Last weekend, 4th and 5th May I went to race at PFI in their Spring Special event. I wasnt heading there to try and win, it was more a learning experience racing on bigger, better quality grids, and to get another upgrade signature on my MSA licence so I can get rid of those pesky black and white novice plates.
Saturday was a wash out, every time the Hondas were due on track, the heavens opened and made it very very slippy. Unfortunately I had a few spins as I was finding the limits on a new track which didn't help with setup for Sunday, but it was good practise non the less. Saturday we did timed qualifying which is something Ive never done before, and I ended up qualifying 16th, which was mid-pack of the other novices, and just about half a second from the top 10, so not too bad for a first attempt.
Sunday didn't go great, I had a couple of coming togethers with my friend Oliver and we both ended up in the stewards office having to explain why we'd come together at the fastest part of the track, but we explained that we were avoiding another novice who was losing control in front of us, and caused us to come together, so we just got some words of advice from the clerks.
In the final, I didn't have the best start which allowed a slower kart to get in front, and whenever I tried to overtake, I was blatantly blocked, and eventually pushed onto grass which caused me to spin and put me 10 seconds behind the pack. I got my head down and proved my speed by quickly catching back up, but unfortunately, time ran out before I could try and make a pass.
Not to worry, we only went there for the experience, and Ive taken lots away from this race which will allow to grow as a driver, and get used to the bigger, tougher grids.
Onto Wombwell next weekend for the W plate.
Hope to see some of you there.
On the weekend 30th and 31st March, we decided to try something completely different. We headed upto Rowrah for the TDI Media Gold Cup event. Ive never raced at Rowrah before, so I was excited to visit a new track, and I was super excited that the final was going to be filmed at put on YouTube.
The weekend consisted of 6 heats and a final. The heats went ok,
Heat 1 - Started 5th, finished 5th
Heat 2 - Started 6th, finished 3rd
Heat 3 - Started 6th, finished 2nd
Heat 4 - Started 3rd, finished 4th
Heat 5 - Started 5th, finished 3rd
Heat 6 - Started 4th, finished 4th
Final - Qualified 3rd, finished 3rd.
On the final I made a good start to get into 2nd, put got pushed wide from behind coming into one of the hairpins on the first lap which dropped me down to 4th, and for the rest of the race, I had a brilliant battle with Jack Thompson #37 for 3rd place. Its all on YouTube to watch, so I wont go into all the details here. Click on the link below to watch.
April 20th/21st was round 3 of the Fulbeck Sprint Series.
Saturday practise went to plan, I even managed to set my best ever time at Fulbeck. If only I could have carried that speed into Sunday :-(
Sunday was a little tougher, I just couldn't seem to find the pace I needed. The hot weather was taking its toll on me, but it was the same for all the others, so no excuses really.
Heat 1 - Started 3rd on the grid, but I was ran out wide at the first corner and this dropped me right down to 7th. By the end of the race, Id managed to battle my way back to 5th.
Heat 2 - Started 7th this time. I managed to make a pass on the first corner putting me up into 6th. My mate Oliver B #35 was in 5th, and despite a good clean race long battle, he managed to hold me off, so crossed the line in 6th.
Heat 3 - Dad had a play with the kart to try and find me some more grip as I was starting to struggle, but he got the set up all wrong. I really struggled in this heat and had a number of spins whilst trying to keep up with the top 5. Luckily I managed to finish 6th but I was 7 seconds behind the top 5.
Final, I was starting 6th this time. Dad assured me he'd changed the kart setup again, but said it should be a lot better this time, and luckily, it was. I had a nice safe start and held onto my 6th place. I got into a 3 kart tussle with Mason #29 and Oliver #35 who were in front of me. This tussle allowed the top 3 to pull away which wasnt ideal. I saw an opportunity and made a move past both of them at the same time, and started to pull away to try and catch the top 3. As the final wasnt as long as usual, I didnt have long enough to catch back up to Liam #19 as he was driving well and not making any mistakes.
I crossed the line in 4th, which after a very difficult Sunday, I was more than happy with. Hopefully next time out I can get back on the podium.
March 16th and 17th was round 2 of the Fulbeck Sprint Series. A tough grid of 19 Honda Cadets were entered so I knew it was going to be tough.
Saturday testing went fine, nothing special to report.
Sunday race day
Heat 1 - Started 4th, but a poor start saw me dropping down to 6th. After a few laps of battling, I managed to fight my way back into 4th place for most of the race. Towards the end of the race, one of the back markers caused some mayhem which I got caught up in which dropped me down to 7th, but luckily I managed to gain a couple back which meant I finished in 5th.
Heat 2 - Started 11th on the grid. This time I had a better start and got myself up into 7th place. I quickly picked off another driver which got me up into 6th, and then I got by another which got me into 5th. I had another good little battle with my mate Brandon #55 for 4th where we traded places a few times, but Brandon came out on top finishing 4th which left me with 5th.
