Race 6: This is MSA racing???

As you may have gathered from my last post, our first race day off of novice plates didn’t really go to plan. The weekend began with one very lucky escape: Junior was carrying out the trailer light tests before we left home and then asked why there were no ratchet straps on the kart!!! I normally put the straps on loosely the night before and then tighten them up in the morning (I do this because so as not to stress the chassis for longer than I have to, whether this has merit or not I don’t know!) – I realised as I put the kart away that I hadn’t strapped it but decided to do it morning. I am so, so, so, so lucky that Junior spotted this – what might have happened doesn’t even bear thinking about.

Saturday was a decent enough day at the track. We were a little off the pace, maybe 3/10ths or so but I was content that the race engine would bring us a little closer. It was notable only for my getting sun burnt (again) and deciding to stay overnight at the George Albert Hotel next to the track in a bid to help me overcome jet lag having arrived from the US on the Thursday. It was nice to stay over for a few beers with the regulars although I would recommend the Karters Menu rather than the restaurant menu (or ideally, the Karters Menu then the white chocolate cheesecake from the restaurant menu 😉 ). I didn’t get any extra sleep though, as I didn’t nod off until 1:30am. The full English breakfast hit the spot however!

The first heat was a little disappointing; we started 2nd, quickly dropped back and then spent the remainder of the race fending off the lead novice. We got clipped once into Billies, as the novice flashed his nose down inside as Junior committed to the entry but he just ran up over our wheel and we continued unhindered. We made a couple of changes for heat two and we were doing ok until Junior allowed himself to be forced off on the entry to The Horseshoe on the penultimate or final lap. The driver that made the move had just performed the exact same move on someone else too. It was unfortunate but Junior should have held his ground and either let the karts come together – no point in letting yourself get pushed off! Both Junior and the other driver who had been persuaded off wanted to see the Clerk about it but nothing had been reported and it was then that we learnt any further action would cost us £110! 😮

Heat three saw the club make the ridiculous decision to put the slower, small Formula Blue grid ahead of the Junior TKMs. I still don’t understand why, it just seems like a stupid thing to do – why on earth would you start slower karts ahead of faster ones??? I asked the Clerk about it afterwards but he said that, having watched the race, he was happy that the JTKMs only caught one FB (conveniently ignoring the fact that the JTKM Dads had held back their drivers so that the Formula Blues had three-quarters of a lap head start!). It was an average heat – we comfortably held off the novices without ever really challenging those in front.

We started sixth for the final; last of the full license holders. It was a really good race. At least the first nine laps were. All bar one of the JTKMs were pretty much in a line. We weren’t falling off the main group but then we caught the Formula Blues(!), the pack got bunched up and we got clipped coming out of the Top Bend – the fastest part of the track. The kart behind stuck his nose up the inside (again) as Junior exited the corner and he got spun, hard into the tyres. He was as angry as I have ever seen him and I cannot really blame him – I bet the adrenalin is flowing when driving at 60mph a couple of inches from the ground and you are on the ragged edge, focusing on pushing the kart that tiny bit harder to make up ground. And he was driving a really good race. The fun didn’t end there though: there was no yellow flag initially as I tried to remove the kart from the corner exit. And when the flag was finally shown, someone ignored it and hit our kart hard. The bumper was bent into the tyre but I thought I had gotten away without any further damage until this evening when I discovered that the new axle is badly bent. I am still hoping the chassis is straight – I have taken some measurements and it looks ok. We visited the Clerk for one final time – nobody had seen us being spun and, although the MSA steward had witnessed the Formula Blue hit our kart under yellows, it wasn’t deemed worthy of any further action. Unless I wanted to part with £110…

So there we have it – I am still amazed at the contact permitted without even a word for the offenders. Is this MSA racing or maybe it’s just what is permitted at Clay? It wouldn’t be permitted in arrive and drive karting and I absolutely thought this would be officiated in a much stricter manner. Any initial perception I had that non-MSA racing would somehow be less ‘safe’ has gone straight out of the window. Where we go from here I am not so sure – Junior wants to complete the season at Clay and the TKM community there are amazing but I am feeling more than a little disenchanted with several aspects of racing at Clay right now. Maybe I just need to get over it – that’s karting, right? But is it??? Being ginger and headstrong doesn’t help either! Putting the camera on the rear of the kart is one option. Racing elsewhere is another…

Cost of day: £15 petrol, £9 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £49 race entry fee, £130 hotel bill

