All 3 entries tagged Karting
March 28, 2006
I'm glad to say that, as hoped, the BUKC race at Clay turned out to be nice and dry. Before Wednesday, four of the six races I'd done this season had been in greasy/damp conditions, so it was great to really be able to push the limit of the karts and feel them working. Having been pottering round in the wet so often, to be able to hang on powerslides out of corners, and experience the massive acceleration at work again, was a joy. However the day was, as has so often been the case for Warwick Motorsport in 2006, a bittersweet one.
The 6 sprint races of Round 7 took place in the morning, with each four-man team entering one driver in four races and sitting out the other two. By and large, this round was a bitch for Warwick…the As came 8th overall; whilst the Bs and Cs were 24th and 38th respectively. There once was a time when the Bs would have been pleased with coming 24th, but happily those days are long behind us :-D. There were some notable individual performances from some of our drivers though; and (raises own trumpet to mouth and blows, hard; apologies for doing so) I managed to take my highest sprint-race finish ever! Woohoo! A whopping 5th position from 12th on the grid…my prior best sprint finish was somewhere in the low teens, which isn't especially specatular. However, my result was made dissapointingly easier by this incident during the first lap, shortly after crossing the start/finish line:
This little pileup was one of the biggest I've seen in the BUKC. My Warwick C counterpart (making his dry BUKC debut) had started from 4th on the grid (grid positions are randomly allocated, btw) and managed to get airbourne after some guy gave him a massive shunt from behind. This particular corner is not the one to get punted off at, since it comes at the end of the fastest straight on the circuit, so you're doing maybe 60–70mph. Now, it doesn't take a genius to work out that when you're airbourne, you don't have much traction…and consequently my Warwick C teammate flew (literally) into the gravel. This guy that sent him airbourne also lost control, and it seems the pair of them managed to collect all the karts around them as they spun out. In total about 10 karts were taken out; I believe all of them were able to continue, and my teammate's nemisis got a severe reprimand from the race steward.
However, since I started from 12th on the grid, I was right behind when all this chaos unfolded. Happily I've always been good at keeping my nose clean whilst racing, so I managed to find a gap through the outside of the corner and managed to sneak round all of the spinning karts. Unfortunately there wasn't much grip through this particular gap, and so about four or five karts sneaked past me up the inside. Oh well….that was still about six or seven places gained almost straight away. I then drove pretty well for the rest of the race, had a super-smooth pitstop and brought home the goods. Get in.
The afternoon saw the three hour-long endurance races of Round 8. Each team enters a pair of drivers into two of the races, and sits out the other race. This round was much better for the As and Bs, although the Cs kept getting punted off and having their kart/s broken. Although the karts are allocated randomly to each team at the start of every race, the Bs ended up using the same kart for both races…which sucked, because it had 'gash' brakes. Even my flambouyant fresher teammate, who wouldn't back out of a risky overtaking move if his life depended on it, told me it was impossible to outbrake people with this particular kart. I heeded his advice; and unfortunately the gash brakes meant I had to compromise my braking distances. This meant I ended up having a suprisingly entertainly battle with a comrade from York, whom the formbook suggested was considerably slower than me. However, he kept outbraking me, but would then overshoot the apexes and I'd reclaim the position at the exit of the corner. Credit to him for keeping the racing clean; out of mutual respect he refrained from punting me off with a risky move, which I was genuinely impressed with. If I was in his position, I wouldn't have been quite so generous with myself ;-)
Regardless, despite the gashness of the brakes, me and my teammate managed to bring it home in 11th. Not bad. Unfortunately it would have been 9th position, but some backmarkers decided it would be amusing to try and take me out with two or three laps remaining…which I was not impressed with. I came up behind this bunch of about four or five backmarkers, and dispatched the first three with ease. The next two were to almost be my undoing…I was much quicker than the first guy through the chicane, so I got a good run at him and just drove round the outside of him along the proceeding straight. The next guy was only a few kart lengths up the road. Since he was clearly not that good, I decided to outbrake him (erk! earlier warning ignored!) and drive up the inside at the hairpin at the end of the straight. Not wise. As we were turning in, I was level with him and would have been ahead by the end of the corner. However, the first guy decided to outbrake himself for some reason and drives into the back of me. He forces the back end of my kart to step out of line, and so to keep it facing in the right direction I put on opposite lock, and stamp on the brakes. Happily this just about keeps me facing forwards, but the kart had slowed down dramatically and almost stalls…since it's clutchless, if you stop in one of these things, the engine dies. Fortunately I just about manage to coax the engine back into life, and into the meaty bit of the torque curve, but not before 7–8 karts have zipped past me. Including two guys who were chasing me for position. Bah.
However, the other B-team pairing also finished their race in 11th. I was very impressed with this, as that pairing (one of which was my flambouyant fresher teammate) had started to develop a reputation for crashing out. They kept things clean and drove really well, and the B-team finished the round in 13th overall. Not bad when you consider the brakes on our kart were gash, did I mention that? :-D
The As brought things home in 8th again, which was pleasing, as most of their endurance races this season have been a bit poor. The Cs were down in 42nd…one of their worst performances of the season. However, they did finish both endurance races in the pits with a broken kart :-s
Not wishing to sound like a broken record, but the announcement of the final Championship positions for the season were…bittersweet. Warwick C came 32nd, the Bs in 23rd and the As in 7th, out of 59. Last year, those results were 43rd, 28th and 6th out of 55. So, dissapointment for the As, but we're extremely pleased for the Bs and Cs. The three teams ahead of the Bs were Kingston A, Bristol A and York A, who are three fairly-well respected teams…indeed, the Bs are the 'sixth best B-team in the country' :-p.
