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!
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