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EKL 2016

Posted by Carl Vella on March 4, 2016 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (46)

Two more days and another year of the EKL starts.


So much has changed since i got together with Sam and Josh in December 2012. Year 1, the 3 of us struggling to find a teammate so we could even take part as the rules stipulated teams of 4.


4 years later and i find myself sitting once again at team hq with Sam and Josh once again faced with a team selection headache. Only this year rather than worrying about finding one driver, its trying to decide what to do with 23 drivers.


The solution involves the entry of a whopping 7 teams. Can we cope? We will find out on Sunday but theres every reason to believe we will. Its not just team size which has grown, our general organisation is far better, we have everything in place to ensure a great days racing, we also have a few new toys to ensure we do so in a bit of comfort and for the next round at Red Lodge something to make us feel even more at home than we already ought to given its home to a good 8-10 of us who will probably take part. But thats for the next round blog.


For Whilton first up is the original #9 Hornets kart. This year it'll be driven by Sam, Josh and Kyle. We finished 7th last year, you have to say replacing me with Sam is a pretty major upgrade and the three of them really are targetting a highest ever finish.


The #19 Buzzin Hornets kart will be driven all year by James, Lewis and David. All 3 look very similar weights, all 3 have driven these karts a lot and all 3 really are capable of shoving it into the top 10 overall and that has to be their aim.


The #29 Fighting Hornets kart remains in the hands of Steve, he will be joined by Calum and given they prefer teams of 4 this will be the first kart that will be filled with 4 drivers should i have enough. For Whilton they are joined by 1 time Horrnet Boyd and first time out rookie Jamie, a little nervous but he was setting eye catching times in practice and it'll be interesting to see how he takes to a new series.


First of our new teams #39 the Raging Hornets will be driven by Louis, Richard and myself. Louis is running a full year with us and with the experience gained last year will surely be looking to turn his high finish from last year of 2nd into a win. Richard will be joining us for Whilton and PFI, he has always been mightily quick. Its not a lineup thats going to hang in there all year but i am quite hopeful we can stick ourselves into the top 10 at the rounds we are competing in together.


Team #49 EK Hornets will be run by John Chappell. John drove with us at Lydd last year and wanted the opportunity to run his own team with us in 2016. No doubt they will make a lot of the same mistakes we did in their first year together his team remains something of an unknown quantity to me but they are likely to be made up of drivers who have raced one another for a few years so it'll be good to see them making strides up the championship.


Team #59 is our 7th team, newly named the Mighty Hornets. Andrew, Jonathon and Tim are driving this one for its debut, all 3 have driven a round for us in the past but all 3 boast plenty of experience between them and again if they avoid making any rookie mistakes theres every reason to feel they can put themselves into the top 10.


Finally but by no means last is #99 Giant Hornets. I always have a soft spot for this kart, its my favourite panel and i won in it as well. This year its in some mighty hands. Alex needs little introduction, he would waltz into any team on the grid and they would welcome him with open arms. Joining him is Dan who has driven with us for many years now, another driver looking to turn a PB of P2 into a P1 this year. Lastly its a return to us at Whilton for Olli Wheddon who has been busy racing Sodi World Champs, University karting championships and so many other bits and pieces i have literally given up trying to keep up. It goes without saying if these 3 stay together all year that they will be in the top 10 overall this year.


So there we have it, 7 teams all targetting at least a top 10 finish. We cant all get in there given the quality of the opposition so my personal hope is come the final table we have for the first time put at least 2 teams into the top 10 for the first time ever and one of them is 6th or higher. Can we do it? We shall see....



Yet more

Posted by Carl Vella on December 23, 2015 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Well the karting season may have ended but my personal accolades have continued to come through.


Presentation night saw me given an award for my contriubution through the season to both the EKL and EPEC  by the organisers who run Teesside Karting. To be honest i am the kinda person who just likes to know whats going on so being the guy in charge simply suits my ocd nature. I do put a lot of free time into emailing people and chasing payments but i do not have to do it very often, the vast majority of the team are exceptionally good at getting their payments completed or at least getting in touch if they have an issue.


The magazine nomination was humbling enough, this equally so. Recognition by your peers is a lovely thing when you sit back and think about it.


Earlier this month Kyles girlfriend organised a surprise karting event for Kyles friends and asked if the Hornets would like to come along. It speaks volumes that so many showed up including Stewart who once again threw in an enormous drive down from Scotland for a piddling event in rainy Red Lodge. It was equally kind of Lewis to throw away 3rd place and gift it to me after him and Kyle had left me thoroughly entertained in one of the best fights i have ever witnessed for lap after lap. 


On Monday night we had a Hornets get together and social evening. I have no idea how many teams get together just for a bit of a social but we do. The conversation flowed, the beer flowed, Josh threw some rice on the floor and at the end of the night it transpired that the guys had had a whip round and gave me a very early xmas pressy in the form of a "single seater experience" as a thank you for my efforts this year.


I have ALWAYS wanted to do this but for years was too heavy and have never had the opportunity until now. It already promices to be a highlight of my racing life, lets hope i can keep the thing on the circuit and not fall out.


To be honest they are a great bunch of guys.

I'd never tell them but they are awesome, they all have the right attitude to their racing and that makes it so much more enjoyable. No-one is under the illusion they are going to get snapped up and offered a career as a professional driver, they all just race hard to enjoy themselves and take any little successes that come along. I watch so many other teams screaming at one another i wonder why they actually bother at times. Maybe they should do a round with us and they would enjoy their karting a little more as a result.


So onto 2016, potentially 3 x 24hr races and an EKL season that includes no lesser circuit than Red Lodge. The luxury of a huge lie in, a circuit i know literally better than anyone and potentially a huge Hornets turnout too. Plenty to look forward to there then.


2 days till christmas, happy holidays (assuming anyone actually read this waffle!!!)

Outstanding Contribution

Posted by Carl Vella on November 19, 2015 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

http://www.kartingmagazine.com/awards/outstanding-contribution-2015/carl-vella/


I have been nominated by someone for Karting Magazines "Outstanding Contribution to Karting" 2015 award. It reads:


Outstanding Contribution Award

Role – Scrutineer, Time keeper & Race Director for Club Racing at Red Lodge Karting

Carl has worked tirelessly to develop the Newmarket Hornets EKL franchise, now the biggest in the Elite Karting League with 4 teams. He organised and drove the team to Le Mans 24hr where they won the most sporting team award. He also tutors and nurtures new drivers and runs his own series Formula 270 at Red Lodge. He has given so much of his time to ensure so many enjoy our wonderful sport.


