Going to PFI :)

Who am I trying to kid? Although Junior didn’t have any karting-related items from us in his Christmas stocking, I’d arranged something pretty special for his Nan to give him: a practice day at PFI running with TWMotorsport in one of their Tony Kart Vipers 🙂 He’s very much looking forward to this, as it’s a track he has always wanted to drive but has always been that bit too far away for a day trip. I am too although for slightly different reasons: I don’t have to tow the trailer 140 miles each-way and I’ve informed my wife that I’m taking the Sportage instead of the Clio 😉 It will also be very interesting to see how Junior finds the handling of the Viper compared with his EVR.

There’s a bit of uncertainty regarding the TVKC membership requirements: the track told me you had to be a member (the prospect of a £60 outlay on top of the practice fee has always put me off visiting previously but I’d thought we’d bite the bullet if we had to) but other drivers have said they paid a £10 day membership fee. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see! The timing isn’t great also: we’ve our annual Christmas Karting the night before and Teamsport don’t have a great record for finishing promptly. Hopefully we are finished promptly and Junior won’t be too sore for my putting him in his indoor karting place 😉 Wish me luck!

A *massive* weekend

Tomorrow sees Junior’s first race since his pace-setting if short-lived heat in April where he suddenly found some proper pace. Not only is it the June club round but the Welsh Championships no less! Llandow has a special ‘C’ plate up for grabs, one of the handful of ABKC recognised plates available. It adds a little something extra to the meeting, especially with racing taking place over two days and it will be only our second time we’ve had to qualify, something we weren’t too great at on our onyl other effort at Clay’s charity meeting last year!

I wanted to get our eye in early so picked Junior up straight after his penultimate GCSE exam this morning (Friday) and headed to the track. We arrived and pitched up a little further from our pit buddies than usual but it was good to get the awning set up nice and early. Initial practice was hit and miss, we combined our ‘installation’ laps with scrubbing in the race tyres although Junior decided he didn’t like his leaking fuel tank lid and came in after only two laps. Consider the race tyres partially scrubbed in! I wasn’t happy with the burning smell emitting from the engine thanks to not priming the carb!?! Who forgets to prime carbs after all this time??? It was a new one on me and I blame Junior for rushing me 😉 Checking inside the engine meant missing the next session and then we had an enforced break as the track had some corporate karts running. We finally got down to business at around 3pm and spent the next three hours trying to find the half second that we were down compared to the front runners. It’s fair to say that I am expecting us to be in the pack tomorrow but this deficit was a little disappointing and Junior didn’t look to be running the most fantastic lines I’ve ever seen. This confirmed that we probably won’t be instantly returning to the head of the pack although, unusually for us, we actually got to test some stuff: axles and sprockets which found us a couple of the missing tenths. I think that running in the pack may help curb some of the corner entries as he seemed to be back to trying to carry too much speed again. At least his brakes are still holding up.

It’s going to be a bit of an early start tomorrow, not helped by my not realising that we’d be scrutineering at 8am. See you on Sunday evening 🙂

Cost of day: Practice fee £20, petrol £12, fuel £6
Spent since last post: New axle £60, new sprocket carrier £25, new sprocket £14, replacement chainguard fixings £8, new grub screws £6, new engine mount bolts £3

Total spent this year: £2,322

Back to the track, finally :)

With Junior well into his GCSEs, May had until now been a no karting month for us. We missed the club round (although, had I not been cheering my team on at Wembley, I may have put in a very late entry). With Junior already revising to the max and in need of a welcome break, the May holiday gave us a chance to run in our race motor.

