Since our ‘bumper’ day last month, I have been pretty vocal on my thoughts regarding enforcement of the rules regarding ‘incidents’; here, on Facebook and on the forums. Perhaps it was just down to my naivety in expecting your average ‘Arrive/Drive’ circuit rules to be at least the as tough in MSA racing. I’d like to think it wasn’t solely down to me but no matter – a club official spent some time during the briefing explaining that the club had read what was said and what actions were being taking to address this (marshals being given radios and calling in any contact witnessed) and then the MSA steward made a comment about not wanting people complaining after every race! I think that one was aimed squarely at me although, like I say, maybe that was just my naivety – it was the first time I had ever spoken to an official and half of the time I was one of a number of Dads complaining about the very odd decision to start slower karts ahead of faster ones! Who could have foreseen what was about to happen?
Junior was really looking forward to Heat 1 as it was his first ever start on pole. He looked like a natural leader on the warm-up lap 😉 but that was about as good as our day got 🙁 He outbraked himself into the first corner, ran wide and was overtaken by everybody except the novices. It was probably the worse defence of pole position you’ll see this season! Then the field bottlenecked into The Esses, a kart was spun and they carried on. A few laps later, Junior pulled in the pits. I assumed there was a problem only to find HE HAD BEEN BLACK FLAGGED!!! Until this point, I hadn’t even realised he had made contact with anyone, then came the chat with the MSA steward. The next part was a bit of a blur, Junior was stunned to the point of not being able to give any reasonable explanation to the steward, who told us why we had been black flagged rather than allowed to continue and an inquiry held after the race (I didn’t really understand this bit) and then proceeded to tell us about drivers at Buckmore Park who wouldn’t be racing next weekend because they would be having their licenses revoked (I understood this but even less). I admit that I had no idea if or what penalties could be imposed. At least I do now 🙂
With the benefit of the internet, I surmise that Junior was penalised under rule C.1.1.5:
Driving in a manner incompatible with general safety, and/or departing from the standard of a reasonably competent driver.
Now this seemed somewhat harsh, not only to me, but to every other Dad who had assumed we had experienced a problem only to find we had been black flagged. I’ll quote the driver who lost out just to prove I am not making this stuff up:
“Was a racing incident, I tried to miss someone and slowed up a bit and ****** hit me, wasn’t his fault at all!”
It seems Junior found himself with nowhere to go when the pack bunched and a few drivers took evasive action. I would love to know exactly where Junior was supposed to put his kart in light of this but… the irony of having been so vociferous about not penalising contact and then becoming the first to fall foul of the new enforcement of the rules was not lost on me! It was very harsh but I could only take it on the chin and move on. I knew very well that my comments would put Junior in the spotlight. It was funny how, after last month, another Dad had warned me not to make a name for myself for complaining to the stewards and I admit that, at one point, during the conversation with the steward, I did find myself gauging whether there was any hint of retribution in his demeanour (there wasn’t!). He seemed like a nice bloke although I definitely left with the feeling of having been roughed up a little (I guess this is the intention!). Once we had got back to our pit space, Junior found his tongue and declared all of this to be my fault! Had I not said anything about last month, this wouldn’t have happened apparently. There is probably some truth in that (in so far as contact would still have continued unpunished) but I don’t play the blame game – we had a curt chat about what a team was and Junior had to decide whether we were staying for the remainder of the heats (as a team) or whether we were packing up and going home (as individuals). On with the day…
Heat two was almost as bad – we found ourselves behind a novice and they were racing closely when one of two things happened: the novice lost his back end in The Esses and we had nowhere to go except into him or Junior spun the novice in The Esses. Either way they took each other out. One driver had one view, the other driver had the other. I have mine but all that matters is that race observer didn’t report us as being at fault – things could otherwise have gotten much more, um… ‘interesting’!
Heat 3 was largely anonymous – we finished 6th in a pretty strung out field. Unsurprisingly, we started last for the final. I made a few setup changes and we actually made a decent start – passing the novices into/during Billies and were dicing at the back of the main pack. It was going really well – we gained and lost a place and were showing our best pace of the day and our fastest lap since September last year (still don’t quite get why we haven’t yet bested that having set it before we started racing!). Then our bumper snapped 🙁 There had been some minor contact a few laps earlier and my plastic ties had only lasted so long. Junior was shown (although didn’t actually see) the black and orange flag with a couple of minutes remaining and that was that.
A shitty end to a pretty shitty day. Our run of 23 races without causing an incident had come to an end just at the wrong time. I have no complaints about the strict enforcement of the rules although I sincerely hope that they will be applied in a consistent manner. On the plus side, I think our setup was good and we were pretty much on the pace at the end. Junior does need to improve his racecraft – I know that will come with experience. He also needs to be a little more sturdy in his defence – he is definitely considered a soft touch by some, who make the most of the knowledge that he’ll jump out of their way given any lunge into a corner. I think that regulation C2.3.3 sums it up nicely:
Gained an unfair advantage – You may not have actually made contact, but your position on the track may have unfairly impeded the other driver(s)
Cost of day: £15 petrol, £49 race entry fee
Total spent this year: £1,716