Items purchased since last post: Exhaust flex, wrap – £27

Total spent this year: £1,492

Practice 12: Engine test

I picked up the engine from the builders on Friday: he had had good look at the electrical side and could find no issues – the thing sparked every time. The crank misalignment had been resolved and some bearings replaced. My wallet was £138 lighter but more concerning was the uncertainty this left us with over the state of the engine and it left me with a decision: practice this weekend so that I could check the engine out or next weekend on the practice Saturday before we race. No really a choice, huh? It meant that the kart, which I’m a little bit ashamed to say had gone untouched since Dunks (I know… but you know I am usually *very* prompt at cleaning up), was going to need a fair bit of work done to get it ready. In the evening. In my dingy garage. With minimal lighting (even the street light outside my garage was broken!). Fours hours later and we were pretty much good to go – it was bedtime and I had barely seen the family although that seems to happen a lot since we bought this thing 🙁

Saturday – we were two miles from Clay when I realised I hadn’t actually checked to see if the track was open for practice!!! *Never* do this! Luckily, they were only two vans there when we arrived: there definitely was no event on 🙂 The track was bathed in the kind of glorious sunshine for which Clay is renowned:

If view when arriving at Clay October through April!

The view when arriving at Clay anytime from October through April!

There were two problems to begin with: when you are wanting to test a motor that has a suspected electrical issue, you really want to be able to test the spark. And for that, your starter really needs it’s battery, which I had left the battery at home on charge! Next problem was the flat tyre on our trolley: I hadn’t sorted it out which meant I’d be spending the day pumping up the trolley tyre between sessions. Ho hum – on with engine testing…

The kart started first time and we kept the kart to below 12,000rpm for the first session. That went smoothly and I pulled Junior in after ten minutes to let the engine cool and make sure all was well. The second session was hampered by a ‘feeling’. Junior has these from time to time and will drive straight into the pits and report them! Sometimes I really wish he’d just spend another lap trying to identify these ‘feelings’ although there are times when I wish he would just STOP THE KART IMMEDIATELY!!! You can’t have it both ways I guess 😉 It was time for slicks anyway so we took the kart off to check it out. I couldn’t find any real issues although the chainguard was knocking on the finger guard and he has objected to his side pods being too loose before so I tightened those a little. Typically, by the time our next session started it was starting to rain. Junior stuck in a handful of laps before coming in complaining about revs again. This was becoming a pretty big issue – he had reported it at Dunks last week and I really could have done without it becoming a persistent issue. It was raining pretty heavily now so we covered up the kart and sat in the car for an early lunch (scoff all you like – I bet you have an awning! ;)). Keen not miss two session, I got my waterproofs on an got the kart set up for the wet. The sun was shining by the time I had finished :-]

Anyway….we looked a little off the pace in the wet. I think fundamentally Junior doesn’t have the confidence to push as hard as he needs to. It’s one of things that comes practice I guess. It was a pretty windy day so, once the rain stopped, the track dried quite quickly. Junior was never going to be setting any PBs today and his revs never really got much above 15,000rpm but his lines *really* improved over the course of the afternoon – he clearly had a lot more confidence when the grip was there and I couldn’t really fault what he was doing (consistency excepted!). He looked pretty quick, which was really encouraging to see. I’ll be doing a Sun Dance on Saturday evening in a bid to keep the rain away – I am quite keen to see where were are in the overall scheme of things (I’ll be going by how many seconds off the penultimate finisher we are!). We had the odd problem – Junior came straight back in complaining something wasn’t right and, when we looked at it on the trolley, the engine mount bolts were loose and the chain had much more slack than it should. I think I may have only hand tightened the engine restraining bolt – I should be above this now 🙁 but at least I didn’t lose the mount brackets and bolts. The revs issue also raised it’s ugly head again although I think we might have solved this one – after changing the carb, he said it was fine for 15 laps before it happened again and he came in. At this point I noticed that the fuel was pretty low and, running a 3l tank, I am wondering if the fuel is moving from side to side around bends and we are starting to get air into the system. We kept the tank topped up and had no problems thereafter. Consider this a tip 😉

Of course it had to rain when we were 20 minutes from home, just to ensure I spend three hours rather than one tomorrow cleaning up :/

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £9 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee

Costs since last post: £138 engine repairs

Total spent so far: £4,140 (Ouch – we’ve broken £4k!!! If you see my missus, don’t mention this blog!)

Engine repairs

Following our Dunkeswell woes, I took the engine into John at Revolution Racing Engines to have the ignition stator checked out. The good news was that the stator looked fine and sparked consistently. The bad news was that the stator looked fine and sparked consistently! John is going to give a thorough examination but I could find we’ll be heading into the unknown at the next Clay race meeting. Could do with a practice session before I enter but money (especially karting money) is pretty tight. Our crank is also out of alignment and that will necessitate the engine to be stripped down.

I await news. And the bill… :/

Race weekend 2: Rescued from the depths of despair!!!

I’ve walked the valley of despair – it’s a long, thin piece of tarmac; big fence on one side, grass on the other, tyres dotted around to slow speeding karts and a big white coach halfway down with ‘Mansell Raceway‘ written on the side. Just like the pit entrance at Dunkeswell 😉 As I pushed Junior’s kart off the track for the fourth or fifth time of the weekend, I had reached my lowest point as a karting Dad so far. There are plenty of observant folk around the paddock and I wondered what they would be thinking of my inability to keep my lad on track. My embarrassment was complete.

Practice Saturday was a day when, pound for ounce of enjoyment, I lost out even though the day was free because of a Dunkeswell offer for novices!!! It was one of those days when you were continually setting the kart up for one weather condition and then changing it back again and nothing whatsoever went right.

We’d luckily found three spaces for myself and two other Dads who we were travelling down with, avoiding parking at the far end of the top car park where it would have been a 10-minute walk to the pit lane. We missed the first couple of sessions setting up the awning and the kart. It went south from there on – Junior broke down at Hangar Bend (the furthest part of the track from the pits!) on the out lap of his first session. I got to him and got him going again before immediately cutting out again. Back at the pits, I was about to whip the carb off before I got the advice to check the spark first. I would urge you always make this your first troubleshooting step! We had no spark. This first problem was a loose wire on the PVL coil – easily fixed but our day was hampered by Junior constantly complaining of the kart not picking up from low revs and frequent failures of one type or another – we had a chain snap which, on investigation appeared to be caused by the front and rear sprockets being inexplicably out of alignment (they were definitely aligned at the start of the day and there was no sign that the axle or the rear sprocket had moved – none of those tell-tale dirty circles where something has moved on the axle). I couldn’t explain that one. We then lost a front wheel in front of everyone stood at the pit exit (I had negated to check the wheel nuts that Junior had tightened). And our misery was completed by the engine going pop and Junior losing revs once again. Again, I could find no explanation – I took the kart back to the pits to give it a thorough examination but could see nothing wrong and it started on the trolley immediately. It capped off a pretty rotten day and I had a plan of work for the evening which involved replacing the ‘new’ exhaust, the airbox filter and checking carbs and really just hoping things were going to be better in the morning although we did have the offer of an engine loan from one of the other Dads (who would be our friendly rivals on race day) should my overnight efforts come to nothing.

Sunday was a chance to start anew. The English countryside looked pretty spectacular as we made our way through Devon to Dunkeswell. It almost seemed a shame we’d be spending the day driving a noisy kart in it. And that, if the forecast was correct, it was going to be raining heavily in a couple of hours! I’d told Junior to take the positives from yesterday and assume that the kart would work properly given the efforts to rectify the problem. There were only two Junior TKMs in the grid so I was a little uncertain what to expect even ignoring the questions over my ability to keep the kart running. We got there nice and early but still managed to find ourselves rushing to make the warm-up (there is no tannoy system at Dunks). Then the kart failed to start on the trolley with the remote starter! Again, we had no spark although my expert advisor (the other TKM Dad) quickly sussed that the electrical cable running into the ignition stator had an intermittent problem (you know one of those that you wiggle and they go away). We bunged it in place with a bit of rubber and it sparked and started fine. We lined up for the warm-up; there were 6 or 8 MiniMaxs and a Junior Blue in front of the two Direct Drive TKMs. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out who was the only one not to start 🙁 There was no sign of the engine starting and we stopped as soon as we were off the Bottom Bend, I pulled the kart behind the barrier and crouched out of sight – partly to regain my breath, partly just to hide for a moment. The weekend was very quickly becoming a nightmare.

