Ellough; Round 7 MSA BEKC August 2nd 2003
Finishing position: 12th
The team was just Thomas and James for this race with Richard needing to spend time at home having been away for some time.
We arrived at about 14:00hrs having dodged various accidents on the A143 and set ourselves up in a good position next to the Clubhouse in the pits.
We were in no hurry since it was still pretty wet and (i) we didn't want to run in the expensively repaired engine in the rain and (ii) we were certain that it was going to be a dry race on the following day so there seemed no point in getting wet in fruitless testing.
Eventually around 16:00hrs the rain eased off and James went out with the new engine. Once that was run in we spent some time re-learning the track and finding a new wet weather adjustment which looks as if it may pay dividends in the future.
Practice finished at 19:00hrs at which point it finally did stop raining and the sun came out.
Saturday duly started bright and sunny and Thomas was first out in practice scrubbing in the new tyres. Then we swapped back to the old ones and James took over the testing for the remainder of the session.
The kart was certainly under steering more than it should, but life was made much more difficult than necessary by the engine refusing to pick up from overrun especially on the faster corners. This made it very difficult to be be smooth - or fast for that matter.
So we tried changing the jetting, then the spark plug, then the carburettor, then the coil, finally the fuel pump and nothing made a lot of difference and we still hadn't got the kart handling well and we had run out of time and James qualified on the very last row of the grid and ran out of petrol actually on the weighbridge. And Barry Prosser tried to cheer us up by pointing out that last wasn't all that bad and that only about a second covered the whole grid.
Things weren't looking too good.
The only thing we hadn't tried changing was the petrol and oil. Since James had conveniently emptied the tank, we stopped using the Q8 petrol we had bought earlier that day from Bungay and used the BP plus we had in the other cans. However at this stage we were still stuck with the Putoline MX5 oil instead of the recommended TT Extra and in fact we were using it at the running in mix of 33:1 in an attempt to be kind to the engine.
At the start James made up a few places and equally rapidly lost them again, but managed to stay ahead of Zero Racing for about the next 10 laps or so. They were very evenly matched but after some time Zero managed to slip cleanly past at the end of the main straight.
Now it was James' turn to follow and wallow in the exhaust fumes, which he did and hit the best lap of our race at 38.137 on lap 28. Finally on lap 37 he managed to push rather rudely past Zero at the midfield hairpin.
At the chicane on the same lap James caught site of another kart trying to come through on his right, assumed it was Zero and held his line with the result that he was pushed sideways into the tyres.
He lost a good half minute extricating himself from that one.
Only later he learnt that it was Titan who had been coming past him. If he had known that he would have given way and to their credit Titan had understood what was going on and had backed off in time, only to get bashed in the back by a too closely following ZLR who then catapulted Titan into James. By the end of the day almost everyone involved had apologised to everyone else.
Basically James shouldn't have been going so slowly through the chicane - he was losing a lot of ground there throughout the race.
After 46 minutes Thomas signalled James in and there was a good driver change in 87secs.
We were about 12th at this stage and Thomas set about Zero Racing again, managing to overtake them again to take us up to 11th, and producing a strong consistent drive. It began to look as if we could once again do well by hanging in there and move up as others moved down.
Meanwhile in the pits, James had got some new fuel from George Robinson since the pick up problem had still not gone away although it had been better than in practice.
Thomas stayed out for just over 50mins until he came in to pick up George's new petrol and to swap to James. Again, no problems there and the staff from Ellough who were manning the fuel bay for the first time, were doing an excellent job.
An uneventful drive for the next 50 mins cost us one place as Zero Racing came past again, but the engine was working better with the newer fuel though it still wasn't completely clean.
Thomas set off for the last of the long 50 minute stints and managed to get past Zero again and with Special Racing Projects having a bad time with a broken stub axle we were in a comfortable 10th.
Ted Poole now very kindly supplied us with some fresh petrol and George added his oil ready for the next re-fuelling.
This happened on lap 301 and James went out for what should have been a quick half hour burst.
But on lap 327 the race was slowed under full yellow flags in order to reset some of the tyres after an earlier crash.
Quick thinking by the pit crew brought James in for a refuel to take advantage of the pause, but unfortunately a couple of other karts got there first and we spent about 20 secs longer in the pits than we should have done.
It was still the right thing to do, but the full yellows were lifted just as James was driving away from the fuel bay.
Three laps later and he was back with an engine that was barely running.
George and Thomas changed the battery and then the plug before realising that the the connection to the coil had come loose.
It had cost us a good six minutes and ruled us out of the top ten, despite GPR having a very uncomfortable accident at the chicane due to being bashed up the back by a too closely following team again, Roker Racing having an extended stop in the pits with a worn engine sprocket and SRP having the same problem, although having had a look at it they carried on.
Thomas took over for the last half hour and again kept out of trouble but he was too far behind to have any chance of moving up.
It had been a good race and without the electrical problems we could well have come better than 10th in a very competitive field.
But ideally we really needed to be about half a second a lap quicker to pick up more much needed points for the Championship. We are going to have find something extra for the next round at Bayford, one of the more difficult circuits, when we shall once again be without Richard.
Results are here.
R e d S t r i p e R a c i n g
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