Super 1 British Championships Round 3 - Whilton Mill
Round 3 and a bit more local but it could be the hardest round yet as many of the drivers race at Whilton Mill regularly and there are a high number of drivers who test here on a weekly basis.
Testing was difficult due to constantly changing weather conditions which led to only 1 dry test session. The wet testing was good and I felt very fast, the dry.......also fast so this was good as the weather forecast for the weekend was showing mainly dry conditions.
Saturday - TQ and the Heats
6 Minute qualifying and I had been drawn in arguably the more difficult group with many of the leading drivers. The lights went green to go but only a couple of drivers left the grid.....it was now a matter of waiting for some of the faster drivers to go. The problem with this is we are on new tyres that will take a lap or two to come on.
Having said this I am usually fast out of the blocks on new tyres so I'd happily wait until the last moment so long as all the other drivers did as I'd be confident of setting a fast lap if we all had only one or two left before the chequered flag signalled the end of the session.
Another couple of drivers went and the clock had just ticked down to less than 5 minutes so I decided it was time to go..... I left the pits with something like 4:30 left on the clock with the plan to do a hard 1st lap to get my tyres a bit scrubbed then drop back into the pack to set a time.
I rolled back but then the front drivers were rolling out also so we did the next lap just swapping places until my main competition took the lead, now go!
I got my head down to chase down the lead driver and we started to work together to try and set a time as we ewre now sitting in 5th..... We get going and are in P1 & 2 but we are on the back foot as being the leaders our times are vulnerable to those chasing us behind and so it was. At the flag I qualify 3rd but am happy with this as I knew I had more pace and the others only got their times due to drafting us.
The classification was issued and I would be starting my heats in P2 due to the grid being split between three heats, each driver competing in two. My heats were the last two so I had a long wait until 15:00 for my first race.
We go and I get to the first main corner and get loaded way past the corner. Normally I could deal with getting the usual push from behind but for some reason there was no grip in the kart whatsoever, next right hander at the hairpin and the same, it's like the front of the kart is on ice....again I run wide and this is pretty much the situation for the next 2 laps meaning I drop down to 10th position at one point!
I need to do something as I cannot afford to lose points again. On lap 4 I feel I am getting some grip back and I'm sitting in P8 so I can start to push harder, lap 6 and I'm in P7, Lap 8 P6, 9 and into P5 and on the last lap manage to move up another into P4.
A good recovery after a very strange starting issue. Once back in the awning we reviewed the setup and nothing made sense, we made a very minor change to account for weather and track conditions and it totally hammered what would usually be the strongest segment of the race...my start.
Another P2 start and this time we get the kart right. Away we go and I get away into the lead. We push away trying to break the pack and on Lap 5 a teammate slots in behind and we had hoped to push away as a team but he has different ideas and goes straight in and subsequently gets overtaken by the P3 driver and dropping us back into a 4 kart race.
I'm running in P2 and am trying to catch the leader who has a small gap ahead and yet agin the P3 teammate goes in and drops us further back effectively giving the win to the other driver and leaving me vulnerable to the P4 driver so over the line I take 4th.
Not ideal but two P4 finishes put me P3 on the grid for the finals and a good points haul.
Sunday and the Finals
Good starting position and all to play for, a row 2 start and I'm feeling strong.
We go and my clutch slips all the way to the first corner and I drop to 7th going up the hill. The drivers in front go defensive to stop any behind passing on teh inside so I keep the throttle nailed and drive around the outside into P4 and a little way off the leading trio. Head down now and try to bridge the gap before they get onto the long straight secitons and benefit from 3 karts working together.
On the second lap I get to the group and move into P3 and it's now a Global Karting 1-2-3 on track. On lap 3 the lead driver makes a mistake and runs wide at the hairpin losing 6 places so my treammate and I slot into P1 and 2 and try to break away.... it is working with us pulling away at about 0.2-0.3 seconds a lap.
The karts behind start to swap places and over the next 10 laps we pull a near 5 second gap on the P3 driver. Into the last lap and we have clear air behind so going into the last complex of corners I make my move and slot into the lead which I hold until the flag to take the win.
I'm on Pole for Final 2 and we go. The layout of the track does mean that if you get an equal start from P2 this can benefit as you will be on the inside of the 1st right hander adn this was the case. Both myself and the P2 driver got equal starts so when we got to the right hander I was on the outside and had to slot in behind him.
We start to push to get away and it is working as we have a 1.1 second lead by lap 2 but the leader was holding me up. Decision time, do I go in or wait to see if he can pick up the pace?...... I have to wait as if I go in we will fall back into the chasing drivers.
I try as best I can to push and get us away but the lead driver is not going into the corners hard enough. I make a plan which I think will work but on lap 7 there is an incident further down the field and the race is red flagged due to a driver looking injured and the race result is called at this point. I take 2nd which is really frustrating as I was feeling very strong.
Still on review it was a very positive weekend, Win and 2nds in Finals and top scorer of the weekend........definately moving towards how it should be.
I'd like to thank Rob Hanscomb and Mike Spencer of Global Karting, RPM Race Engines, Zip Karts, ARC Audio Visual & Chris Walker for the great photos.