We got back and, together with the other TKM Dad (although make no mistake, he was in charge), set about putting their engine and carb on – we needed to get this turned around fast if we were to make Heat 1. It was a good job one of us had a kart that more or less maintained itself! We made it with a few minutes to spare. We had very generously been loaned their former race engine – having roped me into going to Dunks in the first place, it appears he felt some compassion towards my plight! So Junior took his place in the first heat: it was a bit odd seeing the Minimax grid charge past and then, 10 seconds behind, a Junior Blue and a pair of Junior TKMs – it would have nicer to see them a little closer and more involved in the wider race but there we go. Junior’s start was ok but, on cold slicks, he was caught out in the second corner and span, stalling the engine. He wouldn’t have lost quite as much time had he given me a chance to get out into the midfield from the pits! I got him going again and off he went, with me hoping he managed to keep it clean for the rest of the race, if only to appease the novice assessor! A few laps later somebody took a huge run-up and kicked me square in the b*****ks. Or they might as well have: the kart lost power gain, Junior looked over at me and held up a questioning hand as he pulled in right under the viewing area. The other Dad could not believe it and, if I had a pound for every time the other Dad uttered the words “I can’t believe it broke down”, I would have recouped my entry fee! 😉 Did we have another issue? I was thinking perhaps we had a fuel problem – maybe the filter or something. As I pushed the kart off track again, I started to think about what other mechanics were thinking of me – they are a pretty observant bunch and I’m sure my weekend troubles weren’t passing unnoticed. Every mechanic will have their lows but this left me pretty close to rock bottom. We got back and, would you believe it? One of the wires had come off of the coil. Different engine, different coil, same problem as the previous day! Then something happened that I had never before experienced: the racing stopped for an hour to observe the local church service. I don’t know what others made of this but I thought it was fantastic! How typically English 🙂

You can put the handkerchiefs away now, things took a *massive* turn for the better in Heat 2; in fact I’d go as far as to say it was my most enjoyable moment in karting so far. Both TKMs were on wets and Junior got a fantastic start – he could only have been centimetres behind the pole man as they cross the start line, denying the leader the opportunity of moving over to avoid the puddles on the inside of the track. Junior managed to undercut and take the lead! THAT’S RIGHT – WE LED A RACE 🙂 (I know there were only two karts but please humour me if you will – there hadn’t been many highs over the weekend). Not only that but we lost it and regained several times over the next couple of laps – it really great to see Junior racing in a manner that I’d not seen since his last arrive/drive karting exploits. It put a massive smile on my face although there were one or two occasions where I feared Junior would commit the cardinal sin and take out the person who had loaned us an engine and spent *a lot* of time trying to help fix our kart (and not only this weekend either!). It didn’t last long though – Junior’s excitement got the better of him, he didn’t quite lose the back end but did lose an awful lot of revs and the lead and that was pretty much that. His pace was decent though and we were only 12 seconds behind and our fastest lap 1.3s slower.

Heat 3 and the Final were both run on slicks; we didn’t get such great starts in those and Junior said he was caught out by some underhand accelerating early tactics (I jest, I am sure this happens all the time although our opponent was definitely mixing it up now!). Junior did pretty well though: we were 8 seconds off in Heat 3 and, although Junior really got put in his place in the final – finishing 21s adrift, his lines were still improving and his lap times were still coming down.

Not the most exciting grid ever to have adorned a kart track!

I have to be honest: I’ve seen more exciting Junior TKM grids!

So that was that. We handed back our loan engine (which turned out to be the one used to set the Junior TKM lap record at Dunkeswell!). Unfortunately, Junior said it felt a lot quicker than ours so I await all sorts of ‘my engine is not quick enough’ comments next time we are out :/ The enjoyment of watching Junior race (I mean really race) and visibly improve his lines on the Sunday afternoon had eradicated the pain of Saturday and Sunday morning. We had a decent amount of wet practice and Junior was never more than 1.5s off the pace so that was encouraging. Although the engine may have played the part, I think it will only have shown Junior’s true pace – I am kind of hoping our engine isn’t significantly slower but I guess time will tell. I have to thank my good buddy and fellow TKM Dad for all of his help, never mind his engine, over the weekend – we’d have been finished without the help of both him and his lad. I owe you many, many beers 😉

Now I have a poorly engine to get sorted… :O

Cost of weekend: £40 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart, £46 race fee, £23 chain, £5 marshal’s bib

Total spent so far: £3,946

Practice 11: best laps and breakages

The second of back-to-back Saturdays. Once again I found myself awake in the early hours, brain totally engaged thinking about the day. Having found the benefits of an early arrival (i.e. plenty of time to get ready for the first session without rushing) to my liking last week, we arrived an hour before the track opened. Unlike last week however, I hadn’t really been able to do as much of the preparation at home the night before owing to the poor weather (the garage has insufficient space to actually work in it and the lighting is awful) so the tyres (a fairly decent ‘new’ used set bought from the forums some time ago) hadn’t been inflated, I hadn’t gotten the new carb gaskets fitted, nor check everything over properly after I had stripped the back end down to dry it last week. The preparation hour was a bit of a rush; I put the new 3l fuel tank on, corrected the kind of mistakes you make when working in the dark (i.e. a front wheel with three wheel nuts but only two bolts used!) and got everything set. We were on the grid when the cadets came off at 10:10.