I dont really give a monkeys about winning, its humbling that someone took the time to nominate me, its equally humbling that over 50 people have voted for me since Tuesday although i only found out myself today (Thursday). If Bob doesnt win it'll be a travsety in my opinion, he does more for karting and kart drivers than anyone i know but i wont mind if i do. :P


That said i am quite proud to be named on that list and thank you to whoever was behind my nomination.


European Champions!

Posted by Carl Vella on November 19, 2015 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

After the washout that was Saturday attention turned now to the EPEC series. EPEC stands for European Prokart Endurance Championships. Ordinarily the series visits europe, this year it was the Isle of Mann and a non championship round at Le Mans which we did attend.


We have taken part in every round bar the IoM in 2015 and that was largely resposible for us heading into the final round with a small advantage over Coseley Cougars, winners of the 6hr challenge regardless of our respective results at Teesside. We have only gotten the better of them once, that race at Ellough. We have had a lot of misfortune with our karts over the year but maybe the Cougars just take better care of theirs. Either way the object of any championship is to outscore everyone else and regardless of how we found ourselves in this position having driven so hard over so many laps i was very keen not to throw this one away.


The day before Josh was all over the maths in our battle with the Tigers for 7th, today was my turn. All we really had to do was turn up to secure the title such was our advantage but things took a very interesting turn....


The points table is heavily weighted towards the top 10 finishers. Normally in our heavier hire karts we dont get too close to the top 10 so each position is worth a point. However in wet weather our karts are suddenly mega competitive. The cougars qualified 12th i think, we were 3 spots back either way.


The race began and Cle in teh cougars kart charged thru the field at an astonishing rate getting himself up to 4th overall at one point. Brilliant as that was to see it was very painful, if they finished 4th we would need to be 6th. As it was Alex was sat handily in 9th but any thoughts i had about enjoying 6 hours of laps of honour were rapidly dismissed. Cle had pretty much destroyed the hire class race single handedly such was his lead while we were badly hurt by a full course yellow.


90 minutes later, Sam took over. We elected to leave Alex' lead on for Sam, weight being less of a disadvantage in the wet and we felt  the time wasted removing it would not be recovered on circuit. Sam did a good job particularly as he must have been battling demons from the day before.It was in this phase the circuit while remaining wet wasnt getting any worse and the owner drivers began releagting us and more importantly Coseley back out of the top 10.


Meanwhile i had already decided i couldnt face losing this the way i had at Ellough. Plan A was to get Alex back in while his lead was still on the kart but Josh didnt fancy driving in the failing light so instead he went 3rd and we removed the lead.


Josh did his usal solid stint, no dramas and that is pretty much what you want. We were sat 4 places behind Coseley now, two more place gained for them, two lost for us and the title was theirs.


Alex took over to see us home with me practically glued to the timing screen. we were sat fairly comfortably. The team behind us was the Buzzin Hornets team who were happy to help us in our title push and had they found themselves in front would have followed team orders and dropped back behind. Next up was owner driver outfit Pagan Racing pilotted by Hornets Kyle and Rob, once again they would have sacrificed their own race to ensure they were not damaging us.


What we couldnt do anything about was Coseley moving up. Mercifully they were nursing a poorly kart to the finish, so much so they temporarily lost their lead to Barnato although they were unaware of the need to make 3 stops, a very late final stop dropping them back behind. With 13 minutes to go one of the owner teams dropped out. Coseley had enough laps left to pass them, we did not and so that was one of the karts they needed to put between us suitably in the way.


6 hours of frayed nerves and finally that chequered flag waved. We had done it. European Champions. EPEC Champions. Nearly 3 days of racing went into that and it came down to the last few minutes.


Looking back now writing this i should have driven but i know all i would have wanted to know is where Coseley were and if we were in championship postion or not. It would have preyed on my mind so much i probably would have thrown it off the circuit. EPEC is a team series, we used every bit of our resources to get into the lead and until the end were utilising our drivers to ensure our success. Its so much a team effort and the following drivers all have a share in that title:

Carl, Josh, Kyle, Sam, Alex, Will, Dan & Lewis.

Without all of them it wouldnt have happened. We know fully well we are not the fastest on the grid but it never stops everyone giving 100% behind the wheel and i am very proud to have played my part in what has to be despite the relatively small amount of teams the Hornets finest moment in our 3 year history.


2015. Its been a truly memorable year and for all the right reasons. :)

EKL ends on a high.

Posted by Carl Vella on November 15, 2015 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The final double header of 2015 and with the new calendar meaning EKL and EPEC racing on separate weekends the final double header for the forseeable future is in the books.


The weekend begun as ever with the EKL. With 13 drivers we managed to run all 4 teams although come 9am we were missing 3 and all from the same team leaving Steve alone. 2 of the 3 made it, one didnt which was meant having 13 was critical as we could run all 4 teams with 3 in.


This meant i ended my year where i began, in the #99 kart this time alongside Paul White and has man mountain of circuit knowledge and our youngest driver Calum Conway. So we had youth, old age, heaviest driver, lightest driver so a bit of everything.


Conditions were what can only be described as diabolical. I have never driven on a circuit with so much standing water on it before. There was a sense of wanting to compete combined with sheer terror and fear that something big was going to happen.As it panned out Kyle had just returned from race control advising the need to stop, on hearing this i agreed and as i was headed to add my voice to the arguement out came the red flag.


To my horror not only was it us (#9) but our driver was not in the kart. As i looked over the barrier i spotted Sam prone on the ground and not moving. It would be fair to say my heart rate went thru the roof as i legged it down to the scene of the accident. Torn between the need to help my friend and my own first aid experience combined with the knowledge Teessides staff were more than capable of dealing with Sam and probably a damned site clamer too i looked on until he eventually walked over.


We hid the car with the heating on while the meeting was sensible put on hold for an hour to allow the weather to do something other than tip it down which it duly did 20 minutes later as the sun appeared.


It was a reminder that what we do is dangerous and as important as racing appears to be on the day the main thing is always that we make it home safely.


We resumed eventually, my personal day, two top 10s, one driver who i can only presume had some sort of vendetta as he took 3 attempts before finally wiping me off the circuit and one heat i led quite merrily until i threw it off the track unaided (still managed not to finish last).


The endurance was such a non event personally i cant recall much of anything that happened other than letting Kyle by so as not to hinder #9s progress.


Speaking of #9 they won their personal duel with the Tigers, boosted by Kyles first wet sprint win and as a result we wound up with our best ever finish of 7th overall. Bit of a worry we contribute over 20% of the grid, i hope the grid expands next year although its tough to see where the new teams are coming from. Speaking of next year one thing to really look forward to is the league are coming to us with a round at Red Lodge.


