TVKC 2018 Round #1
Back to PF International for the first round of the 2018 TVKC Championship and it seems like a long time since I've been here.
Last time here was in November last year where I sealed the 2017 Honda Cadet Championship so 5 months away is a long time but it was like meeting an old friend again and during my Friday testing session I quickly got back into the swing of the circuit setting some very fast test times.
A big grid of 32 drivers meant this meeting was going to be the biggest test yet but I don't back down and was more than eager to go up against the competition.
Testing conditions were forecast to be poor and the forcasts were correct with rain all day. Testing was going well with times putting me in the mix with the front runners. After a few test sessions it was time for Timed Qualifying.
At about 17:10 we headed out for our TQ session which was a short 6 minute sprint so maybe 5 laps.
I made sure I got out as close to the front as possible to try and get an extra lap over those further back and made it 4th out onto track. 1st lap I passsed the 3rd and 2nd drivers as they were much slower and then on lap 2 I closed in on the lead driver. Not ideal as I wanted to get a tow to maximise my time but he was not quick enough so at the 1st hairpin I went under him and got going. I hit the top of the leaderbaord and was bouncing between Pole and P2 with another driver pipping me later in the same lap. Next lap I get a reallly good lap in gapping him by 2 tenths of a second and wished the chequered flag would come out but the countdown meant another lap would be required.
I went through the lights for the final time still leading and coming round the last complex for the last time I made a small error which compromised my run onto the straight and couldn't improve my time..... It was a waiting game now...1 minute to see if any of the following drivers could better my time and such it was with an old teammate managing to get a tow at the critical time and set a Pole time 6 hundreths of a second quicker than mine. Very frustrating but P2 in the company is nothing to be unhappy with.
I'm on the front row in P2, we take the start and I come across to cutt off the pole man and get a small gap into the 1st section of corners, off the bridge and still got a 4 length lead down the back straight and into Hairpin 1 clear of any fracas behind. As I exit the turn I see to my right the pack coming in to said turn and a kart get spat out of the train and straight into the hoarding at the side of the circuit...... it was a big one with the driver being ejected, not nice. The race is red flagged and stopped and the ambulance released to assit the driver who is still ont he floornot moving.
It would turn out he sustained a broken arm but to our knowledge and hopefully nothing more serious so hope you get well soon Freddie.
The race is restarted and the pole man would not be caught napping and comes across aggressviely at me as we take the start but I maintain my P2 but as I go to brake for Hairpin 1 I release the throttle and it becomes clear that the engine has the throttle stuck open.
I continue for another 5 laps trying to get round using the brake but it's becoming increasingly difficult and more dangerous. Couple this with my concern for the health of the engine and I decide to retire to live to fight in heat 2, so a DNF for my 1st heat is not what I'd planned.
Another front row start and hopefully more luck as the fault lay in an innocuous bolt that had made contact with the circuit and been knocked loose on the formation lap.
As we are on the grid it lightly starts to rain which is not what we wanted as our setup was for hte opposite of these conditions.
We go and it's obvious from the start that this is going to be a long hard race as I'm struggling for grip and thus pace. I try as hard as I can and take the flag in 7th, not the end of the world but not the start to my 2018 TVKC campaign I'd have chosen.
Anyway, now we have a new opportunity in the final.......to see if I can make my way through a Mini X30 grid with the same efficiency I used to in the Honda Cadets. I'm sure it would be much harder but I've come through from the back of the B Final to P4 in the A final in the Hondas so maybe 40-45 places gained to do that.......starting P15 hopefully I can limit the damage and who knows, I'd be happy with a top 3 finish but it's a big ask.
Rolling round for the final I'm on row 8 and eager to get going and do some damage to those ahead of me but as we round the last corner on to the straight the pack ahead hits the throttle and goes, well all except the driver in front of me!
Now technically we cannot break formation until we are over the start line so I have to sit there until he gets going and this lets the drivers ahead get a good gap.
I pass the driver and get a move on. Lap 1 I make up 3 places into P12, next lap another in to P11, lap 5 and it's up to P8 but this is not happening quick enough and the lead pack have a 5 second gap over me...... I need some help and can only hope a fight ensues at the front to allow me to catch them quicker.
I keep pushing and on the last lap I'm close. Going onto the back straight the fight at the front is in full effect an going into hairpin 1 I'm on them.
Coming out there is a real melee and I see a gap and thread my way through into 4th, on the short run up to hairpin 2 I come at the P3 driver like an exocet and dive up the inside to take P3 and get a good exit on the slower P2 driver. Out of Hairpin 2 and I'm slowly drawing alonside the P2 driver but I run out of time before we reach the chicane and slot back in behind as I am sure that the driver will not yeild and could well take us both out. I search for a way past but having to drop in behind lost momentum and gave him a 0.2s gap over the line but I'd done what I said I would and achieved a top 3 finish, 12 places made up in what effectively was a national race....... a great outcome to a very challenging day.
Not only was this my 1st time back but it was my 3rd race meeting with the new team JDR, Jack Dex Racing who as usual gave impecable support and advice and coupled with the fantastic support from Jade Engines enabled me to punch at the sharp end.
And so it was, took the flag in P3 but was the 1st club driver (as P1 & 2 were both competing in the LGM round 1 which was included in the same race) and pace wise was 2nd quickest only 7 hundreths off the fastest.
A shot of me in the JDR livery on the podium and thanks to my teammate Blake Angliss for loaning it to me.
I can't forget to thank all the guys in the team who assisted us over the weekend, Colin Hill Photography, KartPix and as always, my sponsors especially ARC Audio Visual & IT Solutions, Jack Dex Racing (JDR) and Jade Engines.