We went to the Llandow S1 round last weekend full of confidence. Whilst we had been a little slower than we’d wanted at the practice club round last month, we had since discovered why and had it fixed (engine was significantly down on power and in need of a rebuild) and meanwhile Alex had really got to grips with the track and the critical lines needed to be at the front. Sadly, our confidence was to quickly dissipate to be replaced with something a little closer to despair.
Saturday starts off with two practice sessions. At the previous S1 round we’d had problems near the end of the meeting accelerating the kart off the grid and onto the track which we never got to the bottom of. Well it chose to bite us in the arse again! While everyone zoomed onto the track Alex was left struggling to get the kart to move. We changed the Carb after the first practice to find it was even worse with us between 0.8 and 1sec off the front! So now we were out of time – it was time for Qualifying and we didn’t know where the problem was.
Out of desperation we changed everything else it might be – on went the other engine and on went a 3rd Carb. Fingers crossed as we set down on the grid for Quali and thankfully, all was well. Yep we were 7/10s off the front but this still earned us 12th place which was just fine after the morning issues.
Unfortunately however our difficulties had only just started. Into Heat 1 and Alex was driving ok, bouncing up to 10th then slipping back but holding his 12th spot. However lap 3 he got a great run out of ‘The Dell’, closing really fast on the kart in front which duly went defensive, and this is where it gets a bit controversial. Can you go defensive and then change line again other than on the 1st and last laps? Certainly at the previous round the drivers had received a little lecture on the subject which suggests otherwise. Well, I’ll let you watch the video and decide if that’s what happened.
Recounting the incident, Alex said that having seen the other driver go defensive, Alex was about to abandon a move down the inside on the approach to the corner but the other driver then pulled to the outside and braked almost immediately, way earlier than he expected (or would do himself). This caught him out and he clipped their back right corner.
There’s no denying we did catch the other driver from behind so were fully expecting some sort of penalty. However we were also expecting that the defensive move would be taken into account as it was partially to blame. Erm, nope, we were excluded from the entire heat. This may not sound like that big a deal but, receiving no points for that heat (even last place gets 18 points) meant hurting not only our starting position for the finals but also our championship standing. Not good. Come the end of Saturday, with a 13th in Heat 2 we ended up starting 20th, right at the back, for the Pre-final the next day.
Pre-final on Sunday and Alex was absolutely on fire! A best lap of 45.24 put him as having the 6th fastest lap and climbing from 20th up to 12th place. Simply the best driving i’ve seen from him, possibly ever, which made what happened next all the harder. Heading over to collect him from Parc Ferme with a spring in my step, I could see he wasn’t happy. His front bumper had become dislodged which meant yet another penalty. Nope, it really wasn’t going to be our weekend!
So to the Final and courtesy of the penalty we were once again at the back, this time 19th. Alex had a couple of hours to gather himself after the pre-final frustration and I was so proud of how he managed to set it aside, compose himself and deliver another great drive. He clambered his way up to 13th and put in another fast time, 45.27, within 100ths sec of all but the front 2 drivers.
So, a tough weekend with few points, impacting our Championship standing but some real positives as well with some great driving in the two finals and quick times. We were also really pleased that both the driver we caught the back of in Heat 1 (who went spinning off into the tyres) and also Ian Sissons who had a nasty accident in the Final were both ok.
Thanks Tim and all the rest of the TWM team for the support and good company. Buckmore next and hoping for a better time of it.