Looking back over 2015 we have done remarkably well to field 4 teams for the vast majority of the year and it was great to end the year as the largest EKL franchise.Yes we have access to a large pool of drivers but there has to be something about the way we run that sees people so keen to return. Maybe its the discount but id like to think its our ethos, our insistance that the most important thing is that everyone enjoys themselves. Cutthroat and ruthless we are not. Happy racers we certainly are.



Neglected Blog

Posted by Carl Vella on October 21, 2015 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I really have neglected this blog of late. Its basically down to an end of year slump in form and lack of enthusiasm to write about it. I say slump i somehow finished a sprint in the top 5 and perhaps more importantly the squad itself continues to be very healthy although it is becoming a bigger and bigger task to answer emails and chase so many drivers.


2 rounds ago was Clay Pigeon. If you really are bored enough to read this blog back you will see old Clay blogs which see me fail to exit the opening corner with the pack in any sprint races at one round, the round where i became the first (and still only) driver to flip an EKL kart and the round where the Hornets almost won the EKL endurance when i wasnt with them. Yes its fair to say its not a track littered with the most treasured moments for me.


This year saw my usual EKL performance, nothing spectacular just my usual mid pack finishes and an uneventful endurance stint. Its not helped by the fact Kyle was busy compling 4 top 10 finishes and Josh who seems rejuvinated with the rediscovery of his vision and is driving with a confidence, aggression and swagger i have never seen in him before which is being refelcted in some great performances. I say not helped clearly the EKL is a team sport and the 3 of us have been a highly effective unit this year.


My personal hammer blow came in the EPEC race. Kyle sat with Coseley for the opening 90 minutes, Josh held Alexandru for 90 minutes before i totally blew the race getting lapped by Richard Dunn and dragging us back to Titans in the process during my 90 minutes. With Titans pulling a very professional or slightly unsporting move depending on your point of view (mine sits firmly in the former) with their sister owner team Kyle was powerless to prevent them passing and us finishing 3rd. Not for the first time this year i was responsible for the loss of that position and had i put in a better stint we may have been in with a shot of winning. We end the 4 round EPEC challenge in 3rd, the position we deserved in truth although had the Ellough seat insert issue not happened, had we kept our kart running at Rowrah we could easily have won 2 of the 4 races but then the other teams will undoubtedly be able to say much the same.


Next up was Lydd. We must do something right when a driver and his family come down from Scotland to race with us and with almost 25% of the entires being ours we are now the biggest squad in the league. With hindsight a broken stub axle in practice probably ruined my whole day. Wary of braking another i was too timid over the kerbs and as a result largely lacking in pace. On the bright side i played my part with a shrewd strategy backed up with Josh performing an equally great tactical move which ended with us in a year best 7th.


On Sunday in the EPEC race i discovered that to run quickly it involved running far more kerb than i had been, the result was a much improved stint, 90 minutes completed at an identical pace to the lead teams as we remained on the same section of track and no-one passed me. With Dan hauling in Richard cutting the lead from 36 to 19 seconds a grandstand finish looked on the cards. Will out last having taken pole earlier in the day despite having never seen the circuit before looked to have the pace to reel in Alexandru. Minutes into his stint a broken stub killed that dream off, we were fortunate then to remain in a crucial second place after being given a spare rather than repairing our kart. No idea why that happened but with the points as tight as they are we certainly werent going to complain.Quirky thing luck, we could have won, we could have finished 3rd or 4th, in the end we have to be pleased with 2nd.


So in the EKL the Hornets sit 8th on dropped rounds. Given the Tigers are lethal at Teesside hopes would be high for a 9th place overall, sounds daft but we are quite fond of that little number however with the Raptors going awol even if the Tigers beat us we will most likely pass Raptors and wind up 8th so maybe we should focus on beating the Tigers and go for 7th! In reality all we ever do is drive as fast as we can and see where we wind up. Its the only way surely.


Things are a little more exciting on the EPEC front however. Having initially thought we were tied with Coseley as we both have 192 points we actually have a healthy lead in the EPEC overall title race. With the way the two teams have accumulated their respective totals and the championships dropped rounds rules we are on the verge of winning the title! It will actually take a miraculous set of results to deny us which will leave Titans as the EKL challenge winners, Coseley the 6 hour winners and us as the overall winners. Something for everyone right there! The Buzzin Hornets have a shot at 3rd overall too, now that really would be a double celebration!


Its been a real team effort:

Carl (PFI, Whilton, Teesside 1, Ellough, Rowrah, Brit 24, Clay Pigeon, Lydd, Teesside 2)

Josh (PFI, Whilton, Ellough, Rowrah, Brit 24, Clay Pigeon, Teesside 2)

Kyle (PFI, Whilton, Ellough, Rowrah, Brit 24, Clay Pigeon)

Sam (PFI, Whilton,Ellough and Teesside 2)

Alex (Brit 24 and Teesside 2)

Will (PFI, Lydd)

Dan (Lydd and almost Clay until he stepped in for an absentee in the Buzzin Hornets)

Lewis (Lydd).

Its that big pool of drivers that have gotten us into this position and in many ways its our biggest strength that will hopefully see us over the finish line as the 2015 European Prokart Endurance Championships 2015 hire class champions.That really would be some way to see out the 2015 season. :)


British 24hr 2015

Posted by Carl Vella on August 21, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

So the big day has been and gone and its time to blog the events. 

My day began at 6am unable to sleep much which tends to be fairly typical with far too many thoughts running through my head. This years personal preparations involved spending 2 weeks basking in 40 degree heat in Egypt putting my feet up so i went into the event very relaxed. sadly two weeks of all inclusive also comes with an additional bit of lead around my midriff which is weight i could well do without.


Still my day began better than Alex Vangeens after he left the firdge on in his car and flattened his battery stranding not only his podium placed team from 2014 but also members of what looked on paper to me the favourites to win the event from kart #11. Ever the chivalrous gentleman that i am i took Bradleys number and set about finding someone with some longer jump leads when i arrived at Teesside. By the time i had sourced some the AA had already come to the rescue and so we were going to have to win the thing on merit rather than default.


Lewis had arrived on Friday and secured us a fine spot with his gazebo just after the start D. We had just enough room for a table and a couple of chairs, it was a bit cramped with us all inside but everyone was chuffed with the position for sure.


Myself and Lewis hovvered by the karts waiting for the random allocation which generally revolves around picking a kart you like the look of and hoping for the best. In my case its picking one with a small steering wheel, avoiding one of the wide seats and the added bonus of a wide slot on the rear cowelling for getting lead on and off. Kart suitably found i waited patiently beside it for 8am only for Bob to begin randomly allocating karts to teams. As it turned out the one i was stood by was the one we were given and a short while later i was out first to check it over.


