Race Report: SuperPro Championship Round 8

On Wednesday 30th October, I took part in the 8th and final round of the Bayford Meadows SuperPro Championship. There are 8 rounds with the best 7 counting towards your final score. 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 5 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 1, 2 and 3 so I had plenty of time to get changed afterwards before we all went to the diner for sausages and chips and the prize giving.

After some ‘fettling’ and support from the author, my telemetry app on my phone worked and when combined with the footage from my GoPro I was able to some really good videos. Sadly, the Kart I had in race 2 wasn’t fitted with a GoPro mount and without my shoulder mount to use I couldn’t take any footage.

Race 1

Report: Remembering the lessons from R7, I started the qualifying session by finding myself a bit of space and then cracking on with it. With no traffic to get in my way and a clean lap, I qualified in Q2 with a time of 1:00.216, with Reece 0.3 seconds ahead of me on Pole and Garry about 0.1 seconds behind me.

When the lights went green, I got a good start and immediately pulled to the right to stop Garry from taking second off me. Reece started to scamper off in front and by the end of lap 1, he had a lead of 0.5 seconds, with Garry behind me by a similar amount. Tony, my biggest rival in the championship was 0.7 behind Garry.

There were no changes in position between the top 4 on lap 2 although the gap between Garry and I was now only 0.1 seconds with Reece 1.2 seconds ahead of me. My lap was about 0.4 seconds slower than both Reece and Garry. ****From looking at my telemetry, it looks like I entered Turn 3 much slower than usual which is where the time went. Garry wasted no time pulling past in Turn 1. I was able to keep the gap between us fairly small and in Turns 7 and 8 I was right on his bumper. He pulled out a bit of lead in Turn 9 after we’d touched and I backed off and at the end of the lap the gap was 0.4 seconds with Tony 0.5 seconds behind me.

The gap stayed the same for lap 4 with me closing a bit in the second half of the lap and then falling away in turn 10. On the following lap, I’d closed the gap by Turn 6 and was once again on Garrys bumper although the gap across the line was unchanged. Tony had closed the gap to me though and was only 0.2 seconds behind.

The gap remained unchanged after 7 laps but with Tony now 0.4 seconds behind again. At the end of lap 8, the gap between Garry and I was 0.7 seconds with Tony 0.2 behind me. These were the positions we finished in – 0.5 seconds behind Garry and 0.3 seconds in front of Tony.

Finishing 3rd was an excellent start to the evening and I was really happy with it.

Race 2

Report: As soon as I turned the first corner I knew I was going to struggle in the race. The Kart had massive understeer and at anything approaching racing speed just went in a straight line – it just wouldn’t turn. I had to wrestle it around the circuit and wasn’t suprised to line up 7th on the grid. My time of 1:00.525 was almost a second slower than Matt Putlands pole time. Matt was having a blinding night so I don’t feel to bad about it! To compound things, it also didn’t have a GoPro mount so I wouldn’t have any footage from the race either as I hadn’t brought my shoulder mount.

As soon as the lights went green, I put my foot down and had already made up a place by the time we crossed the line! At the end of lap 1, I was 0.3 seconds behind Dean with Charlie 0.8 seconds behind me.

Lap 2 saw me cross the line in 7th, 0.4 seconds behind Charlie and 0.2 seconds in front of Alan. Without video it’s hard to remember where I lost the position but the overlaid GPS traces suggest that on lap 2 I ran wide at Turn 1, most likely on to the kerbs and that would have allowed Charlie past. These positions were unchanged at the end of lap 3 although Alan was now 0.4 seconds behind me.

Lap 4 saw the gap to Charlie close a little with Jamie 0.5 seconds behind me having overtaken Alan for 8th place. At some point in lap 5, Steve lost a lot of time and dropped down to 8th which promoted me up to 6th, just under 0.3 seconds behind Charlie. Jamie was right behind me with Steve breathing down his neck.

By the end of lap 6, Steve had passed me and was 0.5 seconds in front, Jamie still behind me. Lap 6 was my slowest of the race – the GPS traces indicate that I ran very deep in Turns 2 and 6 which is confirmed by looking at the speed and lineal acceleration charts.

This map shows the GPS traces for laps 6 and 7 (the fastest of the session). Lap 6 is in white and the different line in turns 2 and 6 can be clearly seen.

