Test club meeting at Buckmore Park
Back to a track I've not visited since the British Championship round there in June last year, so a long time.
Arriving early as I was on the half-term break so could test on Friday and was looking forward to it as 8 months since turning a wheel at Buckmore is a long time.
Out for testing and I spent the 1st few sessions bedding in to the track. For the remainder of the day we worked on kart setup to try and dial into another new track with the Vanquish chassis.
In testing we looked good but wanted to find a little more. At the end of the day all things considered we were in a good position going into race weekend.
Saturday testing and trying differing setups, some working, some not but valuable track time and with every session completed bedding into the challenging circuit.
Sunday race day is here and I'm looking forward to getting into the racing.
No practice just straight into Timed Qualifying....Green flag and we go. The idea is to let a few others go and build a gap then work with another driver and hunt them down. The plan worked but a little too quickly as by lap 2 I'd caught the other drivers and had hit the front, albeit settign the fastest lap for the opening 3 laps but as we know this would not last.
In the end I qualified 11th which was disappointing but putting that behind me I focussed on Heat 1.
Arriving at the grid for Heat 1 and confusion with none of the officials knowing who was in which position. At first I was told to start from P6, which was clearly wrong as the best I'd expected was P11. Having waited nearly an hour I was then told to start on P21!!
It was clear the Timing Official had made a monumental error and just listed all of the qualifying times and cut the groups in half?
This meant that if you qualified 15th you would start on Pole in the second group! I was not the only driver voicing my concern as 3/4 of the grid and teams were advising thte officials that it was incorrect.
All of the protests were ignored by the officials and the race was started.
Lights out and needed a major push to make up as many places as possible as to try and make up 10 places just to get to my proper starting position would be hard enough. I got into the groove and just kept chasing down the driver in front, passing and going after the next and when I took the flag I'd made my way up to P7 - a gain of 14 places which I was happy with.
Next was the Pre-Final and a much better prospect from a P7 start. I go on the lights and make my way to the front and after a lap or so my main competition this year slots in behind me and I wonder if he will push so we cna try to break the group but the answer to that is no, he goes in and relegates me to 2nd. A lap or so later a teammate goes in and I'm down to 4th or 5th but there's still a few minutes left so I play the game and slot on to the back of the tran for a breather before I make my push.
Next lap I go in to 3rd and then into 2nd with a view of getting a gap before I make my bid for the win. I push the leader but my teammates behind hang on, just, which limits my options slightly as what I want to ensure is a good starting position for the final and a worst case row 2 is much better than than a P5 finish and possible row 4 or 5 start so I decide as there's no points or championship involved to take the P2 finish.
Final, last race of the day and it was startign to get dark so the race was shortened to the same length as the heats. I'm on P3 for the start and the lights go out. I hit the throttle but don't get the instant drive I need and the P4 driver slots in front as I get hit in the rear by the 12 karts behind me. This give me a shove up to the P4 driver but then quickly turns in to loading as we go through the 1st turn and I get shoved over the back of the kart in front and drop to P7.
I get doing and after half a lap it's clear that a change we made to setup was not workign and I had nearly zero grip and could not push to catch the karts in front yet. I needed to try and get the tyres to come on and start working so kept pushing and waiting as hoepfully at some point they'd come to me.
Mid race I'm getting caught by drivers behind who go in on me relegatign me another position or 2 but I go straight back in as I need to keep them behind until my tyres come. This is my goal and every lap is counting down and I'm just hoping and then with 2 laps to go I suddenly feel the grip start to come from the tyres and nail it through the next corner..........and I get round. I'm a way back, like a couple of seconds but now I can nail it and I’m pretty sure the front pack will start to race and fight for the podium places.....which will bring me straight back into play.
As I go down the hill I can see I am catching the drivers in front, who as expected, are now fighting for the win and slowing themselves up. Into the right hand uphill hairpin a Garda I’m just within range at 3 kart lengths back and decide that if I don’t try it here it will be too late to get into the mix so I keep the throttle pinned and send it inside my teammate and hit the brakes hard at the last minute once alongside.This puts me right in the mix now but as we go up the hill it’s the last lap and the drivers in front go fully defensive.
Directly in front of me is my other teammate so as we file into Turn 1 I see the 2 drivers ahead of him run wide so I push him through and up the inside, that’s 2 places and then the next two are side by side on the middle and outside of the right hander so again we keep a tight line and go up the inside.Unfortunately the driver in the middle looks and see’s my teammate going up the inside and turns in to his which causes contact and the pair sliding out and into the driver on the outside.......that puts me into P2 with my teammate behind me and others on his bumper.
I look forward to see where the leader is and only have 1 lap to catch him so look behind to see who’s where and they are all still on my bumper. I think of pulling out to take a wide line to catch the leader but know as soon as I give even a half kart width the driver behind will be in there without an invitation so I have to take a defensive line which happens pretty much for the rest of the lap.
So at the flag I take 2nd which with all things considered (the P21 start, the loading at the start of the final and not having the kart ideally setup) I’m happy with. Throw into the mix that all the other drivers at the sharp end are pretty much regulars here and it’s been a positive weekend.
Thanks as usual to all those who help me get on to the grid and also on to the podium including ARC Audio Visual, ZipKarts, Global Karting & RPM Engines.