Daytona Milton Keynes August 5th 2007
Round 6 OEKC Summer Series
We blamed our poor performance in July on the tyre pressures we used, but just to make sure that there was no underlying chassis problem we set that up with even more care than usual, using a new laser alignment system for the first time.
The brake had been back with Dartford Karting to see if they could do anything about the poor calliper release and they had changed it for us. However the only way Thomas could get that to work properly was to use a part worn pad on one side. Not very satisfactory, and it will almost certainly have to go back to the makers once again. Having said that the brake works well and lasts well throughout a four and and half hour endurance race, so it's irritating not to be able to get it perfect.
No one was forecasting rain, and the day before in Cambridge when we had been working on the kart, the temperature had reached over 30 degrees, so we were expecting a long hot day.
The two drivers shared the practice time with James not really getting to grips with the kart and qualifying towards the back in the 63sec area. But Thomas was going better and was happy with the way it was going. We did reduce the jet size, and although this produced no obvious speed benefit it would help us with fuel consumption.
Thomas started the the race with a hiccup as the engine died exactly as the starter's flag went up. Luckily he managed to re-start it without coming to a halt, but it dropped him back from the rest of the field.
This proved to have beneficial consequences as a number of karts crashed at the first hairpin and Thomas was able to avoid the worst of it by doing a detour onto the concrete.
By the end of the first lap we were two places up on our grid position in 8th and chasing down FDM in front.
Lap times were almost immediately down into the 62secs
Then the Litigator came past after their first lap crash dropping us down to 9th while FDM although slower were proving difficult to actually get past. Thomas made a determined effort on the pits hairpin but couldn't quite make it and although this allowed FDM to open a gap, Thomas quickly reduced it again and finally got past and well away.
Daytona have a unique - and pretty efficient - way of rescuing broken down karts which entails sending out a rescue vehicle. The result of this is more full course yellow periods than on any other track and we had the first of these on lap 25. It only lasted for a couple of laps however and we were soon racing again in 6th place.
By lap 29 we had got up to 5th and on lap 31 Thomas got our best lap of the race at 61.62s
We were running our usual stints of a bit over an hour and as we reached the end of the first session, other karts began to pit, promoting us up to 3rd before we finally came in for fuel after 66 minutes of racing.
Much to Box Tech's dismay they were right behind us on the weighbridge and fuel bay, and matters weren't improved for either team when our engine died as James attempted to drive off and then the starter motor refused to re-engage properly.
But at last James was away with Box Tech blasting past at the earliest opportunity together with FDM and Box Tech II.
We were now in 5th place again with most teams having completed their pit stops for the first time and James set about getting up to speed.
He gradually got faster getting down into the 62s laps after ten or so laps.
He caught and past Box Tech II and then caught FDM, who as before, proved a little more difficult. But he got past without breaking anything in the end, putting us back up to 4th.
There was another full course yellow at the 96 lap as a back marker came to grief and James continued to improve - albeit slowly - getting the best lap of his session at 61.88 on lap 119.
After a bit less than 65 minutes Thomas called him in for a fuel/driver change. This was a bit slower, as we tried a new fuel filler, which proved to be less dramatic but definitely less quick.
However we clung on to our 4th place with Thomas driving consistently in the 62s until Appliance Maintenance came to grief at the bottom of the circuit and we were on to full course yellows for several laps.
Released from that Thomas got his foot down and clocked some 61s laps although it wasn't until lap 182 that he got his best lap of the session at 61.67s
Meanwhile the lap board showed we only had Box Tech and the Litigator in front of us, with Red Max having a poor race after contact had punctured a tyre followed by a number of other problems culminating in a technical black flag for a bouncy exhaust.
We seemed to be doing OK on fuel consumption, but just to make sure - and since he tends to use more fuel than Thomas - James aimed to finish with a shorter final session and to keep Thomas out now for a little longer.
So so we brought the kart in for fuel after around 67 minutes racing to give James plenty of leeway to use as much fuel as he liked.
This was the slowest stop of our race - again mostly due to fuel filling problems.
We held third place but after half a dozen laps the Litigator had miscalculated an overtaking manoeuvre, putting us onto full course yellows again.
It was at this point that James caught up with the recovery truck which promptly dropped its loading platform on the track in front of him. Luckily it was easily avoided and allowed James to overtake the truck and to increase his speed just a little from the walking pace the truck normally goes at.
The Litigator's bad luck promoted us up into 2nd place behind Box Tech who were now cruising to the finish, well in front.
It also looked as if we were pretty safe in second with out nearest competitor several laps behind.
However James kept on pushing and he got his best lap of the race at 61.79s on lap 240.
At that point Box Tech II came out of the pits with a rejuvenated driver and James decided that it was better to back off rather than risk a pushy overtaking move.
A couple of laps later Red Mist with the Biland came past with Appliance Maintenance in tow or visa versa; it didn't really matter as they were both well below us on the leader board.
So we thought we finished in second overall, a really good result and reward for a well managed, consistent race in heat that showed over 30 degrees by the afternoon.
Tyre wear proved to be perfect - well, on the smooth side of perfect if one wants to be picky - so that gives us a very good basis for some marginal changes to setup. We suffered from a dragging clutch throughout the race which wasn't really a problem while racing, but is symptomatic of a problem we need to try to sort out for the next race. In fact we later found that one pin and one of the shoes had broken up, so we were pretty lucky.
As it turned out there was an error on the timing display which meant that Red Mist was actually a lap ahead of us, so we got 3rd overall and 2nd in class - still an excellent result and good enough to get us up to 3rd in the Championship and to within shouting distance of Red Max ahead of us once the dropped rounds are taken into account. Box Tech are not so far in front that they can't be beaten by Red Max but basically they have got to do really badly as well as Red Max doing really well in the last two rounds.
R e d S t r i p e R a c i n g
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