Final - I qualified 4th for the final. Another average start dropped me down into 7th. Id managed to get myself back into 4th for a few laps, but got passed by Henry #77 which put me down into 5th. Towards the end of the race I ended up having a battle with Joe #72, but managed to hold him off to bring it home 5th out of 19th which I was very proud with. This leaves me 2nd in the championship.
April 13th /14th saw me making the small trip down to my local track of Wombwell for round 2 of the championship.
Saturday practise went well, I was setting good lap times, the kart felt well and I was looking forward to race day.
Heat 1 - Started 2nd on the grid, took the lead from the start and held onto it for a short while. Brandon #55 managed to make the pass on me dropping me into 2nd, but I managed to hold onto him for the whole race, finishing just 0.1 seconds behind.
Heat 2 - Started 5th, had a decent start, but had a coming together with someone which dropped me down to 11th. I managed to battle my way back up to 5th, so it could have been a lot worse.
Heat 3 - Started 3rd, had a good start and got up into 2nd on the first corner. Brandon #55 in 1st, me in 2nd and Matthew #23 in 3rd had a race long battle, but crossed the line in that order with less the 1 second separating us all.
Final - These results gave me a 3rd place start for the final. Another good start saw me getting past Matthew into 2nd place and right up with the leader. Matthew managed to pass me a few laps later putting me into 3rd, but again, we were all within a second of each other, bumper to bumper. We came across some back markers who for some reason decided to block me from overtaking, and even trying to push me into the wall despite numerous blue flags waving at them. This let Brandon and Matthew pull away from me a little, and as we were all very closely matched on pace, I was unable to close the gap back up. This meant my race for the lead was ruined, but I still came over the line in 3rd out of 14, so not too bad for the championship.
March 9th and 10th saw us making the short trip to Wombwell for round 1 of the 2019 championship. I head into this championship as the current Winter Series Champion, so Im hoping to do well in the full championship.
As usual, the weather was dreadful, high winds and rain were what we had to contend with.
Saturday practice went well. The track never really dried out all day, but we manage to get the setup sorted as we were consistently in the 39's which is pretty quick, especially on wet tyres.
Sunday, and the rain was even worse.
Heat 1, the track was very wet and the rain was pouring. I started on pole, but Brandon managed to make his way past on the first lap. I managed to keep on his tail, trying to make a move, but he defended well and there was no way past. I kept it in 2nd place most of the race, but on lap 8 of 10, Mason managed to get past when I ran slightly wide, which put me down into 3rd. This is where I finished this race.
Heat 2, I started this heat in 5th. I made it upto 4th on the first corner and set off after the top 3. As the race went on, the track started to dry out, and I had a full wet setup on, so I was struggling with too much grip. The kart just wouldnt get round the corners properly, and we started to drop off the pace. I kept hold of 4th until lap 8 when I lost a place, and again on the final lap I lost another place meaning I came across the line in 6th.
Heat 3, the track was even drier, so Dad decided to put the race engine on to give me a chance of being able to keep up with the top 3. As he'd finished fitting it, he started it up, but unfortunately, the magnet on the flywheel came off causing terminal damage and killing the engine. This meant we were stuck with an underpowered engine to finish the day off, not ideal on a drying track. I started this heat in 3rd place, made another good start and managed to get up into 2nd, but just for a lap. The next few laps saw me dropping down into 6th, the top 4 pulling away, and I was battling for 5th with my mate Ethan #27. I managed to get by Ethan with a couple of laps to go and kept him behind me meaning I finished 5th.
These results meant I finished 4th for the final. The track was pretty dry, but still wet weather tyres were needed. Dad changed the setup and gearing of the kart to try and help me keep up with the front runners. Again, I gained a position from the start moving me up into 3rd. Brandon #55 span from 2nd place putting him out of the race, but Mason #29 passed me on the same lap meaning I stayed 3rd. Finley #81 pulled a little lead on us leaving Mason and I to have a good battle for the whole race. I made it by him near the end of the race, only for him to get the place back. After a really good, fair battle, Mason crossed the line just 0.1 seconds ahead of me in 2nd, meaning I finished 3rd. Disaster struck again as I was given a 10 second penalty for apparently overtaking under a yellow flag which meant I was demoted down to 5th place.I was absolutely gutted as I thought id earned a well fought for podium, but it wasn't to be. I need to keep a better eye out for those flags.
Well done to all those who raced this weekend, I hope to see you all next month for round 2.
We leave Wombwell joint 3rd in the championship.
February 16th and 17th saw me racing at Fulbeck for round 1 of the Fulbeck Sprint Series. With so many different classes, we only had time for 2 heats and a final.
Heat 1, started 3rd on the grid out of 12, and managed to bring it home in 4th.
