Stiddard Trackside Racing - Sunday 8th May 2005

GP Premier Series Round 5

Report by Neil Ashcroft

What a day for a kart race! Conditions were just about perfect for Round 5 of the Premier Series. 21 teams set up in the paddock in preparation for the 3-hour race. Titan Motorsport were still on a high from their Milton Keynes double while Zoom Lynn Road were looking to make good the disappointment of Milton Keynes and get back to winning ways. That's not to say this was a two horse race, there are a number of teams who are looking to and are capable of, winning this motor race. Rob Lofting was back in the 73 Spec Savers kart, Special Racing Projects, Jason Jones and Dave Hunter would be knocking on the door, as would B&R and Kartsmart. Auction My Igloo are always a threat if they can manage their weight!

The midfield battle is also very intense at the moment as there are some big teams who are yet to get their season started, the RKC's, Rapid Logic, 2Old2B Racing and Kartmasters are all very capable of consistent podiums and wins so this championship is wide open. Also good to see the Red Stripe Racing team join the circus with Tom Robinson and James Michell who are very experienced endurance racers both on two and four wheels.

Timed Qualifying

Buckmore Park track is traditionally green early on and it comes to you as the rubber is laid down. Unsurprisingly early venturers out on to the circuit reported little grip and the uninitiated started to dial in grip. The seasoned campaigners waited until the rubber went down. Subsequently the lap times tumbled in the main as the session went on. For the majority it was also the first time they had been to Buckmore since the introduction of the new kerbs at café curve and opposite coming down the hill. The feedback was that they weren't as fearsome as they looked but everyone was was showing them a lot of respect. Rob Lofting was on it from the start as was Jason Jones in the Special Racing Projects kart. 2Old2B Racing had Kevin Schofield on board for this race and he promptly mixed it up with the big boys reporting good things about the Select Diablo chassis. Third on the grid confirmed his findings and with less then a 10th covering the top three places it was anyone's pole slot. B&R put it along side Kevin for the 4th slot while Zoom Lynn road and Auction My Igloo placed 5th and 6th respectively. Titan Motorsport took a knock in qualifying which give them back axle issues to resolve, which lost them track time but they still managed to put it 7th, well played them. Rapid Logic where up at the sharp end of the timings for a while but at the close of practice they could only manage an 8th place slot which certainly surprised me as they looked quicker. Kartmasters in 9th had RKC 1 along side them on the grid, which meant the current champions, were well out of place and with the kart looking like a handful they were going to have a busy race. Ee-sport had ventured into the GP from the Challenge and the number 11 team drove well to put it 11th on the grid. KKC had a troubled qualifying session as they got to grips with their new Redspeed chassis. This was the third new chassis in as many races and as good as KKC are, they are going to need a little time to settle things down and get the most out of their kart. I'm in no doubt though that they will have a strong second half to the season (no pressure boys!). New boys, Red Stripe Racing did a solid job in their first outing on the MAX and placed 13th proving themselves to be no slouches. Along side them was the 88 kart of Auto 1 Racing who showed well at Rye House but less well at Milton Keynes which means they have raw pace there but just need to channel it. That will come with mileage. RKC 2 Racing had one of the foulest looking handling karts on the grid and it was a credit to Clive Hewitt and Barry Ives for driving as fast as they did but they had a lot of work to do if they wanted to compete in the race. A big shock of qualifying was Kartsmart down in 16th place on the grid. The normally front running team had some engine issues which they later resolved and were confident that the race would be better for them although on the grid driver Gary Worthington was less confident. Another surprise was the 14 Zero Racing kart of David Orford and Simon Bichara, who had been quick at both Rye and Milton Keynes could only manage 17th. The 22 kart of Karizma Racing were struggling to hook all 3 lap sectors together and they had some mechanical issues that didn't want to go away. It was good to see Steve Pope and a trim looking Rob Poland return to the series in the 69 Poland Racing kart. The guys had some mechanical woes with a sheared kingpin and brake issues and lost a lot of qualifying time but managed to get it sorted and ready to take the start of the race. Axles of Evil had a right handful of a kart under them and they had to work really hard to get any kind of lap time out of it. The guys struggled to find a set up and could only manage 20th slot. Red MAX Racing's Jason Redding and Steve Johnson with guest driver Stephen Argent-Moss could not get the engine on the 95 kart to run properly and didn't post a time in qualifying, electing to start from the pit lane giving themselves more time to sort out the lumps.

So the stage was set, the track now had grip, the temperature was rising and the championship points holders were sufficiently spread throughout the grid to make this a very interesting race.