We had a very troubled morning. Junior stopped next to me on track after only two laps to say his brakes weren’t working properly. Not that old chestnut I hear you shout! Not really: the nut holding the brake pedal bolt had departed and both bolt and pedal were in the process of setting themselves free 😮 I told Junior to ease back into the pits and I’d sort it out but it was then that I noticed his exhaust hanging off. The extension bar had snapped, clearly a result of our big exit from the April meeting; during my kart prep I had checked everything was secured but the bar was damaged. And I so hate pushing the kart off-track on a trolley…

With the bar replaced, we got back to running-in. The next session went fine but afterwards I noticed some oil around the manifold so checked the bolts were tight (as I had swapped manifolds between my engines at the rebuild) and cleaned up the oil with the intention of checking this after the next session .You don’t need me to tell you what happened next. I couldn’t be certain that the kart *was* sounding rough. When you focus on something it always seems worse. I stood next to Hangar Straight and listened intently. It was sounding a little rough. Three corners later the manifold snapped.

Lesson #246: when your exhaust has been hanging off, ALWAYS REMOVE THE MANIFOLD FOR VISUAL INSPECTION 🙁

It was lunchtime before we got some good track time and 3pm before running-in was complete (Bambinos!). Just for the running-in (and because all of my practice tyres are rubbish), I had put on some EasyKart tyres that I had been given a year ago and that had been sat in the garage since. They had a lot of tread left and, in his first session at full chat, Junior had beaten his old (pre-transformation!) PB on them which, after running-in, was my only real goal for the test day. He was keen to move onto the Maxxis Slicks to get a more representative time but was 2/10ths slower on older tyres that I had mounted onto a set of Gillard full mags that I had been shelved since last summer. I’d have used our Douglas rims had I not been too lazy to remove last month’s race tyres from them (far too good for non-race weekend practice!). I had negated to check pressures after our first session on the Maxxis tyres but noticed the front left was running at 2.5psi before we went out for the next session!?! I quickly corrected this and Junior then went out and enjoyed a good tussle with one of his friends with whom he’d raced against last year but who had moved to Junior Rotax (boo!). When he came back in, his tyre showed 2.8psi. Houston, we have a problem… A leaky bead retainer was to blame. We switched back to the EasyKart tyres and found the missing 2/10ths. Although lonely practice days are good for track time, it’s always a bit of a shame when there is nobody from your class against whom to gauge your speed. The Llandow track has definitely lost a little of it’s pace since April so I think our times were fairly good, certainly there was no sign of us losing the pace we found last month 😀

A couple more sessions and our day was done. The morning problems had been irritating but the afternoon was good enough and my new push start bar worked very nicely. I had bought it because my back was still bothering me from the April race weekend and I never want to be in a position again where my fitness (or lack of) threatens to ruin Junior’s weekend. I have to give credit to South Wales Karting Centre: we had packed up and left at 6:15pm and there will still owner/drivers on track. I know a lot of circuits who’d be kicking people off as soon as the clock struck 5pm!

*Very* impressed with the image quality on the 4k GoPro I borrowed...

*Very* impressed with the image quality on the 4k GoPro I borrowed…

Cost of day: Practice fee £40, petrol £12, fuel £10
Spent since last post: Push start bar £40, 2x Shell M Oil 15

Total spent this year: £2,078

The mechanically inept noob!

Saturday was a bad one, even by my own standards. We arrived to find that almost all of the perimeter pit spaces had gone, it was nigh on impossible to get the awning pegs into the ground where we had chosen to set up camp, we aborted and moved to the very far corner of the track only to find that the pathetic velcro straps on the sides of our awning were no match for the wind and ended up ditching the awning and slotting the car/trailer in somewhere a little more desirable!

Despite this, we were still ready for the day’s first JTKM session but, when Junior was sat in his kart on the dummy grid, I noticed that there was a lot more travel in the steering column than I was comfortable with. It looked as if the steering column bearing (which wasn’t that old) had worn. Caught between the desire to at least get a few test laps in and removing the kart from the dummy grid, I opted for the former (I’m not sure I would in future) with a warning to Junior to take it easy and come straight in if he had any concerns. He duly drove straight back into the pits, throwing his gloves into the seat and going off on one: the steering column wasn’t the issue, the fuel tank lid was leaking. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this – why is it so hard to make a fuel cap that fits correctly??? After finishing his little strop, I sent Junior off to get some hand towels from the toilets so that we could get back out for a few minutes. In my rush to get Junior started, I just grabbed the back end, started running and immediately felt something go in my back. I dropped the kart way too soon and had to carry on pushing until he got going but I was in agony! I like to think of myself as being pretty fit – push starting has certainly never been a problem but sometimes these things just happen I guess. It was one of those back injuries that catches your breath. Not good at the start of a race weekend 🙁

