My First Race – Chase the Ace!

Date: 30th December 2014 (18 days until the BRKC)
Track: Teamsport Gosport
My PB at this track (before this session): 30.446s
Best lap time this session: 29.956s

Wow. What a year it has been!

But it wasn’t over until this race, my first competitive race ever. To fill you in on the format first; there was a 5 minute practice session, followed by a single “hot lap” qualifying session, completed by a 45 minute, non-stop, endurance race.

To say that it was daunting to have an endurance race as my first competitive race and amongst all of the “regulars” of which I have heard and seen so much of, was an understatement. But I have to start somewhere and quickly with less than three weeks to go before the BRKC!

I was drawn kart 12 which, during practice was very slippery and continued to be throughout the rest of the race despite my best efforts to keep the tyres warm on a freezing night!

Practice was mediocre, but I think everyone was still trying to warm themselves up, let alone the karts! The one lap qualifying was nerve-wracking. Everyone sitting in their karts, lined up in the pits, as one by one, we had the track to ourselves to set one flying lap to decide our grid positions. I didn’t think that I had done too badly around the first three-quarters of the track, but the slipperiness of the kart bit back on the final hairpin where I pushed slightly too hard and slid around the corner into the start-finish line. From experience, that cost me at least 0.5 seconds which would have pushed me at least one and possibly two places on the starting grid. In the end, I qualified 11th out of 12, which was slightly disappointing, but I think a fair reflection on my performance this far in the evening.

With a 5 minute break between qualifying and the race, I needed desperately to warm my hands, so I ran them under the red hot tap in the hope that they would thaw before the race.

As we were in the same karts as before (I had hoped to have a different kart), we then had to arrange ourselves in the order we had qualified on track. This proved quite difficult for some! One rolling lap behind the “Santa” kart and we were off!

In the first few laps, I was all over the back of the two karts in front, and I seemed to have lost the guy behind me, so I could focus on the overtaking possibilities. I believe that it was lap 8 or 9 where I managed to overtake the only woman in the field. I would love to say that I made it stick and then plowed through the field to win. But I can’t. It was a real challenge and about 5 laps later, I lost the place back to her and stayed there until the end. But breaking my 87 laps into manageable chunks, I set new PB after new PB during the race, including making sub-30s laps on no less than three separate occasions (lap 35, lap 60 and lap 78).

I found the racing very disorientating; I had no idea how many laps I had done, how much time had passed/how much was left, or whether I was doing well in terms of my laptimes. All I remembered, despite being focussed on each corner, was that there was a lot of spectators all around the pits and start-finish straight and that there were a lot of camera flashes as we were racing (I hope to see some of these photographs soon and hopefully add them to this blog!). There are also a lot of onboard youtube videos if you would like to find them (search for “Chase the Santa”).

I ached after the race. My ankles had gone completely. I was sweating. I had lost a fair bit of weight. But nevertheless, I had completed the race and was only 2 minutes off the leader at the end. 10th place was a success for me (at least I wasn’t last!) and I had upped my game to break the 30s barrier for the first time at this track.

I was also pleased to hear that I had been commended for my sportsmanship for allowing the leaders past without causing them any trouble. I was very aware that I was not racing against the leaders, so I shouldn’t disrupt their races and battles.

It’s a start… Now I need to finish it in Milton Keynes!

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