NSX files, project Germany:
Track day at Anneau du Rhin 29.07.2005
(24 MB video mix of that day is here -
Attention! You need QT 7 to watch it)
Another disappointing test day     Anneau-Luftbild

What a long boring time: It lasted about three months after the previous track day at Hockenheim until we thought we could try once more because the car lastly seemed to work fine again. In the meantime we checked, cleaned and fixed the whole Vtec system of the engine, an oil cooler was added together with an oil pressure gauge, a better radiator came in for the water cooling together with a high speed fan in front (the stock fan stayed in place behind the radiator) and the car was on a dynometer three times. Result at the third time: No more overheating and about 306 PS crank power - great! Of course, after nearly a year full of engine and cooling problems I only believe the good news when it works in real life - which means on a hot track day.

The Fastvoice NSX in the hairpin before start/finish line behind a BMW M 3 and a Wiesmann roadster with BMW M3 heart.
(All pics by my girlfriend and me)

Therefor we took the opportunity to participate at a free training day of Swiss Autoracing Club (SAR) at the french track "Anneau du Rhin" about 100 miles away - really not one of the best and safest tracks in the world but I didn't want to risk a failure on tracks like Spa-Francorchamps or Magny-Cours which are much further away and where my mechanic can't just jump in if something's wrong. As always, good and bad surprises where side by side.

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The new Dimex oil cooler in front of the radiator (left) and a beautiful Alpine A 110 with big street meat (right).

The good news: The weather stayed fine and dry for nearly the whole day (about 30 degrees C), our run group was relatively small with less than 20 cars which means enough space on the track for extensive testing, I obviously found a better place for the AIM My-Chron light laptimer infrared transmitter; the connection between transmitter and receiver was fine for the whole day (an experience I never had before on this special track).

The Fastvoice NSX leaving the track and dive braking before the hairpin.

The bad news: The preparation of the car was less than optimal. The front hood was not mounted correctly, there was a (new) gap between hood and nose (you may see it at some of the pictures), the little arm to hold the hood in open position was not there, when I checked the engine compartment I noticed that the airbox was loose - the screws were not properly fixed, the driver's side power window didn't work without manual help, the additional oil cooler was not mounted at the place I proposed (inside the right side vent near the engine) but in front of a part of the water radiator. This relatively big cooler seemed to take away about one third of the airflow from the radiator - not recommended in my humble opinion.

The Fastvoice NSX between a Porsche 964 and a BMW M3 (all three not the newest models of their kind).

Anyway, I gave it a try at the first stint of the day, starting with a reconnaissance lap in a convoi plus half an hour of free track time (at least that was the plan). When the engine was warmed up I checked the engine power in the high rpm region above 7000 and smiled: Yes, this thing pushes much better than the last time at Hockenheim! In the exit of the hairpin before the start/finish line I was able to spin the rear tires in 2nd gear into a slight drift (which would be not big deal with street tires but requires much more power with warm race slicks) and my smile was even bigger. Two corners later, at the next short straight my smile disappeared: The check engine light (CEL) came on when I had the foot on the floor in 3rd gear and the engine went into some kind of emergency mode, cutting off at about 7000 rpm - bummer!

An original Ford GT 40 (RHD as you can see by the bubble in the roof) and a Lotus Motorsport Elise.

I returned to the pits, read out the error code 22 which indicates a Vtec failure for the front cylinder bank. After resetting the electronic control unit I started the engine again - no CEL, so I could have tried again. Unfortunately the rest of the stint was red flagged in the meantime because one of the cars went into the gravel - this was the first of too many run offs or accidents, obviously there were some drivers that didn't know the track very well or even had not much clue about track driving at all. Sometimes it was really funny to see the weird lines of some cars I followed (very carefully, because the drivers didn't use the rear view mirrors as they should).

Once again the GT 40 and a heavily modified VW Beetle on big shoes.

In the other run group similar things happened: A Opel Astra OPC crashed after the fast S-combination in the forest just before the opposite hairpin, the front was destroyed and a dangerous mixture of oil and coolant fluid came on the track for some hundred meters. The driver had a lot of luck and stayed unharmed but a portion of the track was closed until it could be cleaned. So for the next stint of our run group only the short track was open, starting with another reconnaisance lap (you see this different track layout also in a part of the video mix).

Two beauties side by side: The Fastvoice NSX and a Wiesmann roadster - totally different design philosophies.

