You can’t win the race on the first lap but you can definitely lose it

Date: 6th October 2015
Track: Teamsport Southampton (Eastleigh)
My PB at this track (before this session): 24.732s
Best lap time this session: 24.407s

I was very excited to return to the karting track after my almost eight week break and it just happened to coincide with a member’s “endurance” race, in the “Top Gun” format, at Eastleigh. I had also just received my low profile helmet camera mount, so I was looking forward to checking out the footage from a slightly different angle.

I have never karted for longer than about 45 minutes continuously, so this format of one hour straight was going to be a push of both my physical and mental capabilities.

The race was scheduled for about a 9pm start (almost my bedtime on a weeknight!), but I was feeling very motivated nonetheless, and chatting to some of the members I know well, boosted my determination before the race.

My name was third out of the “hat” (or bright orange plastic bowl, in reality), meaning that I had a great chance to at least finish up the order in this race, if only I could keep the rest behind me for the next 140 or so laps!

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Attack is the best form of defence and, as you all probably know, I don’t have the personality that will allow me to sit back if I am in with a chance of gaining positions or, ultimately, winning the race. This is why it all went wrong for me…

On the grid, I felt relaxed yet switched on and, before the starting sequence had even begun, I was planning my dive into the first corner to take second place. It worked perfectly; I nailed the start, stayed on the left-hand side of the track and hugged the tyre wall around the hairpin and slid (metaphorically, not literally) into second place. I may have got a little over-eager from this point on, trying to push my kart into first position at any slight opening.

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This tactic slowed me down at certain corners for the others to catch me up and make their attempts to overtake me; I slipped down into third and then fourth on lap six, before I made the massive error of fighting back where there wasn’t the space or time. I clipped the back of the kart in front of me, spinning me into the tyre wall, and almost to the back of the field.

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All the hard work and effort that I had put in, mixing it with the front drivers, had been lost in one moment – for the next 55 minutes, I would be playing catch up and having to try to pass back markers on a very difficult circuit to overtake on.

I was gutted, but still determined to do my best with what I had left.

As anyone who has raced in an endurance race will probably say, I can’t remember a great deal about the rest of the race – lap after lap basically blended into themselves. Things I do remember though was getting very angry after constantly being held up by the same two drivers, who seemed to weave across the track in front of me (apologies for the exasperated hand waving at times), getting severe cramp in my accelerator foot on three separate occasions during the race and the pain in my ankle when I got out of the kart at the end (I will have to watch the footage throughout to see if any other details need adding here!)

After 137 laps of the Eastleigh track, I finished ninth out of the eleven drivers who took part (one driver didn’t make it to the track at all after booking on, so I’ll claim that I was ninth out of twelve). I was pleased to set a new PB (24.407s) at this track, but I keep thinking about what might have been.

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This is why I feel that it is important for me to take part in as many races as possible, at as many different tracks as possible, leading up to the BRKC in January; I know how to drive a kart fast, but if I make the wrong “racing decisions” in the championship races, like I did in this race, I will be shown up against the level of competition (if it is anything like last year!).

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