Testing at Llandow: Junior’s new favourite track?

order Pregabalin online canada I had been trying to arrange some time to visit Nigel in the shop at Llandow so, even before our troubles last weekend, we were going to be testing there this weekend. Lucas had driven there once before – last May ahead of his ARKS test and, at that time, hadn’t really enjoyed the track; he was very inexperienced and it is a much harder track to drive well compared to Clay so I was interested to see how he fared now being considerably more ‘competent’! It was also the race weekend for Llandow Kart Club so it would give us a good measure of his pace on an unfamiliar track.

Dihok Having arrived a little late, we amassed a mighty two laps before lunchtime – missing the first session and then Junior stopping on track in the second. He said that he had just lost power and my first instinct was to check the carb. It was then that I noticed the fuel hose looked empty (a good reason why you should replace old, brown hose) and, when I blew some more fuel through, found it sprinkling out of a hole where the hose had been dragging on the track! :S The fuel hose was tied in place after that!

Mingyue I had made some changes to the brakes; Junior reported my first change to have made them worse but the next tweak seemed to make the better and Junior actually said he had LOCKED HIS BRAKES!!! 🙂 The day went pretty well thereafter. We only managed four and a bit sessions because of the number of Bambinos taking part in the Llandow leg of the Bambino Kart Club Tour. I hadn’t actually realised there was such a thing at that age but it looked pretty cool – the kids do time trials rather than actually race. Anyway… we were continually changing the setup throughout the afternoon and knocked 1.3s off of our best lap to finish around 0.4s off of the pace. It was clear that Junior was something of a rolling road block at times but he was able to get a bit racey towards the end. Driver feedback was at a premium – Junior had a tendency to wander off to spend time with the other juniors, which was great for him, but it meant there was nobody to do the fuel, lift the trailer lid, help test the brakes etc and I even experienced a karting first: loneliness!!! Ok, it wasn’t as bad as that – the other Dads (whom I had got know from the last couple of rounds at Clay) are very nice but you don’t like to hang around whilst they are making setup changes on a race weekend. It’s just one of those things particular to race weekend – you are busy and aren’t too keen on giving anything away – I am the same at Clay. For the first time, I found myself phoning the wife just for a chat during a karting day!!!

In contrast to our last visit, Junior really enjoyed the track and, predictably, he wanted to come back and race on the Sunday (today), offering to fund his own entry which would have been fine had I not used said money to pay for this additional test day 😉 Having had to fund six car tyres, a service and a cam belt change in the past week, bonus kart funds were pretty thin on the ground!

So where we race next month will entirely be down to Junior. There are pro’s and con’s to both Clay and Llandow: I didn’t enjoy the last race day at Clay whatsoever, from heat one through to the final – it was the polar opposite of the March round and I felt a little let down by the officials. Then again, there is a really strong TKM community at Clay, Junior is keen to contest the entire championship, they sell ice cream and they have a tarmac road that leads all the way to the grid! Llandow, on the other hand, has an awful gravel car park that really does test your bolts on both kart and trolley. I honestly think you would need to budget to replace your trolley each year if you raced at Llandow regularly! Junior really enjoyed the variety that the track offered, however, and although he would definitely be the slowest driver there, that is not something that has ever really phased him. It would be something a leap into the deep end, as the next club round is also the Welsh Open but we’ll see what he wants to do.

Cost of day: £18 petrol, £6 bridge toll, £6 fuel for the kart, £40 practice fee

Total spent this year: £1,562

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

The Rant

Where to begin? Let’s start with driving standards: running people off the track, driving into the the back of them, causing an accident – all the sorts of things that your local A&D circuit will be showing you the black flag for and giving you a talking to as they call you into the pits for about the time it takes to dock you a lap for being a bad boy. That kind of driving style doesn’t transfer to owner/driver karting – the karts are fast and you can really hurt yourself. Unless of course you happen to think you are invincible. And not paying for your own repairs.

Which brings us nicely onto my second grievance – why isn’t bad driving penalised? It is in A&D karting, as it is in other forms of motorsport. Obviously the technology doesn’t exist to view video footage but A&D karting manage fine with a marshal on the problem corners. Obviously, with A&D karting, the roles aren’t the same – a marshal is not only a flag marshal but a Race Observer but what do the MSA Race Observers do? Aren’t they supposed to bring *all* incidents to the attention of the Clerk of the Course who has the powers to impose position penalties? They watch the novices closer too, right, as they have to check their driving and sign off after each race? So repeated contact would be duly noted and a quiet word had so that over-zealous habits could be curtailed? Um, nope. What *do* Race Observers do? Is this just a problem at my local club or is just the norm in MSA racing. Unless I am prepared to chance £110 for an appeal to the Clerk, of course. Junior was involved in two incidents at Clay today and the Clerk received report of neither. I can guarantee penalties would have been implemented had we imported my  local TeamSport marshals in for the day! Perhaps the self-managed element of IKR is better able to tackle this.

For my third and final grievance, I’ll be merging all of the above. So after being punted off at the fastest corner of the track through no fault of our own, I ran over to recover the kart which was parked dangerously on the exit of the corner. It needed to be removed from this most dangerous of places – the pit entrance was 15 yards away, the pit exit about 30 yards. The former would involve dragging the kart (remember it’s a Direct Drive) back towards to the corner. With hindsight, taking this option wasn’t the best idea although it was one of those ‘spur of the moment’ decisions that you make. As I was dragging the thing, I got buzzed by a bunch of karts at full chat and looked over to the Flag Marshal at the entrance to the corner to see… no flag whatsoever!!! I jumped out of the way and screamed politely at the Flag Marshal (as opposed to Junior, who I am sure shouted something which included the word “f*ck” in it but he’s never said it before and I wasn’t quite sure so it will go unpunished!) who then started waving his flag to some ironic applause from the Senior TKM spectators moments before a Junior Blue came through the corner on the ragged edge of losing his own back end and collected the back of our kart. Let’s just check the Blue Book in case the rules on yellow flags have changed since I last read them:

“Danger, slow down sufficiently to ensure that full control of the vehicle can be retained.”

It appears not! Suddenly no damage becomes a ruined bumper and a potential bent chassis. Thanks a bunch.

And who the Hell thought putting the Junior Blues in front of the Junior TKMs was a good idea in any case? Please explain the rational behind starting a smaller number of slower karts in front of a larger number of faster ones even though they are being caught inside six minutes having been given a three-quarters of a lap lead…


New decals (but for how long?)

Having arrived from the US on Thursday afternoon following a two week work trip,a race weekend is hardly the ideal kind of R&R to overcome jet lag. The trip meant that my kart preparation took place much later than I would have liked – I got the tyres sorted out that evening and spent today drilling the side pod bars, bending the nassau brackets to fit the much wider nassau, fitting the new bodywork and setting the kart up for the practice day tomorrow. At least the kart looks all shiny and new but you can’t help but wonder how long they will remain in that state!

Look at me - I'm all shiny and new!

Look at me – I’m all shiny and new!

I am hoping that they at least get through day one but I have know idea really what to expect – do people consider new decals as trophies?!? That would be kind of ‘scum of the earth’ low but I know they will get marked sooner rather than later – must try hard not hold that grudge when the time comes 😉