Date: 30th December 2015
Track: Teamsport Southampton (Eastleigh)
My PB at this track (before this session): 23.732s
Best lap time this session: 24.043s
After the Christmas excesses (and a small gain of just over a kilogram in weight), it was great to be back at the track for a competitive race with the other members. This was another race in the F1 format; although there was another change to the format – this time the pit stop element was removed. I was disappointed at this because the GRID F1 format is the closest to BRKC race format, and whilst this was a stand-alone race, I was hoping to practice some new tactics regarding the timings of my stops.
My aim for the knockout qualifying sessions, although it was very ambitious, was to get into the final session. I did feel relaxed in the kart at the start of the first qualifying session (despite me not knowing exactly what was going on with the grid start!).
I managed to get into the second knockout stage fairly easily, putting in a 24.619s lap, but for some reason, I felt that I had tensed up a little bit in the next round and things didn’t feel the same with the kart, leading to my big mistake a few laps in. I never quite recovered from this, leaving me with the seventh fastest time (24.986s) and out of qualifying.
Something that I did prefer from this event were the kart changes between qualifying and the first two races and then a further change before the final sprint race; although it may not have worked out perfectly for me, I prefer not sticking with the same karts all the way through the evening as it leads to a more even playing field (nobody gets a good kart all evening, and conversely, nobody is stuck with a slow kart throughout the event).
In the first race, I managed to stay out of a lot of the trouble at the start by staying to the outside of the first corner and did my best to still defend from others trying to get up the inside of me.
In terms of positions, not much happened for me during the race; I went from 8th, to 6th and finally slipped back to 7th. I almost grabbed 6th place back right at the end as Ian was caught behind a back marker and, as I saw the finish line, I lunged up the outside and was fractions of a second from regaining that position. I finished with a 24.443s best lap and a better average than Ian (who pipped me to the chequered flag), so I was very pleased with my performance so far in the evening.
We were straight back out for the second race, and with a reverse grid from qualifying, this put me towards the front of the pack. However, that didn’t last long.
The start was an absolute disaster; I found myself sandwiched in all directions and just being taken for a ride around the first corner and then again at the hairpin at foot of the bridge; I fell from fourth to eleventh in the space of two corners and I was not happy.
However, unlike other occasions, I regrouped and set out to regain some of the places I had lost with a sense of determination that I hadn’t really experienced in my racing to date. From 11th position, I managed to move up into 9th within the next lap, then into 7th and by lap 6, I was into 5th place.
Unfortunately, due to a nasty incident at the pit entrance (requiring the barrier to be rebuilt), the race was red flagged and my momentum was halted.
After the stoppage, I realised that breaking into the top four was going to be an enormous task, and not losing my 5th place from a new member, Ricky, was going to be tough too! I could feel the pressure coming from behind – I tried to drive defensively to protect my position but still try to make an impact on the lead that Ian had made over me in fourth. Amy said after the event that the fight between myself and Ricky was intense; he was breathing down my neck lap after lap and I was pulling some great defensive lines to give me a break for a lap or two.
All of the time, we were closing on Ian, giving me a chance to take 4th place right at the end, but Ian’s experience paid off, offering me no chances to put in the overtake which would have capped off my comeback in this race. I finished with a best lap of 24.043s in this race, closing in on a sub 24s lap yet again.
If the second race was all about making my way through the pack, so was the third race – but only this time it was in reverse. We started in the same order that we had finished the second race, so for the first time, I was starting close to Ian and should have had the opportunity to have a full race to overtake him on this track. As it happened, I only needed the first corner to pull the overtake that I had been waiting for all evening; I got a great start and, as I stayed on the inside at the hairpin, I managed to move myself into 4th position.
However, one lap later, I made a slight mistake and the kart slipped away from underneath me; a gentle tap from Ian (I know that this wasn’t intentional) and I had lost two places. After the next corner, I had lost a further two places. Languishing down in 8th place, I did manage to make it back into 7th which I managed to hold on to for four laps whilst challenging for 6th place.
Unfortunately, I had no defence (and no grip) this time with the kart I was given, and became a sitting duck for the drivers behind me. Once I had fallen into ninth place, and Robin started to pull away from me, that was my race over, so I started to experiment and generally have fun. My quickest lap time in this sprint race was 24.217s; whilst racing, I didn’t even believe that I had put in a 25s lap!
At the trophy presentation, it was announced that I had finished in joint seventh place out of twelve after the three races – I thought how different it could have been if I had been competitive in the third race (mathematically, there was a real possibility of me finishing 5th/6th overall).
I was really pleased with how the evening had gone, especially my performance in the second race and it confirmed to me that racing is made up of three things; natural ability, good practice and a decisive mind.
Now, only 16 days remain until the BRKC…