Date: 17th January 2016
Track: Formula Fast, Milton Keynes
My PB at this track (before this session): GP circuit 32.558s, BRKC2016 alternative layout 34.569s
Best lap time this session: GP circuit 32.665s, BRKC2016 alternative layout 34.981s
My BRKC 2016 heats continued with a very early and wintery start to Sunday. Whilst the temperatures may have been sub-zero outside, the action certainly heated up on the track.
In round three, I was part of the first race on track, which included fierce opposition throughout the field; at the front there was Annelien Boutens and Anwar Beroual Smith, but lots of other drivers were in the mix. I had set myself a target of 7th going into the championship, but some drivers that I hadn’t necessarily counted on being competitive had been excellent in their first two heats.
I blasted through my qualifying lap; given my previous history with qualifying, I have no idea how I managed to just get my head down, pull a 34.587s lap time out of the bag and qualify 8th. I felt very comfortable in the kart throughout this heat, even if I still was half asleep.
I also managed to pull my only couple of on-track overtakes of the weekend thus far, one of which I was very happy with through the snail section of the track. After overtaking Sebastian Raikkonen (after my pit stop), he tried a manoeuvre at the end of the back straight to get back at me and, unfortunately for him, span causing a yellow flag and the karts to be speed limited. After following the driver in front closely, we were back to racing pace as we entered the snail section. I went to the inside as he moved to the outside and he had no way to defend my move. However, I then went wide at the second hairpin leaving him the inside line for the long left hander. I had to hold on for my life as I kept my foot down around the outside, leaving just enough room for the driver on my inside but squeezing as much as I legally could. Fortunately, I managed to get a kart length in front and I slotted into position in front.
Towards the end of the race, there was a little bit of bumping that I was involved in. Due to the leaders not pitting until late on, and myself taking my now customary early pitstop they had caught up with me a few laps from the end. I had no idea who was behind me when I felt a huge whack from behind. And then again.
It was only when the blue flag came out at race control that I realised that Annelien had been following me for the past four corners. Despite what may have been said, I didn’t deliberately hold anyone up – I felt like I was under pressure from the driver in 8th place (as it happens, 8th place finished 0.8s behind me at the end of the race) and as I have been told before, always race to the flags/lights.
I finished 7th with a best lap time of 32.665s, only a quarter of a second off the fastest laps from the top two drivers in this heat.
With very little to race for in my final heat, my body aching and a difficult line up to face, I was always going to be up against it. A number of people had dropped out as they had long journeys home and had no chance of making the semi-finals. This aside, there was a lot of excitement as this was the penultimate heat before the semi-finals and as such, there were many more distractions in the gallery and pit lane; notably, there was now a pit lane cameraman, which was a fantastic experience and a chance to show my thanks to my “fans” following my progress online (which was very much appreciated apparently).
From the first corner in qualifying, it was clear that I was exhausted; I was turning into the corners and just going through the motions. I had a poor pit stop on lap four, after a brief position change, and then it was just me on my own for lap after lap. I did dip under the 35s mark twice, but it was a pretty unspectacular race for me, and a damp squib to end my championship weekend on.
In the final leaderboard, I achieved 74th place with a points tally of 15; 11 more points than last year which, coincidentally, is also the number of kilograms that I have lost in body weight since BRKC2015!
I was incredibly happy with my performance over the weekend, but as I believe many drivers would say about their results, I felt that I could have got a couple more points, or climbed up a few more places.
After a relaxing time in the hotel spa and sauna, it was time for the BRKC Grand Final, which on paper was due to be the best yet. My wife and I planned to watch the final on the Livestream in the comfort of our hotel room, but due to technical difficulties during qualifying, we decided to make a dash to the track and managed to get there after half of the finalists had set their lap times.
Once the final had started, there was action at every corner and with every driver – It was impossible to turn away for a second and not miss some of the action. Once Rubens had taken the lead there was a feeling of inevitability; throughout the weekend, once Rubens had taken the lead, he seemed to find another gear. On this occasion, however, it wasn’t a done deal – Lewis Manley, Lee Hackett and Stefan Verhofste were keeping in touch.
It was incredibly difficult to see who had pitted, who hadn’t, who had pitted illegally and who needed to pit again; at one point, we all thought in the spectator area that Stefan just needed to defend from Rubens for five or so minutes to become the British champion (this wasn’t the case as Stefan had to pit once more).
In the end, as with the previous two years, Rubens came out on top and took the trophy, KWC entry and cash back to Holland and, I can say that he thoroughly deserved the win after being the outstanding driver over the entire competition.
Roll on #BRKC2017, where I will be slimmer, fitter, and more experienced (but then again, so will the other 99 drivers!).