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Sam smashes his PB lap time in the Northants sunshine – Whilton Mill Aug 22/23

August 25, 2009

On a surface giving faster and faster lap times and a freshly rebuilt kart, Sam smashes his personal best lap time knocking off a full second by the end of the meeting.

Kart in the process of rebuild

Kart in the process of rebuild

Following the pole position at Kimbolton earlier in the month we took advantage of the holiday period to strip the kart down for a well earned overhaul. A small amount of welding was required as the Kimbolton meeting had taken its toll. We also took the opportunity to fit a new back axle as there was a slight vibration from the old unit, refresh the brakes, and give every component a thorough inspection, replacement if necessary, or a thorough clean. The seat was repositioned to accommodate a growing driver and the brand new race engine returned to the builder for a health check. The reserve engine was also in need of attention so that was taken to our new sponsors (more news shortly) who have kindly agreed to support the engine building costs this year.


Jade supported Sam on Saturday

Jade supported Sam on Saturday

The box of bits were duly screwed back together in preparation for the Whilton Mill meeting this weekend. The DPRS race Team  gave our handiwork the once over upon arrival at the circuit, bled the brakes and gave it the thumbs up. In a change to the usual format, teamate Jade Paveley was to be Sams race mechanic for the Saturday providing kart setup and maintenance in addition to grid duties. Due to her BBC commitments commentating on the European Grand Prix for the CBBC audio feed [press the red button during the BBC F1 coverage] Jade was not racing this weekend so volunteered to experience the kart support role for the day.



“After a great result at Kimbolton it would be shame to get another DNF at Whilton Mill like the previous month. We arrived in the morning to a really grippy, fast track. This meant that there was some possibility of a new lap record being set and a new PB. The first session in my eyes was just a familiarization with the track, plus the surface at Kimbolton glazes the tyres and makes you think you have no grip at all. So with this minor set back I did not expect to set a quick time. However I still somehow managed to beat my 50.35 PB by 3 hundredths of a second. Hmm okay, a few new PB’s today I think! Session after session I was getting quicker.“


New brakes took some getting used to

New brakes took some getting used to

Our excitement was short lived however when it was noticed that the (new) rear axle had moved in its bearings so it was put down to the rebuild mechanic, but subsequent practice sessions revealed a recurring problem of a floating rear axle. Sam’s times still came down in every practice session bar those where the axle had moved so much the brakes started to bind. Sam was also battling with a completely changed brake feel due to the rebuild,

“The brake pedal had much less travel than before so it took some time getting used to it. There were two corners that I kept spinning out on due to the brakes but I didn’t mind as this is only a practice day and I need to find the limits and a different way of braking.”


Drivers were set specific tasks during Saturday practice

Drivers were set specific tasks during Saturday practice

Dave Paveley spent time on Saturday working with the two team drivers to help them extract more time from the circuit and by the way the lap times were tumbling it was clearly having an effect. In the last session Sam was strategically placed at the front of the dummy grid to give him clear track and a chance put all of Dave’s coaching tips together.



“Dave told me in the last session to put everything I was practicing together and I was hoping to get yet another PB (hopefully breaking the 50 second barrier). First out onto the track I had all the free track in front until I clipped a high kerb which flicked the chain off right in front of where Dave was standing [Dave stands on the circuit as a ‘helper’ to restart any who spin off – Dad]. I just rolled over to him on the grass thinking session over. Dave soon got to work and put the chain back on, then ran over to Jade at the fence for the start gun [Sams kart is started by an external electric starter – Dad]  and off I went. Getting back into a rhythm was then important as I didn’t have long. I only managed 3 laps before the chequered flag came out. Unfortunately it came out on what was my fastest lap in progress so I couldn’t make it round to the start/finish. However I did get another PB just not quite in the 49’s. If I had one more lap it would have easily been in the 49’s as I was already 4 tenths faster the previous lap [Sam has an onboard computer that tells him split lap and sector times – Dad]. Even though I didn’t quite get into the 49’s I knew I was capable of doing it after that session.”



Overnight Jason fitted some additional locking collars to the rear axle in a belt and braces approach to keep it in place and brand new race tyres were also fitted. The weather was already hot by the start of heat one, a fast but uneventful heat where Sam brought it home in 10th from a starting grid slot of 14th. He was clearly faster than the guys in front but unable to find a way past. Heat 2 saw Sam start in 6th with many of the more experienced drivers behind him. Still concerned about his new brakes Sam was ultra cautious at the top of the hill into Christmas corner and it was undoubtedly making him vulnerable to attack, so sensibly he drove a very defensive line at that part of the circuit.

“I couldn’t afford to spin on race day so I had to be careful into the heavy braking corners. I was fast around most of the circuit but knew I was braking early into Christmas so I tried to stay on the inside line up the hill as long as I could. A couple of the top boys got me but I can live with that. I still got a new PB so it can’t be that bad.”

Whilton Mill circuit layout

Whilton Mill circuit layout

Heat 3 was a flash of déjà vous, as Sam went from P6 on the grid to last position following a coming together with another kart having a go after Christmas corner into the Kink.

3rd row of the grid for heats 2 & 3

3rd row of the grid for heats 2 & 3

“He tried to dive around the outside which was never going to work as I had the racing line into Inkermans. He kept his foot in and tried to push me off line, our wheels touched and he jumped over my sidepod and spun out. It ruined my race but at least I kept going. He was on a direct drive engine and retired because it stalled.”



Lining up another victim around the Boot complex

Lining up another victim around the Boot complex

Sam chased the back of the pack and reclaimed 3 or 4 places quite emphatically, with two identical moves down the inside at Pit Corner, a very fast, downhill and unforgiving corner that requires a certain amount of bravery and forward planning; set the move up coming into Boot-1 corner, take a wide line into Boot-2, tight line out of Boot-3, stick it down the inside and commit. You really don’t have long to duck out of this move so we were very impressed to see Sam do it on two consecutive laps finishing a very creditable 12th.



Due to a very competitive grid and that unfortunate 3rd heat, Sam qualified 11th which didn’t seem to reflect how well he had been driving all day. It was a strange final race for Junior TKM as positions didn’t change too much and very few retired, so Sam spent most of the 15 laps in a gaggle of 4 karts all challenging for 8th place. One minute attacking, the next minute defending. Sam’s nervousness into the braking zone at Christmas corner still apparent. But he fought on and brought it home 10th – a position that doesn’t really do justice to his speed or performance – but it was a very fast race in front.

“The Final was a great race but I didn’t actually overtake many people. If I got all the corners right I would catch the kart infront but when I tried to overtake or made a tiny mistake the kart behind would attack me or nudge me so I had to give up trying to overtake and stop him getting past. All four of us were really close together for the whole race. I didn’t get a PB in the Final because I was being held up some of the time.”


When we arrived at Whilton Mill on Saturday morning Sams best lap around here was 50.37. We went home on Sunday with a new PB of 49.30 a full second improvement, some no doubt from the conditions and track surface, but consensus is the driver has just found a new level of confidence at this circuit. We know we have more time to come under braking so watch this space….

 See full heat results here.

Next meeting Rissington Sept 5/6th.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. trisha permalink
    August 25, 2009 11:58 pm

    p.s. Apparently, following a visit to Paul Carr today, we’re having the same problem with our axle. New collars to be fitted on Thursday as well as a complete health check for the chassis.

  2. trisha permalink
    August 25, 2009 11:56 pm

    Sam drove brilliantly at the weekend ;o) Keep up the good work Sam and the rewards will come. Well done!


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