Testing at Llandow: Junior’s new favourite track?

I had been trying to arrange some time to visit Nigel in the shop at Llandow so, even before our troubles last weekend, we were going to be testing there this weekend. Lucas had driven there once before – last May ahead of his ARKS test and, at that time, hadn’t really enjoyed the track; he was very inexperienced and it is a much harder track to drive well compared to Clay so I was interested to see how he fared now being considerably more ‘competent’! It was also the race weekend for Llandow Kart Club so it would give us a good measure of his pace on an unfamiliar track.

Having arrived a little late, we amassed a mighty two laps before lunchtime – missing the first session and then Junior stopping on track in the second. He said that he had just lost power and my first instinct was to check the carb. It was then that I noticed the fuel hose looked empty (a good reason why you should replace old, brown hose) and, when I blew some more fuel through, found it sprinkling out of a hole where the hose had been dragging on the track! :S The fuel hose was tied in place after that!

I had made some changes to the brakes; Junior reported my first change to have made them worse but the next tweak seemed to make the better and Junior actually said he had LOCKED HIS BRAKES!!! 🙂 The day went pretty well thereafter. We only managed four and a bit sessions because of the number of Bambinos taking part in the Llandow leg of the Bambino Kart Club Tour. I hadn’t actually realised there was such a thing at that age but it looked pretty cool – the kids do time trials rather than actually race. Anyway… we were continually changing the setup throughout the afternoon and knocked 1.3s off of our best lap to finish around 0.4s off of the pace. It was clear that Junior was something of a rolling road block at times but he was able to get a bit racey towards the end. Driver feedback was at a premium – Junior had a tendency to wander off to spend time with the other juniors, which was great for him, but it meant there was nobody to do the fuel, lift the trailer lid, help test the brakes etc and I even experienced a karting first: loneliness!!! Ok, it wasn’t as bad as that – the other Dads (whom I had got know from the last couple of rounds at Clay) are very nice but you don’t like to hang around whilst they are making setup changes on a race weekend. It’s just one of those things particular to race weekend – you are busy and aren’t too keen on giving anything away – I am the same at Clay. For the first time, I found myself phoning the wife just for a chat during a karting day!!!

In contrast to our last visit, Junior really enjoyed the track and, predictably, he wanted to come back and race on the Sunday (today), offering to fund his own entry which would have been fine had I not used said money to pay for this additional test day 😉 Having had to fund six car tyres, a service and a cam belt change in the past week, bonus kart funds were pretty thin on the ground!

So where we race next month will entirely be down to Junior. There are pro’s and con’s to both Clay and Llandow: I didn’t enjoy the last race day at Clay whatsoever, from heat one through to the final – it was the polar opposite of the March round and I felt a little let down by the officials. Then again, there is a really strong TKM community at Clay, Junior is keen to contest the entire championship, they sell ice cream and they have a tarmac road that leads all the way to the grid! Llandow, on the other hand, has an awful gravel car park that really does test your bolts on both kart and trolley. I honestly think you would need to budget to replace your trolley each year if you raced at Llandow regularly! Junior really enjoyed the variety that the track offered, however, and although he would definitely be the slowest driver there, that is not something that has ever really phased him. It would be something a leap into the deep end, as the next club round is also the Welsh Open but we’ll see what he wants to do.

Cost of day: £18 petrol, £6 bridge toll, £6 fuel for the kart, £40 practice fee

Total spent this year: £1,562

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