Mindful of our tyre issues at Le Mans just an out lap, flying lap and in lap was all i did, the kart felt fine but i was concerned it wasnt much of a screamer. As i was alone it was impossible to judge our karts speed, the others later confirmed we had a good one. With 3 laps done i toddled off to McDonalds for a Breakfast of Champions, sadly not James Hunt stylee, more a mcmuffin.


Upon my return qualifying had begun and Alex had thrown in some quick laps so much so we were on provisional pole. We hauled him in again mindful of the tyres and apart from Josh doing a couple of jollies around that was it. Alex time was not bettered by anyone and so we found ourselves P1 in class.


The race began Le Mans start style, Alex almost nipped by the kart in front only for a wandering owner driver to force him onto the grass barely 5 seconds into the race. As the race progressed the #93 kart had flown from nowhere to take the lead from Alex for a lap or two only for Alex to resume in front and as the stint went on his gap grew bigger and bigger.


At this point i began to resign myself to the fact we were in for a fraught 24hrs of running at the front and panic and stress. Fortunately however leading is something we are becoming accustomed to following leading at Ellough Park and Rowrah in the last few weeks during the EPEC series. Yes it was early but there was a calm and assured confidence exuding from the team as we watched Alex pulling further and further clear.


The big issue going into the event was fuel. we have two tacticians in our team myself and Josh. Josh having studied lap data from the BUKC felt the karts would do not much more than 90 minutes on a tank of fuel, i felt 1hr40 was doable and thus save a fuel stop or 2 effectively worth 1 lap each. With neither of us agreeing with the other the only way to find out was to monitor the fuel levels of our rivals and keep an eye on Alex for furious signals.


As the 1hr15 mark approached i wandered off opposite the refuelling bay to check as other teams pitted. 2 minutes later a hire kart appeared only this one was ours. Disaster. A stub axle had snapped and we had 3 wheels. Alex had the presence of mind to fuel the kart when it would have been easy not to and we went down to the maintenance bay for a repair. We were soon back out but we were now the best part of 4 laps adrift and in last.


Josh took to the circuit, Alex looked a little crestfallen and guilty although it was not his fault in the slightest and Kyle looked like he had taken a blow from Tyson below the belt. I tend to be quite blasé about this sort of thing but its the second time in less than a month we have lost a winning position through no real fault of our own. I started scribbling away on the drywipe board and rapidly came up with a new plan.....


Alex had told me how much fuel was left (again great presence of mind to check that as i hadnt thought to) and based on his reply i felt we could reach 1hr 47 minutes. Some furious maths later and it was now possible to do a 14 stop race if we could do 1hr 44 each. There was potentially 2 of our 4 laps back, with the inherent pace in the kart we could get the other 2 back on circuit and put ourselves back into the race. A quick chat with Kyle and Alex followed where we agreed to give it a whirl with nothing to lose although my friendship with Josh may have been in serious jeopardy had we run him out of fuel. Unable to communicate this to him we had little option but to simply ignore him as he began signalling once his 1hr 30 had passed. Cruel? Yes but this was a decision based on getting ourselves onto the podium rather than settling for a top 10.


Its to Josh's credit here that he remained relatively calm and did not bring himself into the pit lane knowing his originally planned stint time was up and we duly made it to the 1:44 mark. With the plan explained to a rightfully initially confused Josh and Kyle now belting around really quickly it was just a question of time and patience as the new strategy began playing itself out.


I went out for my first stint, a relatively uneventful affair with no major dramas until a few minutes from the end of my stint when i wound up taking a daft line up the corkscrew due to a slow backmarker going out of his way to let everyone pass which only resulted in him being wildly unpredcitable and subsequently being tipped around by PFI Hornet Paul White thru no real fault of his own. A swift roll back offline and i was soon underway and that was pretty much my first stint.The worry for me was the news Kyle hadnt lost any places to hires, Josh lost only 2 while i lost count which told me my pace was a little off everyone elses. :(


The next 5 hours or so were undramatic, Alex lowering his class fastest lap, Kyle firmly the #2, with me unable once again to match anyone in our kart.


With the race approaching half distance we were up to 5th only 2 laps down. If we could repeat that in the second half of the race we would be back on the lead lap. The plan was working! However a somewhat cruel stroke of fate hit our enormous efforts. We were now slaves to our 1hr 44 stints which meant Alex coming in at 23:55. This was critical because the maintenance window was midnight until 3am. We couldnt pit for tyres and so i went out knowing i was going to be driving the kart at its absolute worst. For whatever reason this turned out to be a horrible and unenjoyable stint. I say whatever reason there were 2 big reasons. The first was a huge vibration thru the steering wheel, one which was to give the whole team who never suffer with blisters multiple blisters on both hands. Josh wound up the winner here with 11 whoppers, the rest of us had a meagre 6ish.


The second reason was the lack of grip. The kart was sliding all over the place and it took a lot of adjusting to try to keep it pointing forwards rather than sideways thru the corners. I decided to signal to the pitwall the fronts were gone just to stress that we needed new tyres regardless of having to queue for them. As i vanished down the hill that very lap and took the fast right something felt wrong. Up the corkscrew and down the other side i was sure the tyre was off the rim but when i looked again it seemed normal. 2 hairpins later my initial diagnosis was correct, the tyre was off the rim having gone through to the canvas. All the more bewildering because we had deliberately run a minimum of laps in qualifying.


20 minutes short of the maintenance stop we were in the pits for a new tyre. I missed the weighbridge ramp unable to turn and then proceded to drive like a total idiot as i made 4 attempts to exit the pit lane with Alex Vangeen helpfully pushing me back each time to help me make the turn. I remember thinking there was karma in action, in the morning i was potentially his saviour and now here he was as mine!


New tyre fitted Alex rejoined and was instantly miles faster than anyone. Quite how he lapped in the 1:18s in the dark i have no idea, i say i have no idea this blog is littered with comments on what a great driver he is, with his EKL exploits and now his Club 100 driving his name really is known to everyone and if its not it ought to be because he is phenomenally quick. Back to us mere mortals and I really struggled with lines, braking points and it was simply the worst stint i have ever driven in terms of just wanting it over.


Less than 3 hours later and it was Joshs turn to return to the pits with only 3/4 tyres inflated, this time and second broken stub axle, remarkably the same left front that Alex had shed and also the corner i had punctured. Looking back now there must have been something fundamentally wrong with the pressure being put on that corner to cause these 3 failures. The normally calm and composed Josh couldnt keep his frustrations to himself as he let rip a string of expletives which probably meant that no-one nearby hoping to get some sleep was going to get any.


