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Big impact forces retirement – Whilton Mill Jul 25/26

July 28, 2009

Our first DNF(did not finish) of the 2009 campaign, yet despite this we had a great weekend and Sam ran really strongly throughout withsome impressive and brave overtaking moves demonstrating his confidence is growing with every race.


A busy parc ferme after the heat

A busy parc ferme after the heat

It was a 3 day format (fri/sat/sun) at Whilton Mill this weekend in preparation for the 3 day TKMFestival in a couple of weeks time. This meant Friday was a day of testing, Saturday was half a day testing and timed qualifying session with a single heat in the afternoon. Sunday was dedicated to two more Heats and a Grand Final. Grid slots were determined by the finishing position in the previous race so drivers had to manage their races to ensure they finished – no do_or_die lunges!


We missed Friday testing, and with Saturday being only half day testing the opportunity to try a few setup changes were limited. Worse still, scrutineering was BEFORE the test sessions and we were forced to declare our tyre choice at that time. There was a bit of doubt about our new race tyres (long story!) so we needed to verify they were performing, but there was no time available on Saturday to achieve that so we had to take a flyer. Fortunately our decision proved to be the right one and the grip came once the tyres were scrubbed in.

Saturday – Qualifying

Pre-race preparation

Pre-race preparation

The timed qualifying session was a new experience to Sam. Twelve timed laps similar to Formula 1, it was all about finding space and resisting the temptation to race the kart in front. That didn’t work out particularly well for Sam and by the time he had realised his times were being hampered by others around him it was too late in the session to improve. Another lesson learned! The top 10 slots were all impressive times beyond Sams personal best for this circuit so it gave us a feel for the quality of the field this weekend. [ Many of the top drivers in the country were in attendance practising for the forthcoming TKM Festival ]. It also showed that we had probably only missed a couple of grid positions due to our poor qualifying time so we were confident he could progress further up the field and a top 10 finishing position was duly set as a target.


Sam takes up the story …


Hinge and Bracket

Hinge and Bracket!

Another weekend came around and I was excited to get back in a kart. But this weekend was different as it was a 3 day event (practice on the Friday, 3 practice sessions, a timed qualifying and heat 1 on Saturday. Heat 2,3 and the final on the Sunday). Unfortunately I was at school and dad was at work so we couldn’t go on the Friday, as a result the 3 practice sessions on Saturday morning were a rush to find the right set up which is vital! Unfortunately I didn’t qualify very well as I didn’t allow myself free track… my bad! So in the end I qualified 16th for the first heat.


With a good start and overtaking a kart or two in combination with people not finishing resulted in a reasonable 12th place finish. Before the race we had changed the sprocket [ this adjusts the gearing – dad ] just to experiment since I had nothing to lose. It must have worked as I equalled my PB [ personal best lap time ] of 50.37.



Waiting for a acces to dummy grid

Waiting for a acces to dummy grid

From a poor result on the Saturday race I was looking to make up some more places in my second heat which unfortunately did not go according to plan. On the rolling start the kart in front of me did not keep bumper to bumper and left 2-3 kart lengths of gap. As a result when the lights went green everyone on the outside just shot past me and as a result I dropped several places and spent the whole race fighting to get them back. I only finished 15th.



Heat 3 was also a bit disappointing to begin with as at the top of the hill I was spun out on the first lap. Luckily that’s where the advantages of having a clutch come in [the engine does not stall like the clutchless engines would – dad ]. Once I got going again, it was a game of catch up, but in the end I made up 9 places after [ accidentally ] knocking a novice off (once again… my bad! he braked too soon). So from the back I finished 16th which I was pleased with.  

Just before heat 3 I noticed the clutch plate was broken again so Jason quickly replaced it before the Final. After that amazing recovery in heat 3 the tables turned in the final as a couple of laps in I was again tapped from behind and spun out. This put me on the grass yet again but though the kart didn’t stall it wouldn’t move so I had to push it back onto the track myself since the lady marshal couldn’t push me. 



Ours was not the only bumper to end up in the bin!

Ours was not the only bumper to end up in the bin!

By the time I got going again I was at the very back and the leaders were lapping me. I let 4 or 5 of them past [ a lapped kart must allow the leaders to pass  -dad ] and then settled in behind them.  A couple of laps later, I was following very closely behind a kart when his engine died at the fastest part of the lap. I hit him very hard because I still had my foot on the power and it damaged my front bumper very badly but I could carry on. Later that lap I ran slightly wide out of a corner and my front bumper split and became trapped underneath the kart. This forced me to retire so in the end all was lost but it was a great weekend.



So we finished the day with nothing, but oddly we both thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. The kart was well balanced and the driver drove very maturely, using his head to overtake without putting himself at risk. Shame others didn’t drive so sensibly. It’s tough when your race is repeatedly ruined through no fault of your own but thankfully the clutch saved us on numerous occasions this weekend and we live to fight another day. By odd coincidence, and due to separate incidents, all four of Sams teamates and friends scored a DNF this weekend so plenty of sympathetic ears and war stories to swap.

Full results click here.

Next stop Rissington in 7 times time, 1/2 August.



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