Coming up to last Sunday, I was acutely aware of the forecast. Rain the previous night, but due to be clear and sunny until about 11am when some heavy showers might kick in. This meant that while qualifying might be dry, the races would be wet, something I’m not too used to dealing with in the club100s after an almost entirely dry year last year.
I had two 15 minute sessions of practice in the morning, on a track that was drying from the night before. The first was mostly dry, yet puddles changed the lines around some corners. My times weren’t amazing, but were sensible and I stayed out of trouble. The second session was completely dry and I could start to really get the lap times down. By the end of the session, I was only 10th fastest, but this turned out to be only 0.3 seconds behind the leader in an oddly close practice session.
As predicated, the track was still dry when we came to qualifying. I was out in the first group, although a very light drizzle put me on edge and told me I’d need to set a fast lap as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I got stuck in all heaps of traffic for the first couple of laps. After navigating some slower people, with similarly paced drivers still around me, I backed off a bit to give myself a couple of seconds gap. This did the trick and was half a second faster than anything else I set the session. Being called for weigh-in at the end told me it was good and a quick jog to the timing screens told me I was top!
The next session just got underway when the torrential rain started. No-one had set a time, so the “differing sessions” rule would be applied, with my session lining up on the right and the second session lining up on the left of the grid. The plus side of this meant that I had pole, yay! The downside was everyone in the second session had a taste of the wet conditions and would likely start of a little stronger in the races.
Given my lack of experience in the wet recently, I was focused on damage control: not spinning. The first race ended up being on a track that was in the process of drying and there were already a few dry patches. Care would still be required though. As pole-man pace-setter at the start, I dropped the hammer as late as possible so that I would’ve have to guess the braking point into the first corner too much. The inside line was slippery though and second place ran around the outside of me. He had the jump leading up to the infield hairpin but went wide and I retook the place (I was very strong at the infield hairpin all day, not sure what it was). A bit more dicing gave him the inside going into the last corner, but I turned on a dry patch on the outside of the corner and shot past down the straight. My pace wasn’t enough though and repeated mistakes in complex Nouvelle left me losing places until I dropped to 4th. A quick look behind told me I wasn’t in any danger of dropping any further, but I didn’t have enough pace to challenge and bring any positions back.
A 4th place finish meant a 4th place start for race 2 (under last years rules, I would’ve been 5th, so I had pretty good pace compared to the field as a whole). The race started in the midst of the end of another shower, making the track a lot wetter. I still felt pretty comfortable, but was aware I’d need to be careful not to spin.
The start was a little scrapier, briefly dropping to 8th on the first corner, but my strong performance at the hairpin madeup for it. The little battle I was involved in got pretty intense and the top 3 quickly broke away. A battle I had with two others was quickly joined by a fourth when they got the jump on all of us up the inside of stadium. Finally working my way past the previous two battlees, I started putting pressure on the guy who’d snuck past us. I was faster into Pylon and the infield hairpin and got alongside a couple of times, but their strength at the final corner always let them pull away. While frustrating, I kept the kart pointing in the right direction until the end and finished a respectable 5th, which made up for being completely covered in rain water and grit.
A 4th and 5th goes some way to recovering from the poor day at Buckmore, but I’ll need to keep the momentum going to Lydd and hopefully to Whilton (which was a weak track for me last year). My exclusion from Buckmore’s first race means I’m only 22nd in the championship, but that score will be dropped by the end of the season and the results so far are competitive enough to be running towards the top (aside from the championship leader with 4 wins, the top results are quite spread out). Lydd is in 3 weeks and marks the beginning of my month of chaos, so the waiting being anew…
The full (official) race report can be found on the club100 site here: