Whilton Mill February Test Club Meeting
Back to Whilton again and hoping for a better final than last month where I was taken out on the 1st lap at Turn 1.
Six sessions of testing on Saturday and the weather looked to be a factor as it was looking unsettled.
The team were working from last month's settings and we were out for the first test session which went well. The usual fine tuning as the day went on was carried out and before we knew it we were at the last session.
Sitting on the grid and it started spitting with rain and there were mechanics and karts changing tyre from slick to wets to get the drivers out. I know we won't get this done in time so just sit waitign to go....until I get a tap on the shoulder and have to get out. I think it's to go and get wets on but the powers that be have decided there is no point in going out for the session as we won't learn much from it and it is supposed to be dry on race day. I was disappointed not to be going out for my last session but at least it means we do not have to prep a wet and dirty kart for race day.
Race day is here and we do the usual track walk and drivers briefing and then it's out for 5 minute practice. It had rained over night and the track was still wet so out on wet tyres. Felt good in practice and was setting good times and in the last two laps hit traffic. If I'd had a clear run I was confident I could have been at the top of the timing table but as it was posted the 4th quickest time, which was fine.
We waited for the heat lists to be published and I was in 1, 3 & 4 so let's get the 1st heat out of the way then a bit of a wait for the 3rd and a quick turn around to the 4th.
Heat 1 I got grid slot 25 so objective is to make up as many places as possible. Still a little wet on one corner so the meeting is still classed as open so out on wet tyres. Lights go out away we go. For this race I just get on with the job and see the kart in front and go in, pull away, next kart...in.....and so on. At the flag I find myself in P7 having made up 18 places. I had hoped for more but will take that.
After a long wait it was my second heat; Heat 3.
Here I started off P11 so a bit better and getting towards the business end of the grid and somewhere I can get some proper work done.
We are all on slick tyres now and as we leave for the sighting lap a slight spit is felt on the faces of the spectators.......yep it's very lightly drizzling as the lights go out. I nail it and start to make up positions, 6 in lap 1 and into P5. Another 2 by lap 3 and I'm in 2nd and much quicker than the drivers around me.
Lap 4 I take the lead and stretch a 0.8 second lead and take the win when the flag is shown after 9 laps...happy days.
Straight up after a very short 20 minute lunch break is my last heat; Heat 3 and I'm starting off P8.
We go and Lap 1 I make up 3 places into P5 but so has my main competition who has hit the front and has clear track to try and pull away. I need to clear the 3 drivers in front to chase down the leader ASAP but the guys racing are no slouches. Lap 2 and another place up the leaderboard, Lap 5 and I pass the two drivers and slot into P2 and set about chasing down the leader who has a 1.2 second lead. Over the next few laps I hunt him down but just run out of time and finish next to him going over the line. P2, not bad, would have liked the win but good.
My heats meant I would start the final in P2 on the grid so not pole but a front row none the less. for the Final I needed to stay out of any trouble during the first part of the race then set about either trying to break away or getting myself in the right position to attack for the win when time.
Lights out and I get off the line and hold my P2 position.
Into Lap 2 and leading is my main competition and my teammates are close behind so coming into 'the boot' corner I make my move and take the lead pushing the leader back into the pack behind. This is good and my teammates slot in behind me as we come down the straight and we set about breaking away from the field. My competition has other ideas and goes back into 3rd but a teammate goes straight back in relegating him to 4th and it looks like my main competition has an issue and is dropping down the order and retires to the pits.
After a couple of laps the 2nd group has caught us and the #7 seeded driver takes the 4th spot .
Now it is a 4 kart train and we start to build a buffer from the chasing pack, I'm at the front trying to lead them away and we gradually eek a little gap but then the closing evolution of the race is upon us and the P4 driver makes his move to work up the order and over a couple of laps ends up in P2. The distance between us concertinas between 2 kart lengths and my bumper and luckily I can pull a slight gap at all the main overtaking points and with clever kart placement he never really gets a clear shot at a pass. Into the last 4 laps and my teammate goes for a move and gets squeezed by the P2 driver and there is contact which ends up dropping the P2 and P3 driver down the order but allows and old teammate, Theo Micouris, through and he is flying. I've got a reasonable gap going into the last 2 laps but the gap is coming down hand over fist and onto the last lap Theo gets to my bumper up the long hill. Into Christmas corner I defend and it's now seesntial I make sure I know where the threat is and where I need to position my kart to ensure I don't leave the door open for him to pass or get the undercut on me.
I'm defending round the next few corners and we go into the last complex and I have to take a defensive line and Theo goes for the undercut.......I see him trying to come round the outside and hit the gas, leaving him just enough space but he has got to really want this to get past.......I send it into the last corner as hard as I can but Theo has the run on me and is now overlapping my bumper as we start down the straight. I focus on the line whilst keeping aware of where he is and I take the WIN by 3/4 of a kart length.........FANTASTIC!!!!
As always I've got to say thanks to ARC Audio Visual for getting me on the grid, Zip Karts for the Vanquish chassis, RPM Motors for the engines, my team Global Karting for all the work they put into things to make this possible and Stu Stretton the house photographer at Whilton who captures some great shots.
Next..... on to TVKC for the last round of the Winter Championships. Any of the top 5 can win the Championship with a win in the final so a close finish to the winter series.