I gave it a hard try: Driving until the CEL came up again (after about one lap), ignition off on the straight to reset the emergency mode and push again. This way the next problem could happen: Water temperature went up - gauge was in the red region after about 4 laps whereas the oil temperature stayed relatively cool (80-90 deg. C). Suddenly it seemed starting to rain, I had to use the windshield wiper to maintain a clear view. But, no, it was no rain, it was coolant water spraying from the radiator through my vented hood onto the windshield. Once again back to the pits, checked the radiator, saw some water there but no apparent leak.

Dark monsters: Wiesmann, Honda NSX and VW Golf 2 GTi (watch the right rear wheel in the air!).

So it was time for the usual call to my mechanic in Germany who had planned to come anyway. When he arrived he inspected all hoses and lines and his first diagnosis was: Both caps of the cooling system, for the radiator and the overflow bottle in the engine compartment, are bad. New caps had been already ordered but not yet delivered. Second diagnosis: Oil pressure is obviously not sufficient to operate the whole Vtec camshaft adjustment for both cylinder banks. Solution for diagnosis one: Stealing rubber seals and hoses from our street cars to improvise dense caps. Plus: Bleeding and refilling of the whole coolant system.

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A beautiful prepped Honda Integra R and a Renault Clio V6.

Solution for diagnosis two: Filling in half a litre of Liquy Moly Visco Stabilizer which should prevent the oil getting too thin when it's hot. This should lead to a bit more oil pressure - at least for a short time. In the long run my mechanic advised to use oil with another viscosity range - maybe 20W50 race engine oil. This Vtec issue could of course also be a bad switch or valve in the system, this will be checked in the next weeks. For the next stint (the long track had been reopened again) we mounted a digital thermometer on the window between engine and passenger compartment so my mechanic and co driver could watch the numbers during driving, the sensor was mounted at the front cylinder bank.

Two Donkervoorts (Lotus S 7 copies) and a Mazda RX on sports tires with chameleon paint.

The Visco stabilizer seemed to work - this time no CEL but the water temperature went higher and higher while the oil and cylinder bank stayed in the 80-100 degrees C region. I was able to push the engine above 7000 rpm but I felt a lack of power. The best laptimes were about 1:31, which was way better than last fall on this track when I only could lap a bit more than 1:34 (without working Vtec), but also way slower than my best time of under 1:30 (nearly two years ago when I had no engine issues). After about 4 laps the CEL came again, so the usual procedure started again: Shutting off the engine on the straight, restart and go on. Of course that made me so slow that some usualy weaker cars had no problems to pass me - what a bad presentation for the NSX!

A Bimmer at the limit and shortly after over the limit in the gravel trap of the hairpin.


After this session my mechanic had to leave so I drove the last stint alone - still with a CEL for nearly every lap but the engine didn't get too hot this time, mainly because it became more and more cloudy and some rain drops began to fall. The session should have lasted an hour, but after the half it really started to pour down and made it too dangerous to drive with slicks. Shortly after I drove off the track it was like a waterfall from the sky, from one second to another some cars spun in the same corner and the session was red flagged.

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One of 2 Mazda RX 8 and the beautiful Lotus Motorsport Elise with matching background colours.

The most dangerous moments of the day were after we left Anneau du Rhin: A thunderstorm had hit the region, with an unbelievable number of flashes, heavy rain (sometimes we couldn't driver faster than about 20 km/h), hail and even a small Tornado that damaged about 40 houses in a village nearby. Not far from our route the hail lumps were so big that they crashed through car windows and made big dents in roofs and hoods. Luckily we had no damage on both cars so this day had not only bad surprises for us.

Blue ladies: The Alpine A 110 and a race prepped Fiat 500 which was the loudest and slowest car of the day
(but made nearly no track meters due to mechanical problems).

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The Fastvoice NSX following the Wiesmann (just click on the pic to see that scene in a QT 7 video) and behind the Porsche 964.

For the next weeks we have planned once more a lot of researching, fixing, remounting and testing. If all seems to be okay we give it another try in the middle of next month - again at Anneau du Rhin because - as you already know - that's not too far for my mechanic (and for us when we have to return after the first session because something goes wrong again ;-) . For the latest news and schedules just click here for the News page.

A Marcos Mantis which spat some oil or water in the pitlane and another fast VW Golf taking the corner on 3 wheels.

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