2018 Meeting 1 after 3 month layoff
Following the successful climax to 2017 which resulted in me winning the TVKC Championship I decided to take some time out and look at options for 2018. I'd like to thank all that supported me in 2017 especially Zip Karts for the supply of great chassis, RPM Race Engines for ensuring I had class leading engines, Luke Hines for providing assistance & Support at the end of the season and to ARC Audio Visual & IT Solutions.
As I'm now way too big for the cadet chassis we have been deciding what to race, what class to race in, which championships, who with etc etc so it really has been a blank sheet but it is look at the moment like we are going to start 2018 in the X30 Mini class.
So, I've had 2 real test days with no team support since I last raced in November and I really wanted to get out again so we decided to attend HKRC's February meeting at Kimbolton for a relaxed weekend to see where I was pace wise and ease back into racing.
I've only raced at HKRC about 4 times over the last 26 months due to clashes with Super 1 and other committments, but on those races I have faired fairly well winning the last 2 I attended, even though I just rocked up for race day.
Saturday testing and yes raining again which was frustrating as I have just not had the opportunity to test the new kart and engine in the dry and this was a concern as Sunday was supposed to be dry.
We asked Jack Dex (Racing) if he was attending this weekend and decided to run with him as he has good experience of the circuit and more importantly the X30 Mini Class.
We were slightly off on test times Saturday but Jack seemed happy with where I was considering I’d not driven the circuit much in the last couple of years let alone in this class and I am still getting time on our new engine which will be way down on power until it has matured and been worked on by the tuner. This would be remedied by Jack letting us use one of his engines from Jade which he were assured would take engine power out of the equation.
Sunday arrives and it's still damp from rain during the night and with Timed Practice (TQ) it's straight out to try and set a time in what is effectively a Timed Qualification session of 5 Minutes.
I let a few of the other drivers go but leave the grid ensuring there's enough time to hopefully get an extra lap to those waiting in on the grid.
I'm pushing hard and things are feeling really good. The kart is going where I ask it, the engine is on song and I'm coming at the lead group...... I think the times must be good but with no big screen to see timing on as I'm circulating I just need to concentrate.
I pass all the others on track and drop them quickly but there's still a few minutes to go, I hope that I can keep the pace and look at the grandstand and see a raised finger...P1.
When I check the timing I didn’t just get a single quick lap in but my 3 quickest laps were all quicker than the P2 driver.... with a cushion of nearly 0.5s, a great start to the day and one that I think surprised a few people.
So H1 and I'm on pole for the start on slicks... or as it dawned, my first test session on slick tyres in the new class and new kart ...not ideal but hey, it's where I am and I'll just have to make the best of it. Worst case it's extra track time.
I take the start and within one lap it’s clear that I've not got any grip, I work as hard as I can to get the tyres to scrub and come on but they just refuse to. I think to myself surely this cannot be right (and as it turned out maybe we were slightly low on pressure) but with 4 laps to go suddenly coming out of T1 I felt the kart beginning to grip and the tyres were on, I pushed hard to try and make up some places as I was now nearly 1 second quicker than I'd been lapping and on one lap I'd overtaken 2 drivers but as I exitied the chicane I took a little too much kerb and threw a chain bringing my race to a premature end.
Heat 2, and although my DNF earlier meant I had to start in last place I was upbeat as I always enjoy the coming through the pack. Sitting on the grid and with 1 minute of the previous race to run a blizzard descended on the circuit. The decision was made to allow the grid to change tyres and once done we left the grid for a snowy H2.
Over the start line and into Turn 1…. the two rows of karts all enter the corner and I am on the outside row but I see a space and cut diagonally across into the inside just before the apex of the corner to slot into 10th from my last position start. I keep pushing the kart forward through the race, picking off drivers as I reach them and finally I take the flag in 4th with the fastest lap also, a great recovery drive!
All that’s left is the final and I'm starting in P10, lower than I would have hoped so on the way to the grid I turn to my dad and say “ I’m having this and sorry but I’m not saving those tyres they’re going to be toast whatever the outcome”.
The race starts and two rows of karts go into Turn 1 with most of the outside row trying to muscle their way into the train of inside karts on the right. The whole grid pile into this corner nose to tail, jostling for inside position and I see an opportunity and at the last minute, pully away to the left, outside and leave my braking very late.
I go in very hard and fast and wonder if the kart will grip as the surface is very slippery but I nail it and drive right around the, now queuing, karts on the inside.
Coming out of T1 it feeds into a left, right section and the driver to my right tries to squeeze me but I hold my line confident in the knowledge that if we stay as we are he will run out of track and as I exit T4 I'm now in 4th from P10 but now have to catch the lead trio which have managed to get a break.
I push, a little too hard but make up the time and within a couple of laps I'm on the 3rd place man, straight in and although the driver tries to come back at me I cover it off and set about trying to catch the P2 driver. A couple of laps later I'm on the P2 driver and he's making it hard work but I get past him into the last corner. Now, is there enough time to catch the leader, I get my head down and go again.
By the time I've done another lap or 2 I'm on the leader and feel really strong so I go in at the quickest corner on the track, making sure I do the job properly otherwise he will just undercut me on the exit. Next I'm vulnerable at the end of the back straight so I cover off any lunge up the inside but really need to try and break the following trio.
I calm down and just start to try and put some quick laps together ensuring that I don't make any mistakes and it starts to work. Over the next 6 or so laps I'm lapping quicker than the chasing pack and my times are only varying by a couple of tenths of a second. I look back and I have a really big gap and come round the last corner to take the flag and WIN by 1.77 seconds.
All in all a great day, First time in the kart racing in a new class, at a circuit I've not been to regularly and I win. Then to put the icing on the cake at presentation the Marshall Team award me the Driver Of The Day prize, a free entry to HKRC Race Day..... thanks very much guys, most appreciated.
I'd like to thank my dad for working with the kart all weekend (apart from him dropping the ball with my chain in heat 1 it was great :-) ), I'd like to thanks Jack Dex and Jack Dex Racing for the advice and assistance they provided and for making me feel welcome, Jade engines for the great engine I had, ARC Audio Visual & IT Solutions as always and fnally Colin Hill for the photos.