And so that was pretty much that really. 3 left front failures, 3 trips to see Bobby in the garage and too much time spent getting those repairs. My final 2 stints in the daylight were far more fun, we reverted back to 16 stops shortening our final stints so we all got an equal amount of driving time with the podium out of sight.


As the chequered flag fell we had replicated our 2014 result and had finished in 6th. This was a result in stark contrast to last years faultless effort, our kart had the pace to win and we failed to get it home in front. On one hand a failure on our part, on another an amazing triumph to blast back thru the field from last.The consolation prize of class fastest lap went to Alex and rightfully so too, pole position lap was his (in fact any of his best 3 would have done that) and a series of fastest laps thruout the event. I collected his shield as i thought he had gone home only for him to quietly appear as he tends to for a private presentation. Given he goes out of his way to avoid being interviewed in Club 100 races maybe its what he wouldve chosen to do anyway.


The race will always have its fair share of hard luck stories, last years winners robbed of a repeat through underweight penalties. The race itself came down to less than 3 seconds, my pre race pick #11 winning (even with the same left front stub failure we endured) with the hard charging Maidens just behind having run out of laps to catch the ailing #11 with its near bald tyres. I witnessed the Maidens maintenance stop and it took about 4 attempts to lift their kart off the stand with it hooked onto its safety catch. Had it come clean off first time they would have won. Im sure there are other similar stories and i heard someone say "thats racing" but it can be a very cruel sport at times.


The Buzzin Hornets drive a cracking race of their own, a broken track rod dropping them to 14th late on but they hauled themselves into 11th to remarkably match their 2014 result too!


Really proud of everyone, the never quit spirit in our team remains first class, the relatively inexperienced #19 kart put in a near faultless team effort and the number one thing is the fact everyone really enjoyed themselves.


I say everyone i have to confess this was maybe one event too many for me. That night time stint had me questioning why i do this. It wasnt fun, the #33 kart blew by me with the most ballsy overtake i have ever witnessed into the chicane at which point i recall telling myself im too old for this shit, i would never have done that in a million years. I was slower than the rest of the team by presumably some margin, i havent dared look at the lap times. Maybe it was the holiday, maybe it was lack of sleep as with the holiday and 2 shit nights sleep i was not very with it at all. Raging headaches, Egypt belly, a sense of "why are we doing this" it just wasnt much fun i guess. 


Even the parade lap, last year i was filled with emotion and this year nothing. I take the last stint generally because i dont mind missing it and handing it to a faster driver if we are in contention but in part also because that feeling was something else i selfishly want to feel again.


Its such an enormous amount of organising just to get everyone onto the start line and i should really reflect on achieving that again really. Maybe the triumph comes in making it onto the start line. Right now for whatever reason its certainly not happening for us on the track. I am a great believer in Karma so maybe my next blog on Clay Pigeon will be one to behold. We can only hope...



Le Mans 2015

Posted by Carl Vella on July 14, 2015 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Best get yourself a drink and pull up a chair, this is not going to be a quick read.

 

 

Le Mans. One of the most iconic venues in the world and home of the Le Mans 24hr Kart race run by the same organisers as the EKL and EPEC series. This year for the first time ever it was a field of purely hire karts with the French reluctant to allow us to race alongside our open wheeled companions.

 

 

So phase 1, the journey. Collected the van on Thursday evening and to my relief it sported enough boot space to store what seems to be an ever expanding amount of equipment i seem to haul around the UK. After forgetting which weekend Elough even was we took no chances and so Dan stayed at mine overnight and was joined by Stewart who was going to endure 2 x 8 hour journeys in 48 hours. The rest of the squad are local enough to sleep in their own homes and so at 3:00am we were joined by Sam and Kyle. No sooner had i reversed out of the drive had i stalled the van. Seconds later i did it again. And once more before we had even left the end of the street. God knows what my passengers must have been thinking at this point.

 

 

Onto the sports pavillion we were using as a car park and no sooner had we begun loading the van with more kit than the police decided we looked suspicious enough to investigate. After explaining what exactly 5 guys were doing at 3am in a car park and wished the best of luck a short drive to collect Josh, a quick passport check and we were underway.

 

 

Speaking of passports if you are ever going on a journey with some friends you have not known for a long while you really dont want to be the one with a 9 year old passport. Cue the first of much laughter as had a good giggle at the photos, in particular mine.

 

 

With Operation Stack shutting the motorway we wanted to use while it was being used as a giant car park for stranded lorries we took a detour and arrived at the shuttle terminal more of less on time only to be delayed an hour. The aim was to hit Le Mans at 1pm and have plenty of time to adjust before practice began at 3pm, we were now down to only having an hour to play with.

 

 

The shuttle was an experience in itself. After my fears of crashing the van into the shuttle or driving clean off the platform were alleviated we were joined in our compartment by a McLaren MP4 12-C. I had a really interesting chat with the owner before the inevitable question followed and in i got. [:)]

 

 

The 35 shuttle journey flew by and i reluctantly returned to the van. After the Mclaren blew by us and with not much time to spare we headed down to Le Mans. We cut it really fine on fuel, just one tiny slither of red remained as we finally stopped for fuel and we continued on. Driving through Rouen was a bit tricky, with most of the team taking the chance to nap where they could and the temperature slowly creeping i was feeling a little drowsy but as soon as we got out the other side and i could give the van some welly all was well.

 

 

We arrived at Le Mans where Josh suddenly turned into our tour guide and Sat Nav all rolled into one as he supplied me with clear instructions on where to go and pointed out various parts of the Le Mans 24hr circuit having studiously studied google maps the night before. We would really have struggled without his knowledge and it just goes to show what a team effort this really was to prove to be.

 

 

We made it with just under an hour to spare, signed ourselves in and weighed in. With no lead the teams drivers were all weighed, an average driver weight produced and a handicap applied. We came in at 78kgs and with it a handicap of -2 laps.

 

 

Safely tucked away in our pit garage i looked on enviously as a team wheeled a fridge into theirs and we began to realise how underprepared we actually were as the temperatures began to sore. Dan got burnt in under 2 hours. With practice about to begin i headed down the pit lane 2nd in the queue to take to the circuit. Onto the circuit we went and i immediately began driving like a rank amatuer as i didnt have a clue which apexes i was supposed to be hitting. After going through my usual checks to ensure all was well with our kart (which it was) i belted down the strat finish line to take the first corner at speed.

 

 

Now in the drivers briefing we had all been told about the gravel traps waiting at the end of the corner. As i turned in and nailed the apex it quickly dawned on me it was one of those corners that tightens more on the exit and i was headed straight for the gravel. A line of about 8 karts passed me and i reminded myself it was only practice and having narrowly avoided filling the kart with gravel spent the next 15 minutes or so learing the circuit. I cant say i was thrilled with my pace or that the session had filled me with confidence for the next days race but the kart seemed fine and that was the main thing.

