Race Report: SuperPro Championship Round 6

On Wednesday 28th August, I took part in round 6 of the Bayford Meadows SuperPro Championship. I missed the 3rd round because of train problems on my journey out of London so this was my fifth round. There are 8 rounds with the best 7 counting towards your final score. With the end of the season in sight, the tension was starting rise! Things were made more complicated by a few new drivers who all had experience here who we expected to score well, taking points away from those of us contesting all rounds.

There were 4 heats with each driver racing in 3. Each heat had a short qualifying session of 3 laps and was followed by a 9 lap race. I raced in heats 2, 3 and 4 so I got to sit out the first one. Learning the lesson from last time I used the time to drink some water and try and calm my breathing while also watching how the front runners were driving.

Heat 2

I qualified 6th out of 17 with a time of 1:00.386. The 5 Karts in front of me were fairly well spread out with just under a second between me and 1st.

I made a good start and was up with the leaders in turn 1 but had to back out to avoid a collision with Matt which dropped me back a bit. With the 5 karts in front battling each other I had the gap closed down again by turn 5. After Matt pushed the Kart in 4th wide in Turn 6 I was able to go through too. As we crossed the line I was 0.25 seconds behind him. I made a right pigs ear of Turn 1, running wide on to the kerb which allowed 2 karts in front of me. I quickly reclaimed one of those positions, diving up the inside of Turn 3. Still frustrated with myself I ran a bit wide on the exit of Turn 6, compromising my speed into Turn 7 and then running wide, on to the kerb, on the straight before Turn 9. This proved to be disastrous and with another compromised exit (this time on the most important corner) I lost 4 positions and crossed the line in 11th!

I knuckled down and retook 10th on the straight, braking hard for Turn 2. Full of confidence, I took 9th position by diving down the inside at Turn 3 (again!). In Turn 6, the driver in front of me ran wide at the exit and I was immediately on his bumper. As we crossed the line the gap was only 0.13 seconds but as he was driving defensively I wasn’t able to take him in Turn 1 but I did manage to pass him on the inside on the entry of Turn 2. Still pushing hard, the 2 karts in front of me had a small bit of contact in Turn 6 and I was able to close the gap. Unfortunately I touched the Kart in 8th just before the entrance to Turn 9 which in turn forced him into the Kart in 7th, slowing him down significantly and ultimately allowing both of us to pass. I hate contact and I try really hard to avoid it so I was genuinely sorry to have compromised someone elses race.

By now I was back up to 7th and less that 0.1 seconds behind 6th. Being so close, it was relatively simple to get past in Turn 1 and I set about catching Matt in P5. At the end of lap 6 I had the gap down to a second. Either he was slow or I was flying but by Turn 7 I was level with him and tried to get past on the inside. Other people had done it to me here so I thought why not? It worked by at the start of the lap I was in 5th – the Karts ahead of me out of sight!

I finished the race in 5th, which considering I’d dropped down to 11th at one point I was pretty happy with. Although I could have done without making those early mistakes I enjoyed by fight back to 5th and wonder what the result would have been if I hadn’t shot myself in the foot. My fastest lap was a 0:59.576 which I’d set on lap 8.

Heat 3

I was suprised to qualify 6th again but this time with a more respectable 0:59.925, about 0.75 seconds from pole.

By the time the lights went green for Heat 3 it was starting to get dark. My start wasn’t so good this time and I lost a bit of time – at Turn 4 I also lost P6 to Matt, dropping down to 7th. The gap remained the same until exiting Turn 8 on lap 2 when Matt touched the inside rear of Davids Kart pushing him wide, right on to the kerbs. This allowed me to close right up to them both and I had a good view as they continued to push and shove through Turn 9 and on to the straight, gesticulating wildly to each other. At the exit to Turn 1 I was close enough to try a pass on the inside but decided against it as I didn’t want to attempt it until I thought they had calmed down a bit. This proved to be a mistake as my indecision cost me enough time for Rob to come through. I fought him for P7 through Turn 2 but he was the faster driver and he track position.

Although he was a heavier driver than I was and I was able to pull up behind him on the straights he knew what he was doing and I struggled to pass him, braking a couple of times to avoid a collision. I passed him on the inside of Turn 1 on lap 4, only to lose it to him in Turn 2. This was my own fault and I should have stayed off the racing line and protected the inside. I recovered my error by retaking the position on the inside of Turn 3 and I could once again see Matt and David a couple of seconds ahead of me. At the end of lap 5 the gap was down to 1.5 seconds and I took another 0.5 seconds out of the gap on lap 6. By the end of lap 7, with 2 laps to go it was down to 0.33 seconds. I continued to accelerate and passed him on the inside in Turn 3 but couldn’t make it stick, running wide at Turn 4. I was swarming all over him now and had to back off in Turn 8 to avoid touching him. I need to practice passing here as having to slow really compromises the exit speed and slows you down on the long straight, fast Turn 9 and main start/finish straight. As we started the final lap we were separated by less than 0.1 seconds. He continued to drive well and there was no way through for me – once again by Turn 8 I was hanging on to his bumper and crossed the line 0.08 seconds behind him although I was disappointed that he chose to change his line in the run up to the line 3 times to try and block me. Ultimately it won him the position and an extra point in the championship.

I finished the race in 7th of 16 which I was disappointed with. On lap 8 I set my fastest time of 0:59.397 which was actually the 3rd fastest lap of the race, behind Michael (5th) and Garry (1st).

Heat 4

Once again I qualified in 6th of 16 with a time of 0:59.768 – only 0.6 seconds from pole now so getting closer!

Come the race, I got a good start and was right up behind Reece in P5 before I lost a space on the exit of turn 2. Compromised now, the leaders started to pull away from me. At the end of lap 1 the gap was 0.782 seconds and it had increased to 0.902 by the end of lap 2. By end the of lap 3 I’d got it down 0.763 (this was my fastest lap), 0.601 by the end of lap 4 and 0.234 by the end of lap 5. I passed him up the inside in turn 1 on lap 6. There was an incident at this point between 3 Karts ahead of me and as a result I was easily able to pass Matt at turn 5. Since I felt he’d blocked me in the previous 2 races I didn’t feel particularly bad about it. I stayed in 5th and finished about 3.5 seconds behind Reece in 4th place.

My fastest lap was a 0:59.460 which I set early on lap 3. By the end of the evening it was pretty much pitch black and I was glad I’d swapped my mirrored visor for a clear one.

Summary

My race times are quite good and it’s only after I’ve been pushed out of the way or made a mistake that I lose touch with the leaders – the easiest way to fix that is to qualify better. I need to get out there straight away and be half a second quicker. Before the Septembers race I’ll have a good look at the data and video and try and work out what I’m doing wrong.

After 3 races, I’d collected 58pts for the championship (20 each for the 2 5ths and 18 for the 7th) putting me in 8th place of the lightweight drivers. Realistically I think the best I can finish the championship in will be 6th but that is doable and would be a good result considering round 1 was my first competitive race in about 15 years.

Here’s the link to the race results and also to the championship standings.