Will Clay Pigeon be the 3rd win in a row?
After a great meeting at TVKC last weekend we head south to Clay Pigeon for another bedding in round in preparation for the Super 1 round later in the year.
A majority of the S1 drivers are attending so it will be interesting to see if I am as strong as when I last visited in February.
Saturday testing commences and the track is damp so out on inters and it feels good. The weather held throughout the day so we got test seesions dialling in every time out. The grid was strong and not much to separate the usual drivers who are at the sharp end. I took confidence that although others were running on new tyres, some even scrubbing new sets every session! I was on an old race set and still felt strong.
Race day came and unlike Saturday testing, the rain had come at 4am and the track was wet.
The grids were published and I had drawn the last 3 heats (3 out of 4 heats and a final was the format):
Heat 2 (my first) I would start in P19
Heat 3 P25
Heat 4 Pole
As usual the goal is to get a good position for my start in the final so I need to finish as high up the order as possible.
I line up on Row 10 and I've got an intermediate setup on the kart but the track is starting to dry slightly. It's a rolling start, unlike most clubs nowadays, so we go and I'm off.......1st Lap and it's in, in, in managing to move up to P7 as I go over the line, next lap and into 6th and another on the following lap into P5. There's a gap to the front 4 and I don't have any other drivers to work with so I have to span the clean air on my own. Problem is the track is drying and as the race goes on I've got too much grip in the kart..... I'm moving forward but the P6 driver is catching me as things go on.....Lap 7 and I get relegated to P6 and try as I can I can't get to him as we are just not setup for the current track conditions so this is where I take the flag. Not the end of the world but I was confident I could have got to the front. Another driver, my main competition, received an exclusion for a non-confirmance with his kart so I moved up to P5 after the ruling.
Out for my second heat and as we are waiting to go on the grid it becomes apparent that a setup change is needed as the track is drying before our eyes. We make as many changes as we can to get the kart in the ballpark and get on the grid as time is short. Not an ideal setup but something I can work with.
Starting from P25 we go and on Lap 1 I manage to get to P14 so a long way to go. Lap 2 and it's P12 and over the next 4 laps I catch and pass another 4 drivers moving up to P8 with 4 more laps to go. I'm pushing as hard as I can to catch the front group and on the last lap there's a fight at the front and I manage to capitalise on this and move up to P5 when I take the flag.....seems to be something with 5s today... Seeded 5th, heat 1 5th, heat 2 5th.
Heat 3 and I'm running off Pole so need to win this to have a chance at Pole for the final. We go and I hold the lead at the end of the first lap with my teammate behind. We try to push away but by lap 9 another teammate has latched on to the bumper making us a 3 kart Global Karting train. It's a team decision to all take a safe points haul to make the best for our starting positions in the final so this is how we take the flag.
The hard work in the heats has worked and I've taken Pole position for the final, with one teammate in P5. The weather has changed again and it's raining and the track is the wettest it has been. We go and I need to try to make a break from as many karts as possible. I had hoped that the other front runners would have taken this approach but it would seem they want to race from lap one and the P2 driver overtakes me into T1....This is not to plan so into the hairpin I go back in to take the lead and I and the P3 driver try to make a gap.
This plan does not work as the P3 driver is just hanging on and I'm working on my own and I'm not benefitting from a push me so the front 5 karts are all in the running with other fast chargers coming through the pack.
I'm at the front and on lap 8 the inevitable happens and my main competition catches me and goes straight in to take the lead.
He has caught us at such a rate that my team are worried that I may not be able to keep with him as there's a few laps left. He passes me and I need to step it up a gear. Now I've got another driver to gauge from and I up my pace to within 1/10th of the times he has been setting, game on.
We are pulling away from all the other drivers on the track making a gap of 1.6 seconds in 6 laps and I'm getting ready to make my move. Last Lap board is shown and the leader starts to drive defensively to stop me making a pass but I've been working out his weak points over the last few laps and as expected he defends heavily on the run towards the hairpin. As soon as he's looked back at me I pull out wide keeping the throttle nailed and as he continues to slow I pass him round the outside and once clear and in front then turn in to take the corner.........as my front wheels go over the apex I feel a hit in my rear quarter which sends my back wide, I steer into it to catch the spin before I lose control and the kart spins but this slows me down and forces me to run wide and allows the other driver to pass me to take the lead again.
I only have 1/2 a lap left so get my head down and try to catch him, I'm gaining but not close enought to make a move before the flag.
I come off track and I'm disappointed to have had the win taken from me by contact but my dad is reassuring and very positive about my drive. We go back to the team to start clearing up and stripping the kart and get told that we have been called to the Clerk of the Course' office. We attend and apparently they have received two individual reports of an incident on track at the hairpin on the last lap. The Clerk interviews both drivers and an in depth review of events takes place with witnesses being called, diagrams being drawn and different viewpoints being stated.
Long story short the other driver is penalised for the contact and gaining an unfair advantage and I am awarded the Win....
That's 3 wins in the last 3 meetings and I'm feeling really good at the moment.
Big thanks to Global Karting, Zip Karts, RPM Race Engines and ARC Audio Visual.