All of these charts were produced using Harrys LapTimer which I downloaded from the AppStore and ran using my iPhone strapped to my ankle. I’m still getting to grips with it but it’s starting to become useful now and is definitely a cool toy!

This chart is showing the relative speeds of the same 2 laps. Once again, lap 6 is in white and lap 7 is red. The grey area is showing the speed total time saved – grey below the line indicates a faster lap and above the line is slower.

You can see that through Turn 1, I was actually slightly quicker on this lap – the tighter line must be the better one but Turn 2 is much slower. I lost bags of time here initially but was able to claim some of it back starting almost immediately in Turn 3. Turns 4 and 5 actually had a better time than the faster lap but it’s clear that I was slower through 6 and this is where I lost the time. The GPS says I went to deep into this corner and also shows me running further towards the outer edge of the track between 7 and 8. A slower exit from 6 gave me a slower top speed and entry to 7 and that’s where the time went, almost all of it in two corners!

The last chart is showing lineal acceleration (braking and acceleration). There are 2 clear sections where I lost time compared to the faster lap. Comparing the two laps, you can see that I accelerated much harder and earlier out of Turn 2 having already lost a load of time. The hard acceleration helped to recover about half of the lost time. Coming back to Turns 6 and 7 there’s a more braking than the faster lap, coupled with a sudden slow down, most likely where I ran out to the track edge and was over taken. In a future post I’ll come back to these charts and annotate some of the corners etc. to make them easier to explain!

As we crossed the line at the end of lap 7, I was in 6th having overtaken Steve – the gap was a quarter of a second! Sadly, I have no recollection of where this occurred

Both Steve and I passed Charlie in lap 8 which lifted me up to 5th which is where I finished, crossing the line 0.147 seconds before Steve.

Considering the problems I’d had with the Kart I was actually pretty happy with the result. I’d had a good fight with Charlie and Steve and ultimately come out on top. I remember it being clean and without contact – I hope it was!

Race 3

Report: Improving on Heat 2, I qualified in 4th behind Matt, Steve and Will Hickson. I struggled a bit with the Kart – although it drove in a straight line, the steering wheel wasn’t on straight so had to be held at an angle. This was a bit disconcerting and as a result I struggled through Turns 7 and 8 for the whole race.

I got another good start and claimed P3 from Will in Turn 1. Matt was starting to pull away from Steve and I set about trying to catch them. At the end of the lap, the gap was 0.9 seconds with Will right on my bumper. Next time we crossed the line, the gap was extended to 1.7 seconds with Will still right behind me. The following lap it was 1.9 seconds with Gareth 0.4 seconds behind me, having overtaken Will for 4th.

At the start of lap 4, I was 2.5 seconds behind Steve but only 0.1 in front of Gareth. I was having to drive defensively to keep my position which was slowing me down even further. Gareth attempted an overtake in Turn 6 but I kept the position, causing him to drop back and be overtaken by Will. At the line, the gap to Steve was unchanged but Will was 0.2 seconds behind me. By the end of the lap, Will and Gareth had swapped positions again and were right behind me. A poor exit from Turn 1 allowed Gareth to finally get past me – as we crossed the line at the end of lap 7, the gap was 0.4 seconds with Will just behind in 5th. The alphatiming site says he was 1.39 seconds behind me at the line but as he passed me on the inside of Turn 1 that must be an error – to pull it off with that big a gap is quite impressive!

The more I look at the alphatiming data, the more I’m convinced that something screwy went on here. My GoPro footage clearly shows Will overtaking me and finished ahead of me but the site shows him finishing behind me in 5th. I can only assume that it’s down to that erroneous 1.39 seconds!

In any case the difference didn’t affect our championship standings since Will was competing in a different class to me. It had been a good race and finishing 5th on the road with a Kart I was struggling with was a bit disappointing. When I looked at my data, I was surprised that I’d set my fastest lap of the night on the last lap of the evening!

Summary

Once again, my race times are quite good and I was happy with my driving. I was disappointed in the Karts I had in the 2nd and 3rd races. Although I drove around the problems I had in Heat 3, the 2nd Kart was just plain slow and I couldn’t do anything about it.

After 3 races, I’d collected 62pts for the championship (again!). I finished the championship in 7th place which won me a nice trophy that I wasn’t expecting. Next up is a 3 round winter series starting at the end of November which I’ll definately be taking part in. I also asked the circuit to sign me up for the SuperPro/Graduate race before Christmas which should be fun.

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