Arriving back in the country from a work trip on Saturday morning wasn’t ideal preparation for the Llandow race weekend but knowing we’d miss the practice Saturday had allowed us to race at Clay last week. It also gave me the luxury of Saturday afternoon setting up and, as an added and very unusual bonus, I had a great night’s sleep! 🙂
We were set up in good time and nothing eventful happened on the warm-up laps (although the club did decide to build a new plastic wall on the outside of one of the corners immediately before our first heat!). We had a pretty poor draw for the three heats – a second place start, followed by two sixth placed starts (I’ve no idea how the draw is done but a) you should never start in the same place twice and b) you should always have at least one start in an odd-numbered grid position so that you benefit from the inside line to the hairpin), so Heat #1 was always going to be our best chance of a decent result. We had a good start and, importantly, did not lose any places around Raymonds. The leader was easily quicker than us and, although we had a buffer between us and the other quick lads for a few laps, they were soon on our tail. The championship leader made his move into Chandlers, we ran a little wide and quickly lost third as fourth pounced into the next corner. As the front three cleared off, fifth set about catching us and teed themselves up for a move into the final corner of the race. Junior got the cutback and the two of them were bouncing up and down in their seats desperately trying to get the kart to pick up as they crossed the line together with Junior getting the nod by 1/1000th!!! We also set a new PB in the process 😀 On the downside, Junior just wasn’t listening to my solid race advice 😉 and was taking the entry into Surtees much narrower and earlier than everyone else. We had spoken about this on the way to the track as it was clearly an issue last month and, as it was beginning to annoy me, we had words!
Heat #2 was our disappointing race – I had made some changes to address a couple of the issues that Junior had reported but we were punted all the way up the start straight (much to Junior’s annoyance) and managed only one lap before Junior pulled over, with fuel all over himself and the kart. You don’t need to ask who I entrusted with replacing the fuel tank cap after he had topped up the fuel, do you? :/ To lose the test opportunity was disappointing and threw our plans to again compare the engines into disarray. And, on his one and only lap, he was narrow again into Surtees!
Heat #3 saw us start sixth again. I don’t really remember this one at all, although we again set a new PB 🙂 By this time the leaders were throwing in some seriously quick times and I think the speed of the track was accentuating our deficit as, despite us continuing to get quicker, we were 0.8s off the pace. With us setting quicker times and Junior’s lines still off in places (still no improvement into Surtees), I decided against swapping engines. I did, however, drag Junior onto track for another review of Surtees (in case you get the impression we are always arguing, it is very rare for me to criticise his driving – knocking his confidence isn’t going to do much for anyone) and I also phoned a friend for some track setup advice (thanks, mate!) – there had to be more to it than just our lines causing us to be that far off the pace.
So, with a new setup and firm instructions on the entry to Surtess freshly banged into Junior’s head, we started in sixth for the final. We got a good start and, amazingly, Junior proved that he could actually follow instructions!!! We looked quicker and were a bit closer but clearly not quick enough for the first five. I think this was just a true reflection of where we are in terms of our pace at Llandow. We were clear of the 7th and 8th, Junior knocked another two tenths off of his PB and we were down to 0.5s off the pace.
The Club had again arranged a reverse grid bonus race for the end of the day. It’s optional, costs a fiver and raises a bit more money for the club. It isn’t that well supported (half of the JTKM grid had entered and, in some classes, there is no bonus race) but it gave us another opportunity to test setup tweaks and, as last month, we started in pole. Whether or not that is a good thing, I’m not sure but Junior enjoys it! We were going really well, with Junior leading the first two laps until we were cursed by the commentator :S Just as he was saying how well Junior was doing, he ran wide and let them all past! “Oh well, it was good while it lasted” I think was the next thing I heard on the tannoy!!! The track was cooling a little by this time but, although the leaders pace was a little slower, we continued to trim our PB and stayed in touch for the whole race.
The day was a good one, we’d raced against some new juniors, including our first experience against a Super 1 driver, set PBs every time we went on track and closed the gap down to about 0.3s over the day. It was great to see Junior having fun again and it was the perfect confidence booster for him. It’s funny how much lighter the mood in the car is on the way home after you’ve both had an enjoyable day. Five races for £60 was good value for money although it’s a real shame that the number of entries was only around 45 – you do fear for a club with numbers that low. I think the problem is that there is no really good sized classes, unlike Clay, where several are 20+ in size. We’ll certainly be back next month.
Cost of weekend: £55 race entry + £5 bonus race, £12 petrol, £6 bridge tolls, £7 fuel
Total spent this year: £3,658