When is work not really work? Or perhaps, when does it not seem like work?
I’ve recently been carrying out some tyre testing on our MGTF. This example was built in 2004, so has already had a few tyre replacements. As a mid-engined sports car, MGTF and its predecessor the MGF are sensitive to tyre choice. The sizes are also relatively modest and not always available in matched sets (given they are different front to rear, depending on model). The age of the car is also a problem as tyre suppliers keep developing and improving their products (and discontinuing previously ‘approved’ tyres), so the time was right to see what was available and to determine suitability for F and TF.
Having done some testing on our urban and rural route, I had the opportunity to take Alan (and a boot full of MG3 lowered sports suspension parts) to Retro Sports Cars Ltd which meant a lengthy motorway jaunt. Weather conditions were tricky, but we pressed on once clear of the traffic. I’d had some concerns after my initial test drive but on the motorway, I was regularly surprised by the difficulty in maintaining a faithful line. I take pride in driving with a (usually) smooth style and was keen to disguise the problem. I wanted to listen to Alan discussing our MG3 sports suspension results. But then he laughed out loud….
He apologised for changing the subject but obviously felt the need to point out that either the wheel alignment was awry, it was blowing a gale, or I had forgotten how to drive. He is a seasoned dynamics guru and I congratulated him for recognising my work rate!
In my defence, I could point out that the problem was with the test tyres. It would require a pressure tweak to obtain a satisfactory result. However, it reminded me of many times together that Alan and I have detected problems from the passenger seat. It can be very revealing to observe the driver and to see how they deal with dynamic issues. These can be real problems or perhaps the need to get used to a car which has been set up with a different ‘flavour’.
A few days later, I did my final back to back test having established appropriate tyre pressures to solve the motorway problem. The plan was to do three loops of our test route using a consistent style, the third being on my preferred pressures. So why did I find myself doing a fourth?
A hardening of the engine note as more revs were used in each gear. Firmer braking, with the pleasure of smooth heel and toe down changes. A more incisive rolling of the wrists, asking more of the car laterally. The joy of driving.
Work? Not when the car is working as you wish.