually all the cars at the circuit lined up three abreast in the hot pit lane for a group photo.  We’ve already posted one, but if you’ve got any good photos of the group shot, please add them.  We thought that they all looked great together.  We will be trying to repeat the exercise at the 24hr weekend when there should be 91 cars there!

Philip and Meyrick spent a lot of the day hard at work in the scrutineering bay helping teams weigh their cars, so as to be able to get the ballast right; and check the cars over for eligibility, so that we won’t have any surprises at the 24hr weekend.  Looks like we have a bit of work to do on the club ramps, which weren’t man enough for the job; although its nothing that a little wooden reinforcement won’t cure.

Scruffybear Pictures were also at Rockingham the whole day to plan camera locations and their other logistics; and to take some footage with their drone and roving cameras in order to make a short promotional clip for Motors TV.  That should be out during next week.  We are also able to offer customized edits of the footage for your team, in addition to the TV feed; so if you would like to have a full HD program concentrating on your car, please let us know and we can work out pricing for you.  It would probably mean that you would get a live in-car camera in your car as well.

TSL joined us as well; and you may have seen them trialing the new driver transponder system at the end of the pit lane.  That trial went very well; and the system will be used at all our races this season.  This removes the need for the team to fill in any driver forms and materially reduces the administrative burden on teams.

The Touring Car boys were out in force today, including their leader, Alan Gow in his track return; but we also had Rob Austin, Josh Cook and Anthony Reid out on circuit.  The team from Rockingham Circuit was also out in their mostly liveried car, although we didn’t manage to coax Peter Hardman into the car – guess he already knows where the circuit goes.  We also had Vicky Parrott from MotorsTV, Mark Walton from Car Magazine, Adrian Mossop’s and Ian Sedgwick’s Citroen UK teams testing with us.  Rumour has it that none of the Touring Car drivers set the fastest time of the day, which was a 1.52.

We hope that you all enjoyed the hog roast – it all disappeared, so that is probably an answer in itself!

Looking forward to the 24hr and 3hr races on the weekend of 11-13th, which is going to be even busier, with double the number of cars and teams present.  Paddock space is going to be at a premium, and we will need to restrict the number of cars that each team keeps in the paddock during the race, so that there is enough space behind the pits for those that are really necessary.  Non-essential cars will have plenty of secure parking in the outer paddock.

The practice day on the Friday will follow much the same routine as you saw at today’s test day.  Signing on will be a long and time-consuming process if you have not fully completed your entry forms before you arrive.  Entry forms for both the 3hr and 24hr races are available online. They will remain open until midnight on 29th April after which time no changes will be possible. So make sure that your club membership is valid and all driver details are correct in the next few days. If you need to renew your club membership, you will have been sent an email. Please follow the link in the email to renew the membership – it can’t be done by adding your credit card details into the ‘My Details’ form.

We will also be issuing all drivers with a Hutag for a £10 deposit, which you will need to wear all weekend; and then return at the end of the weekend.  All drivers, pit wall crew and team managers will be breathalysed each day; with further spot checks during each day.

Scrutineering.  Please remember that you need to come with a full fuel tank, so that we can see fuel in the filler spout.  This is because when you are weighed, we can then deduct 28.5kg of fuel from the total, so that you can ballast the car to 910kg with the lightest driver. If the tank is half (or whatever) full, we cannot do so.   We will then lock wire and seal the ballast in place, and that seal has to remain in place for the whole weekend.

We will also be fitting OBD reader / recorders to cars throughout the weekend, so that we can download and check your car’s engine, electronic and ECU behaviour.  We have 10 of these rather trick little devices and will be fitting them at the end of the pit lane; and removing them at the beginning of the pit lane, so as to prevent any tampering.

