No turkey for Christmas!

The Clay Pigeon Turkey Trot: the end of season race for a turkey formerly hosted by Clay Pigeon Kart Club but, with CPKC scrapping their December fixture, inherited by Clay Pigeon IKR and incorporated into their winter series. We had contested the CPKC version in our novices days when we finished a distant last of three!

The day began undesirably early when I got up, washed and dressed before realising that it was 5:20am and not 6:20! With another 45 minutes lie-in, normal service was resumed. I hitched up the trailer and loaded most of the stuff and Junior got up 30 mins before we left, looked at his phone, had breakfast, packed his kit and got in the car! It was going to be our first outing without an awning; the forecast was for overnight rain but a mostly dry day. Upon our arrival, I laid some flowers at the site of our awning’s demise last month before getting ready for racing 🙁

We weren’t really on it in the wet practice sessions; Junior complained that he was struggling for grip. I made a few adjustments and decided to bolt on the race carb for heat #1 (my default approach is to save the race bits for MSA racing) in which we’d start 5th. Junior had a poor start at the first attempt and an even poorer one on the restart as he was hampered by slow starters in front of him and the even side of the grid scarpered. He recovered to finish 5th, 0.3s off of the fastest lap but generally only a tenth off. Heat #2 was something special (it’s all relative, you understand!): the track was drying further, it was another of those borderline calls that seems to affect the TKM class more than any other (I am sure it’s just a perception). We arrived at the dummy grid on slicks; a brand new, unscrubbed set of Savas but the junior race on track saw the sole slicks runner well adrift of the field. Junior made the late call to switch back to inters with only 2 mins of the junior race remaining. The tyres were on in good time but putting the lead back on (which I’d removed since the Sava tyre is so heavy!) cut it fine. He started in 11th. There was contact between a couple of the karts ahead as the pack entered the Billies and Junior just avoided the spinners and he made up a further three places with an outside move before entering The Esses. Gaining five or six places only two corners in was nice going but the best was yet to come: 2nd/3rd/4th were bunched but the leader had scooted clear. Junior fought his way through and hunted the leader down. I’ve seen a lot of dominant displays in races but I’d never seen Junior dominant! I like it… a lot 😀 He passed the leader with two minutes remaining, survived something of a banzai riposte into The Hairpin – I’ve promised I would not name the guilty party (sounds like Wax Clad) 😉 – and was 4s clear by the finish!!! To be 0.4s faster than a very strong field was a unique and very pleasing feeling 🙂 🙂 🙂

Over lunch the track was clearly drying further. Unfortunately for us, slicks were the only option so on went the much-lauded (by me) Sava hard tyre. Unscrubbed, untested and unwanted at this particular moment in time! Junior would start on 3rd for the final but the gameplan was hard to determine: we had to stay with the pole man but would have to be *very* careful under braking into the first corner with our fresh tyres and cold track. Junior slid wide at Billies on each of the first two laps, got hung out to dry for entry into The Esses and quickly slipped to 8th. We were soon half a lap down and finished 7th. Even with the tyres coming on towards the end we were 0.7s adrift of the winner’s lightning pace. We’ll take the credit for making him bolt on his MSA race motor in response to our pace in heat #2 even if it ultimately was unnecessary 😉 Junior wasn’t happy but didn’t sulk for too long. It was nice to see him congratulate the podium finishers; they have a really good grid at Clay IKR and we’ve felt very welcome. The track themselves certainly know how to put on a good event. We were left to take the positives from the day: only our third heat win anywhere and the first time we’d ever dominated a race. It was probably the first time that I have felt that I had provided Junior (as opposed to somebody else doing it for me!) with a kart that really suited his driving style. Building on our learnings from the previous weekend at Llandow, hopefully we have a very strong intermediate setup that we can rely upon in future. We were unlucky with the weather (the rain moved in as we packed up as you would expect) and were left cursing the very tyre I’d had been so vocal in support of. Junior isn’t a fan although my view is unchanged: it’s a perfect tyre for a budget class, we just need to learn to set up a kart for it.

And that was our 2015 season. Here’s looking forward to 2016!

Cost of race day: Race fee £40, petrol (car) £12, fuel (kart) £5, Chain lube/Shell M £24

Total spent this year: £5,117 < Holy sh*t, our most expensive year to date!!!

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