Our first problem of the day: the kart wouldn’t fire. I gave it a couple of aborted push start attempts but there wasn’t even the hint of it starting. I took it back to the pits and checked the ignition box wire connectors were ok and then checked the spark plug and found that we were not getting a spark. I whipped out the new plug that I had bought in the week for just this purpose and things looked more promising. Hastily, I tossed the old plug in the bin and we went for another attempt at getting on track. Once again the kart is showing no signs of starting so back to the pits again – it seemed the sparking was intermittent. I had used my only spare HT lead at a recent practice at Dunks. Good job that Clay has a shop… only the shop didn’t have one! Fortunately, I was able to borrow one (from my good friend also known as KartingDad’s Karting Dad!), swap the lead over and get the kart starting reliably on the stand and running fine (shame about the plug I threw in the bin full of wasps but never mind).

Junior was on the grid for the start of the second session but only managed three laps before coming in to complain about his brakes. I could see that one pad was rubbing the disc engine-side and there was quite a gap brake-side but assumed, as he had been running ok, that it I could just adjust it at the end of the session. He did another 15 laps but with a slow best time of 39.3s and still complaining about the brake. Back in the pits, I was surprised to see the brake-side pad was rubbing the disc and the gap was now engine-side. If you are thinking “grub screws”, you would be correct: the grub screws had abandoned ship! Pleasingly, I figured that one out straight away too. Disappointingly, this was a mechanic error – I wasn’t overly tightening the grub screws knowing grub screw damage can severely weaken an axle. I have to admit that I hadn’t checked the grub screws at the start of the day so it could well have been that I hadn’t tightened them enough (even for my liking) after refitting the axle. Everything else was still aligned and looking good so it was just the grub screws required – you’d think these would be in stock wouldn’t you? As far as shop stock went, today wasn’t my lucky day so they gave me the only one they had. Having lost a couple at home recently, I only had one spare and my Karting Dad had one also. Cue wandering around the pits trying to buy spares! I managed to get some but it wrote off the remainder of the morning with only 18 laps under our belt and a best (and faulty brake affected) time of 39.1s.

The third session was more like it: 23 laps with a best of 36.6 and lots of time still evident in Junior’s lines. The fourth was better again: running with the camera on-board for first time of the day, Junior managed a 36.5s before the camera mount snapped :S See if you can spot the moment in my YouTube video. I am not convinced this punt on the camera is working – the camera itself is fine but the case and mounts haven’t looked up to the massive vibration that karting poses. For this session we were also running with the MyTach GPS watch. I’ve still not really read up on this but the watch gives you top speed readings and we were looking to test sprocket sizes. Running a 78 sprocket (what we had always run at Clay although I know the quicker guys run a fair bit smaller), we did a fastest lap of 36.57 with a top speed of 64.6mph (ironically analysis at home showed this was not on the fastest lap, which included a top speed of 60.8mph). With our problems seemingly behind us, we switched to a 76 sprocket and ran the GPS again. This time Junior put in a 36.42, the top speed on that lap was 63.8mph and his maximum speed during the session was 64.7mph. Not much in it, I am sure you will agree – I put this down to inconsistency, particularly out of the Top Bend but there was some interesting data in there: he was 3mph quicker down the straight into The Hairpin on the smaller sprocket.

