Castle Combe FF1600 champion Luke Cooper and engine supplier Barnett Racing Engines have clashed after Cooper’s struggles in the Walter Hayes Trophy using a unit borrowed from another competitor.
Cooper’s original engine failed during Formula Ford Festival testing two weeks ago, which left him using an engine borrowed from Alan Slater’s Nike Mk4 for the two end-of-season events. The Swift Cooper driver then experienced frustrations with the performance of the unit.
“We’ve just not got the mid-range power of anybody else,” Cooper said during the WHT.
“We’re catching all up in the corners and then losing out on the next straight. So it’s very difficult and very frustrating. In fairness, Barnett Racing Engines really tried to help improve it [the engine] overnight but unfortunately weren’t able to.
“I’m ecstatic with the car itself. Even in the semi-final we were only a couple of tenths off the fastest lap. It’s just so frustrating knowing the potential of what could have happened this weekend.”
Neil Barnett of Barnett Racing Engines said to FF1600website however that there is only “half a horsepower” difference between the two units.
“It’s not like he’s trying to drive around with a road car engine,” he said. “We’re not talking major differences.”
Barnett added that much of the difference was due to engine being tailored to Slater. “Alan’s coming back into the sport after 10 years away and you tune the engine for the driver,” Barnett said.
“You’ve got to be thinking ‘it’s going to run in a historic car, it’s not going to be as quick out of the corners as a modern car, therefore you need a bit more torque from the engine to give it more kick out of the corners’, but the consequence is you lose a bit at the top end of the straights.
“The way the engine is configured is really determined in the build stage; it’s not something where you can just play around with little details like ignition timing or carburation.”
Barnett reported that Cooper was aware of the difference when he took the engine. “Absolutely, there was no question that they knew what the situation was.
“Unfortunately they don’t have a spare engine which we feel is a mistake,” Barnett added. “You don’t generally try and tackle things like the National championship and the Combe championship in one season, and the major events at the end of the year with just one engine.
“You look at Michael Eastwell who had a problem with his engine in a [WHT] heat, his [Kevin Mills Racing] team put in another top engine and he was still able to produce the lap times.
“With Swift it’s their chassis; Luke’s the owner’s son so it’s almost inevitable that the car’s not going to be at fault and the driver’s not going to be at fault. It’s going to be something that they’ve bought from somebody else and that’s going to be the engine.”