The pit lane will not operate as it did on the test day.  The entire hot pit lane (ie the wider section that is further from the garages) will be closed throughout both races; and we will only be using the cold pit lane nearest to the garages.  All the cut-throughs will be closed and a 30 kph speed limit will apply to the entire cold pit lane.  The Club has a radar gun, which will be in operation throughout the race:  get caught speeding, and you will lose a lap.  The pit wall will remain as it was for the test day.
The C1 Racing Team

The C1 Racing Club signs a sponsorship and technical support agreement with PSA Group’s Trade Team.

PSA Group’s Trade Team and C1 Racing Club have today signed an exciting agreement for PSA Group’s Trade Team to sponsor the C1 Racing Series and to provide a range of support to the Series and its competitors. This consists of:

  • The sun visor strip for the season will carry the Trade Team branding;
  • Trade Team will be providing a 20% discount to all Club members for C1 parts purchased from Trade Team. We are determined that the cars should remain as close to original specification as possible; so that racing should be as close as possible.  Trade Team provides OEM parts and very competitive pricing, allowing all competitors to benefit from the quality, durability and know how that has gone into the OEM parts
  • PSA Group will also provide technical support and information, via the Club, to its members, to ensure that the cars remain as close to original specification as possible; and that competitors can race safely
  • PSA Group will make available, via the Club website, Citroen C1 parts diagrams, in order to help club members identify the correct OEM replacement parts for their cars
  • Trade Team will be providing 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes and winners caps for the drivers at each race meeting
  • Trade Team race suit badges will be available for club members to sew on to their race suits
  • The Club will also be testing a variety of parts with a view to their becoming compulsory in 2019, in order further to drive costs down and ensure conformity between competitors cars

We look forward to working with PSA Group’s Trade Team and building on our relationship together throughout 2018.

Launched in April 2017, the C1 Racing Club was established to deliver low-cost, value-for-money endurance racing.  It has been a runaway success, with a 2018 season comprising five UK enduros and two UK 24-hour races, at Rockingham, Pembrey, Snetterton and Croft; plus the iconic Spa 24-hour race in Belgium.  Over 130 C1 Racing cars are now built or in build; and we expect to have full grids at each race meeting, making for very close and exciting racing.

PSA Group was officially established in 2016 and brought together some of Europe’s most iconic car brands: Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles and most recently Vauxhall and Opel. With over 200 years of automotive history, PSA Group is no stranger to the world of motor sport having competed in the likes of WRC, WRX, Dakar and Formula E to name but a few.

PSA Group’s Trade Team offers competitively-priced genuine parts for Peugeot, Citroën and DS Automobiles as well as the competitively-priced Eurorepar range designed for all makes and models of vehicle. Trade Team’s parts are manufactured and tested to the highest levels of quality standards and ensures that vehicles operate as safely and reliably as they did when they were new.

 

Colin Start, Head of Marketing for Parts & Service for the PSA Group said:

“PSA Group’s Trade Team is delighted to be sponsoring and providing technical support to the C1 Racing Club.  The Series has gained enormous popularity because of its focus on low-cost endurance racing; and has demonstrated again the reliability and handling prowess of the Citroen C1; there is no better medium than racing for testing durability to the very limits. 

 We at PSA Group want to support that success and ensure that competitors have access to the correct technical information on the cars as well as offering competitive prices on our own parts for the cars, as required by the regulations.  The PSA Group Trade Team Programme is designed to assist all Independent Motor Traders and Repairers in delivering outstanding service to owners of Peugeot, Citroën and DS Automobiles vehicles through technical assistance and highly competitive trade parts prices.  Competitors in the C1 Racing Series will have access to exactly the same information, assistance and pricing as our other customers.”

 

Meyrick Cox, Chairman of the C1 Racing Club, added:

We are thrilled that Peugeot Citroen and Trade Team have the confidence to support our Series and that they will be supporting us both through sponsorship, technical assistance and Trade Team parts supply at a 20% discount.  Trade Team will also be providing 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes for drivers at the race meetings.