The rest of the day was about trying to cope with the pain whilst keeping Junior out on track. Engine mount bolts were the biggest challenge given my restricted mobility. I was able to borrow a push-start bar from one of the other dads; I’d never before used one but I quickly became a big fan! Our pace was disappointingly as has long been the norm: we were around 7/10ths off the pace. We tried a few things like altering the front width and bleeding the brakes which Junior felt made a little difference. I was talking to one of my good friends and, at one point, questioned whether perhaps Junior wasn’t up to this type of karting – we hadn’t progressed at all from the summer of last year; Clay had been replaced by Llandow and, although we had the novelty of a new track, we were now back to familiar struggles. Junior had never shown any sign of unhappiness and, as long as he is still enjoying it, we would of course continue but in the back of my mind still lingered thoughts of IKR and Prokarts 🙁

Although we weren’t where we wanted to be, at least we had run fairly smoothly. Until the final session at least. Junior came in after one lap complaining that ‘something happened’. He couldn’t explain what. We’d just replaced a carb but it didn’t tie in with anything he was trying to describe. Although I’ve said before how you should always listen to your driver, I sent him back out to get more information. This time he came straight back complaining of a loud noise from the engine. I removed the chain guard and couldn’t believe what I was seeing: the chain was as tight as you can imagine, with no flex whatsoever. A couple of friendly dads passed and I asked if they’d ever seen a chain go so tight before. It was then that I noticed that the engine had lifted off of the mount in one corner, skewing the chain enough to cause the problem. I removed the engine and was working with one of the dads to remove the snapped engine mount bolts (it turned out that three had snapped). At this point the other dad was playing with the brake pedal and commented that our brakes were rubbish (these weren’t his actual words!), calling his lad over to have a look. I was focused on checking the engine for significant damage but was more than happy for them to adjust the brakes since Junior has long complained about them. The engine was going to need to visit my builder to have the bolts drilled out and the casing rethreaded (timely since the race engine was going to be off for rebuilding after the Sunday) and, once that was dealt with, the dad showed me how much more release there was in the brake pedal, claiming there were 3/10ths of a second in the improved brake performance. To be honest, I took this with a pinch of salt at the time. He was also less than complimentary about my mechanic skills: a ‘mechanically inept noob’ I think was the description although I don’t know where he would have gotten that from 😉 To be fair, I had had the brakes looked over by a number of people much more qualified than myself. No matter, they definitely felt better and we’d see how they fared on race day…

bridge

A variation on a theme 😉

 

Back for a little more practice!

With Junior off of school for the Easter holidays, we took the opportunity to head back to the track for some more work on our lines. Although the sun was out it was insanely windy and, with no awning (we cannot accomodate the 6x3m awning in the Clio or the trailer – and I’m not even sure we’d have bothered trying!), we set up next to the viewing shelter to give us a tiny bit of cover. It was a quiet day on track – just us, a cadet and two bambinos initially so we shared an open track with them. Open tracks are normally great but, with the bambinos being so much slower we were finding it impossible to get any reasonable run at some quick laps.

After lunch, we had the track implement sessions so we had 15 minutes on/off through the afternoon until the younger drivers went home and then had the track to ourselves. This is the great thing about practising at Llandow – pick a day early in the week and you are likely to find it pretty quiet 🙂 Although it was hard for us to gauge our pace (there was another JTKM at the track for half the day but we always seemed to be on the opposite side of the track and I don’t really like being seen to intentionally tailing other drivers in any case), Junior did seem to be doing well. The lines were much better, much more consistent but you can never be certain if that is coming at the expense of speed through the corners. I’d take the slower, correct lines for now though! All in all, it was a really good day (bar the sunburn!): 101 laps seat time, some promise of better lines and no dramas 🙂 Hopefully we can show some improvement at the next club round.

