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Race report - Shenington Superprix - July 2016

‚ÄčAt the start of the year, I’d promised both boys that - come hell or high water - they would both race in the Superprix in July. We somehow managed to make that happen, and, with an extra (borrowed) kart, we set off early on Friday for the three day event.

Friday practice

We went on the Friday because Henry’s only driven at Shenington twice and, whilst it’s Will’s “home” circuit (insofar as 80 miles away can be considered “home”), the two did want to race each other, first and foremost. We thought other team members may be coming, but none managed to get the day off school, so I was on my own, with two karts, two drivers, three engines and one trolley.

The borrowed kart was a 2008 Project One, which Will would be driving, since it was set up for someone taller and our 2012 was already set up for Henry. A quick trip to Spellfame for some pedal extensions had Will fitting in, and then it was just a matter of figuring how to get two karts to the grid on one trolley. Easy, as it turned out. You put a driver in one on the floor and bungee it to the trolley. And then you push hard up the very slight incline that suddenly seems a bit steeper.

We put them out in the morning and they were both on each other’s pace. Henry was instantly on Will’s pace, and Will was matching Henry’s nemesis #33, at least for the first session. Henry was running our spare engine, “Vampire”, and Will, “Oblivion”. We tried a couple of different cogs on Henry, but he only went slower on all of them, and Will was bemoaning a loss of some 400 revs from his engine.

There was a short, sharp shower mid afternoon that caught us a little late. Others had anticipated it and changed to inters, but by the time we’d made the decision to do that, we were called up to the grid. On slicks. Henry simply asked “Can we just have a fun session?”. I of course agreed - why the hell not? It wasn’t going to rain on the Saturday or Sunday, so why not just send them out and let them play? They were a couple of seconds slower than #33 - also on slicks, but it didn’t matter, they weren’t going for lap times, only for giggles.

Saturday practice & heats

It became obvious when the rest of the team arrived that Will’s constant complaining about revs was starting to highlight a problem. With #15 going pretty much straight into the 52s and Will a second down, all attention was focused on getting Will’s engine running. We’d fitted a team engine to Henry to offer him the best chance, and sent Will out for heat 1.

Heat 1 was uninspiring. Will finished 21st, down four places but with pace we would have been happy with in February/March. We thought the carb cleaning had worked and looked at set up. Will asked for a higher cog “for the revs”, so we fitted that ready for his next run.

They were both in heat 2. Henry got himself into the 52s, but Will had lost .3s a lap because the engine wouldn’t rev. Henry was pushed off at Bruno mid-race and, unfortunately, waited very patiently for the entire field to pass before rejoining last. He finished 26th, behind his brother in 22nd when he could probably have been mid table but for the incident.

There were actually plenty of incidents on track, but no one was called the the clerk for some reason. We didn’t complain, it’s one of those things where you have so many karts on track being driven at speed by kids that someone thinks there’s a gap that isn’t there.

We looked again at Will’s engine before heading home, swapping the carburettor for Vampire’s to rule that out. This having previously changed jets and clutch ... to rule them out.

Sunday heats & finals

Henry would start heat 3 from mid grid. He had a reasonable start, but lasted 2.12 seconds into the race when he and some others connected into the first corner, right in front of the clerk. It was terminal for the race - the clerk had said that the engine just stopped and he’d decided he wasn’t going to touch it after that, but it was clear the chain had come off. We only had one sprocket protector on for each kart, so didn’t think much of it until we got the kart on the stand and saw how bent the axle was.

So, one axle change later, and a spark plug change and fresh oil for Will, we started heat 4. I’d been so busy with everything that I hadn’t noticed that it was really hot, and didn’t do anything with the tyre pressures. I had forewarned the driver behind Will that we were having power issues and that pushing him wouldn’t get him anywhere, so he just drove right past him at the start, losing about 7 or 8 places in the first corner. Will finishes down 19 places in 23rd and Henry in 21st, down 3. Very disappointing. Worse, their tyres were covered in pick up from the track and had clearly melted to the point it was difficult to pick them up from the grid.

We gave up on Oblivion at that point. Both boys would be in the B final, and I hurriedly fitted Vampire to Will’s kart—the engine he had so wanted not to run, but Oblivion was just getting slower and slower. Not really knowing what to do with pressures in these conditions, we went one way with William and the other with Henry. We put them on the grid to see, and Will finished 4th, Henry 10th.

Will finishing 4th put him into the A final, and the delight on his face - after a weekend of complete adversity - made it all worthwhile.

I hadn’t plugged the Mychron in to Will’s kart because of all the rushing, so we had no data on how he was running Vampire, other than it was 53.6s, broadly a match for Oblivion, annoyingly. Henry’s pace matched Will’s - exactly, to the hundredth, so I was pretty damned confused.I shouldn’t have been, but my brain was cracking at the time. If Henry was matching William on a stronger engine, we had clearly gone the wrong way with his pressures. As it was, we guessed the cog for Will would be down a tooth and again forgot about the pressures. Will lost 2/10ths in that session, probably because of both decisions and finished last but one. Last on track though, because of a retirement.

It wasn’t exactly the weekend we’d planned. But, when asked if they want to do it next year, it was a resounding yes. But without the issues please!