It had been a while since our TKM Dads Day Out, where a few of us Dads took the junior karts and engines out for a first run in a two stroke kart, and I was contemplating arranging another when an opportunity to do something a little more extreme came up – a dedicated parents class at the opening round of the Clay Pigeon Winter IKR Series!!! It seemed like a good idea at the time, we mustered six entries and endured a 300-post Facebook thread as we debated weights (none), tyres (any, change whenever you like), engines (any junior class engine) and race types (MSA-style three heats and a final as opposed to the IKR-style qualifying, heat, pre-final and final) and exchanged a lot of banter. It seemed like a really good idea at the time and promised to be a lot of fun!
As the event got closer, I was a little nervous having only driven the kart for 100 laps or so in June (when I was hesitant to try to overtake anybody in case I took them out) and now facing the prospect of actually racing one of these things, even if it was in the friendliest of grids! I was reasonably quick last time – a 37.4s lap was pretty pleasing so I was hoping to push on in spite of the cooler conditions. I had sorted out Junior’s practice tyres and numbered them from one to six and then mounted sets five and six! This would be an opportunity to clear the garage of a couple of sets of slicks if nothing else. Having not really had the chance to do anything on Junior’s kart since Llandow the previous weekend, I had taken up the kind offer of loaning a rolling chassis on the basis that I wouldn’t have a chance to build up my spare chassis and it saved me messing around with Junior’s kart. The trouble was that this meant finding space for another kart in the garage and so I left it until the final evening to collect the kart and add our engine, exhaust and bodywork. Talk about ball-ache!!! Let’s just say that I hadn’t really anticipated all of the little things that were different and, with scrutineering early the next morning, I could really have done with an earlier night :/
This was my first experience of IKR and, as we were competing in a guest class with no championship, maybe things were even more relaxed for us than it was for the other competititors but the contrast between IKR and MSA was huge: the number of people working from trailers as opposed to from awnings was much greater (so we were right at home) and you could tell that this was a much less serious affair; from the types of karts, the age range of the drivers (young and old) and the intensity of the scrutineering process (more of a safety check). There were some things that were along the same lines though – Alpha Timing, race commentary and social media updates were all in attendance.
The day basically ran along the lines of practice in the morning, a break and drivers briefing at lunchtime and then the serious stuff began. It was a really good format and offered plenty of track time for our £40; the morning was a bit iffy from a personal performance perspective – I was putting in 38/39s laps and had no grip whatsoever! As per last time, I never really felt in total control of the kart at any point but it was good to be on-track amongst friends. One of the beauties of IKR is that we could pretty much set our own rules and, although the club had provisionally assigned us an IKR race format, we decided to go with the MSA setup so that we could mix the grid up with random draws for three heats before the final. The races went really well although our starts were a little hit and miss – I think only heat one saw us start as a compact grid you would expect to see normally, after that reliability became an issue for some! I dipped into the 37s in heat one (where I was going nicely in second place until I was helped into a spin by a ‘friend’!!!) but my times went backwards from there – obviously it had to be the tyres 😉 and I was never on the pace of the front two (a TKM Dad and Rotax Mum). Easily the highlight of the day was my restarting myself after spinning into Billies; I had lost a lap waiting to be started when I was spun in the first heat and, keen not to lose so much ground in heat three, I saw a gap in the traffic and took my chance… I picked up the back end and ran for a few paces, dropped the kart down and was amazed to hear the engine fire up! I quickly jumped in, got my foot on the gas and IT ONLY BLOODY PICKED UP!!! I even got a round of applause from the Juniors (who we had taken as our pit assistants and signed on as our push starters) 😀
It was a great day; the weather held off, it was nice not to be constantly tweaking the kart setup to try to find those elusive tenths (it would have been pointless since most of those tenths were sat in the seat!) and just enjoy the banter. I was really impressed with the event as a whole. I think IKR suffers from a lack of serious competition at the front currently, at least at Clay which is in its infancy, but I would consider it for Junior if things progressed and I am a huge fan of the tyre rule enforced at Clay (the TKM class run on Maxxis SLC tyres at £70/set and which must be used for three meetings). I won’t be rushing to jump back into a two stroke (if truth be told, I’d be more tempted by Prokarts) but it is something I am sure we’ll do again at some point. Congrats to the runaway winners, thanks to everybody who loaned me stuff – a kart, a racesuit, to the Krispy Kreme Donut Man (the strawberries & kreme donut was something else) and also to Mr South West IKR for shoehorning us into the day’s programme 🙂
Karting Dad leads from pole!!! 😀