Cost of day: £35 practice fee, £13 petrol, £9 fuel, £9 chain lube

Spent since last post: £25 new sprocket carrier, £6 new fuel hose/pulse pipe, £5 new (used) exhaust!!!

Total spent this year: £1,803.

Getting help

Our February race weekend was our third day at the track in eight days. Even before the weekend and our lack of pace, we already had a speedy return to the track booked in: I had decided to get Junior some coaching! This wasn’t a decision taken lightly, as £100 is a decent chunk of the monthly budget, but it was one that I had been mulling over since the turn of the year. I was pretty sure that the setup was in the right ball park and that most of the time that we were off was in Junior’s lines. There were a few people who I’d have been very happy to work with; in the end I opted for the one that Junior didn’t know – mostly in the hope that he might listen to them more!

Although this was during the half-term, the track was pretty quiet – Junior, three cadets and a Senior TKM with a couple of Senior Rotax drivers turning up later. We spent the morning working on the line into The Hook. Things weren’t falling into place that quickly and then Junior clipped the back of a Cadet when he mistakenly thought that the door was being left open. That resulted in a bent steering column and track rod. With that fixed, Junior’s next hiccup came when stopped half-way around his outlap a couple of sessions later: the engine had backed onto the stop bolt which, with hindsight, was probably a little too far back (having previously cracked the old chassis at the engine-side bearing hanger, I had gone the opposite direction and changed from ~3mm off to ~12mm). I tightened everything up and we got back to working on the lines. That was until we experienced that wallet-bashing sound of the chain snapping. Junior coasted the kart up the straight and into the pits. Initially, things looked ok but, when we put the kart down for another session, we noticed there was very little compression: you could push the kart along with little effort. It was clear that engine was going to need looking at and the race motor was going to have to come out.

By this time, we had lost the majority of the afternoon. We got a really good final couple of hours in, running nicely in solitude as the sun set, although there wasn’t really enough time to work on all of the corners as we would have liked. It was a good, very educational day. Junior had some key areas for concern pointed out to him and we left with a much clearer idea as to how to cut a large chunk of the ~0.8s that we had been off at the weekend, just a shame the day was unusually poor from a problem perspective.

Thanks to Tim Wilson of TWM Motorsport for his expert coaching 🙂

Into the sunset :)Cost of day: Practice fee £40, bridge toll £6, fuel £10, petrol £10, coaching £100, new tyres for next race weekend £145

Total spent this year: £1,202

Our 2015 shakedown

Although we made an early start to the year in a borrowed kart, it was really good to get Junior out in his own kart at the weekend for a shakedown ahead of the opening round of the club championship next week. Having had the chassis stripped right down for a respray (that I susbsequently deferred in favour of touch-up), it’s always a welcome relief to see the thing remain in one piece! I had spent a good chunk of the Saturday trying to get my action camera optimally fitted. The Sony HDR-AS30V has so far seemed like a very nice piece of kit but it is woefully let down by Sony’s lack of mount options: No tilt mount was available at release date and when they did attempt to correct that omission, they produced a tilt mount that lacked full 180 degree movement, opting for one that rotates in 30 degree increments (which sucked on the nassau) 🙁 So I had bought some M3 bolts and rubber spacers in a bid to make something that at least worked for me.

It was a wonderfully sunny day considering the time of year. The track was already dry and grippy at 10am even if there were patches of frost remaining on the kerbs. Our first mission was to run in the practice motor. On the recommendation from my builder, we shortened the run-in time compared to the process we undertook for our race engine; Opting to spend a 10-minute session at 11,000rpm, 10-minutes at 13,000rpm and then a final 5-minutes at 15,000rpm. Running in after a full chassis strip was a good thing since the kart wouldn’t be worked too hard and I could check over all of the nuts and bolts whilst the engine was cooling down. After that we got on with our goal for the day: Improving Junior’s lines.

