It was early afternoon on a overcast day in March. In a warehouse on the Fareham-Gosport border, 12 brave souls entered the unofficial Fianium company karting event. Lots had been said about who would win, but this was the time, this was the hour when the best kart drivers within the company would show off their skills and lift the trophy…
Okay, enough with the dramatic introduction, but I was really excited to race my colleagues on the track and surprisingly, I was feeling a lot of pressure on my shoulders. Everyone expected that someone with my experience would be able to trounce the opposition, but I was very aware that I had one severe disadvantage – my weight.
It was a shame that my good friend and colleague, Nick Bennetts, had to pull out from the event due to injury, so he was substituted by his son, Dominic.
After everyone registered and got kitted up, there was just time for a quick chat and a group photograph (or two, after someone spotted that Tom was missing in the first one) before the safety briefing.
It was a good safety briefing, although some of the group got very worried about the cleanliness of the helmets after this was repeated on multiple occasions in the briefing!
After the safety briefing, we headed down to the pit lane where I had stood many times before, but there was a nervous excitement buzzing around there this time.
We went out in a random order from the pits for our first session; this appeared to assist the drivers at the front, but hinder those at the back. I left in the middle of the pack, but tried to pull as far clear of the other drivers as possible to get a clear run for my hot lap. James nailed it in lap one as he started second from the pits but overtook Tom within two corners, giving him clear air from the start.
I honestly had no idea how fast I was going, or how fast anyone else was going; I did see a few of the same karts again as I went to overtake them for the second or third time, but some (like James and Ruud) I only saw the once in the session. It was a very close run thing; three people sat in provisional pole position throughout the session, but I managed to first snatch it in lap 18, after passing the “impossible-to-pass” Adrian Piddington, and held on to it until the end with a 32.0s lap.
Reviewing the results of the first session was eye-opening. The first four drivers; myself, James, Lee and Ruud were separated by less than seven tenths in terms of fastest lap and the next four drivers; Rob, Tom, Adrian and Laura were separated by less than two tenths of a second.
1. Brett Gaskin – 32.029s
2. James Strachan – 32.405s
3. Lee Archer – 32.699s
4. Ruud Jonkers – 32.723s
5. Robert Sharman – 33.610s
6. Tom Strudley – 33.763s
7. Adrian Piddington – 33.777s
8. Laura Bim – 33.788s
9. Antonin Billaud – 35.459s
10. Ana Orec-Archer – 35.646s
11. Dominic Bennetts – 39.281s
12. Lucy Hooper – 40.802s
I said to all of the others that any of the top four could easily win it, and I became very cautious about the man starting directly behind me, as he had been in the provisional pole position for the longest time and had been easily the most consistent driver in terms of qualifying lap times. I was comforted somewhat by Adrian saying that once I had overtaken him, I was gone and he couldn’t keep up.
We started from the pits in the second session and both myself and James fashioned a very good rolling start between us. We crossed the line, and then we were racing!
I tried to put the hammer down and pull away from the field on the first lap, but by the second lap there was a yellow flag, so we bunched back up again. I hoped that this would not become a recurring theme throughout the race, because I was instantly back under pressure when the yellow lights went off (carrying the extra weight is a massive disadvantage when trying to accelerate after driving at walking pace). Unfortunately, the race was littered with yellows, disrupting the race on 5 or 6 occasions. Each time the race restarted, I had to drive defensively, as I came under attack, first by James and then by Lee.
But it wasn’t just at the front, there were battles across the field, from first to last place. Two battles of note include Ruud and Ana, with Ruud taking the inside line at the pit exit hairpin, but also taking Ana’s inside wheel away and spinning her through 180 degrees, causing her to be facing me when I came around to put a lap on her and there was a monumental battle between the two members of the same team at work; Adrian and Laura (Laura still has the bruises to prove it!).
Eventually, the race came to an end just after another yellow flag incident… I had held on to first place from the start, and boy was I relieved!
Everyone came off the track buzzing with excitement and the chatter continued into the changing room. I ran off to pick up our timesheets whilst everyone was getting changed and I came back to award the medals and the wooden spoon award for the last placed Fianium employee.
Lucy was the “lucky” winner of the wooden spoon (and hopefully will display it proudly at work). But there was an element of controversy with the medals…
The medals were handed out as follows; the bronze medal went to Robert Sharman, the silver to Lee Archer and the gold to Brett Gaskin.
However, following a review, it was then apparent that the order given on the time sheets was by fastest lap and not “finishing position”, therefore, the driver in third place was actually James Strachan. No redistribution of the medals are necessary after James’ good sportsmanship agreeing to allow Rob to keep the third place prize.
The official classifications (and gaps to leader) are as follows:
1st. Brett Gaskin (@ 21 laps)
2nd. Lee Archer (+2.1s)
3rd. James Strachan (+3.0s)
4th. Robert Sharman (+20.1s)
5th. Ruud Jonkers (+25.9s)
6th. Laura Bim (+30.8s)
7th. Adrian Piddington (+1L)
8th. Antonin Billaud (+1L)
9th. Tom Strudley (+1L)
10th. Ana Orec-Archer (+2L)
11th. Lucy Hooper (+2L)
12th. Dominic Bennetts (+2L)
Fastest laps by driver:
1. Brett Gaskin – 31.841s (S2)
2. Lee Archer – 32.305s (S2)
3. James Strachan – 32.405s (S1)
4. Robert Sharman – 32.432s (S2)
5. Adrian Piddington – 32.438s (S2)
6. Ruud Jonkers – 32.653s (S2)
7. Antonin Billaud – 32.940s (S2)
8. Tom Strudley – 33.428s (S2)
9. Laura Bim – 33.788s (S1)
10. Ana Orec-Archer – 34.230s (S2)
11. Lucy Hooper – 34.399s (S2)
12. Dominic Bennetts – 35.486s (S2)