GP Premier Round 5 - the Race

It was tense on the grid as the clock counted down to the start of the race. It's not the first time this year Rob Lofting and Jason Jones have been along side each other at the front of the grid. There are a lot of quick drivers on the grid this year across a wide spectrum of teams so every lap is a contest. This was born out at the start when it got very tight going into the first corner as no-one wanted to give an inch. Such is the standard of driving now that everyone got though intact and the race was on! Kevin Schofield slipped back behind Tiffany Chittenden in 5th place as Spec Savers, B&R and Special Racing Projects opened up a gap at the front. B&R's Mike Williams and Spec Savers Rob Lofting swapped the lead for a couple of laps with Jason Jones waiting to pounce. Kevin Schofield was being held up by Tiffany Crittenden, which in itself is credit to him as Tiffany is one of the fastest drivers out there. He finally broke the shackles of the 20 kart and in the following 15 minutes pumped in fastest lap after fastest lap and drove up to the bumper of the leading trio. It was an absolute pleasure to watch and a great ad for the new Diablo in it's first outing for the 2Old2B Racing boys.

Elsewhere Kartsmart were making fantastic progress with Gary Worthington looking very decisive in traffic. Zoom Lynn Road were not fairing so well with a carb detaching itself from the engine inlet and then axle problems really putting the mockers on any kind of meaningful result. Titan Motorsport weren't having any better a time with starter problems and handling issues which were a follow on from their qualifying mishap.

Even though RKC 2 looked to be having a nightmare in the handling department they had still worked their way up to 7th by half distance. RKC 1 on the other hand lost an engine and parked it, their day over. Red MAX were battling on, still trying to resolve engine problems which finally turned out to be carb problems.

Once the first round of fuel stops had passed and the field settled down to normal service resumed, B&R were in the lead but a great drive from Auto 1 Racing had them up into 2nd place and they were looking sharp. New team Red Stripe Racing were doing a great job in the mid-field and were looking comfortable in some esteemed company. Special Racing Projects had a tale of woe which dropped them back to the mid-field with similar stories for, Zoom Lynn Road, KKC and Rapid Logic. Auction My Igloo had the lead momentarily around the final pit stops but for the third race running they came in underweight, this time due to the spare battery being removed for safety reasons at the last stop. This put them 3kg underweight and they had to endure a three minute penalty. This dropped them to 2nd place at the end.

Spec Savers Rob Lofting retired the 73 kart 20 minutes from the end of the race with a rather large hole in his side where the seat had rubbed away both race suit and skin ouch! Auto 1 Racing took a great 3rd place with a capital drive from Kartsmart in 4th Gary Worthington from Kartsmart had also been in the wars and was helped from the kart with severe back pain. The final trophy place went to RKC 2 Racing who really did endure with a foul handling kart, good drive! 2Old2B Racing took a creditable 6th and claimed fastest lap through Kevin Schofield. Kevin is looking for a permanent, funded drive so if anyone is interested you can call Kevin on 0800 BANDIT! (only joking - ed). Red Stripe Racing finished a great 7th in their first outing and thoroughly deserved it. Special racing Projects finished 8th with mechanical woes, Titan Motorsport 9th with similar and ee-sport rounded out the top 10.

Kartmasters looked much quicker in the second half of the race and finished a strong 11th in front of Zoom Lynn Road, Rapid Logic, the retired Spec Savers and Zero Racing who had mechanical difficulties during the race. As did the remaining five teams, KKC, Karizma, Axles of Evil, Poland, Red MAX and RKC 1 Racing classified 21st and last with that early blown engine.

B&R deserved their win today with calm, collected and blisteringly fast drives from both Mike Williams and Steve Stapley. Well done them.

All in all it was a great race with some top draw driving. Although there were three full course yellow flags during the last 20 minutes of racing, they were all due to karts having to be recovered from mechanical failures.

Post Race Analysis

Buckmore Park played host to a great motor race today. The racing was very close but also very clean. There were some stunning drives and my driver of the day would be a toss up between Kevin Schofield and the Mike Williams / Steve Stapley combination of B&R Racing. It would be wrong to give it to anyone other then Mike and Steve from B&R Racing who drove a calculated race. Also worthy of note: Auto 1 Racing for a great 3rd place, Kartsmart finishing strongly from grid 16 at the start Add to the melting pot that a number of the front runners stumbled today and the picture is set for how close the championship is.

The circus goes to Clay Pigeon next on Saturday 28th May and Clay is a good circuit with good people running it so see you all there.

Report by Neil Ashcroft from  Fastroc

Click for Neil Ashcroft's photographs of Red Stripe Racing on race day.