We’d talked about this. I don’t ever criticise Junior’s driving but there was a point a few weeks back where I told him that he needed to up his game if he wanted to compete this year. I’d be perfectly happy to carry on as we were if he was going to be happy finishing towards the back of the pack but, even allowing for some incompetence on my part, there were huge savings to be found in his driving. He didn’t like it at the time but I pay a lot of money in support of his enjoyment of this sport so, from time to time, I say my piece and expect him to listen to it! We walked the track first thing and agreed that we’d work on getting The Dell sorted. It is an important corner at Llandow, especially for Junior as he tends to lose time in Sector 1 so is often under pressure here as they enter the main passing zone.

Things went pretty well for us, lap-wise. Although the track was disappointingly busy so there were two groups of owner/drivers (2-strokes and 4-strokes) in addition to the odd arrive/drive session, which meant that we only got in 61 laps, Junior worked really well to the extent that he lapped within a tenth of his personal best time. The camera worked really well, the mount didn’t snap (for now) and the Alfano continues to impress me. Video footage of one of his sessions can be found on YouTube although I still haven’t mastered the quality loss that YouTube’s encoding process seems to inflict and I have no idea why I am the only one who can view the video at 1080p 60fps :S

Sony video footageWe had a couple of mishaps: one of Junior’s friends wanted to try our kart as he had some issues with his own but he only got in two laps before the chain snapped. Not really sure what caused it – I’d never had a chain snap until we got a shunt towards the end of last season, when we lost our reliable Panther chain but this EZ chain lacked the longevity (and just as I was singing the virtues of our switch to Silkolene chain lube after two years tolerating the mess caused by my purchase of a job lot of tins of Rock!). I hadn’t realised that the Alfano wasn’t switched on so we don’t have any data to suggest whether or not the engine revs went through the roof. Following this our day ended prematurely when, in plunging temperatures, Junior lost it on the out lap and snapped the bumper bolt. This did annoy me, probably more than it should have, especially since I had put the tyres up for a test without forewarning him!

Cost of day: Practice fee £40, bridge toll £6, fuel £10, petrol £10, new chain £20

Total spent this year: £757

An early start to 2015

Although our kart was stripped in preparation for having the chassis powder coated, I took up the offer of a rolling chassis loan and we headed to Llandow for our first practice of the year. We had a few things on the agenda: make sure the Alfano ADM data logger (an eBay Christmas purchase) worked, test the case of carbs (another eBay purchase) that I had bought and sent straight off for cleaning and rebuilding and also to try out my own Christmas presents: a Sony AS30 Actioncam and a digital tyre pressure gauge.

We got a bit of a surprise when we turned up and the circuit was locked but we were still on track for the day’s first session a little after 10:30. It was a beautifully sunny winter’s day but there was a bitter wind and I opted to don the waterproofs to keep warm. We had a few early hiccups: Junior complained the seat was too small and that he was unable to turn the wheel! This was the seat that was two sizes bigger than his seat and that I had used for the IKR Parent’s Race but, once we had moved the steering column forward, he was happy. Thankfully the Alfano system worked perfectly so we could actually see what we were doing on track! We were with another JTKM and, despite the presence of a couple of Honda cadets, it was nice that the circuit maintained an open pit lane as it meant that we could pretty much come and go as we pleased, only having to make way for a handful of arrive/drive sessions. The cadets weren’t a problem either and Junior gave them plenty of space when he caught them.

The day went reasonably well; although I’m not sure that Junior is really consistent enough to get reliable data on the carbs (having said that, he did manage to post consecutive identical laps and follow them up with another 3/100ths slower!), he found one that he thinks that he had a preference for – it was the first time we’ve used an 820 although I wasn’t telling him the series as we tested them (I’ve not yet had a chance to look at the data from a carb perspective). He was getting much needed track experience and was trying some different lines in various parts of the track. On the downside, I didn’t really give the digital tyre gauge a proper test (I need to read the manual again! :S) and the Sony camera didn’t really do itself justice owing to a lack of mounting options – the flat mount that we had to use was too flat for the FP7 nassau and I think just moved to one side (the curved mount curved the wrong way to be of any use), it really needed screwing to the nassau. The footage was underwhelming too but this might be down to my laptop’s ability to playback 1080p @60fps. The Alfano data was, once I managed to install the software on Windows 8 and to get it talking to my laptop bluetooth, really impressive – after getting home, I was entertaining myself watching Junior’s laps racing themselves into the early hours.