 The C1 Racing Challenge is going from strength to strength.  Our first season saw grids building from 8 cars at our first race to over 40 cars at the Spa 24-hour.  There are now over 130 C1 Racing cars built or in build.  Both 24hr races have full grids of 53 cars each; our smallest grid this year will be at Pembrey, with 48 cars; and we are expecting full grids at every meeting.  We have increased the Pembrey and Croft races to 5 hours, free of charge to competitors, in order to be able to increase the available grid slots at those races.

 The season opens shortly with the test and BBQ day at Rockingham on 20th April.  We are looking forward to working more closely with PSA Group’s Trade Team; and can’t wait for the racing to get underway.”

The club announces today that both 2017 UK 24 hour races are fully subscribed. The press release is here.

Racing a Citroën C1 at Spa? Yes, really!

Night racing in the most unlikely car on the market Back in the day, Citroën 2CV racing series was tremendously popular, providing cheap, fun motorsport for the masses. Now we have its successor – the Citroën C1 Racing Club, which caters for the French brand’s three-door city car. It doesn’t sound especially exciting, but here’s the thing; we sent a colleague to take part in a race at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, and he reported that it was one of the very best drives he’d had in 20 years of writing about cars. So, what does Citroën C1 racing entail? Well for a start, modifications are restricted. Most interior components still have to be present and correct, such as the dash, stereo and even the window winders. You can remove carpets and the like, however. Mechanically, the engine exhaust and intake must be factory spec, while the suspension set-up can be only moderately tuned. Essentially, you have 68bhp to play with, fed to the front wheels via the five-speed transmission. Wheelspin is unlikely to be an issue.

The lure of the Citroën C1 series has already attracted more than 80 teams – which just goes to show that motorsport is the affordable preserve of everyman, not merely for the well heeled. Next year’s big event will be a 24-hour race at the UK’s Rockingham speedway, which will see 70 C1s on the grid. To find out just how it will feel, our man Matt Prior flew to Spa to take part in a 24-hour race in which C1s made up about half of the 108-car grid. He discovered that racing the tiny French city car is anything but dull – even if it does a lap in twice the time it takes in a Formula One car. He reported: “It doesn’t matter how thrilling a road car is, racing at Spa in the dark, even with 68bhp, is absolutely brilliant. It may not be very quick, but turning into Eau Rouge at 90mph in the dark and the rain, with wipers smearing water relatively ineffectively across oil and filth, only a few inches from another car, it all felt real enough to me.”

He continued: “Besides, the suspension changes mean that there’s some chassis adjustability, too. The steering remains pretty uncommunicative, the brakes are superb, the gearshift light and the engine revvy. And even on a big, senior circuit, it’s great fun. In places at Spa you have to take a deep breath before turning in flat, places where you have to brake heavily, and places where your foot is pressed so hard to the floor that you emerge from a stint with an aching right calf.” The diminutive C1 racer clearly punches well above its weight on a huge circuit such as Spa – just imagine what fun it will be on smaller tracks. Roll on Rockingham 2018.

 

Matt Prior reports on his time in car 322 at Spa on PistonHeads website here.

Driving coach Rob Wilson talks about racing “becoming a craft” when you get good at it. Once you understand the physics of driving, what will make a car fast and what won’t, you can work on this craft, patiently, to go quicker.Which is fine if, like Wilson, you’re a driver who’s competed in Nascar, at Le Mans or around Daytona, or you’re one of the drivers – up to and including those in F1 – who have called on his training. What happens in microseconds can become a craft if you’re equipped to deal with it.

And if you’re not quite up to speed? Welcome to the Citroen C1 Racing Club.

The C1 Racing Club was born, if not out of frustration with, then as a result of, the modern limitations of Citroen 2CV racing. It used to be one of the cheapest forms of motorsport around but even the newest 2CV is decades old these days, and running and maintaining a race example is getting – by hobby standards, if not by those of motor racing – expensive. So a few devotees decided they’d put a C1 together instead and see how it went as a racing car. Slowly, was the answer. But cheaply. So here we are.

