Bayford Meadow; Round 8 MSA BEKC August 29th 2003
Finishing position: 12th
Richard was still absent doing more important things so Mark Crankshaw agreed to drive for us in this race. He last drove for Red Stripe in 2001 at the Le Mans 24hr race, so it was good to have him back.
We arrived at the circuit on Thursday to find it still dry but with rain forecast so we got Thomas out to scrub in some new slicks while we still had the chance and then we swapped tyres to an old set and sent James out and then Mark so that he could get familiar with the kart and engine.
Mark only had a half dozen good laps until it started to rain and we brought him in for a change to intermediates. It soon became obvious that we were going to need to use full wets so we put on a new set.
We then divided up the driving between Mark and James, giving Mark as much time as possible in the driving seat and changing some parameters for James to test.
We seemed to be going pretty well and the kart felt good once we had sorted out the castor angles - 2 degrees of castor is not recommended!
The weather got wetter.
The engine was going well, obviously thriving on Shell Optimax after its flirtation with Q8 in Bungay.
It continued to get wetter and rain harder, until James hit a puddle which suddenly appeared at the beginning of the Start/Finish straight. The engine ingested a mouthful of water and died on the spot.
By the time we had dried everything off, half the circuit had had to be closed because of the amount of water on the track - a blocked drain apparently - and there was really no point in doing any more set up testing.
So we left Mark out there for as long as he felt like it, getting a hang of the kart and conditions and getting thoroughly wet, and when at around 16:30hrs he had had enough he went of to Dartford to get a new set of wets for the race on Friday.
Surprisingly, it was dry overnight and the circuit was dry on Friday morning, but it didn't take long once practice started for the rain to come in. Basically from then on it rained all day with varying intensity until the chequered flag came out - at which point it stopped.
But back to practice which was going OK. Not super fast but controllable and James who was starting the race felt confident about being competitive with other teams.
For qualifying we changed to the new wets purchased the day before and Thomas qualified a little disappointingly in 11th. He came in complaining that the kart felt skittish and unpredictable but since he had done very little driving that morning or the day before we thought he just needed to get used to the kart. So we ignored him.
James started the race and was immediately dropped by the rest of the field faster than a lead balloon over Beachy Head - apart from MIF Racing who were probably just waiting for James to self destruct.
He didn't do that, quite, but he certainly tried everything else to make the kart go faster - different line, braking points, styles - until he got totally confused, frightened himself a couple of times and ended up going slower.
After just over an hour he came in to change to Thomas with a pretty reasonable outlap of 125.32 seconds
Thomas, with perhaps fewer recently preconceived ideas about how the kart should be handling, made a better job of getting it to go faster, lapping on average 0.86 seconds a lap better than James had done and overtaking MIF and Misfits - on the track at least.
In fact on the leader board we weren't doing too badly - up to 10th as others struggled with water and other problems. We had fitted an additional water guard in front of the air box the night before and this seemed to be working well.
Again, after just over an hour Thomas changed to Mark.
Mark was doing well achieving some times comparable to James' and staying out of serious trouble.
That is until his 22nd lap when he coasted to a stop on the infield opposite the pits.
We collected him on the trolley and then sprinted back to our pits, to find that the sprocket carrier had come loose and had thrown off the chain.
While Thomas dealt with that, it was obviously the moment to change the tyres to see if they made a difference, so we put back the old ones we had been using the day before and put a good deal more pressure in them.
We re-fuelled on the way out to use up one of our mandatory fuel stops and Mark was out on the circuit again and down in 12th with Misfits several laps ahead.
But the pit wall crew couldn't believe the stop watch when they started to time him again. After three laps he had gone 1.958 seconds a lap faster than he had achieved in his first session and overall his average for the second session was 2.316 seconds faster than the average for his first one.
Maybe it was the higher tyre pressures which helped but there was no doubt that the old tyres at the lower pressure had been faster in practice than the new tyres at the lower pressure in the race. So we reckon the compound of the new set must be different in some way. But we can never use them in a race again, and in practice, what would be the point? so that 's over £100 down the drain.
Buy them from GPR next time, or Ted for that matter.
After another twenty or so laps Mark was in to change to James.
Like Mark, James now found the kart went a great deal better. His average for this session was almost 2.5 seconds a lap faster and on lap 179 he got our fastest lap of the race at 65.386.
The change to Thomas went well in our quickest outlap of the race at 118.146secs and he too found the kart much quicker on the old tyres, overtaking on the track, SRP, MIF and Misfits. Gradually we were catching those in front of us, but we had a lot to make up and barring disasters it didn't look as if we would improve on 12th.
Mark went out for the final stint getting in some of his fastest laps of the race but marring his average with a couple of harmless spins.
Meanwhile back in the pits we had not been credited with all our stops and there was an anxious few minutes while James sorted out the problem with the official timekeeper Jane Noyce.
At the end we got to within the same lap of Misfits but were still 48 seconds behind and so got 12th position.
Moss Racing - with Howard doing a lot of the driving - came 1st for the first time and Titan came 2nd thus clinching the Championship title for 2003.
Next and last race of the Championship is Clay on September 19th. The long range weather forecast is bad and at Clay that can be very, very bad.
R e d S t r i p e R a c i n g
H o m e