Alfano's VisualData analysis software

Alfano’s VisualData analysis software

You can click the above pic to open a larger version. Clockwise from top-left is the RPM range histogram; lap deltas (entering the final hairpin both yellow and blue laps are ahead of his red lap, which was our fastest on the day – Junior’s blue lap loses 3.35m here!); the RPM (top) and speed (bottom) line graph; sectors table; track map showing acceleration/decceleration. As you can see, there is a gold mine of data in there! 😀

On the flip side, check out the Llandow track map according the Sony camera GPS:

This isn't actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

This isn’t actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

Cost of day: £35 practice fee, £6 bridge toll, £16 petrol, £6 fuel, £9 chain lube

Costs since last post: £70 carb cleaning and rebuilds, £30 cost of new OTK steering wheel after selling the F1 wheel

Total spent this year: £172

Running in @Clay: featuring Mr Erratic Rotax

Having had the race engine back for a couple of months and still finished running it in, we headed off to Clay on Friday for a host of reasons; primarily to get the engine run in but also to compare the engines, work on lines and test some theories regarding grip (or the lack of it at the last race day). It was nice not to be rushing around madly as we do on a race weekend and the journey down wasn’t too bad for a week day. Unfortunately, the forecast had worsened through the week and it seemed we wouldn’t get the perfect weather for getting through the list of things to do. On top of that, there were a couple of four stroke events on over the weekend so the track was much busier than I had been hoping.

The first few sessions went well enough as we worked through the mid-range of the engine revs but then we hit a snag – anything over 13.5k revs seemed to start some kind of noise that I couldn’t explain even if I thought I knew what Junior was talking about! He was sure that it was an engine problem, which is the one problem area that fills me with dread 😮 I spoke with a few people – my engine builder and the guy I bought the engine from both of whom suggested it was four-stroking. It didn’t seem like it was four stroking but I tweaked the jet settings a touch and we tried again – the problem got worse the more revs Junior gave it. I changed the carb in case it had gone bad (and in the process discovered that my carb popoff tester was faulty and I had very likely been getting my carbs rebuilt unnecessarily!) but still we had the same problem. I was about to give up and fit the other engine so that we could at least get something out of the day but it was then that my own ‘karting dad’ (figuratively speaking) asked if my axle was bent – now this struck a chord!!! We had crashed at Llandow last time out but had competed in a race after the crash without any such problem (even if we only managed 2 laps before our exhaust manifold snapped) but it wasn’t the axle I suspected, rather a bearing hanger I had bought used and fitted the night before. When attempting to refit the axle after fitting the hanger, the axle was a good few inches away from aligning with the bearing hanger on the brake side. It turned out that the bearings seemed to have suffered some damage and were out of alignment. I had removed them at home, knocked them straight and refitted the axle – seemingly without issue. I was desperate to give the engine another chance so replaced both the bearing hanger and the axle just to ensure we could prove that the engine was/was not to blame. Luckily, the problem disappeared 😀 I am still not 100% sure that it was the bearings in the hanger but the axle looks good and I’ve refitted for our next outing.

After that our day was a bit hit and miss. The rain came and went and, although Junior seemed to be enjoying the conditions following a confidence boosting wet heat at Llandow, it meant we didn’t get the consistent weather that we needed to be able to back-to-back the engines. Nor work on lines. Nor test grip theories. We also broke both our bumpers – one when a prokart ran into the back of us into The Hairpin and another time courtesy of a bloke in a Rotax who was clearly very quick but was driving  erratically and making moves as though his life depended on every corner – bear in mind that this was just a practice day! If you had asked ten bystanders to point out which of the 30 karts on track looked most like the driver was under the influence of something, I guarantee everyone would have picked the same bloke!!! I am normally a fan of having large, mixed grids but seeing this bloke push us wide and then punt a prokart into the very next corner made me go and request the sessions were divided. It didn’t rid us of Mr Erratic Rotax but it did give us enough space we could steer well clear of him. Although you will inevitably see contact in karting, I don’t normally expect it at practice days!!!