You’ll know the C1. Or you’ll have seen it. Mechanically identical to the Peugoet 107 and Toyota Aygo (though the club only allows Citroens in for now), it’s a city car, built from 2005 onwards, which could be had with three or five doors. The Club uses the 3dr version and alterations to turn it into a bona fide race car are limited. The phrase “no modifications” features in the standard regulations no less than 15 times.

Sure, every car can be stripped of its interior trim and carpets, but mostly only so that safety equipment can be fitted. The dashboard, including a working radio and handbrake, must be retained. The wiring loom, engine, exhaust, gearbox, glass and even window winders have to be as standard, and each car must be MOT’d. There’s a minimum driver-aboard weight limit of 910kg, which most drivers will add ballast to get up to. Power, wait for it – and you’ll have to – is 68hp, delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed gearbox, the fifth gear of which you’ll probably never need on a race track. No, you can’t modify the engine. No, you can’t mod the intake. No, you can’t remove the catalyst.

What you can – and will – do, is make a few changes to the suspension, shimming the rear to adjust toe angle, fitting strut braces if you like, and adding a club-supplied lower front wishbone, which puts more rubber to the road; although again, the terms are relative.

Does it all sound suitably daft? It might, but the idea has struck an uncanny chord. The Club had its first races this year, and already there are more than 80 cars completed or in-build. Because, all-in, you could be looking at having a fully-prepped racing car for under £3,000. The Club recently announced a 24-hour race at Rockingham next May. A week later, the grid was full, after 70 cars had signed up.

Sounds like a lot, does it not, 70 cars around Rockingham? It probably is, but then, it is manageable. And I know this because last week I climbed into a racing C1 at Spa Francorchamps, alongside 107 other cars – around half of them 2CVs or curious derivatives thereof, another half or so C1s, and a couple of old Minis – and we all fitted. For 24 hours.

This remarkable feat is, I suspect, because the speed differentials are not that huge. Unlike classic endurance racing, where an LMP1 car may well be on circuit with GTE cars, or Britcar where a Ferrari F430 might be on track with a Volkswagen Beetle, the C1 and its ilk are all similarly, well, how to put it … slow.  An F1 car will lap Spa in around 1m 46s, at an average speed of 147mph. A C1 can only dream of 147mph, and wants almost two minutes more to complete a lap. An average of 75mph, then, would have a C1 writing postcards home. So there is time to think about what you’re catching, or what is catching you, and that makes 108 cars fit into 4.3 miles quite easily.

And, now I read it again, an average of 75mph over a lap doesn’t sound so bad, does it? It sounds, dare I say it, exciting. Dear reader, it is.

It doesn’t matter how thrilling a road car is, racing at Spa in the dark, even with 68hp, is absolutely brilliant. At one point I was talking to two blokes, who between them have three Porsche Carrera GTs, and they thought it was pretty exciting too. I drove for two hours from dusk and it was – and I kid you not, here – one of the very best drives I’ve ever had in 20 years of writing about cars.  What is the car like? It may not be very quick, but turning in to Eau Rouge at 90mph in the dark and the rain, with wipers smearing water relatively ineffectively across windscreen oil and filth, only a few inches from another car, it all felt real enough to me. Besides, the suspension changes mean that there’s some chassis adjustability to the C1, too. The steering remains pretty uncommunicative, the brakes are superb, the gearshift light and the engine revvy. And even on a big, senior circuit, it’s great fun. There are places at Spa where you have to take a deep breath before turning in flat, places where you have to brake heavily, and places where – obviously – your foot is pressed so hard to the floor that you emerge from a stint with an aching right calf.

I shan’t bore you with how I got on, suffice it to say we finished mid-class and I didn’t put a dent on it, which I always count as a decent day’s work.  But two things stand out for me: one, is that Rob Wilson was right, and that driving is a craft – you have a lot of time to consider how right or otherwise you’re getting it behind the wheel of a C1. The other is just how much fun this unlikely racing car is, to the extent that my old VW Baja Beetle will shortly be for sale, and that I intend to find myself part of a very large C1 racing grid next year.

