I’d heard people saying that Llandow is a driver’s circuit which I took as meaning ‘drivers really like it’. After our weekend I would have a slightly different description along the lines of “a circuit that punishes the slightest mistake and requires drivers to be millimetre perfect, every single lap or you can kiss a good result goodbye”……or something like that 🙂
As you may have gathered, it was a tough-ish trip to Llandow last weekend however, on the positives first, it was glorious weather all weekend, so much so my scalp was nicely burned by the time we were heading home and, there was a nice sized grid of Junior TKMs to play with.
We started out on the Saturday practice with some very old worn tyres which deteriorated quickly during the day. I hadn’t appreciated just how abrasive the track is at Llandow and by mid afternoon the kart was getting really wayward, making it difficult to determine if Alex was getting to grips with the track or not.
Having said that, he was definitely getting better at ‘The Dell’ (see picture of the circuit above). Early on we were just being passed further down the Hanger straight as if we were standing still but by the end of Saturday we seemed to be getting more speed out of The Dell which partially addressed this. The other really difficult corner seems to be the Hook and getting the right line so that the exit is clean and fast is difficult.
So by the end of Sat, with newer tyres now fitted we were definitely doing better but still a way off other drivers, some of whom we consider to be reasonable targets 🙂 We retreated to the really nice Cardiff bay area for Pizza and our overnight accommodation at Cowbridge Cabins (if you want cheap and nice I can recommend).
So to Sunday and our first ever race at Llandow. Heat 1 we start in second which sounds good but, as we discovered the inside line (even numbers) is a real pig at the start as the karts just bog down badly as you come round the final corner before the start/finish line.
Amazingly on this heat Alex did manage to slip into 3rd position which was superb and then as the heat progressed we gradually got overtaken by faster drivers, still loosing a lot of ground on the back straight to end up 8th, about 7/10s off the front runners but at least down into the 45secs lap times.
Heat 2 we started in 14th but, courtesy of the inside line again we were back in 18th by the first corner. From then on Alex struggled to find pace, languishing in the 46sec laptimes and just managing to retrieve his position + 1, finishing in 13th. Not too bad given the appauling start but, laptimes weren’t good.
Heat 3 and we are starting in 10th…..yes, once again on the inside <sigh>. Sure enough another poor start for everyone on that side sees us slip back only to recover a little to 13th but, even worse laptimes although everyone was slower so we were again 6/10s off the front.
So to the final and we start in 12th (yes, I wont say it again………actually yes I will…..the flippin inside again !!!) and the story is pretty much the same as with the heats – all the inside liners drop back lots at the start and then claw back up again. In fact without doubt it was a false start with the first two rows on the outside crossing the start line before No.2 had crossed the line but, hey ho. We did take a punt on a rather radical gearing change which saw us never once being overtaken on the back straight which was good. It was also fun to watch Alex battling with Scott and Lydia for most of the race (reckon the three of you would have been quicker if you’d worked together mind!). Final position 12th and again 7/10s off the front runners.
Compared to how close we were at Rowrah this was disappointing but, it was similar at the Rowrah club round so hopefully the S1 meeting will be a little better. Its clear that following faster drivers helps the lap times significantly as does getting stuck behind slower drivers destroy them. Getting past slower drivers fast and then moving ahead to catch the next pack is so important and something we need to work on. As for that inside line……