Buckmore Park; Round 5 Promax Winter Series February 28th 2004
Finishing position: 15th
We got pole position in the pits at least with Tom and Richard grabbing a very good position near to the dummy grid.
It was bitterly cold with small flurries of snow starting now and again, but the track was basically dry.
So, after a worrying few moments before we realised we had left a widget in the whatsit on the engine, we put on slicks, put in a fair amount of air and spent the half hour of practice experimenting with the tyre pressures.
Richard was very soon getting decent times in the 45s and both James (in particular) and Thomas were enthusiastic about the handling.
Richard qualified us in 13th.
James started as usual and although he was enjoying himself - driving with more aggression than usual - he tended to overdo it too often too much, spinning at maximum speed on the downhill right hander - very exciting, but a bit of a waste of time - then spinning on the next left hander and spinning twice on the pits right hander.
The only good thing was that when he was on the track he was going reasonably well with laps in the 45s and his best at 44.79.
Unfortunately the Alfano had decided to take early retirement in the cold weather so it was impossible for the driver to tell how well he was doing.
But James was rumbling around in about 13th when he began to notice a harshness in the transmission and the engine began to misfire badly. He gave it a lap or two to see if it would clear and then came in on lap 50.
We found the engine had shifted - probably due to the rough ride James had been giving it - re-adjusted the chain, gave the Rotax a new spark plug and sent James off again.
It seemed fine for a few laps until it suddenly missed half way down the main straight. The kart who was following only inches behind probably thought he had been brake tested and the resulting almighty thump killed the engine completely.
Having coasted to safe stop in the short cut past the infield hairpins, James found that the battery had come disconnected and that once re-connected the kart was off again and going well. The last eight laps of his drive were James' fastest.
An impeccable change over to Richard, delayed by a little to tie down the battery connection was completed in 2:43 .
But our troubles were not yet over.
After another 10 laps Richard was back in to say that the engine had suddenly stopped working at anything over a tick over.
We took the carburettor off and cleared out the ice that had formed hoping that this was the cause. One difficulty was that we couldn't tell how hot the engine was running without the Alfano working, but we closed off the radiator in the hope this would help.
It didn't and Richard was in again on the next lap.
Special Racing Projects generously lent us a new carburettor, and Thomas was in the process of swapping main jets from ours to theirs when he realised the main jet on ours had come completely loose. Can we blame James for this as well? All that off road shaking around can't have helped....
Anyway back on went our carburettor with a properly tightened main jet and once he had done a quick spin - to warm up the tyres, of course - Richard was really flying.
Most of his laps were in the 44s with his best lap at 44.26 on lap 97 and he was looking very competitive against the leaders. If only they hadn't been 30 laps ahead......We had lost about 20 minutes in the pits sorting out the main jet.
We were in 18th place as Richard came in just after the second hour, to hand over to Thomas.
This time we cut 40 seconds off our pit time with a smooth re-fuel.
Thomas was immediately into the 45s and then lapped very consistently at that pace having almost a complete session battling with Auto 1 Racing who were in 4th position. Thomas overtook them first but was then retaken and was never quite able to get past them again although he stayed only a few kart lengths behind.
We were moving gradually up the field getting as high as 14th until Howzat Racing overtook us with about 30 minutes to go dropping us to 15th at the flag - but not before Thomas had put in his fastest lap at 44.77 just four laps from the end.
We had had great fun and were encouraged by how good the kart had felt and how fast we had got it to go - we probably haven't ever been that close to the race lap record before.
R e d S t r i p e R a c i n g
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