Heat 2, started 8th on the grid, made a good start and after a good few battles, managed to bring it home in 4th again.
So after 2 fourth place finishes in the heats, I qualified fourth for the final.
Disaster struck as I span out on the 1st corner after the start putting me dead last - 12th.
I got myself going and set about chasing the pack down. Luckily the final was 10 mins +1 lap long, so I had plenty of time to try and claw back some places.
After some good little battles, I managed to make my way all the way back into fourth place, so I’m over the moon with that.
Well done to Brandon, Liam and Mason, you guys were just too fast for me today.
The racing was good fun, fair and competitive, I think it’s going to be a fun season with my karting pals.
So after round 1, I sit 4th in the championship.
So, it all came down to the final round. I went into the weekend 9 points ahead of 2nd place in the championship. I knew I just needed to have a fairly decent qualifying position, and had to finish within a couple of places of my nearest challengers to secure the championship.
Heat 1.. Started 2nd, got a good start and held onto second around the 1st corner, but ended up getting bumped from behind into the hairpin which pushed me wide causing me to lose a place. The exact same thing happened on the next lap allowing another racer through which put me down into 4th, where I managed to finish the race
Heat 2.. Started 6th, got a brilliant start allowing me to get up into 2nd place by the end of the first lap. For the whole race, number 19 (Liam) was right on my rear bumper giving me a good strong battle all the way to the chequered flag where I kept hold of second place by just 0.1 seconds.
Heat 3.. Started 6th again, and again quickly managed to get up into 2nd position. Unfortunately, my mate Oliver made a move into the 1st corner which sent me into the tyre barrier pretty hard. I managed to get going again and managed to bring it home in 4th. Oliver was super apologetic after the race, but like I said to him, these things happen, and it wasn't done on purpose, so no hard feelings.
Final.. The results in the heats meant I qualified 3rd for the final. Another good start got me up into 2nd. I held onto 2nd for a few laps until number 29 (Mason) got by putting me into 3rd. Another epic battle with Liam followed for 3rd place, but luckily I managed to keep him behind crossing the finish line in 3rd. I was informed when I was in scruitineering that id been given a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits (using the kerb on the exit of turn 1). Never before in the history of Wombwell racing has this ever been a track limit issue, and not once did I put all 4 wheels on the kerb, so not sure how this happened, and as Liam was right behind me, he was promoted into 3rd. I was gutted as id worked hard all weekend and thought Id won a trophy, but it wasn't to be.
Not to worry, luckily the result didn't cost me the championship, and my 5th place finish after the penalty was enough to secure the 1st place in the Wombwell Karting Winter Series.
Im super proud, and I cant wait for the presentation at the next meeting.
Id like to say a massive thanks to all those that have helped me over these 4 hard rounds, especially my super sponsors - CEM Engineering and Advanced Coating Services as well as my Grandad Nigel, and the Mark Ward racing team that gave me loads of great tuition in this final round.
Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th January was the weekend for race 3 of the Wombwell Winter Series. I went into this weekend 2nd in the championship, but unfortunately, the leader was unable to make it, so I had to put a solid performance in as I had the chance to take the lead heading into the final round in February.The entry list was big in our Honda Cadet class, 16 entries, one of the biggest at Wombwell for a while.
Saturday went well, it was one of those typical winter weekends where the track stayed damp and slippy all day, so on went the wet tyres and they stayed on all day. We seemed to get the setup nailed pretty early on, and managed to be in the 39's most of the day.
Heading into Sunday, the track was dry, but it was freezing cold, and as Wombwell only gets used once a month, the track was slippy.
Heat 1 saw me starting on pole position. I got a good start, keeping my lead in the first corner and heading up the long straight in 1st place. At the end of the straight, someone misjudged their braking point and hit me hard up the rear end sending me into the gravel. By the time I managed to get going again, I was pretty much in last place, what a nightmare. Now it was time to keep cool and try and work my way back up the field. The heats were only 6mins +1 lap, so I didn't have long to get to work. I kept my head down and drove my heart out, overtaking people each lap, pushing on every corner, trying to catch whoever was in front of me. By the time the chequered flag came out, Id made 11 overtakes and managed to claw my way back into 5th place, not bad considering I was dead last on the 1st lap.
