In June I took part in my first real race. By real I mean against people I don’t actually know. I figured it would be a decent barometer of how good I actually was.
The event was the Bayford Meadows Summer Cup. The idea behind the event being that you have a team of 2 or 3 people for a 90 minute race around their circuit. Unfortunately this did not exactly go to plan.
I saw the event advertised on their website, the circuit is based about 30 minutes drive from my house and I liked the idea of getting some friends together as a team. I went through my list of elite karters – people who have a top four finish when 10 or more people come karting with us (while not exactly elite it does show vague ability). I ended up picking Paddy and Matt Teager (my first choices as it happens) and booked our team in.
Then two weeks before the event Paddy told me he could not do the event. I started calling around the other potential drivers but none were available. This would have put the cost up for myself and Matt as we would have to cover the other person. In the end though I needn’t have worried, when I booked my much needed practice session they called to say that due to low numbers they were doing a race for individuals instead with two fifteen minute races.
While not ideal at least this meant I wouldn’t be slowing Teager down.
In the end the only time I could book my practice session was for Saturday morning on the eve of the race. We had the newly-weds Craig and Demelza down for the weekend and Craig said he would come and take photos. On arrival and seeing how awesome the track layout was he quickly changed his mind, called his wife and pulled on a race suit to join me. We were the only two on the track and it was awesome. The track started off very dirty and thus grip was limited but as the session went on it cleaned up and we gained confidence. I went from a 70 second lap on lap 3 to a 62 second lap on lap 26. I also started slower than Craig but quickly got ahead and pulled away. At the end I still had about a second on his best lap but given another five or so laps I think there would have been parity between us.
My best time : 62.373
I considered myself prepared for the race the next day. On the day Beth and I turned up an hour before the race and found Teager already there. We went for a walk around the track and discussed lines for the corners and then waited for the start. At race time there were 11 people (there might have been 8, I actually can’t remember, it was either 8, 11 or 12) so it was a good call to not have it as a team event.
i create my own Trulli train
We started with a 5 lap qualifying session in which I came 4th. We lined up on the grid and I waved to my wife. In doing so I missed the start lights and lost a second or so to those behind me. By the first corner I had lost two places and nearly lost more. I had to fight the overtaking pair hard but by the end of the opening lap I was clear. I then set about trying to catch the three ahead (with Teager out front and romping away) but I wasn’t able to and as my tyres lost grip towards the end of the race they started to pull further away.
My best lap in race 1: 61.508
We returned to the pits and got out of the karts and it almost immediately started to rain hard causing us all to retreat to the diner on site. We watched through the windows as other karters went out and greatly struggled in the conditions to even keep the things straight. I was not particularly looking forward to the race that would decide who walked off with the summer cup. Teager I think though was quietly confident.
We got back into the karts and were told that we had a few minutes to try and get a hang of the conditions. As I pulled out of the pits, the guy in front of my spun and I then went on to pass several others ahead of me who also spun. I had a couple of moments due to the absolutely non-existant grip but largely survived unscathed – unlike Teager who ended up in the grass.
something tells me this overtaking move did not come off
We then lined up on the grid and this time I paid attention to the lights… and still lost two places, I also didn’t get a chance to get them back either as I spun halfway round the lap. By the end of the lap though I found myself fighting for third again. For a handle on how much more difficult the track was in the wet. My best time went from a 61 second lap to a 110 second lap. As we rounded the first corner I had the run on third place and passed him but in doing so I completely missed the braking spot for turn 2 and went off into the grass where I found myself beached. The stoppage moved me to last again and cost me almost a minute. My podium chances were gone by the time the safety kart nudged me out. Having passed a few people over the next two laps I found myself beached again (according to Beth I was the only person to manage this even once). This time it only cost me twenty seconds. The final few laps I was able to keep cleaner and I was catching most people. On the penultimate lap Matt lapped me and I began following his line which I found to be much quicker. I fought my way back up several positions and finished the race in 6th.
Matt of course won, which didn’t make me feel so bad. He got quite a nice trophy from it to add to his collection as well. I now also know the keys to my future success – starts, weight and wet driving. Overall I was happy with how I did especially in the dry, I also knew that I had a potential podium available to me if I had pushed slightly less.
Here is the video from the races, it is actually pretty good for a change:
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I will be writing about our trip back to Surbiton at the beginning of August next week.
More pictures can be found here