You don’t always need to stand on the top step to be a winner

So, for the first time, Junior took the chequered flag… and was excluded shortly after! Although adamant that he was alongside his rival as he made a pass at Chandlers before the two came together, his rival and, more importantly, the marshal report said otherwise. Unusually for me, I could have no opinion: standing at Raymonds affords a view of only half of the track (hence nobody else wants to cover that corner!). The Clerk read out the report first (they really should hear from both parties before reading the report), our rival said their bit and then chirped in a few wisecracks as Junior put up his defence. The marshal was summoned who reiterated his write-up (I’m not sure what else he would do) and we were hung, drawn and quartered. More disappointingly, we rushed to review the footage within the 30-minute window (should really have learned how to pair the phone with the camera *before* we had an urgent need) only to find that the battery given up for the day almost as soon as I had switched it on for the final 🙁 I’m not sure why that was so important to us, I would never put any money down to launch an appeal anyway (appeals are for the ‘haves’, not the ‘have nots’). Junior still feels hard done by but, in all honesty, I’m really not that bothered. The truth is that he was a winner in my eyes long before the incident that ended what was an engaging tussle. To have driven so well all weekend, to the extent that he totally offset any new tyre advantage on race day was a fantastic achievement. I’d only ever seen it done once before and by a driver far more accomplished than us. We should have been three seconds behind in every race so it was hard to be anything other than delighted with the pace that Junior had shown. If anything, not having the camera footage did us a favour: Had it shown Junior to be the guilty party, it may have knocked his confidence. Had it shown Junior to have been robbed a maiden win by an inaccurate marshal report, I’d have likely gone off on a rant that would still be going on now and very likely would only serve to haunt me later! As it is, he’s itching for the next round and a chance to show his pace on fresh rubber 🙂

Practice Saturday was really only about two things: bedding in new brakes and testing new rims. Unfortunately we did neither: I realised only on the Friday evening that I lacked the caliper support bracket to accommodate the different sized disc and the ‘pristine’ rims that I had bought off of ‘that auction site’ turned out to have been used for two years and were cracked and/or bent! :/ As a result, we decided not to set an alarm, get up whenever and then head to the track when we were good and ready. We were still on-track by noon and, pleasingly, on the pace instantly, even on our ‘travel tyres’ (our best tyres stay indoors but the kart needs to sit on something when in storage; these are known as the travel tyres!). We were quicker again on the practice tyres, affording us the rare luxury of spending the afternoon testing. Whilst things went really well for us, the only negative thing to happen was the loss of one of the entries as one of our friends had their sole engine seize in the final session of the day, the second time in a matter of months by all accounts 🙁 It was that awkward moment when you want to help but, with only two engines ourselves and being this close to the Super One round, I couldn’t risk anything happening to the #2 engine as much as I would love to offered it to them.

We were in a good place for race day. Even with losing one entrant, we still had a very respectable grid of eight. Junior TKM at Llandow is hanging in there and still the biggest grid at the club. We didn’t have the best grid positions: 5,2,5,2 in our *four* heats 😉 but Junior’s starts were very good and we found ourselves in a familiar pattern: we’d get to the front and then get passed at some point by our rival for the day. Not being on fresh rubber once again, it was something that I had expected. Our goal was to be within 0.3s per lap and, to that end, Junior was massively exceeding my expectations. There was no harm in defeat and he was showing a consistency I’d only ever seen glimpses of before. Junior started in #P2 for the final, lost a place at the start (as you do) but soon got the place back and was tucked in behind the leader for half of the race before two karts left my sight going down the hill into Chandlers and only one came back into sight at The Dell. I cannot say anything about the contact although I wear my rose-tinted spectacles just like any other karting dad. I will say one thing though: I’ll never again be the push starter at Raymonds. I’m going to stand at The Hook so that I can watch the race (and have an opinion) like everyone else! I do regret the lack of race observers at the club this year. Any kind of officiating is difficult but marshals are there to ensure the safety of drivers in their section, reporting incidents isn’t their primary task (ok, so I really said two things!). No matter, what’s done is done. Junior took the chequered flag and, having spent far too long trying to review the on-board footage, we packed up and were the last to leave the track.

It was hard to be too disappointed considering the pace we had shown, it so nearly could have been the perfect preparation for next month and what will be our biggest month in karting. Roll on Super One.