The track then seemed to cool a little and I think my not increasing the tyre pressures a fraction may have cost us a few tenths as we drifted in the 36.6/36.7s laps before we encountered our biggest problem of the day: Junior had been holding up a couple of RotaxMax’s for a few laps and ran wide at The Horseshoe, matey decided to stick his nose up on the outside and, as Junior moved wider to get a line for the bend, they hit – flicking our back end up and causing Junior to run onto the grass. He rejoined the track and ran for another 8 laps. I was very surprised when he came in and I took the chainguard off – the chain looked blackened and dry (it had been freshly lubed) and was missing a few chunks, then I noticed the teeth on the rear sprocket (a brand, spanking new one that day) were wrecked which lead me to a front sprocket with some nice sharp spurs! At this point I needed KartingDad’s Karting Dad (again) as I had no idea how to remove a front sprocket and have learnt I need to buy some new tools :S With hindsight, either of two changes I made during the day may have contributed to this: I removed the sprocket protectors after deciding to use 6 sprocket bolts instead of three (it looked like the front sprocket alignment was a little uneven as the rear sprocket was rotated so I add the extra bolts in case this was the cause and the protectors have three warped holes that no longer easily facilitate the extra bolts) and the chain was running a little looser than I normally have it (on advice!). We went back to the 78 sprocket (now my smallest), a 110  chain (also now my smallest) and fitted a spare front sprocket (thanks again, spares :)).

The track was quieter now and Junior spent the last couple of sessions racing his friends. His lines through the afternoon had really come on – a screech and a lift entering Billies always looks good, taking The Esses with a decent amount of kerb was becoming more of the norm and, although his exit from The Hairpin was still a little tight and he had acquired a new, slower line through The Horseshoe, he was carrying [a little] more speed into and out of the Top Bend. New PB!!! 36.11 🙂 Racing was obviously paying off. For the final session of the day, he spent a few laps following the South West Junior TKM champion 😉 until said champion decided he had enough and wanted to put Junior in his place. Junior didn’t mind though, he was chuffed to bits with another new PB – 36.06s.

So we got off to the worst possible start, endured a pretty expensive day, breakage wise but ended up clocking 166 laps and Junior making further progress.He is definitely quick enough to race. I have no lofty goals/dreams about exactly how competitive he will be, it would be nice to be close enough to the pack to race someone but I doubt that will be the case initially. Whether I am ready to race is another question. I am still making mistakes but I think that is just human nature – I’ll make more than most mechanics, I just need to make sure I learn from them! The troubleshooting is a worry as, if things go wrong, there is no second engine to pull out the trailer, nor is there likely to be for some time. We’re just going to have to see how we get on 🙂

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £5 grub screws

Cost of replacement stuff: £10 ‘new’ chainguard from eBay, £100 new spark plug cap/spark plug/HT lead/6 grub screws/10-tooth front sprocket/Talon size 76 rear sprocket/Panther (I know I could have spent less but I am keen to see if it is stronger and longer lasting) 108 link chain (from Kart Parts UK/Spellfame)

Total spent so far: £3,396

I plan to limit outgoings to race weekends and associated running costs/repairs only for the remainder of the year so kick me if you see me post about new bits and pieces!

Replacement steering wheel: C-K-R MC4

Fortunately Junior’s hand is now fine after carelessly leaving it in between his steering wheel and an adult in a Rotax at the weekend! The steering wheel was pretty badly twisted and, with a new Tonykart steering wheel costing in the region of £150, we were always going to be looking at a used replacement.

I have always (I say always, I’ve only been in the sport for four months) been a fan of the steering wheels that allow the Mychron to fix flush to the wheel’s surface. Although Junior wears a Ribtec – it seems desirable from a safety point of view to have the Mychron sunken into the wheel if possible. There are several options in this respect – mostly manufactured by AiM and all demanding a premium on top of the standard OTK wheel so it was quite timely that I had seen one of the C-K-R F1-style wheels come up on the one of the forums the day before Junior’s accident. Aside from looking fairly cool (especially to a teenager), one of the nice things about this type of wheel is that is flat on top and potentially would allow Junior to see a little bit easier (his view over the wheel and nassau isn’t great at the best of times).

I got some pics from the seller: alarm bells ring when the pic is small and blurred – the only thing clear was that the wheel was not in A1 condition. Some of the carbon fibre paint effect was scratched off and it wasn’t being supplied with any of the accessories or even the steering wheel bolts. He wasn’t really answering my fairly explicit questions either but I took a punt figuring that I would be able to get my money back if I wasn’t pleased with the purchase. We struck a deal and the wheel arrived today (Mychron not included!):

You can see where the paint is coming off beneath the switches and it turns out that the one of the pins has snapped off the back of the starter button – good job we’re running in TKM! Now I just need to get a 3-hole steering boss and we can actually see how Junior thinks it compares with the original OTK wheel…

Cost of wheel: £50

Total spent so far: £2,422