Rowrah, what an amazing track for our first round in Super One, not to mention fantastic weather all weekend which was unexpected given its location up in Cumbria. Its been a long time since I last visited the Lakes (probably 25+ years) and I’d forgotten just what a beautiful place it is.
We actually popped up for the Rowrah club round in Feb to get a feel for the track which was definitely a good idea and something we will try and do with all the Super One circuits going forward. Being in TKM we only have the Saturday and Sunday on track whereas other classes also have Friday to practice. Despite this we decided to arrive on the Friday so we could find a good spot in the paddock and also give ourselves plenty of time to familiarise with the whole Super One timetable, not to mention get the kart prepped ! Arriving at 11am Tim (TWMotorsport), with whom we are racing this year, was already set up and ready for us which made a big difference. Somehow then from arrival time all the way through to 7.30pm I didn’t stop. Having unloaded we had to get registered, get Alex’s picture/video taken for the TV coverage, get badges sewn onto his race suit, collect race tyres, fit to rims and check them back in for secure keeping, get the kart through scrutineering oh, and replace the brake disk carrier which was causing the brakes to stick. So pleased we arrived in good time on Friday!
Saturday’s timetable was pretty full on. Arrive 7am, unpack, check out tyres I fitted on Friday to make sure they haven’t leaked overnight and then check back in, drivers briefing, and go over the kart again. Then short practice sessions at 10am, 11am and then into timed qualifying.
For the qualifying (quali), heats and finals we have to be up at ‘parc ferme’ 20mins before we are due on track, during which we ‘check-out’ our race tyres, get them fitted to the kart and then onto the grid.
So why this whole ‘check-out’ and ‘check-in’ tyres? Its to ensure that all the drivers get tyres as closely matched as possible. Everyone gets new tyres for the race weekend which they then have to use for the qualification, heats and finals. To ensure they aren’t tampered with in between races they have to be ‘checked-in’ with officials, to then be collected for the next race.
Back to quali, this was really challenging. Everyone is out on brand new tyres which are slippery as anything for several laps. However with only 6 mins and laptimes of 48-49secs, there is really only 6-7 laps to set a fastest time. We struggled. In practice we’d been quite a bit slower than others and it was similar in the quali. 1.2 sec best lap time off the leaders and qualifying 15th out of 19.
Heats then started in earnest, one at 14:20 and the next at 16:55. One thing I’ll say for Super One is they are excellent at keeping to time which makes it so much easier to know where you need to be and when (why can’t more clubs do this?!). Heat 1 and we were still off the pace albeit less – 0.8sec of the leaders. For heat 2 I changed the gearing and, low and behold we have a much better session, finishing with a best lap time just 0.4sec off the leaders, 14th and a quicker best lap time than 4 people ahead of us.
So we qualify 16th for Final 1 and day 1 is finished. Prepping the kart ready for day 2 we finally head for our hotel at 7.30pm. Its been a very long day!
Day 2 (Sunday) is a little less stressful, at least in terms of the timetable. A short practice is followed by Final 1 at 12:20 in which Alex is on fire! Starting from 16th he slips to 19th on lap 1 but then proceeds to overtake, overtake and overtake; finishing in 10th, a best lap time of just 0.2secs off the leaders and quicker than 4 drivers in front of him!
This puts Alex in a start position of 10th for Final 2 and a whole 3 hours to relax before the start. Lap 1 is definitely our Achilles heel at the moment as he dropped down to 16th place. Once again however he lifts himself, clawing his way back up to 12th, slipping a couple of places and then regaining another to end in 13th, again 0.2secs off the front and quicker than 6 people in front of him.
All in all a really good start to our Super One adventure, surrounded by a great team and coaches (thanks Tim, Will and rest of team: TWMotorsport), good lap times showing real potential and some areas to work on (lap 1 in particular).
…and so began the long 7 hour journey home 🙂