• SAXON MOTORSPORT. #BMW-N57 / #N57 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW / #BMW-E87 / #BMW-E87-N57 / #Saxon-Motorsport / #BMW-E87-Saxon-Motorsport / #N57-Saxon-Motorsport / #2016

    Behind the scenes preparing for the season ahead. We’re following the progress of Saxon Motorsport this year as it tackles a host of 24-hour and endurance races, as well as the GT Cup Series. And while it isn’t racing season at the moment there’s still plenty going on behind the scenes…

    Since its initial conception back in 2012, Saxon Motorsport’s two #BMW-1-Series diesel race cars had always been fitted with the M57 3.0-litre diesel engine that could be found under the bonnet of a number of #BMW roads cars. Early last year, however, the team considered the engine to be reaching the end of its development potential and started to look for new solutions.

    It didn’t have to look too far as during 2015 proprietor Nick Barrow became aware that the then new BMW N57 3.0-litre engine promised significant improvements, not least in overall power output. This proved to be the case when early units tuned to 440hp and 553lb ft of torque were installed.

    However, these first units suffered from various teething problems which have now been addressed with the fitting of a competition oil pump into the sump, as the standard pump was unable to cope with sustained high revs in an endurance race car. Further tweaks to the engine – specifically new modified pistons – saw the N57’s figures swell to 455hp and 575lb ft of torque! Keen to ensure reliability and drivability for the coming season chief engineer Jon Taylor, who developed the new engine, put it through its paces on Saxon’s in-house rolling road at the end of January, where it performed perfectly. As anyone involved with motorsport will tell you, though, there’s a big difference between an engine performing perfectly on the rolling road and it replicating that feat once on track. The team was keen to discover whether the car would perform without any oil surge problems, so it was transported to Llandow recently for a track test.

    Llandow is a 1.5-kilometre oval track with two chicanes that is reasonably close to the team’s Hereford headquarters. It’s reasonably priced, is generally available for use, and is well-suitable for this type of test. Despite its limitations, it soon became apparent that the new engine was performing well on the right-hand bends but that there appeared to be an oil surge issue on left-handers, where the oil pressure was dropping immediately. As the guys were the only people present at the oval, they were hopeful of a dispensation to run the track in reverse; however ‘health and safety’ intervened and unfortunately prevented such a test from taking place. Undeterred, the team returned to its Hereford HQ and formulated a plan to test the problem without wasting any track time. Thus, the traffic island on the team’s industrial estate was attacked late one evening, after dark! Several clockwise circuits followed by several anti-clockwise, high-speed laps proved sufficient to replicate the problem and so it’s hoped that they can repeat the test when suitable remedies have been incorporated into the sump.

    While ensuring the car’s ready for the season’s racing is one of the main points of focus for the team during the off season, it’s also a time when plenty goes on behind the scenes in terms of attracting new sponsors and Saxon is delighted to announce that it has a new partner for the 2016 season in the form of Cotswold BMW Group.

    Cotswold is the largest BMW Group in the West Midlands, with branches in Hereford, Cheltenham and Gloucester. Saxon tells us it is excited to be forming a new relationship with the company. To reflect this arrangement Saxon is currently redesigning and applying new livery to its cars and transporters and it looks forward to showing off its smart new colour scheme for the season soon.

    Preparations for the Silverstone Hankook 24-Hour race in April continue apace. All Saxon drivers are looking forward to driving the new, more powerful car with optimism, particularly after the team’s success in the Barcelona 24-Hour race with the previous engine. Meanwhile the team’s Italian driver, Luca Demarchi, who contested the Britcar Series with Saxon last year, finishing in second place, is preparing to contest the GT Cup series in the updated hybrid diesel/LPG car.

    Also, one of the team’s drivers – Neil Primrose, drummer with the rock band Travis – who will be driving in the Silverstone 24-Hour race, is posing some interesting scheduling and driver rota challenges. Neil will be rehearsing for Travis’ tour of Japan and departs on the Monday following the race, which means he will leave London rehearsals on the Saturday morning, arrive at the circuit after the race start, complete his scheduled driving stints and return to London before the race is completed! Everyone’s hoping he can play the drums in his sleep and catch up on the flight to Japan…