 

 

Over the next 2 hours we all took out turns and all came back with much the same feeling. Still we survived the 2 hours safely and piled back into the van to find our luxurious hotel. At £17 a night we werent expecting much and we didnt get much either. Dump the cases and get some food. Off we went, missed the turn and reversed back. A minute later we parked. We couldve walked quicker and if anyone was watching us they would have seen 6 guys crying with laughter at the sheer stupidity of what we had just done. In our defence we werent planning on going there, i just couldnt be bothered to drive any further.

 

 

Once inside the restaurant Kyle began setting about pissing off the waitress as much as possible simply by being an English gentleman. First we asked to sit outside and our waitress huffed and sighed before throwing a chair out of the way. Kyle made the fatal mistake of offering to lift the table. A glare and hiss told him to sod off and she did it herself. He then asked for a dustpan and brush to clear some broken glass. It never materialised.

 

 

While 5 of us went with the safe option of burgers Josh dived in with both feet with a steak tartare, quite literally a plate of raw meat if you were wondering. The food was significantly better than the service and we headed off to Carrefour shortly after to stock up on fluids and other supplies for the following day.

 

 

The race....

 

 

60 minutes of practice and a 30 minute qualifying was the format which we split into 6 x 15 minute drives reserving the last 30 minutes for Sam and Stewart, our 2 lightest drivers. Again the feeling was universal, this time everyone feeling far better about their pace and lines. We qualified 20th/35 but last years British 24hr taught us that qualifying postion is irrelevant really and so no-one was feeling particularly down about it.

 

 

The race began with a Le Mans start, Kyle got a great one and had gained 3 or 4 places by the time the field streamed around the second corner. The opening 45 minutes was littered with full course yellows bunching the pack together. I recall thinking how annoyed we would have been in the Titans position (1st inevitablu) as they built a lead only to be hauled back in under the yellows time and time again. They are a far calmer outfit and as i glanced over to them there was no emotion or histrionics at all.

 

 

Kyle stayed on the lead lap for his sint of just over 90 minutes which was a great effort, he looked comfy, well hooked up to the circuit and his pace looked rapid in the green flag laps which was underlined shortly after as Josh took stint 2 and was unable to match Kyles lap times. It would transpire Kyle was weight adjusted the fastest of us all. Not many drivers broked a minute regardless of size and at 85kgs Kyle managed a 60.3

 

 

Josh handed over to Sam, we were roughly around P16, Sam wasting little time in running very quickly, first of us under 60 seconds and had hauled us up into the fringes of the top 10. Just as importantly we have fine tuned our pitting and were now enjoying some smooth, calm and rapid pit stops and changeovers.

 

 

It was during this phase of the race Kyle launched a whole heap of our pit signs including the pit sign, the arrow, both number 5's over the pit wall and down into the tyre barrier 10ft below us. Luckily we had the IN letters from the Giant Hornets board with us and that became the pit signal for the remainder. Bound to be a red flag at some point and we can recover our signs then....

 

 

I took over from Sam and with the sun blazing the kart was a very different beast to the one we had been driving. We had literally no grip whatsoever, i couldnt get the kart to turn in anywhere as it just understeered its way around the twisty bit. I was really struggling to get anywhere with it. Running for 2 hours the day before plus the full 90 minutes in the morning had taken their toll. I was hauled in after a short 60 minute stint as planned and Dan took over. At this point the 11th, 12th and 13th placed karts were us and fellow EKL teams the Tigers and Maidens. As i reported back the issue we had with the tyres it was confirmed on circuit, every kart in front of us and the next 6 or 7 behind were all running faster in the 1:00-1:01 bracket as we went around in 1:02.

 

 

We just had to carry on as best we could and hope to make some ground up once we had some new tyres at the 9pm maintenance stop. As the race continued we dropped back thru the field but eventually the pace of everyone else began to drop and they came back to us and so once again as Stewart was on circuit we were running comparible lap times once again. With the sun relenting Stewart was busy taking full advantage of his size and consitently through in lap times no-one else out there was matching. The comeback was back on.

 

 

Stewart pitted shortly after 9pm, we were desperate for new tyres but there was a queue at the pit lane so we sent him around and handed the kart to Kyle. Kyles earlier pace was typically around 1:00.4 give or take a few tenths. He was no lapping in 1:01.8-1:02.4. A quick team meeting ensued and a lot of maths on the board before we decided to drag him in as soon as the maintenance bay was empty. The logic here being the 40 seconds or so wasted trundling down pit lane an extra time would be cancelled by the new tyres meaning faster lap times.

 

 

I pitted Kyle but we neglected to send anyone to tell him what he was in for. Fortunately after a little confusion Howard and Bobby motioned him towards them and the kart was on the stand. As soon as the covers came off steam filled the air from our brakes and with the pads badly worn (worst so far the comment that came back) they had to be changed and so we has a self induced longer pitstop than most teams who were gentler on their kart.

 

 

The decision was immediately vindicated as Kyle was back to the low 60s and eventually managed a 59.90 wiping Sams fastest lap off the board in the process. His return was P19 but such his pace combined with other teams stopping and the various teams strategies playing out the handover to Josh saw us back up into 13th.

 

 

Josh completed his stint and i went out for 00:28-02:13. What i hadnt realised is this was a 1hr 45 minute stint as my earlier stint had been shortened. Given the practice test revealed a 1hr40 would be ok, much over would be pushing it this was a bit of a risky one but i simply hadnt noticed the adjusted times. I was far happier this time with the kart, only one driver passed me twice (once at the start, once at the end so i had lost one lap) which given i was at 90kgs meant my pace was ok. Not that i had any idea, there was no sign of the team on the pitwall for what felt like hours.

 

 

I could see James though who was racing for a team in the bay beside hours, its nice to see a friendly face as you can feel a little alone at times. Just as i was thinking of how i could signal James as i could only assume the team were asleep behind the wall our board appeared. I am pretty sure i ran for at least 1hr 50, it was certainly over 1:45 but was Kyle back out and in P14.

 

 

I hung on until 4am before i finally quit for bed which meant i missed Dans stint entirely as i returned shortly after 7am. Stewart had lowered our fastest lap to a 59.7 with news the tyres were going off again filtering back although it panned out the lower temps meant it was nothing like as bad as it had been previously.