Heat 2 had me starting down in 9th position, so I had my work cut out to try and get towards the front. My Dad always tells me that the race isn't won on the first corner, just make sure you get round it safely and then race on from there. This is especially true at Wombwell as there is only a short straight before corner 1 where 16 cadets have to get round a 90 degree left hander. A few karts around me had a coming together, and more through luck than judgement, I managed to not get hit, and head up the main straight having gained a couple of positions. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful for me, overtaking a few more karts heading into the last couple of laps. Id slowly managed to catch up No. 68 - Freddie Moore who was in 4th place, which considering this was Freddies first ever race at Wombwell, and the fact he'd missed a good few weeks of karting as he'd unfortunately broken his arm, was an amazing drive by him. With a couple of laps to go, I managed to get past Freddie, but he wasn't letting me just drive away. He was right on my tail all the way to the last lap, where with a couple of corners to go to the end, he made a good clean pass on me. I couldn't believe it. I kept pushing though, and on the second to last corner I got round a little quicker than Freddie which allowed me to get a run on him into the final corner. I stuck my kart on the inside going into the last corner and managed to make the pass stick. Freddie held his line and it was a drag race to the line. I managed to get 4th position finishing just 0.171 seconds on front of Freddie. What a race, you cant beat a good hard clean race, I think most of the people watching at the sidelines enjoyed our little battle, I know our parents certainly did. Hopefully that is the first of many good battles we will have as we will be racing against each other a fair bit this season.
Heat 3 and I started 6th on the grid. After a good start I quickly got up into 3rd place, chasing down Brandon #55 and Jack #26. Nearing the end of the race, they'd managed to pull a slight lead on me, but Henry #77 was creeping up on me. I pushed and pushed all the way to the end, and managed to finish in 3rd just 0.326 seconds in front of Henry. I seem to be making a habit of these super close finishes.
Final - So a 5th a 4th and a 3rd place finish in the heats meant id be starting the final in 4th. Jack in 1st, Brandon in 2nd and Henry in 3rd missed the 1st race of the winter series, so they aren't really battling for the championship, so Dad told me I just had to finish in front of the other guys and girls that had completed all 3 races, and that would be enough to get me into 1st place in the championship. So, off we went, making sure I got around the 1st corner. Henry and Brandon went into the corner side by side, both running wide in front of me, but I didn't have enough space to get by, so I just settled in behind them up the straight, keeping my 4th place. This let Jack get a small lead on us all which he kept right to the end. I knew I just had to finish, and it didn't matter of those 3 finished in front of me, so I didn't want to push too hard. In the end, it was a pretty uneventful race for me, I just settled into 4th, watching the battle for 2nd with Brandon and Henry a few seconds in front of me. Jack got the win, in fact, Jack won all 3 heats and the final, so a massive well done to him for a brilliant drive, Brandon ended up getting the 2nd spot less than 0.2 seconds in front of Henry in 3rd, and I got the 4th spot which I was more than happy with as it meant I was now at the top of the championship heading into the final round.
The final round is in February. Ive currently got a small 9 point lead, so it's still all to race for in the final race. Good luck to all the other competitors.
Christmas was fun, opening the presents, spending time with the family, eating loads of chocolates, but its not as fun as getting into the kart and having some fun, so when Dad asked if I fancied karting this weekend, I said yes before he'd even finished asking me. The plan was to goto Fulbeck on Saturday as someone had hired the track, so it would be a good opportunity for Dad to get out on the track and help me on certain corners, but before that, there was a test session at Paul Fletcher International (PFI) on the Friday. This is a track Ive never been to before, but always wanted to go since my karting buddies Henry and Brandon told me how much fun the track is.
So on Friday we arrived bright and early at PFI and got set up ready to hit the track. The first session was for a full hour, so that gave me a good chance to learn the track before really pushing it. Boy was it slippy, I really struggled to find the grip. I could see the other karts around me were also struggling, so I knew it wasn't due to bad setup, so I just pushed on, learning as I went, and ultimately getting faster and faster.
The rest of the day, the sessions were 20 mins long and the track was drying out so I was able to get the lap times down each session. Dad got plenty of setup help from Shaun and Steve (Jack and Henrys Dads), and I got some good driving tips from Shaun and some of the karters, and managed to end the day in the 1:11's, so I was pretty pleased with that for my first visit here and I really want to get back here soon!
On Saturday, it was time to visit Fulbeck. Ive been here many times before, so I didn't need to learn the track as I did at PFI, but I did need to work on some of the corners to try and find a little more pace so I can keep up with the leading pack when the racing season starts. Once again we got some good advice from Shaun who had brought a driver coach along - Mark Ward, who pin pointed some areas for me to work on.
One thing I was struggling with was braking hard enough and late enough into the corners without locking the rear axle up. After having a quick look at my kart setup, Mark suggested a small change to the way the brake pedal was setup, which totally changed the way the brakes engaged, gave me more feel on the brake pedal, and allowed me to get those brakes on harder and later at key points on the track. By the end of the day, I was consistently lapping in the mid to low 54's on a damp track using worn out inters, and these are the fastest times I've ever done around here.
I had a great time over the last couple of days, Ive learned a lot more, built up my confidence, and most importantly, had fun with my friends. Im looking forward to getting out there and racing again.
Heres a few photos from the weekend.
Have a Happy New Year, and I'll see you all in 2019.