Practice 15: Somewhat in the dark

Last week seemed liked an ok week based on the little data we had available – we were a three or four tenths off one of the more seasoned drivers (who was on old tyres) and six or seven tenths ahead of the our good friends (and closest rivals!!!), who are looking to race for the first time this month. It was probably where I’d imagined we would be. This week the picture was much more uncertain…

The day started off with the customary dirtying of the kart en-route to Clay; despite the sun shining for most of the journey, we met a lorry on a flooded dip in the road who was kind enough to spray us and the trailer. I am definitely going to revisit the covering of the kart in transport! Unusually, despite having to turn around when I realised I had forgotten my wallet, WE WERE OUT IN THE FIRST SESSION!!! 🙂 The track started damp but it was nice and warm in the sun. The track soon dried and we were quickly into the low 37’s, two tenths off of our quickest time last week. This week was all about improving our line through Billes and I spent most of the sessions there watching Junior run wide over and over and over… It seemed as though he was braking early but not able to scrub enough speed so he’d hit the first apex but stood little chance of making the second. The carrot of not buying any chocolate from the shop until he got it right seemed to spur him on; at least he now looked like he was trying! Lo and behold, he got it right… twice in sucession! It brought a massive smile to my face and, although the session then ended, I felt we’d made a big step forward and duly coughed up some coins so that he could show me how quick he was at scoffing Smarties 😉

Stupidly, I thought that was that. I returned to the middle of the track for the next session but wandered back to Billies when he again looked a little wide from my poor vantage point. Consistency is thing we lack but I can’t hark on about it forever – he’s going to have to learn it sooner or later! At this point, our times were not improving like I had hoped – we were lapping in the mid-37s when I was hoping to push on into the 36s. Our front tyres were bald in places so we put another set of practice tyres – this found us three tenths and we were consistently lapping in the 37.1s.

At this point I decided it was time for another momentous occassion:  the testing of the CNC barrelled engine that Junior got for Christmas 😮 I was hoping it was going to be faster but nothing is guaranteed. Before that though, we had a few issues to overcome: the throttle spring hole in the barrel was much lower than on our other engine and this caused the butterfly in the carb not to close fully as the throttle stop bolt was too close. Then the exhaust needed moving. And the new engine mount took different length bolts compared to the old engine! After an hour spent mostly arsing around, the moment of truth had arrived. 1 – the engine started on the stand 🙂 2 – the engine push started as easily as our other engine 🙂 🙂 🙂 3 – it *looked* quick 🙂 But our times were the same! Junior felt the engine was quicker out of the corners but that the track was now slower. We were lapping in times very close to our friends over whom we’d had a bit in hand last week and there were no other Junior TKMs on track so nothing else to measure against. Where this leaves us with regards to the opening round of the championship next weekend, I have no idea – whether we’ll be closer than the second off the pace that we were last year, whether we’ll be quicker than the new novice, whether our CNC barrelled engine is quicker than the cast barrelled one? It would have been nice to know roughly where we were but, unfortunately, that is not the case 🙁

At least we ran all day without any problems.

Cost of day: £16 petrol, £11 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee

Total spent this year: £804

Year 1 spend: £4,594


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