Obviously, you don’t want to peak too early

Date: 23rd November 2015
Track: Teamsport Southampton (Eastleigh)
My PB at this track (before this session): 23.732s
Best lap time this session: 24.879s

On a bitterly cold Monday evening, I entered my first members unlimited event. The idea was easy; just complete your fastest lap in each of the three 20 minute sessions. The final rankings would be calculated by assigning points to your position (sorted by fastest lap time) in each of the sessions and the driver with the highest total over the three sessions was the winner.

After a fantastic weekend away in the Midlands, eating rich food that I have been purposefully avoiding on my diet, I was feeling tired but really motivated to succeed.

In the first session everything felt brilliant; I was easing past more experienced drivers and swapping places and lap times with possibly the most experienced driver in the field. This leads me on to the best part of this members unlimited session – the drivers. Without doubt, this was the fairest, yet most competitive GRID event that I have ever taken part in. We were all aware of each others positions on track, faster drivers were allowed past the slower drivers (except where we had agreed to race) and the chats in the “locker room” afterwards were friendly and hilarious at times.

Back to the racing, it was a real battle between myself and Ian from the word go right to the end of the race; we traded lap times and positions on track no less than nine times during the session. I’m proud to say that in this race, I finished in second place overall, edging out Ian by two tenths of a second with a 25.022s fastest lap. The winner of the session was immense on track; a graduate from the kart academy, he is surely one to watch in the upcoming events here.

I was surprised to see another experienced driver at the bottom of the pile after the first race; he explained that he didn’t get the luck of the draw (with the kart) in the first race, but he would bounce back in the second.

I was then drawn to have the same kart as he had in the first race… Could I do any better? To cut this section short, the answer was no. I honestly can say that I have never spun a kart through 360 degrees so often as I did in the second race (if you watch the video below, I think I counted 5!). I cannot really blame the kart too much (the eventual winner of the evening, set one of the fastest laps of the entire day with it in the third race!), but it didn’t seem to suit the heavier drivers. Floundering at the bottom of the leaderboard, after my second place in the first race, meant that it was all to race for in the final.

Between the second and final sessions, I tried to work out the permutations; for me to win the event, I would need to finish first with the winner of the first two races finishing last, and myself and driver X would need driver Y to finish between us etcetera etcetera.

All of this complex mathematics was distracting me from the task ahead – ultimately, all I needed to do was go out there and race. I was not in control of anybody else’s lap times, or their finishing positions.

I honestly don’t know what happened in the final race; I couldn’t get into “the zone”. It felt like I was driving on autopilot, which in some cases can be great, but in this case, my mind was elsewhere and I had no urgency in my driving.

Surprisingly, I managed to pull some sub-25s laps out at the end, resulting in a 24.879s best over the entire evening. Unsurprisingly, however, I finished bottom of this heat and only my second place in the first race prevented me from finishing last overall.

Looking back at the evening now, perhaps I was tired from the weekend (driving up to the Midlands and back as well as all of the activities up there), but if this the case, then I will have to look at my next results at Formula Fast with a different viewpoint.

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