When your day goes from bad to worse

Ok, I couldn’t really leave the blog as I left it with the last post although it felt good at the time so here is what happened…

The writing was on the wall as early as Saturday evening. We hadn’t practiced but I spoke with a friend who had and was told that they had struggled to break 45.5s on their Festival tyres and found 0.4s when they bolted on the fresh rubber. This hadn’t gone unnoticed and was enough to convince one of the other front-running dads who had been planning on running his Festival tyres that they were also going to have to get the wallet out! We were just going to have to make the most of it.

Imagine the setting: it’s time for the three lap warm-up. You put your kart down and admire the new nosecone that you fitted overnight but had already said your goodbyes to. You wonder what the chances are of seeing it come back in one piece by the end of the day. Off Junior goes but, wait a minute, what’s he doing… HE’S USING HIS NEW NOSECONE TO HELP START HIS MATE WHO IS STRUGGLING!?! 😉

Other than putting a bumper bolt down his nosecone before he’d even reached one corner, the warm-up was memorable for Junior driving around slowly and looking like he was coming in every lap. He didn’t but it turned out that he was driving around without any brakes! I had replaced the axle at home on Saturday and had noticed when preparing the kart at the track that the bearing hanger bolts hadn’t be tightened. I had attended to that but not the disc, which had been having its own Mini Adventure back and forth between the pads 😮 With little time between the warm-up and first heat, I was rushing to resolve this and fix the loose chainguard bolt that I had noticed when I was summoned to the race tower!?! The grid printing computer wasn’t printing and, working in IT, it was one of those “Help me Obi-Wan Kenbobi, you are our only hope” moments!!! Who was I to turn down the lead role? 😉 I’ll be frank the grid printing software is rubbish; it sends the grids straight to a printer without displaying anything on screen (although this is far from my only gripe with it!) so the club were in a bit of a bind. No grids, no racing. Twenty minutes, some quick printer testing, a reboot and some Windows sysadmin magic later we were back racing 😉

Heat #1 revealed our utter lack of pace. Junior had not grip whatsoever and was easy pickings for all those following him bar the novice. Our best lap was a full second off of the pace and the track was ultra-quick. He still had brake woes and we found the seal in one of the pots was stuck and the fluid had become very dirty. That was easily addressed by bleeding that side of the brakes.

Heat #2 was better. We started third (which is as good as second with the start position as it is for this year) but drifted back and again beat only the novice home. The brakes were good but our deficit was 0.4s.

Heat #3 was the highlight of the day if there was one. Junior started second and got the best start I’ve seen anyone make from second all year. Despite the pole man backing the grid right up, Junior crossed the start line alongside pole and almost became the first person to take the lead from second into the first corner. Normal service then resumed. We finished closer than we had done in the previous heats but we were still 0.4s off of nearest rival and 0.8s off of the pace.

Junior wasn’t happy. At all. He knew that, having competed at the Festival and spent three months kart budget in the space of two weeks, we had to make some compromises but still needed reminding of this! We just needed to get the day over and come back next month with shiny new slicks. Despite this, I really rolled the dice over the lunch break just to see if anything improved: different engine, new carb, different restrictor, lead back on, raised ride height. I realised that I hadn’t eaten (again) so my sandwich and fruit were eaten on the dummy grid. Our misery was not yet complete: Junior’s kart started perfectly – he was off in a matter of strides. I put the push bar away only to turn and see him slowing to halt behind a kart that had stopped immediately in front of him on the dummy grid exit. With another struggler to his left and a dad to his right, Junior had nowhere to go other than stop. I started him again but the kart was really struggling to pick up. I ran after him to try to get him to stop so that we could try again but, despite another two attempts, the kart wasn’t going anywhere. On a practice session, someone would have just pushed him off but the grid was on the other side of the track. I think the engine had simply flooded. Our day was done. Junior was seething and, to be honest, I was pretty cross too. It was one of those things that, on reflection, you are glad happened then when we were really struggling rather than another day when we were competing for a podium.

There were a couple of positives, despite what I said last time: the lad that had been injured when Junior had flicked up over at the previous round was back competing and at least we were home by 6pm! The kart will now spend four weeks untouched in the garage, it’s been a bit of a mental time with Llandow-holiday-Festival-Llandow so I plan to take a bit of a karting break…

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