I’d mostly finished writing this and only realised that I hadn’t actually posted it when somebody messaged me to tell me that they hoped I hadn’t stopped writing the blog! My apologies folks, especially since we are closer to the next race weekend than the last one but here it is…
It was the start of a new era. All of our closest chums had gone: to Super One and to TKM Extreme 🙁 The loss of the twin-sized awning that I shared with another Dad at Clay Pigeon IKR in November left me with two choices: a heavy duty, compact awning with a £500 price tag or the rental of a garage space at Llandow for a more modest £160. Awning pros: I can use it anywhere, anytime. Awning cons: I’d need a compact awning that aren’t quite as strong as the heavier awnings that carry a 5-year warranty and it would leave me needing to find space in an already packed camping trailer or Clio. Garage pros: Warm. Dry. Sheltered. Enough said!
It started raining as soon as we hit Cardiff and didn’t stop until we passed Cardiff again on the way home! We arrived to find our spot for the season and then unpacked as quickly as possible. Following our incomplete mission to run-in the practice motor earlier in the week, the first half of the day wasn’t a lot of fun for Junior: not only was it cold, wet and windy but he was having to potter around for the first four sessions at limited power. On a positive note it was the perfect opportunity for him to explore different areas of a very, very wet track to find what grip he could. I didn’t really help him that he was running with our worst inters (he didn’t complain so I didn’t make a big deal of it!) but I was preserving the better sets, particularly as our hitherto new wets had seen duty a couple of times in December. The track itself was very quiet; entries at the club were the lowest I had ever seen, despite the club offering four heats and a final on the Sunday!!! The grid would be a small one but we’d see a hell of a lot more track time than some clubs I could mention… Junior enjoyed himself anyway. An open track on a practice Saturday was a unique experience and we were one of handful of drivers remaining on the track when the weather made a further turn for the worse and we called it a day. Drying the kart was a lengthy process :/
Race Sunday. The track was still wet and it didn’t look like the new slicks I had bought would be seeing any action. This would be our first races with the new MSA ‘droopy bumper’ fittings in place. With there being no problem with the driving standards at Llandow, I was already not a fan. Since the regulations weren’t kicking in until the March round this was just a testing opportunity to see how we got on with them. The karting gods had been kind to Junior and, starting 5th, 3rd, 1st and 3rd, he had a very kind grid draw. Did I already mention that there were FOUR HEATS? 😉
It wasn’t long before we were back into familiar territory however: with the two quickest drivers from last year having moved to Extreme, we should really have been contesting the win. Our performance on track indicated that was unlikely. Starting 5th, Junior quickly moved up to 3rd position and held 2nd for exactly one corner but we were 0.7s off the pace of the comfortable winner who was on fresh wets. In heat #2 our fate was pretty much confirmed. Junior started on pole but, with both his main rivals now on new tyres, dropped to third within two laps and was 9s adrift by the end of the race. He just didn’t have the grip that he needed and there was very little that I could do about it (I did try!). Significantly, despite no contact in either race (no – I didn’t just take his word for it, yes – I did check the GoPro) his bumper had ‘drooped’ in both heats. I thought I had made an even better job of tightening the clamps after the first heat but clearly not enough. It didn’t help that the brackets did not properly fit our kart so the bumper was only fully seated in half of each bracket. I cursed the ABKC and MSA (again) and, as the new brackets were not mandatory at this round, I took them off: I just didn’t need the distraction.
Heat #3 was a minor highlight. Junior won but only because his rivals failed to complete the race. Heat #4 saw us finish third again and you don’t need me to tell you where we finished the final!
Our day was done. The four heats was nice, would have been better still if we were on the pace. Junior picked up another trophy which was about the only consolation for an otherwise disappointing day. We’d clearly be needing new wets for the next round and some investigation into improving the bumper bracket fitting.
Costs: I need to find some receipts and quickly get this counter running before it’s too late!