 

 

Sam had been enjoying another enormously impressive stint and we had returned to P12 with just minutes left os his stint. I watched him drive down the start finish straight, dive under a driver at the end, all is well. Suddenly yellows fly and James asks me "is that Sam over there". It was, he was beached in the gravel having been sent in there by the kart he as lapping. With the karts so heavy its almost impossible for 2 to drag a kart out, the full course yellows vital to allow teammaes to help recover the kart.

 

 

James and i got there first and together with Sam and Ian we got the kart back on the tarmac. He was instructed to drive into the maintenance bay to clear the kart of gravel and also to change drivers.The gravel removal is vital as a big accident had occured to another driver a few weeks ago when a stone was embedded in the brakes causing them to fail.

 

 

It took forever to clear the kart of stones, we needed a new rear tyre and a new chain. The race continued and we were failling further and further behind. Sam looked mortified and i didnt know what to say. Obviously no-one was going to be pissed off with him or blame him even if it had been his fault which it wasnt. Picking him up and raising his spirits was going to be a difficult task to say the least. 14 laps passed before we could return once again and we rejoined 19th.

 

 

Its at this point we showed what a committed outfit we are. There was no quit, no let up in our efforts. We still hurtled around the pit stops and changeovers like we were fighting for the lead. We couldnt win, we couldnt get a top 10 but all everyone wanted to do was finish as high as we could. That was the target from the start and remained the target. As if that wasnt enough Kyle elected to give Sam 45 minutes of his last 90 minute stint. He didnt want Sam leaving with that moment as the last bit of action he would remember. Strategically it was not the thing to do. In terms of compasion, being a great teammate it was totally the right thing.

 

 

Kyle completed his short stint before handing over to Sam who took his frustrations out on the circuit recording a 59.6 to end the day with our personal fastest lap. It shows what a class act he is to put his personal dissappointment behind him (and he as truly crestfallen and flat) and do that.

 

 

All that was left was for me to bring the kart home and 1hr 20 minutes later i duly did just that in 16th place. On my return to our pit bay the champagne was starting to fly. We hadnt won, we hadnt finished in the target top 10 position, in fact we barely finished in the top half. It didnt matter one bit. Once again we had completed the herculean feat of dragging a kart around a circuit for 24 hours, everyone gave their all and we were celebrating doing the best we could. Even Martyn stopped for a drop of our top notch champagne.

 

 

With the garage looking like a teens bedroom we had a stack of clearing up to do and almost missed the presentation, i was there with Dan and Stewart, Kyle, Josh and Sam dragging their heels but arrived just in time.

 

 

It was then after the various well deserved applause for the officials were done the prsentation for the most sporting team and with it a free entry for 2016 was announced. Much to our amazement it was presented to us!!! If we had known there was 5 shields we would have probably guessed it was going to the 6 of us given our missing trophy history but we had no idea.

 

 

I dont mind admitting i was severely choking up and almost at tears, it was ridiculously emotional and quite humbling, i'd like to blame lack of sleep but i am only human i guess.

 

 

I was sat there reflecting on what Bob had said. Competing in the right way, never stop smiling, keep trying when things go wrong, Its what we have done for 3 years. Its what we set out to do 3 years ago as i sat in a pub with Josh and Sam. We wanted to do it the right way, to remember why it is we all give up so much time and money to race karts. Because its meant to be fun. We have fun, an awful lot of it. I look around some of the other teams and wonder what the attraction is, shouting, moaning, complaining and general misery seem to be the order of the day. A few teams parked their karts and quit on the race. Maybe we would feel like that if we were at the sharp end of things regularly. I dunno though, i'm not sure i'd allow it.

 

 

I could easily field a team of 3 or 4 that would comfortably finish in the top 5 of the EKL and would give the top 3 a real run for their money. Its not what we set the Hornets up to achieve though. We exist to give people the chance to go out and enjoy the EKL, the speed of the karts, to take part in highly competitive 35+ kart races and to leave the circuit smiling. Its an ethos i have no inclination to change whatsoever. We have a list of "rules" we run by that i forward to every driver who wants to race with us. This is an excerpt of it:

 

 

The ethos of the team is based around 2 things.

 

#1 Fairness. All drivers will get an equal share of drive time within their teams.

 

#2 Friendliness. Everyone always tries their best and at no point will any driver be criticised over their performance. (Just as well given i am the slowest driver in the team!).

 

I also expect all our drivers to behave themselves on and off circuit, and not drag themselves or the team into disrepute.

 

 

The fact a total stranger to us joined us for a one off round at Teesside in 2013 and enjoyed himself so much he has carried on racing with us, drives down to Clay Pigeon 7 hours away just to do 15 minutes practice, 3 x 10 minute races and 35 minutes of an endurance race and this weekend has endured a 16 hour drive just to take part and drive at Le Mans for 3 hours speaks volumes.

 

 

One of us has gone without a shield and that person is me. I dont need a big shiny plate to remind me, even at my age my brain fuctions well enough to recall the pride i felt and still feel. I race with a terrific bunch of guys, i have made so many friends in the last 3 years and created some truly great memories. I dont think anything is going to top this, its recogntion of everything we set out to do and while the award was based on our efforts at Le Mans i would like to think a lot of what has gone on before counts for something.

 

 

So we left the circuit euphoric and found gentlemans cup winners Club 73 (which included a former Hornet) and a few other teams enjoying some dinner in a Steakhouse. Josh who had stayed up for practically the entire event elected to return to the hotel after, the rest of us went out to find a bar to celebrate a little more. Well a lot more. We eventually stumbled into the centre of Le Mans despite the fact none of us had a clue where we were whatsoever and spent the next 8 hours in various bars and cafes stayed out far too late and left me with precious little sleep before we all piled back into the van and the return 8 hour journey. My personal endurance event ended at 5:02pm Monday with a win as we got the van back with 18 minutes to spare. Just have to wait for all the speeding tickets to arrive now.

 

 

Regardless of the award we had all enjoyed a great event. It always promiced to be a weekend full of terrific memories but i dont think anyone of us expected such an epic trip.

 

Perhaps best of all we get do it all again next year. Looking forward to that already.

How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted by Carl Vella on June 14, 2015 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

So onto round 2 of the EPEC series. reunited with our championship rivals Titan Tornadoes and Coseley Cougars alongside LM Racing plus 2 extra entries from us.


The first of those entries was an Ellough Park all star team featuring a quartet who race the circuit regularly headed by heavyweight champ Lee Henderson and Alex ready who needs little introduction to anyone who has ever bothered reading this blog. We also had a team with Covkart Ellough winner Marcus Lungley, Hornets regulars James Shrimpton, David Dixon and Lewis Nurse. On paper it looked too close to call which of our trio would beat the others.


