Dave Forber's website

ARKS test and preparation

?By the time put the boys through ARKS, we’d already decided we were going to run with - at least at first - Veneno Racing. With TP Des having tuitioned them both in race karts and myself being a little ... worried ... about kart set up for races, it was pretty much a no brainer.

In the ARKS pack, you get a video DVD, a Sun Life Direct-style free Parker pen and the application pack. The test forms two sections - driving and a written assessment test. Both boys knew their flags, but we drummed it in with several sessions and general quizzing on the way to the track.

Clay Pigeon - with Will

William took his ARKS at Clay Pigeon in June 2015. We’d booked Des for the day as a refresher for Will, and because we were about to buy the kart we’d tested in from him. Will was on track all morning with our new kart and SP T1 engine, and he was good. There were no incidents. Come lunch time, Lee - who runs the ARKS tests at Clay - came out surrepetitiously to watch Will on circuit. By surreptitiously, I mean Will never knew he was there. He drove round the circuit in his Land Rover (obviously not on the circuit, but behind the barriers) to watch his lines and all seemed fine.

Will was ever-so-close to the 41s, besting at 42.05 seconds, which isn’t bad for a T1 engine.

Then theory test - he was taken away, not given an option on how he was going to take the test. It was done orally, and - according to Will - conversationally. He passed first time.

Lee ensured the forms were filled in correctly - ticked the “express handling” box (which is paid for in the ARKS fee, but not really pointed out), and his license arrived a few days later.

Thruxton - with Henry

One test under the belt, and a bit of a blunder by me meant I thought I’d booked Henry’s test at Clay, only to find I hadn’t. Cue panic, Des found that Thruxton was available for a test on the day we’d booked him for, so we went there. For the first time.

It turned out we had under a morning to settle a stressed Henry in, get the lap times down to what we needed and do the driving assessment. Henry’s first run was a disaster. He was panicky, snatchy and trying to go too fast too soon.

Thruxton is not like Clay. It’s a tricky, technical circuit with very little run-off, and Des quite rightly pulled him in and gave him a talking to. He was perfectly in order - Henry was driving badly, the circuit is fast and he looked like he was going to chuck it off. Not a good start.

We sent him out again and he came back in tears, thinking he’d been pulled in for doing something wrong again (bearing in mind he was only 9 at the time), but he hadn’t. He was driving well. We sent him out for a third session, and went to speak to Phil - their ARKS tester. He came out and joked with Des about the lap time he’d have to get in order to pass (one of Des’ former students I believe holds the lap record). Phil explained to Henry that there was - as part of ARKS - a practice session which it turned out he had yet to do, and the actual session.

Of course, by this time Henry was a little tired, but he performed admirably. Phil taught a slightly different line to Des in one section of the circuit and was quite visible on circuit observing lines. Having been there all morning both Des and I thought that seeing Henry practice might be enough. But it wasn’t - he had to do it by the book, which is absolutely fair enough. Henry smashed it, hitting 49.01s with a T1 engine.


So, for the written test. This was, unfortunately, written and Henry unduly panicked again. He got a flag question wrong - despite knowing them all. Fortunately Phil knew that he knew it and offered a little assistance - which consisted of asking the questions orally and telling Henry to tick the answer he answered. He finally passed.

A little advice

What we didn’t do with Henry - which we should have - is any written exam preparation. The driving test they will pass if they’re quick and consistent enough, but the written test both boys found more scary. It was more scary at Thruxton than at Clay, just because of the way it was run. But had we sat Henry in a room a couple of times with a made-up exam paper with flag and driving questions, he would have been a lot more comfortable and less stressed about the whole thing. It’s not as if the MSA says that it isn’t a written test either - we’d made an assumption.

Regardless, we found both circuits accommodating and - to quote one of them - “we don’t actively seek out to fail candidates”.

Really, we could have done better preparation with them both.