So, despite the lack of a headline-grabbing result for the As, 2006 has been an excellent year overall for Warwick Motorsport, with the emergence of some serious talent from the Bs and Cs. Hopefully these new hopefuls will soon make the transition from merely 'very good' to 'race winner'...time will tell. Shame I (most likely) won't be around to see it happen, with this probably being my last BUKC race. I've raced against FRenault champions, GT drivers and Formula 1 hopefuls in the BUKC, and loved every minute of it. I'm also pleased to say that I've had a 100% appearance record in every BUKC race over the last three years..and I'm grateful for the people in the club who gave me the opportunity to do that.
(On a side note, did you know Nico Rosberg almost took up an Aerodynamics degree with Imperial? If he had, then it would have been us racing against him this year instead of likes of McLaren and Ferrari :-o. There's an interesting thought…)
If you've made it this far through this fairly sizeable post, then congrats…you're either a member of Motorsport, bored and looking for any outlets of procrastination, or very keen. If you're in the latter camp, I leave you with this thought, and blatant plug. One of our finds of the season had had NO prior experience of karting – in any form – since join Warwick Motorsport at the start of the year. In his third BUKC race he finished in 4th out of 35. It took me three years to finish 5th, and I'd been indoor karting for years before uni! So, if you're interested, please do get involved…we really do welcome newcomers to the fold and are proud of our non-elitist attitudes. You may turn out to be one of these naturally gifted people that can just win races without even trying ;)..and honestly, if you're into F1 it does give you a better insight into what is going on out on the track. Racing is always racing.
March 20, 2006
Not long to go now before the 2006 British Universities Karting Championship draws to a close on Wednesday, at Clay Pigeon Raceway in Dorset. So called because, unsuprisingly, there's a clay pigeon shooting range right next to the track. It looks like Brookes A have already got the championship in the bag, but behind them, things are fairly tight. Warwick A certainly have a chance of getting into the top 5 if things go their way. If they did, it would be a real acheivement – they've finished 6th for the past three years and have been a bit under-strength this season, unlike Warwick B and C.
It looks like the Bs and Cs will certainly take their highest ever championship finishing positions as well. As I mentioned in a previous post, both teams have been much stronger this year than in previous seasons. I think the squad that we are taking to Clay is going to be a bit weaker than the squad we've taken to the other races, but they should still put in some decent performances. It will be interesting to see how all of the Warwick teams stack up against SiY's team as well, who will be making a 'guest appearance' in the BUKC. His team probably won't have the depth to challenge for overall success, but I'll be pleased if either the Bs or Cs can get the better of them.
On a personal level, as much as I'm looking forward to the race, it saddens me to think that it will (almost certainly) be my last BUKC race for Warwick Motorsport. I'm confident that I can get a decent finish to round things off. I also have some personal battles to deal with as well…I have friends from the Coventry and Birmingham karting clubs with whom I have struck up some enjoyable rivalries with, so I hope to end my BUKC career by utterly destroying them :-D. I hope I'll have the chance to race SiY on track as well…it will be interesting to see if I've improved relative to him over the past year.
Annoyingly I learnt some really useful driving techniques at the last race (why oh why didn't I pick those up when I was a fresher!?) and I reckon I'll be able to apply them extremely well at Clay. Especially if it's dry…I'm much better in the dry than in the wet; and Clay is much more of challenge in the dry. Since it's a relatively high-speed circuit (the average lap speed is around 45mph for a good lap at Clay, however Buckmore Park is the quickest BUKC track, with an everage speed of 57mph for a good lap…not bad considering it's got four tight hairpins :-o), it's much more enjoyable in the dry. When the rain starts to fall, the grip on the karts we use really suffers, since we exclusively use fully-slick, hard-compound tyres. Consequently speeds drop considerably, especially at Clay, where many of the corners are just flat-out in the dry. In the wet, instead of trying to nail the perfect line through these corners to carry the speed, it's more a matter of just staying on track. Which means going much slower than usual…which isn't as fun. It's still an enjoyable challenge though, of course :-D.
March 15, 2006
Time for some more shameless self-promotion. Last night saw the publication of the official results from rounds 5 and 6 of the British Universities Karting Championship, which took place last Wednesday at the fantastic Buckmore Park circuit. Round 6 in particular was particularly notable, as Warwick's B-team really produced the goods and recorded their highest BUKC finish since records began, and by some margin. They finished…wait for it…11th!!! Doesn't sound overwhelmingly impressive, does it? Even considering that there were 50 teams racing? And our prior best finish was a mere 20th place last year? And that we beat all the other universities' B-teams? Here I am, just before nailing some guy driving for Loughborough B (boo! hsss!):
Oh well, we (I say 'we' cos I race for Warwick B, hence the shameless self promotion ;)) were all pretty pleased with ourselves. This year we've been fortunate to have some pretty decent karters join the club. We've not had any new talent coming in ready to win races straight out of the box, but we do more than enough talent to really own the midfield of the BUKC. Indeed, so much so that the B team has spent a lot of time this year fighting off (and succumbing to) the attentions of Warwick C, which is great.
At the start of the year we were hopeful that the Bs would be able to challenge Warwick A, who really do have some top-class karters. Happily, the Bs have done a reasonable job of keeping the As keen. Indeed, the As had a bit of a mare in round 6 and finished 23rd :s. Oh well. Anyway, it all looks good for next year though…hopefully some of the stars of the Bs this year will turn into race winners, and surely some top-class karters will join the club next year. Next week sees the final two rounds of BUKC 2006 take place at Clay Pigeon Raceway in Dorset, and hopefully all the Warwick teams will deliver the goods. Unless this bloke, who is also racing, decides to punt us all off cos he's scared we'll all be quicker than him ;-)