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Black plates / blue plates explained

July 1, 2009

Sam graduates onto blue-plates

Following the successful completion of an ARKS driving test and five race meetings, Sam has completed his ‘apprenticeship’ as a novice and graduated to join the ‘pack’ as a fully fledged Junior TKM racer. Designed to help new comers adapt to the significant step up in speed and experience, the Novice concept allows experience and confidence to be built up slowly without being totally thrown to the lions in the middle of the pack. From a safety point of view this makes sense as the speed differential between the quickest and slowest drivers can be significant and consequently dangerous if the newcomers unexpectedly lift off the accelerator or brake too early. We experienced this first hand during Sams very first EasyKart test at Whilton Mill when he was hit hard from behind braking into turn 1 – we now know this bend can be taken flat out!

TKM rolling start - novices on black plates start at the rear

TKM rolling start - novices on black plates start at the rear

 To enable the experienced drivers to recognise the Novices on the track, different coloured mandatory number plates are used. Black with white numbers for novices, blue with white numbers for the experienced drivers.

By far the biggest difference for a novice during a race weekend is the starting grid positions, designed to keep them safely at the back of the grid whilst still giving them something to race for. All novices start at the back of the grid, positions vary but only within their novice class. So for example with 5 novice entries, the back five grid positions will be varied between the heats to give each driver equal opportunity to qualify for the final. Whilst a novice could theoretically qualify in pole, their chances of qualifying in a high grid slot are deliberately limited by starting the heats at the back. Hence the awarding of the Novice Trophy for the first novice home.

Starting from the next Rissington meeting, Sam will be ‘in the mix’ with the experienced drivers. In the 3 heats he will start in a front, middle and back grid slot (but always in front of any novices). There are rumours the computer deliberately puts a new graduate on the front row! Time will tell…. So the competition will be tough at the front and the silverware a little harder to come by for a while.

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