Sam stuck the Hornets on provisional pole as we completed just 5 laps of quali before fuelling and parking up. With mild drizzle in the air no-one beat Sams time and we bagun from the front for the first time. Sams opening stint saw him dragging the Titans and Cougars around, you could have thrown a duvet over the trio as they all lead during the opening 90 minutes, Sam leading the vast majority of the laps including one epic pass of both teams as they went over the line 3 wide. How close were they? Fastest laps: #6 52.99 #9 53.08 #2 53.09.


Sams great work was swiftly undone with a messy handover, one enging being inexcusably turned off rather than on resulting in Josh resuming the race with a lot to do. Sam meanwhile was busy turning a new shade of white and had no option but to go home feeling so unwell.


The Titans eventually pitted and the damage done was obvious as we were now 36 seconds off P1 and 20 adrift of P2. All was not lost as Josh who was dispondant after his wet weather driving Saturday was relishing the dry circuit tearing around as the fastest of the front trio. He overhauled Coseley and pitted just 10 seconds off the lead.


With lead no longer an issue stops were far more rapid. At this point the rain had finally arrived and with Kyle resigned to a wet stint he took over. Andy O'Neill began piling on thee pressure with a succession of rapid laps to extend their lead although Kyle did manage to catch pass and distance Coseley to put them a lap down on us.


The stint ended with us sat in a comfy 2nd place as i was able to enjoy a lap lead over Richard Dunn in 3rd which i was very grateful for. At this point it was just a question of bringing the kart home once again with the stellar work from the other 3 having gotten the job done.


Or so i thought....


The rcae turned on its head as i closed back in on Andy in the lead Titans kart and he pitted directly in front of me. Unbeknownst to me their fuel line had split and they need to swap karts. After being told we now led the P1 board went out and with it furious hand signal and encouragement. With Titan now 20 seconds behind i had 30 minutes to hand on to give the Hornets their greatest ever result.


Now whenever i view photos of myself there is a lot of my upper body poking out of the kart acting like a giant sail and not especially aerodynamic. You can always tell when my own version of hammer time hits as i begin ducking under the wheel to reduce drag. Yes it probably only makes 0.01 of difference but i was now in the race of my life to hang on from a driver who is considerably faster and with the bit between his teeth.


The gap between us seemed to remain fairly constant, i felt quite calm and all was going well. Until the point my leaning beagn moving the seat insert i use to sit snugly within the seat and reduce the pain from my hips smashing the side thru the rapid changes of direction. It lifted to the point it was under my right armpit which was making life bloody difficult to turn the wheel . Given the Buzzin Hornets had lost theirs twice earlier in the race i concluded the only thing to do was remove mine.


As i passed the start tower knowing Paul was there i moved to the edge of the circuit and flung it off to the edge. On turning around i was heartbroken to see it stubbornly lying in the centre of the circuit with karts taking evading action to avoid the seat insert. It was with some relief a lap later it had been recovered and digiflag remained blank.


With the seat now gone, Alex remaining in front of the Titans seemingly acting as rear gunner and the gap remaining constant all was now well. Or at least it was until the following lap as a black flag and number 9 appeared on digiflag. My heart sunk, i was gutted but not remotely surprised, you cant have drivers playing mario kart, it was a fully deserved drive thru at the very least but i knew i had quite literally tossed victory away.


The race ended with us just 15 seconds down in 2nd place. I was mortified at the time and sat here now i still dont know quite what to think. Kyle and Josh did a great job trying to lift my spirits post race and rightly pointed out we had done supremely well to finish 2nd and prior to the race starting we would have ripped your hand off if you offered it to us. That said it doesnt allow for the fact we were 20 minutes from winning and found a way not to.


It was still by far our best EPEC race and to finish a lap in front of Coseley despite the penalty who trounced us at Whilton and PFI was an impressive performance. Just to round off the day nicely the one trophy missing from the presentation was the 2nd placed hire class trophy so for the second time in 2 rounds we left the circuit without the trophy we had claimed during the race! I just hope they forget the 1st placed Le Mans trophy. :)



EKL Ellough Park

Posted by Carl Vella on June 14, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Bit of a blur which began on Friday with a rotton contact lens giving me blurred vision and actually had me wondering if you would be allowed to drive with one eye. Suffice to say new lenses on saturday morning did the trick and with two fully functioning eyes it was all systems go.


A last week dash to recruit some drivers means we scraped 4 teams of 3 together. It also meant i was abandoning the Hornets to return to the 99 Giant Hornets and hopefully a repeat of my last outing in the kart when i won a sprint race. I was joined by F270 and good friend Lewis Nurse and making his EKL debut John Chappell.


The drama began early with one driver thinking the meet was next week and having to complete a rapid trip from Northampton to make it. After the hours practice was out of the way it was on to the sprints.


Sadly for me i didnt actually complete the opening lap pointing forwards in 3 of my 4 races. Its so tricky in the wet at the best of times but it was more than a bit frustrating to say the least.


The one upside of being put to the back is you get to enjoy an awful lot of overtaking getting yourself back to the front again. In some ways these were possibly my best ever drives as i set about charging back thru the field. 20th to 10th, 18th to 13th, 16th to 14th, 23rd to 11th. Looks good on paper but i started 19th, 7th, 16th and 4th. Maybe i should give myself back of the field starts in the wet in future.


As a squad we had 1x2nd and 3x3rds as the wins were shared between just 4 teams, Titans x 2, Worcester and Northampton.


The race of champions proved to be its usual disappointment although it was good to see F270 Champion Chris Daines in the top 3 having won 3/4 sprints. He promptly stuck it on pole for the endurance but Alex gave the Hornets cause for optomism sitting in P3.


John endured a tricky qualifying not helped by a lack of laps and we started 22nd. He soon showed that his lack of qualifying pace was nothing as he began picking his way up thru the field making his way into 18th. I took over unusually not taking the final stint.I rejoined 22nd after the stop and made my way into 13th before handing over to Lewis who rejoined 17th so some good progress.


A moment of pure hilarity for me at least occured when Ian from Teesside Tigers took at least 6 metres out of me thru one corner. Having decided he blatantly took the corner flat out as by this point the track was drying i figured i would do the same the following lap. One lap later, same corner, Ian promptly flew off circuit and i swiftly followed a second later with the pair of us flying over the grass. He did tell me after i was right, he had been flat out but the following lap there was just no grip. a lawnmower with no catcher would have dumped less grass on the circuit than the pair of us.


Lewis bought us home 15th just 15 seconds behind the Buzzin Hornets who were 14th. The Hornets were part of a ridiculously close scrap at the front eventually finishing 8th one of 9 karts still on the lead lap.


A good days racing slightly ruined by the weather as Ellough is such a great circuit in the dry and just 12 hours to get the kit dry ready for the morning....






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