Clay Pigeon; October 7th; Round 11 MSA British Endurance Kart Championship.
Final positions Round 10: 5th in Clubmans Class; 18th overall.
This was the last round of the BEKC and we arrived at about 11.00hrs on Saturday for a full day of practice and testing.
We were expecting a wet track with showers, and indeed the day started with spitting rain and standing water on the circuit, so we began testing on intermediates, but quite quickly changed to slicks as the rain stopped and a dry line appeared.
Having started with high tyre pressures we gradually brought them down, finding that our usual set up seemed to work best.
Thomas led the way, finally getting down to a best of 42.3 and lapping comfortably and consistently at 42.6. He then left early to go to Bristol with supplies for Edward, who, following a stunning set of A level results, is now at University there, while James and Richard scrubbed in some new tyres and then set about confirming to themselves that we were running the right tyre pressures.
Overnight stop was at The Three Compasses at Charminster which easily won the RSR Overnight Stay of the Year award for 2001.
Sunday morning was windy with a damp track and we started on intermediates, all of us finding that the kart handled well in these conditions. But the track was drying fast and after only two qualifying laps, we brought Thomas in to see if we could do better on slicks.
This was in fact the case and Thomas immediately got a lap of 42.674 that was comparable to his times of the previous day and which we thought was good enough for mid grid.
So we stopped after only about five minutes, to save the tyres.
Unfortunately we were wrong and we ended up on the back row.
At the start Thomas made up a couple of places but got held up by Mr C who seemed to be driving to a uniquely personal strategy. Once past him and lapping consistently in the 42.6s Tom gradually pulled away, but we began to suspect that the engines were down on power - probably not hitting full throttle, as it was the one thing we hadn't double checked that morning.
More clouds were rolling in from the West and our weather expert was predicting a prolonged period of heavy rain. But at the moment it was just just spitting and Pit Management were closely monitoring every lap to decide when to bring him in. In the event they got nine out of ten for an almost perfect call - just one lap earlier would have got them full marks - and brought Tom in at the 40 minute mark for more fuel, full wets, and a driver change to Richard.
There were then about five laps or so while we wondered if we had put on the right tyres - the strengthening wind would dry off the track pretty quickly if it stopped raining and so far the predicted deluge had not arrived.
Then it did.
Really, it rained quite hard, actually.
And if it lacked anything in water content it made up for it in wind strength.
And then it got worse and went on getting worse for the next two hours as Richard battled round, lapping with absolute consistency in appalling conditions and gradually making up places, despite an obvious lack of power in comparison with other karts.
By the time he came in at 13.40hrs we were momentarily up to third in the Clubmans and although we were slightly balked at the fuel bay, we wound open the throttle stop a couple of turns and sent James out.
He had one lap in which he began to think that the kart didn't feel at all bad, before the whole race was red flagged.
Apparently the wind had now reached such a strength that it was blowing down and around some of the plastic drums Clay Pigeon use as course barriers and the Clerk of the Course felt this was too dangerous.
The race was suspended for half an hour and then abandoned, the finishing positions being those at the last print out about 15 minutes before our pit stop.
This gave us 5th in the Clubmans and 18th overall, which we were pretty certain we could have improved on over the next three/four hours. On the other hand, on the two slowing down laps, James reported that the right hand engine cut out completely and although he could re-start it while still driving and it seemed to run OK as long as he kept the revs up, it might have gone on to cause us further problems - who knows?
Many thanks to Heidi for turning out to support us on this weekend and to take team photographs - which unfortunately had to be scrapped because of the rain. And also to Ali and Oscar who drove from Cardiff to cheer us on at the start on Sunday.
A disappointing end to the race but we we have definitely held on to third place in the Clubmans class in the National Championship and we were the third listed Clubman team in the Southern Championship. The full race results are available here.
H O M E