Super One test meeting at Shenington Kart Club
The penultimate round of the Super One British Championships is at Shenington Kart Circuit so we thought it best to get some practice in here as I have not been to this circuit since Super One last year.
The meeting was busier than anticipated with a number of S1 drivers and teams having the same idea. This weekend we were flying solo, just dad and I as the team were split between Rowrah in Cumbria (1st Round of the Iame British Championships) and Buckmore Park in Kent (Club round as other teammates had signed up for this).
It's been a while since we have been out at a meeting without the team and we were really looking forward to it although it would have been more confirtable if it were at a track we know as this would be the first time at Shenington on the new chassis and only our 3rd time there so setup would be key.
Out for Saturday practice and the weather was changing all day so getting stable conditions to allow us to dial in the chassis was not happening. We worked through the day with dad making changes based on what I asked for and we seemed to be competitive so all I needed to do was get back into the swing of how to drive this track.
Before we knew it testing was over and it was time to prepare the kart for race day, which would hopefully be more settled.
Race day arrives and it looks to be better. Out for 3 lap practice and the changes we made to the kart were spot on, feeling really good and although driving up to the front and pushing our own air we were still setting respectable times.
We were not drawn in Heat 1, and got heat2 P8, heat 3 P21 and heat 4 P10 so an OK draw all things considered.
We watched heat 1 and it was clear that a handful of the Super One drivers were the main competition of the day so we needed to ensure that we matched or improved on their finishing positions to get a good slot for the final.
Heat 2 arrived and we roll out for the sighting lap, unlike many clubs they do rolling starts (rather than standing which is more common nowadays) at Shenington so back to the old school ways and we are off.
I look to make the front as soon as possible and follow the driver in P6 through and we both hit the front before the end of lap 1. I decide that I will push him away to take away competition from the chasing pack and this is a comfortable race as for the next 10 laps I just concentrate on staying as close to the leader through the corners so I can push him on the straights...which works as we build a 5 second gap to the 3rd placed driver.
Last lap board is shown so now it's time to see if I can make it past, into the hairpin I try the undercut and it works to bring me alongside on the exit but the other driver moves towards me to squeeze me, I could stand my ground and risk contact but it is a heat in a club meeting and a safe 2nd is the sensible way to go so I let him have the higher ground on this occasion.....we continue the lap with him defending and out of the last corner I try and get the run on him to the line but come over in 2nd 6/100ths of a second behind.
Heat 3 and a start from P21 means a lot of work to do. We start and into the first corner and there is a major incident with at least 5 karts involved. I look for a way through but there are just too many karts spun or spinning so I see a gap on the inside and head for that but it closes too fast and there's a tyre wall directly in front of me....I look right and see a service road through the inside of the track so I take this to avoid the contact but it's shingle or similar so really slow and not doing much for my tyres. As I exit I see the karts in front clearing the next corner and driving away, a quick look behind confirms I'm the last of the karts that made it through without contact/spinning so I really need to do something now as I'm in P23.
I keep calm and set about catching the ones in front, Lap 1 and I'm up to P16 and really flying, the tyres have cleaned up and the kart feels good. Over the next 9 laps I make up 14 places to slot into P2 and I am coming at the leader big time setting a lap time which is at least 0.5 seconds quicker with one lap being 9/10ths quicker!
Unfortunately the last lap flag comes out one lap too soon for my liking and I need to be careful of the P3 driver so I take a defensive line at the end of the lap. It turns out that it was not defensive enough as on the last corner the P3 driver comes up my inside with his 2 inside wheels on the grass and makes contact with my sidepod shoving me wide and taking 2nd place.....so much for rules and track limits but P3 from P21, the 1st corner melee and setting a lap time half a second quicker than anyone else on track, I'll take that.
Heat 4 and I was starting off P10 and it was pretty much a carbon copy of Heat 2 with me pushing away the same driver......the only difference being this time I was going to get the job done so on the 2nd from last lap into the chicane I make my move and go in hot to outbrake him......he senses this so leaves his braking very late but I'm committed so I wait for him to brake then haul on the anchors.....I run wide and he gets past again so head down and recoup for another shot on the last lap. We go over the start line for the final time and he's fully defensive so I take a wide sweeping line into turns 1 and 2 to get the run on him and I keep it pinned around the outside of turn 3 and take the lead, I must just say thanks for the respect he showed me during this move. I get past and start to drive a defensive line and manage to hold on to the win as we cross the line with him 8/100ths of a second behind.
The heats have given me P3 for the final which is good, anywhere in the front 3 or 4 rows is OK but row 2 is good.
We go and I hit the front and have got a few lengths breathing space but the P2 & 3 drivers work together to catch me on lap 2 and I get shuffled back to P2. Time to do what seemed to be working and try and break away from the pack. The issue was the leader did not have the pace so I would have to do all the work if we were to get away as if I took the lead again he would surely just go in again and race us backwards. I push and over the next 10 laps I build up a 3.2 second gap to the P3 driver. Last lap and time to win this......the leader goes defensive so into the hairpin I stay wide and send it in as hard as I can and get him on the undercut but as we are exiting he turns left and smashes into the side of my kart sending me airbourne and off track! I rejoin and I'm still slightly ahead but we are side by side with his nose level with my elbow... into the chicane and I have the inside line so he has to give and I have the lead on to the back straight. I look over my shoulder to keep track of where he is and as we turn into the last complex of corners I'm defensive, I hold him off and now it's just the right then left and onto the straight.... I turn in having covered off the inside and as I hit the apex I get hit from behind which pushes me wide...I hold the slide but this has allowed him to move up the inside and now he is turning into me to force me off track.....I lose drive on the grass and he gets past......... I take the flag in P2 0.3 seconds behind.
Not the outcome I had hoped for but looking at all the positives I feel very strong here; dad got the setup nailed, I bedded into the track quickly setting uber quick laptimes and I know when we come for Super One it will be a different matter as there's not much chance they will get away with the dirty driving and smashing.
Thanks to dad for spannering, Zip Karts for my chassis, RPM Race Engines and ARC Audio Visual.
Next...off to Rissington, another track I've never been to before in preparation for Round 1 of the British Championships there in a couple of weeks.