Remind me to write these posts up a bit sooner! We had our third race last weekend; as we had had to test the Saturday before to ensure our motor was ok, we missed the practice day and just attended the race day. I was very keen to see how we fared in the dry conditions – we hadn’t really had a chance to gauge our dry pace on a race day and Junior had looked pretty good in difficult conditions the week before. Although we are all at sea in the wet, I was optimistic that we may be in sight of land on a dry track.
As usual, we set off later than I had hoped but still got to Clay quicker than we ever had before :O so were track-side at 8:15am and scrutineered by 8:30. Interestingly, we got our first scrutineer comment: he thought our brakes were a little iffy! That was a surprise as we’ve never had any issues and Junior has been really happy with them of late (I’ve checked them since and they feel ok!). Race mornings are always a little misleading – you think you have plenty of time before the warm-up until you realise that the sign-on and briefing take a good chunk of time. We were looking good until I found I couldn’t prime the carb – this was a new one! It was good last week but it just wasn’t allowing any fuel through. Annoyingly, I had taken our bad carb in for rebuild during the week and had completely forgotten to pick it up!!! I put on our second carb (which had been our best one until our problems at Dunkeswell), primed it with no issues and it started fine.
I sent Junior our for his warm-up and took my marshalling position (I can’t stand watching from the pit lane so sign up as a pusher and stand on the designated marshal post). It immediately obvious that something wasn’t right: we were properly slow, as in two thirds of a lap after three laps slow. Junior came in and said he just had no pick-up from 10,000rpm. I didn’t need to hear this – a return of the revs issue and around 45 minutes to solve the problem wasn’t good. I got the non-priming carb out, replaced the gaskets, sprayed the gauze filters and put it on the kart. To my huge relief, it primed perfectly 🙂 To the races…
The kart started perfectly and Junior’s start was good; there was a coming together going into Billies that Junior had to dodge and he was in touch exiting the Hairpin but, between The Horshoe and the Top Bend, we seemed to have lost a fair amount of time. This set the scene for the day – I watched Junior gradually losing ground and finish 18s behind over 9 laps. I was a bit deflated at this – I was really hoping we’d be 1.2-1.5s off. Although my experience with getting this tyre pressures right in sub-optimal conditions is limited, I was pretty certain we were in the right ball park. We just seemed to lose so much ground in certain parts of the track, I couldn’t help but feel we just weren’t getting the lines and braking right. Junior complained of oversteer so I brought the rear width in by 20mm.
Heat 2 saw Junior get a ‘great’ start (he didn’t look last as he crossed the line!) and us narrow the gap between our fastest laps and those of the leaders (from 1.95s to 1.65s) and we finished 16s off the lead. That was encouraging – Junior felt the rear width change had made a good difference although, disappointingly, everybody else finished 😉
I decided to do a little testing – I took a tooth off the rear sprocket even though the Mychron suggested it wasn’t necessary to see if Junior felt a difference in either his exit or top speeds. He didn’t and posted an almost identical fastest lap. He did however get to have a race with one of his friends who had left the track in questionable circumstances and rejoined as Junior was passing. He was pleased to defend his 7th place 🙂
The final was notable only for the people leaving the track when trying to heat their tyres up!!!. Unfortunately Junior got collected and ended up down the bank on the exit of Billies. Not sure what the marshalling regulations say but I sprinted across the track to get him back but, with three karts off track, I figured we had to do whatever necessary to get the karts back on track. Unfortunately for me he was down a slope and, rather than turn the kart around and drag it back up, I was initially trying to push him up the hill with the back end lifted (also know as ploughing!!!). Another Dad helped carry his kart onto the track and he got going in time to join the second formation lap but his tyres were caked in mud :S At this point the karts had slowed ahead of the start and it meant Junior driving around with little chance of cleaning his tyres. He lost a lot of ground on lap one – almost certainly because of the mud – and was 22s adrift after the 11 laps. He set his best time of the day (37.52s) but was still 1.6s off the pace.
So we’d had a decent day running-wise, Junior had had another great time but the day, for me, was a bit of a disappointment. We were 1.5s off our best lap, although that was obviously in much warmer conditions, the leaders were probably 0.7s off their quicker times. We were again running on used tyres (they had probably done 50 laps) so that might account for a few tenths but I think there is still a lot of time to be found in our lines – it’s hard to gauge when you are viewing from a fixed point on the track; whether Junior had gone from taking too much speed into his corners to killing too much speed, I don’t know. I feel the need to get down to a non-race weekend practice session again so that we can get a decent amount of track time to try to figure things out. I realise that things will improve over time and with experience but, if I can accelerate that process, then I am all for it.
Cost of day: £12 petrol, £6 fuel for the kart, £23 race fee
Total spent so far: £4,181