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Comeback Kid at Rissy

April 6, 2010

Another difficult weekend hunting for setup to make the best of the new chassis and tyre rules, Sams problems were compounded first by the weather, then by a black flag, and finally by an engine that would not fire. The comeback kid overcame all this to claim a half respectable midpack finish and an optimism that our fortunes may be changing.

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Monsoon conditions on Saturday did nothing to help our preparation for the optimum dry setup on the new Octane chassis, so it was in again at the deep end on a bright Sunday race day, tuning our setup during the heats.

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The first two heats were marred by quite a bit of contact and crashes, resulting in two injured drivers and a very irate Clerk of the Course. Sam kept clear of the trouble as he continued to struggle getting out of the slow corners.  After heat 2 the Clerk warned all drivers he would black flag the next ‘culprit’ …….  [ bet you know where this one is going – Dad ].

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Push starting a direct drive - as demonstrated by Mr H

In preparation for heat 3 the Team took the decision to convert Sam’s engine to ‘direct drive’ by removing the clutch. It wasn’t ideal trying this on race day but we had little to lose at the stage. This meant Sam would no longer have the luxury of recovering from a spin or off circuit excursion [ as a DD engine will stall when the wheels stop turning ], but this configuration just may help our corner exit problems. Started now with a push [from Jason I hasten to add – Dad] Sam started in P15 and was visibly more competitive. Making up for lost time Sam was also trying to adapt to the differences in driving on DD when he had a couple of incidents that drew him to the Marshalls attention.

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    I was surprised how early #43 hit the brakes coming into the Inner Loop and I hit him quite hard from behind” said Sam, “It certainly wasn’t intentional as it hindered my progress also, but then on the next lap I caught up with #26 and made a move down the inside into the Elbow. It’s a fast corner and a favourite overtaking spot if you can get it right. I thought I was alongside her when she turned in on me but they said I pushed her off.”

Sam and 'J' on the dummy grid

Neither of the two bumps would have normally attracted so much as a reprimand, and certainly Sam has been victim of far far worse in the past that has gone unpunished, but the C_O_C was in a no_tolerance mode following the earlier accidents and Sam was immediately black flagged – disqualified. As unjust as it felt, Sam took his medicine with dignity.

Losing the points from heat 3 meant Sam qualified for the final in 25th out of 28, but lady luck had not finished with us! As the dummy grid got the green flag and everyone pushed / started their engines, ours refused to fire!!  Poor Jason nearly pushed him around half the lap before it eventually chugged into life, but by that time the rest of the field were half a lap ahead preparing for their rolling start. Sam chased the pack but started the race probably 10 seconds behind the back of the grid as it crossed the start line. Things can only get better ….

Start of the Final - ghostly image of Sam in the distance

With a change in fortune (at last!!) Sam’s late arrival at the start line meant he missed the first lap pile up at the Inner Loop (and better still, couldn’t be blamed for it) and skipped through on the inside to claim 4 or 5 scalps before catching the backmarkers by the end of the first lap. With a much more responsive exit from the slow corners (due to the conversion to DD) and his late braking, Sam gingerly tip toed past where he dare, under strict Team orders not to risk any further disqualification :-s

    Picking his way carefully through the pack

    Sam said “I had a slight advantage at the start because my warm up lap was at full speed as I tried to catch the rolling start, so my tyres were grippy from the off. The kart was much more responsive out of the slow corners on direct drive so we may have to stick with this DD format. Jason was brilliant getting me started – Dad is going to have to learn how to push“.

A finishing position of 14th out of 28 was reasonable considering the 10 second start line deficit and loss of 23 grid points through disqualification in H3. Sam even received a word of encouragement from the C_O_C after the race for taking his punishment so well. We don’t make it easy for ourselves!!

Now looking forward to being competitive at Kimbolton next weekend. Full results click here

ps – big big thankyou to Jason Dredge for all the hard work (and pushing!) this weekend.

pps – well done to DPRS teamates Jack Hughes (Jnr TKM novice)  and Tom Wood (Cadet)  for great performances.

ppps – and well done to Jade for surviving her first NKF 125 gearbox race at Forest Edge.

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