In the end, we had achieved the main goal of running in the engine. Both of my bumpers have been snapped but at least my emergency bumper retention system (some rubber hose and hose clips) proved their worth.

I’m not sure where we’ll be headed next – Junior wants to do the next round at Clay but it’s looking like a very busy weekend with three additional classes taking part and that sets off my ‘track time alert’!!! It’s likely we’ll race unless there is a chance of a repeat of the ‘slower karts starting in front of the faster karts‘ fiasco we saw earlier in the year (the last time that there was a big Formula Blue event at the track). That lead to us/me getting into all sorts of bother – I won’t be doing that again…

Cost of practice:£35 practice fee, £12 petrol, £6 fuel
Spent since last post: used bearing hangers, £30, two used carbs £70

Total spent this year: £3,657

 

TKM Dads Day Out :D

When I bought Junior’s kart, I would never have thought it would be 16 months before I got to drive it! The trouble is that, once you get into Dad/Lad karting, there are just too many other things that you can do with your time and money to help get Junior on the pace. To ensure that we finally addressed this, this day was pencilled in months ago as a number of Dads (and Mum!) had expressed a desire to join the fun.

Getting the kart ready had been a mad rush the night before – putting Junior’s old bodywork on as well as an old axle, sprocket, sprocket carrier and chain and fitting a seat I had borrowed in a bid not to crush my rib cage. That got finished at around 10:30. Then I had to change some tyres! So much for enjoying the World Cup opener :/ Getting to the track took almost twice as long as it did on Sunday  but the weather was glorious – easily the warmest I have experienced at Clay this year. With an Easykart race weekend at the track, I was a little concerned that the track might be busy but I needn’t have worried – with no skiving cadets, it was OPEN TRACK!!! 😀 I had no intentions of messing around with setups – just add fuel, set tyre pressures and drive.

The day didn’t get off to the best of starts – we lost a couple of drivers enroute who broke down, another Dad who had starting problems and another with airbox issues but we soon settled in. Not owning a racesuit, I used one of the circuit’s rental suits – I picked a nice looking one but only later found it had the name ‘AMY’  embroidered on it!!! The first session was good – although I did not once feel in total control of the kart, I was quick enough – a 37.7s wasn’t bad (I just wanted to get below 40s!) although it was a little hairy at times and I backed off when I thought I was pushing a little bit too keenly and was at risk of binning it. My tyre pressures were way to high though and I think I left most of the tread they had left on the track in the opening session.

As the day went on, I shave off 3/10ths and even more rubber – the tyres were shot by the day’s end. I only went off [properly] once, when my rear wheel touched the grass and I very quickly found myself facing backwards. I got a little bit smoother through the day although I will never be ‘Jenson-smooth’ and started to get The Hairpin and Horseshoe somewhere near right by the end. My ribs weren’t bad once I broke Junior’s rib protector and made do without it. Unfortunately for Junior, I *could* lock the brakes and make them squeal nicely into the fastest corners – so he’s going to have me back on his case on that one next month! The day ended with a fuel tank flapping around between my legs!?! I don’t forget to tie Junior’s tank to the chassis except when he isn’t driving it seems. There was still time for a go in another Dad’s TaG-engined JTKM which was a bit of an eye-opener – boy, does that thing pick up from the corners! I only did a few laps in it a) because I didn’t want to risk damaging it and b) there was a huge vibration on the left-hand side that was a bit off-putting! (we think he might have damaged it in an off earlier).

All-in-all it was a really enjoyable day – I’ve never bought so many drinks from the shop and I’ll never again complain about losing a minute from the races on a race weekend! I am not sure it is something I’d want to do every week but I’ll definitely be back at some point 🙂