Dartford Crossing users beware! Dart Charge could knowingly or unknowingly be sending out illegitimate fines to which without evidence such as receipts and detailed records of crossings you may not have a leg to stand on to fight the case. Take it from me that these cases can be immensely stressful. It’s possible that people are being issued illegitimate fines and paying them simply because they can’t remember themselves if they used the crossing on such a date.
I’ve been a user of the Dartford Crossing for 10 years and use it mainly for business. I’d heard many stories from acquaintances and the media since the introduction of the automated tolling system of fines being issued incorrectly, even fines being issued where a direct debit was in place and then not so long ago I had an incident myself whereby Dart Charge issued me two penalty charge notices. One for an outbound crossing and the other for the return crossing on the same day.
Luckily for business purposes I do keep detailed records and receipts for each crossing so I sent them the receipt and challenged the PCN. They then replied saying that my receipt was for a payment that had been reconciled to crossings made on a previous day. I checked the date and time of these crossings and found that I had been walking in central London that day, my car parked in a secure location and the keys upon my person. Furthermore the times of the crossing didn’t correlate with my usual behaviour, I use the crossing for work and would typically be a number of hours before making the return journey whereas the times Dart Charge stated were within 20 minutes of each other.
From this point on the case had to be fought via the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, independently run. This involved both myself and Dart Charge explaining the case and uploading our evidence. To anyone going through this process currently, stay calm, write detailed information thoroughly explaining your case and upload any evidence that will help prove your innocence, I was able to upload my schedule of the day in question.
Needless to say after some weeks Dart Charge were unable to supply any evidence and perhaps more surprisingly uploaded photos of my car with a date stamp from completely the wrong day. Finally after much of what could have been easily avoidable stress I received a notification from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal to say that the case had been dropped, no explanation was given as to why.
I then sent a written letter to Dart Charge in pursuit of an apology and to hopefully shed some light on the cause of the situation and to be reassured it wouldn’t happen again, after much chasing I finally received a pretty generic email whcih went no way to explaining what had happened or how it would be prevented in future. Thankfully after much more chasing I did receive quite a good written appology explaining how the situation had arisen.
I’m sure we can all appreciate that there are going to be teething issues with any new system but in my opinion if it’s obvious a system has issues you don’t issue fines to your customers until you are sure the issues have been resolved. I guess the advise I’d give to any Dartford Crossing useris to keep detailed records and receipts of each crossing.
Hire Kart racers and Track Day enthusiasts take note, the following effects you as well as race licensed competitors.
MSA some time ago released a ruling or more a reminder of the rule “There must be no alteration to the structure of a helmet” which in effect stops the mounting of cameras such as Go Pro’s to a helmet. You can however still mount a camera on a shoulder harness but not a chest harness as could cause injury in a crash.
I was amazed to find that some of the top motorsport stores haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and started selling these shoulder harnesses yet, however they are readily available on the likes of Amazon.
Be aware that the harness must be designed for the camera that is being mounted to it, for example it must have the Go Pro mounting as part of its structure.
Its also worth noting that any existing stuck on camera mountings must be removed from a helmet, some of our team have been asked by marshalls at our local kart circuit to do so already. This can be tricky as 3M glue is very strong but can be achieved by heating them up with a hair dryer.
On a similar subject suction mounts can no longer be used inside or outside a vehicle, instead a fixed mount must be used. This is due to some coming lose during racing.
It can all seam a little annoying but at the end of the day without rulings like these we wouldnt have the safety that we have today in motorsport. We will be taking these rules seriously, I already have my harness on order, now I just need to try and get my old mount off.
For information specific to Buckmore Park, see the following link…
On a seperate note you can now sign up for email alerts of proposed new regulations on the MSA website. This gives members of the motorsport community the chance to have their say over the proposed regulations. To sign up for alerts, visit http://www.msauk.org/consultations. Please be aware that the automated email might go into your spam folder, in which case you may need to add it to your ‘safe senders’ list for the future.
Weekendtoyz Road and Race (subsidiary of Weekendtoyz Racing) attended their first group event, a rolling road day at Hayes Dynotech in Erith.