 

Ben Anderson has written a great piece about the Cadwell race and the club in this week’s Autosport. You can download a scan of it here.

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TEAM LMPC1 TAKE SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON

The LMPC1 trio of Jacques Jensen, Aaron Bailey and Chris Davison took their second win of the season in the Absolute Alignment Citroen C1 Challenge at Cadwell Park, after a safety car intervention gained them a lap.

14 cars made it to the Lincolnshire Wolds circuit, with the Scuderia Sundial car of Andrew Stacey/Grant Hatfield/Paul Roddison securing pole, with Willow Racing’s  Caryl Wills/Ben Anderson/Paul Rowland and Rent Boys Racing Philip Myatt/Nick Paton all covered by only 0.574s.

As the race got away poleman Stacey led the way from Chris Davison for LMPC1 and Ian Payne’s PT Sportscars, while Neil Garner’s NGM Sport car began to work through the order. Having demoted Willow Racing’s Anderson and Scuderia Pollo’s James Matthews on consecutive laps, he was into fourth, before Anderson and C’est La Vie’s Robin Welsh both demoted him again.

The safety car was soon in action though when the Bend it mend it squad’s Mark Theaker got onto the grass exiting the Hairpin and collected Nick Paton’s Rent Boys Car. They both continued until Theaker was off again at the Mountain, hitting Paton who was spun and collected by C1 want one’s Tim Storrar.

The safety car laps to clear the incident triggered a few early stops including the leader. “We anticipated the safety car but jumped the gun and rather than gain a lap we lost one,” Stacey explained. The safety car had waited for the leader, but as they pitted there was confusion and Davison gained as the new leader.

After one hour Team LMPC1 were clear by a lap, from PT Sportscars, with Sundial third and Old Hat, Willow Racing and NGM Sport the early top six.

The lead remained unchanged until lap 35 when Davison pitted to hand to Jensen, when Sundial took charge again, before their second stop.

The strategies were varied on the best time to stop, but after Stacey had handed to Hatfield, Anderson took charge until Willow Racing made their first stop at the 41 lap mark to hand to Caryl Wills. “When I was asked to race in the C1, I thought why? So I didn’t expect too much and I have been pleasantly surprised. It felt a bit like a go kart rental and Cadwell is my favourite circuit too,” said the Autosport Grand Prix editor.

So at half distance LMPC1 and Scuderia Sundial were both on the same lap, with both PT Sportscars and NGM Sport one lap down.

In fifth C’est La Vie headed The Bend it and Mend it squad and Willow Racing that had gone two laps down, followed by Scuderia Pollo Rosso, Old Hat Motorsport, Advantec Endurance, Team Bengineering and finally McAttack Racing who started an hour adrift after a gearbox change.

Having led from the 48th lap, Team LMPC1 had a lap of almost everyone from the 64th to the finish, apart from a few laps during their final stop for Bailey to bring it home. “We thought we might have to change tyres but it was the kerbs that did the damage and we were good. So we just took a fuel and I maintained the gap,” said Bailey.

Pollo Rosso’s James Matthews had just missed being involved in the early shunt, but having alternated with Frank Claydon who took the car to the finish, they were second after three hours. But they still had a stop to make which eventually dropped them to fifth.

Sundial were a strong second but had a late duel with NGMsport. “I did the last 1 ½ hrs and it was a great battle. I was defending and he got the run on me into Park, but he made a few mistakes so I got back through Barn two laps later,” said Roddison.

“We had a great day, I started and pitted early behind the safety car to use one of the stops. Then Peter Fisk went in for another hour, stopped refuelled and handed to Will Rayson to finish, but he outbraked himself in the battle for second, touched the barrier and still finished third,” said NGM’s Neil Garner.

