Saturday 19 May
In what was probably my most competitive outing at Castle Combe’s Adult Karting Championship (Round 3) I scored my highest ever finish in the event’s ‘semi-final’, missing out on a guaranteed place in the final by only one position. As these events tend to go, I find I either start off with some decent results in my heat races before it all goes downhill, or I start off a bit slow but improve as the racing goes on. On this occasion it was the latter. You
I found myself starting on pole for my first heat but was quickly relegated to third after some overly aggressive driving from one of the drivers. Heat two was a low point where after finding myself starting 3rd I was in the hunt for a good finish before being spun by an inexperienced driver who received a black & white flag for the infringement- which was little consolidation to me as I crossed the line in last place.
My next two heats went better, scoring a pair of 2nd place finishes from 5th & 3rd on the grid respectively, which put me 3rd on the grid for my semi-final. The rapid Mike Seabourne would be starting from pole so any chance of making my first final looked remote, but I set my sights on 2nd and after a race-long battle I pulled off a Ricciardo-esque move at the top hairpin to take the chequered flag a few seconds behind Mike.
After the disappointment of finishing last in my second heat I was pleased to come away with a hat trick of 2nd’s which I hope to build on when the championship resumes on June 16th.
Sunday 20th May
The following day I found myself back at my old stomping ground, TeamSport Bristol, for a ‘Daytona’ race event. Due to my status as an ‘elite’ driver (not by own admission I must say!) I wouldn’t be eligible for a place in the final standings of this event. This was due to Daytona races being aimed at the more ‘social’ karters, but I find it’s a good way to keep my hand in as well as keeping an eye on any up & comers who may be looking to climb the TeamSport rankings. As it turned out a youngster by the name of Alex Warnaby took pole position with a rapid lap some half a second quicker than I managed in the 10 minute qualifying session, although the ‘average’ lap times told a slightly different story as that put me around 4/10ths ahead. Besides, having set the 2nd quickest qualifying time I would still be starting from the back of the grid made up of seven other drivers.
When the lights went out Alex led the small field away from the grid followed by Jamie Bennett, as I gained one place almost straight away at the start. It wasn’t long before I’d caught 3rd-placed driver Neill Povey, and after a couple of laps I squeezed past at the top of the up ramp and set off after the leading pair. Jamie was slightly tougher to pass but was fully focused on Alex so probably wasn’t expecting an attack from behind so soon, however he was able to stay right with me as I caught up to the lead driver.
Alex was already coming up to lap one of the other drivers but caught him in an awkward place which created a bit of traffic jam, allowing Jamie to almost get back ahead of me before Alex himself was wrong-footed, enabling me to grab 1st place. A couple of laps later though Alex reclaimed the position when I myself was caught out by a back marker, leaving me to chase him down once more. It soon became evident where on the track I was quicker & vice versa, and the gathering of other drivers in the pit lane indicated that there was probably only a few more minutes of our race remaining.
In the dying moments of the race Alex got a bit sideways coming out of the hairpin at the bottom of the ramp, which allowed me to cut back to the inside & get fully alongside him. As we went up the ramp he’d just got the nose of his kart back ahead but I had the high ground for the next two right-hand corners- Job done! This time there was no coming back for Alex as the chequered flag fell only a lap later.
As tough as it was to watch three drivers take to the podium and not being on there myself, I came away from the race more than satisfied with my driving & with a lot of respect for Alex & Jamie- I’m sure they will be joining the Elite ranks in no time!
Thanks for reading guys-
Race responsibly ;-)