Collectively we produced 2162 bhp. Scott Talyor winning a trophy for highest percentage gain over standard horsepower at 89% with his fully forged Nissan 200sx and Nick Harwood winning a trophy for highest bhp with his Nissan Skyline R33 GTR boasting 361 bhp. A good day was had by all and some hidden issues were uncovered with some of the cars including the fact that the chip in Darren’s BMW is about as much use as a chocolate tea pot!
|Name||Make||Model||Standard BHP||Estimated BHP||Actual BHP||Actual Torque||BHP Gain||Percentage Gain Over Standard|
|Gareth Keeler||Vauxhall||Astra mk4 coupe 888||188||270||282.7||303||94.7||50.37234043|
|Josh Dudley||VW||Shirroco TDI||170||200||204.2||316||34.2||20.11764706|
|Darren Long||BMW||120D Coupe||174||210||173.1||300||-0.9||-0.517241379|
|Nick Harwood||Nissan||Skyline R33 GTR||280||340||361.4||295||81.4||29.07142857|
|Andy Pemble||Ford||Focus RS mk1||212||290||309.4||345||97.4||45.94339623|
|Richard Greenway||Ford||Mondeo ST220||226||210||232||202||6||2.654867257|
After some doubt finally the go ahead was given for Aldington. Already having a good entry with Stealth we decided to re-enter it again with no further modifications other than some rust treatment and removing some damaged decals.
We advertised the chassis of Graviton in the hope that it would be built to race again. Asa purchased the chassis for a small sum, all of which went to the charity. He then set about fitting front and rear wheels, a steering assembly, some mirrors and a Karate Kid paint job, aptly renamed karate skid.
One week prior to the soapbox derby I tied the knot with my now wife, Helen. A week in Disneyland on honeymoon to then return the evening before the derby and although soaking wet, it all went rather well. There was a smaller turnout of spectators but still many flocked to the village of Aldington despite the poor conditions. We were pleased to see Asa turn up with our old soapbox ready to be raced again. The rain died down and the racing began with an almost life sized colourful elephant racing down the hill against a scaled down Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a good mix of both crowd pleasing and fast soapboxes.
I was to drive in our first race, and with the commentator announcing that my widow was half way down the hill I was off. Gaz push starting me to the best of his abilities on a very slippery track. The run went well, was smooth and managed to avoid any incidents. Gaz would take the wheel for the second run, unfortunately I couldn’t give him as good a push as he had given me which probably cost him a couple of seconds but none the less our combined times put us in 6th place. This put us into the six man knockout to which only four turned up. Gaz again took the wheel much to Helens relief. She’d only just gotten married and didn’t want to lose me yet. Luckily coming last in this meant we came fourth overall. So despite the weather it wasn’t a bad day at all.
The above video contains POV filming complete with telemetry data and footage of all other competitors
A third track day at Lydden Hill two years on from the previous. Gaz and Daz both armed with their road cars to see how they would behave on the track in comparison to the Mondeo in a single 20 min session.
The BMW pushing about 212bhp wasn’t bad performance wise, and the M Sport suspension was excellent however the run flat tires and the brakes were really not to be desired on the track. After less than 10 laps a black flag was given as the brakes could be smelt from the dummy grid. After a few minutes literally letting the smoke clear and allowing them to cool it was ready to hit the track again. The fastest lap was 56.557 on lap 7, roughly 2 seconds slower than the Mondeo in 2013.
Gaz was taking it very easy in the Astra, however on the straights the extra performance from recent modifications and the remap the day before was evident. The car now boasting 300bhp was pulling away fast setting its best lap on lap 3 at 55.656, still 1 second slower than the Mondeo!
I think we can now see what a success the Mondeo was, a car that had 130bhp standard in the 90’s leaving a modern BMW with M Sport equipment on it and some basic tuning by 2 seconds and an Astra developed by 888 racing and since tuned to 300bhp by 1 second. Additionally Daz and Gaz both now know that whilst race brakes are a pain on the road, they certainly are a must on the track. None the less a good day was had by all.
Vauxhall Astra 888 – Hot Lap
BMW 120D M Sport – Hot Lap
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53.582 – Fastest Dry Lap
54.928 – Fastest Wet Lap
An interesting day at Thruxton, and I believe the first time I’ve been under race conditions as opposed to time attack which requires a real change to your racing style as you struggle to hold your position or better still gain places, whereas with time attack position is irrelevant and in some instances you want to distance yourself from traffic in either direction to enable you to set a hot lap with no karts in your way. We all pulled our karts up on the grid, lights would sequence red, off, red, green and off we went, the whole grid roughly 11 abreast into the first corner, and inevitably on some of the heats an incident soon followed. The start of the day was very wet and a particular 270 degree left hander was almost impossible, I could only enter at a very slow pace or try and slide into it getting the rear right tire to grip on the corrugated curb. As the day dried out we managed to get some much quicker laps, the quickest driver setting a 51.756. All in all a great day at a circuit ran at a similar standard to Buckmore, in fact the karts they use are the same as the old thunder karts from Buckmore, excellent power onto the longest straight which you emerge onto sideways as you straight line an S bend.