Despite their earlier incidents the Bend it and Mend squad were fourth with Steve Atkinson, Nick Dougill and Craig Deakin taking over from Theaker. C’est La Vie were sixth behind Pollo Rosso, “Jonathan Cool had a spin after the first hour and I had a puncture, but it was James Macintyre-Ure that got the track limit penalty, “said co-driver Paul Dickinson.

Willow Racing came in seventh, with 2CV driver and championship winning rally navigator Paul Rowland taking the third stint.

Tom and Callum Hutchings Old Hat Racing were next, “that was my first ever race start and we are sharing the helmet too,” said Callum. “Loved it though, great fun,” Tom added.

Advantec Endurance came home ninth, with Sean Whatley and Matthew O’Hare and PT Sportscars completed the top 10 with Rich Bernard and Mark Benson. “We lost a lot of time on a refuel stop and Ian Payne got hit during his stint, a real endurance though,” they reckoned.

Although Ben and Karen Atkinson didn’t take the flag, they were classified 11th. “Five minutes to go and I ran out of talent and went off at Park. I just got back on but had no drive,” Karen explained,

McAttack’s perseverance took them to the finish too in 12th, with Simon Walker-Hansell, Chris Nylan and Dave Whitmore sharing the driving. “As well as the gearbox problem, someone had to go to Rockingham to take the seat out of Dave’s BMW Compact , as he is an ex Rugby League player and wouldn’t fit in ours,” said team boss Declan McDonnell.

 

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RACE TWO

For Sunday’s two hour race, we had lost LMPC1, NGM Sport and Rent Boys, but gained Maximum Effort’s Matt Owen and Mission Motorsport’s Ben Norfolk, Basil Rawlinson and Joe Byrne for another 14 car grid.

Stacey had the initial lead for Sundial from Bend it and Mend its Atkinson and Pollo Rosso’s Matthews, until Macintyre-Ure began to carve his way through for C’est La Vie.

Within five laps Macintyre-Ure had the lead, “it was a bit slippery but just went for it. I did go off at Park but the others followed,” he admitted. “He drove past me easily on Park Straight though,” Stacey added.

C’est La Vie retained the lead until their first stop when Dickinson took over after 14 laps. Pollo Rosso and Old Hat’s Bruce had already made their initial stops too.

The top five had got away for a while and as the stops continued Joe Wiggin began to climb the leaderboard for McAttack.

Sundial, Bend it and Mend it and McAttack all had spells in front, but after the first hour it was Sundial from Pollo Rosso, McAttack, Bend it and Mend it and Team Bengineering on the lead lap still.

During the second half Sundial began to take charge and from lap 34 were never headed as Roddison brought the car to victory by over a minute. “I just watched the lap times and conserved fuel to bring it home,” he said.

“We hadn’t intended doing this race but glad we came back. We were solid and consistent,” Stacey added.

The Bend it and Mend Squad had taken over second from Pollo Rosso in the latter laps when they pitted, but they too had to make a stop and the McAttack car of Wiggin and Declan McDonnell took the place. “We lost time at the start but matched the rest on times and then got quicker,” said McDonnell. “My front tyre was going down though after I hit a kerb,” Wiggin added.

Dougill brought Bend it and Mend it home third, from the closing C’est La Vie. “I could see them catching, thought it was under control and then had the fuel light on for the last lap,” he explained.  “My front left wasn’t at its best, but they were just too far ahead,” C’est La Vie’s Dickinson replied.

Anderson snatched fifth for Willow Racing from Pollo Rosso on the last lap. “I got a run through the Gooseneck and had him under brakes for the Mountain,” he said.

Matt Owen’s Maximum Effort was a lap down in seventh having run solo, while PT Sportscars, Mission Motorsport and C1 want one completed the finishers.

Old Hat were classified 11th but Callum Hutchings had crashed out at the Gooseneck. “I just got a bit squiffy, but thought I had saved it,” he reckoned. A few laps earlier Karen Atkinson had put the Bengineering car into the barrier at the same point.