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Last minute recovery at Rissington – 4/5 Jul

July 8, 2009

Sam pulled a rabbit out of the hat for the latest Rissington weekend with a blinding drive from the back of the grid in the Junior TKM Final. Other than those 15 minutes of glory, the rest of our weekend was ………… hard.


Saturday – Practice Day

Sam sets the scene;

What was left of the friction plate, should have 6 equal lugs on outer rim

What was left of the friction plate, should have 6 equal lugs on outer rim - 3 now missing

Another early morning start to get to little Rissington was in order for the weekend. With a stop at one of the parts vans to pick up the friction plate for the clutch that broke at Whilton Mill, we made our way to the awning. Everything was already set up, just needed some air in the tyres and we were ready. When I came in from the first session though we noticed another tooth had broken off the friction plate so our super mechanic (Jason) swapped it for us. This did mean we had to miss one session but it was better to have the kart working properly rather than stopping on the circuit.
Kart stopped on track. Sam contemplates firing the mechanic!

Kart stopped on track. Sam contemplates firing the mechanic!

To change the friction disc you have to take the spark plug out and put in what’s called a “piston stopper” to stop the piston moving (hence why it’s called a piston stopper) but then the plug does need tightening up afterwards, not just left hand-tight like my dad did. So I was going flat out and then the engine make a loud noise and cuts out and I had no idea what it was.  I got out the kart and saw the spark plug lead dangling on the floor. [ ok,ok so I just forgot!! – Dad ].



That was soon sorted but then we just needed to sort out some grip as I was struggling to get into the 46’s in one session but with a change of tyre pressures and a change to stiffen up the back end, I was back on the pace. So not much was really learnt on the Saturday, another practice day wasted.


Sunday – Race Day

New tyres fitted for race day
New tyres fitted for race day

This was our first weekend on blue plates meaning Sam was no longer a novice and no longer restricted to grid slots at the back of the grid. [ Click here for full explanation of novice status ]. In the three heats he gets grid slots of front, middle and back determined by computer to equalise everyones chances in the three heats. This (in theory) gives him a better chance of qualifying up the grid for the final than we’ve ever had before as a novice. Sunday didn’t quite go like that …..





I was feeling nervous from the moment I woke up on Sunday morning to find out my grid positions as I had heard many rumours that you start on the front row for your first blue-plate race. However it turned out that I wasn’t starting on the front row, I was starting 7th instead but I was spun out to the back on just the third corner but I still managed to make up a few places.

Once again in the second heat I was pushed to the back and then heat 3 was even worse as I was a second off the pace.


All three heats were disappointing as we seemed to spend most of the time at the back of the pack playing catch up. It certainly seems a little rough out there in the middle of the pack! All part of the learning curve I am sure. There was a bit of jostling again in heat 3 but our real problem was as Sam says, we were a good second off the pace and therefore going backwards but with little obvious indication of the problem. It was a little puzzling how performance could change so dramatically but this mechanic was rapidly drawing the conclusion that the problem may have been the ‘nut behind the steering wheel’!!  However, we persevered and, after a Team talk, chose to make a number of subtle changes and hoped for the best as we sat on the dummy grid. Only then did we spot the real problem ….


The bent track rod end

The bent track rod end

When we were on the dummy grid we spotted the steering was bent on one side which would explain my poor times in the last heat [ a severely bent track rod end on the steering – that would have affected steering and tyre temperatures and  indeed performance- Dad ]. 

Luckily dad ran to the parts van while Dave took it apart and they just fixed it in time.  The results in the heats gave me a poor qualifying position of 21st but with not a lot to lose I try my hardest and apparently after one lap I was up to ninth, don’t know how though!! I held that up until the last but one lap where I was bumped out of the way, just before the last lap board. I lost two places from it, which put me twelfth. It might not sound that good but in my eyes finishing 12th from 21st is good.


Sam had a great start from 21st on the grid with the advantage of being on the inside line for the first turn. By turn 3 he was up to P9 and keeping up with the pace, indeed putting distance between himself and the chasing pack. A couple of the fast boys did get past but that was offset by the top 2 drivers taking each other off. Sam put in some very impressive lap times as he battled to keep his place and was only demoted on the penultimate lap by a very “robust” move into ‘the elbow’ corner which put him on the grass. Crossing the line in P12 and only 12 seconds behind the leader was a great result and well deserved after what felt like a very difficult weekend. I think we need to work on ‘robust defending’ though!

No trophies this weekend but a lot of satisfaction.

Click here for race results.

Next event Whilton Mill 25/26 July.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex Rigby permalink
    July 8, 2009 6:26 pm

    Well done Sam, ace start to blue plates! I have told my dad that I want to be racing you on blues soon.


  2. martin woodham permalink
    July 8, 2009 10:19 am

    great result Sam – gaining time is one thing, gaining race position is another completely – it looks like you know how to overtake then!
    If you’d been 12th on the grid, where would you have ended up?! Challenging for the podium for sure – well done!

  3. Gran & Randon permalink
    July 8, 2009 10:02 am

    Good start with Blue Plates Sam. Look forward to next event in July. Hope to get to watch you before long.



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