TVKC Winter Series Final Round
The culmination of the Winter Championship at Trent Valley Kart Club and it is very close with any one of 4 drivers realistically in the hunt for the top spot & Champion title.
I am equal top with Greenall (64) on 167 Points, Bearman (O) on 166 in 3rd and Rigby in 4th on 163 so with the points available win-60, 2nd-57, 3rd-55, 4th-54 it was all to play for and going to be a tough meeting.
The weather forecast was unsettled so another meeting with inconsistent conditions and Friday was wet. I did not test on Friday but a number of others were out aclimatising to the track conditions so I hoped to get as much running on race day in the dry as possible then fall back on my wet driving if needed. The new kart is a bit more tricky than the Eagle but still quick :-) .
Testing on Saturday started on a damp track so I took the opportunity to scrub in some wet tyres ready for the forecasted rain on Sunday. The track was however drying very quickly so I only got 1 run out on brand new wet tyres but this would have to do as I had no option as the track had a dry line by the time we had our 2nd test session.
Testing was good and I felt strong as I was driving well making progress from wherever I started the session to the front.
Timed Qualifying is on Saturday in the winter at TVKC so it was 5 test sessions and we were into quali.
7 minute qualifying and it was going to be a game of tactics as grid placement for the heats was of paramount importance this weekend.
The green flag is shown and the pit lights go green and a bunch of karts leave the grid but over half are still waiting for one of the quick drivers to blink and go. I'm happy to sit there until one lap to go as my out pace is very good.....someone decides the can't wait any longer and goes which sparks a rush out of the pits........ we go about 3/4 of the way through the second pack.
I need to make sure I get to work with one of the faster drivers and use them to get a quick time but within 2 laps I'm virtually at the front of the group and this position will never set a competitive time due to the tow (slipstreaming) so I sacrifice the lap and drop back a way and start to go to work again.
There's loads of traffic and it takes a lap to get into a workable position but by this point time is running short, 1:30 on the clock and I'm sitting in 21st out of 22 drivers, time to pull it out!
I drop back and start my run, I only need one lap and this will have to be it..........I nail the corners and tow up to my competition this year and get to him 1/2 way round the lap but he's very experienced and just let's off the gas a little earlier into corners to slow me up slightly as he's alread set a front row time, I have no choice but to maintain my position and use him as best I can and as we go over the line for the last lap we set the fastest lap.....equal times!
This puts me on the front row and gives the team a bunch of stress by leaving it to the last lap(lol) but job done.
So Sunday arrives with a forecast of torrential rain........but looks fine at 7am?
No 3 lap practice and I'm drawn in heats 1 & 3 so we are 2nd race out and the weather is still dry.
I'm on P2 of the grid and feeling good. Lights go out and we are off...slightly slow start and my new teammate slots into 2nd and I've secured 3rd but my main competition has made a little break and has 1/2 a second on us so time to push up to catch him. On lap 2 we reach him and my teammate hesitates so at turn 2 I go in...no time for messing around and try to make a break for it.
Lap 4 and I get pushed back to 2nd so I sit in P2 for a couple of laps and on lap 6 I go for the lead but the move slows me down and allows my other teammate, Josh McLean to take the lead from P4.
I move up to the bumper and try to push away with my teammate and for the next 3 laps, this is the plan..until the last lap.....we go in to the last lap and it's time to take control so I push around the loop and decide it's time to win this....into hairpin 1 I send it up the inside and take the lead from my teammate and make sure that I get a good exit to protect myself into hairpin 2.
Out of hairpin 2 i've built a resonable gap whilch I hold to the flag and take the WIN!... great start to race day.
The 2nd heat and it's been pouring with rain so fully wet and I'm starting from Pole. Lights go and I get a great start and I'm clear into the loop. I go in hard and manage to get a gap to the P2 runner which I concentrate on stretching as much as possible and by the time I go across the line for the first lap it's 1.1 seconds.
As always I don't expect to keep this with the chasing pack behind but some infighting allows the P2 runner to make a break and stretch a 3 second lead to teh 3rd place driver on lap 2. It was now a matter of seeing if i can maintain my lead from the P2 runner. The gap yoyos slightly over the next 7 laps between 1.1 and 0.6 seconds but over the line I take the win 0.99 seconds in front of the P2 driver and a full 6.88 seconds in front of the P3 driver.
The strong drives in the heats put me on Pole for the final and the track is still damp.
We start and I maintain the lead until hairpin 2 when I'm relegated back to P3 so it's time to push and try and break the field. The two drivers in front have different ideas which works to my advantage as they are squabbling for the lead and this allows me to stay in play.
On lap 6 my teammate decides he wants to make progress toward the front and goes in to push me back to 4th so now it's time to go to work as I can't afford to let others into the mix now. When my teammate runs wide on the 90 right I keep my line and slip up the inside into P3 on lap 8 and now, with 2 laps to go I make my push. Lap 9 I move into P2 going into the last lap and follow the leader down the straight. He is taking a very defensive line so into the loop at the last minute I pull out and take a wide line and get the run up the inside going into the left over the bridge and into the lead.
The drivers behind try to follow me through and this give me a little gap, maybe 3 kart lengths so coming down the back straight into the hairpin I know I need to go in hard, which I do and negate any overtake attempt there......same into hairpin 2 and just need to get my head down and nail the chicane and 90 right...yes with 2 kart lengths gap now....round the last corner and I know the kart behind is far enough bak not to out drag me to the line.........my 1st final WIN at TVKC!!
This also means that I have won the TVKC Winter Championship and as an added bonus that I didn't know I received a free entry to the 2017 Kartmasters British Kart Grand Prix later this year.
It's been a very close 4 round championship and great to come out on top so I'd like to thank ARC Audio Visual & IT Solutions, Global Karting, RPM Engines, Zip Karts and my dad for spannering for me.
Photos courtesy of Chris Walker, thanks Chris.