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First lap woes at Rissington – Midland Championship Sep 5/6

September 8, 2009

In a strange weekend Sam failed to complete a single first lap in any of the four races without incident and spent most of the weekend consequently playing catchup. Then lady luck changed in the Final ….


This weekend at Rissington was the annual Midland Championship, a two-day event which has been running for over 40 years and usually attracts bumper grids. Previous winners have included Jenson Button and Nigel Mansell. The format is different to our usual weekends; practice Saturday morning, followed by race heats spread over Saturday PM and Sunday AM. Each class then has a Final (sometimes 2 depending on numbers) based on qualifying points gained during the heats. The Junior TKM class attracted 34 entrants from across the country, resulting in 4 heats with each driver competing in 3 of the 4. Qualifying points from each of the 3 heats set the starting order for the finals. The “B” final would run first for the bottom 8 positions, the top four of the ‘B’ final qualifying for the back of the grid on the “A” final, making a total of 30 competitors in the “A” final. Still with me ……..



Nothing much to report in the practice sessions. Kart and driver were on the pace from the word go, Sam looked very racey in fact. No kart issues – even the gearing was perfect from the word go.

Heat 1

Jade started Sam on saturday as she missed this heat

Jade started Sam on saturday as she missed this heat

Sam was drawn in grid slot 5 for heat 1 and expectations high for a good result. P5 is on the inside line so we were confident of a good start. The snake of karts got around the first few turns without incident but were still packed tightly as they braked for the dog-leg for the first time. Once through the dog-leg on lap 1 we can breath a sigh of relief ….. only this time Sam didn’t make it through the dog-leg…..



“I seem to be quite fast up to the dog-leg but under braking I felt a tap from behind and I was facing the wrong way watching everyone go past. Even though I didn’t stall, by the time I got going everyone had passed me and I had gone from 5th to 27th (last).”

So the familiar fight back began and Sam hauled in the back of the pack and picked them off one by one. So impatient at times he passed one of the novices around the outside! A recovery to finish 18th was excellent in the circumstances though disappointing from such an elevated starting position. Worse still, we discovered a bent axle due to the impact in heat 1 but Dave and Jason worked their magic with a lump hammer and scafolding pole (don’t ask! ) and amazingly straightened it enough for us to carry on.


Heat 2

We needed a better result in heat 2 and with a start position of 16 there was plenty of opportunity. However that optimism ended on the first lap again, this time at turn 2 (inner loop).


“I could see Craig having a battle on the inside line so I was cautious and went around the outside, but he still managed to collect me on his way to the grass. Also getting air in the process.”

Restarted in last, you can guess the rest!! This time finishing down in a lowly 20th. We did get an apology afterwards (cheers Craig) but an apology doesn’t get you points!


Sunday Heat 3

Jade sporting new DPRS overall design

Jade sporting new DPRS overall design

So a result in heat three was crucial. This time the optimism lasted all the way to the first corner.

“The start was too fast in my opinion, we were charging into the first corner at max speed on cold tyres. Two drivers on my right were scrapping for the inside line and collected me on their way to the grass again. I had not even turned into the corner – I had nowhere to go.”

By this time we were used to Sams determined fightbacks, but his pace and decisive overtaking on this ocassion was noticed by many.  An impressive PB was achieved in this race as he picked off 12 drivers in 9 laps to finish 15th.  That PB put Sam in the top five lap times of that race.



After the poor results in the heats, Sam was expecting to only make the ‘B’ Final, but breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the grid lists – 26th and last slot for the ‘A’ final. Our first thoughts were relief that with no-one behind at least he couldn’t be pushed off again – except the winners of the ‘B’ Final qualify for the back of the grid behind Sam!. Worse still, due to a couple of DNF’s two of the top drivers were in that bunch so Sam could immediately come under attack.

“Starting 26th, my strategy was all or nothing – to give it everything. My aim was to get past the dog-leg with caution, then anything more was a bonus. I was on the outside line at the start so I backed off for the first few corners which dropped me into last position but out of danger so I tucked in behind Craig but could immediately see ahead a big pile up into the Inner Loop complex.”


Twelve drivers, including teammate Jade Paveley, finished their race at this point.

“Crawling through the carnage I then followed Craig Johnson again, managing to stick close behind him to take advantage of his overtaking manoeuvers. I knew I would struggle to overtake him, but when he passed other people and forced them wide I was able to nip through behind him. Thanks Craig! Then a few laps later there was a crash on the racing line at the Elbow. Dave told me earlier to keep looking ahead so I saw the crash early enough to just avoid it. Craig smashed into the back of it and did more damage to his kart.  After that, I carried on chasing the pack, picked up a place or two and brought it home in 10th. Only 2 places away from a trophy! “


So a surprising result from a tough weekend. Far too much contact seemed to go unpunished and Sam was the unlucky victim in every race. Ironic then that had he qualified in his rightful position, he would likely have been in the middle of the 12 kart first lap pile up in the Final.


Motorsport is dangerous - grandparents look away. Click on image for video of heat 3 first lap pile up. Thankfully Sam sat this one out. (Nobody hurt I might add.)

Motorsport is dangerous - grandparents look away. Click on image for video of heat 3 first lap pile up. Thankfully Sam sat this one out. (Nobody hurt I might add.)


All in all, we had no lasting kart damage unlike many of the other competitors though once home, we did discover enough damage to the chain sprocket that it is a miracle the kart made it to the finishing line.

See full results here.

Next race weekend Whilton Mill Sep 26/27.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Trisha permalink
    September 9, 2009 11:13 am

    Hi Guys!

    I’m so pleased that Sam made it through the weekend without too much damage and I’m in awe of the fact that he managed to remain so positive after such disappointing heats. Perhaps he could give Will a few pointers ;o)

    Well done Sam………a magnificent comeback!!

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