Returning to Karting

Well, well, well I haven’t blogged about this in a LONG time. Since the last Karting update, my eldest has done a few track sessions here and there, mainly as part of a party. Well, fast forward a few (5!) years and like the renegade master, he’s back on track.

So far, he has taken part in the Rye House Rookie Championship, round 1. This is a championship where Rye House will supply everything needed to compete, kart, suit, helmet etc. This event was VERY wet! Eldest enjoyed himself, a lot! So much so that after the event we got him kitted out with suit (inc Wet Suit), boots, helmet, neck-brace and gloves. This post has taken me a short while to write and as a result, we can now add a Project One Cadet Kart to the list from eBay.

I can’t remember if I have covered this previously, but there are a few rules to the kids going karting:

  • Be Safe! Motorsport is dangerous, they should always be safe.
  • Have Fun & enjoy it! If you’re not having fun, you won’t want to do it.
  • Learn! So long as lessons are learned, that makes any session a success.
  • Try your best! If you can come off the track, finished in last but say I couldn’t do more that’s fine. Just don’t go out in a half arsed fashion.

There isn’t any pressure to win, to be the next Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris etc. They could stay in karting throughout and that would be fantastic, they might progress in to tin tops, brilliant, open top racing awesome, it doesn’t matter, they are young, might dream of F1 stardom, but the karting is not about that for now.

Rye House Rookie Cup – Round 1

As mentioned, the eldest has begun the Rookie Cup at Rye House. This this a 6 round championship where Rye House can supply everything needed to go and compete. These championships are great for learning. Rye House have a dedicated fleet of karts that are only used for the driver championships, drivers use one number through the season but that number will change karts. This setup is good because the karts don’t get large amounts of wear (from constant hire use), and by swapping karts, one person doesn’t benefit all season ‘from having the fastest kart’. Although the karts are identical, racing drivers have all the excuses!

So, how did Round 1 go? Well, it went very well to be fair. As I mentioned earlier, it was tipping it down. It had been raining most of the day and didn’t stop when we were there. The format of the round is a 15 minute or so qualifying session followed by about 45 minutes of racing.

Qualifying started a little gingerly, which is to be expected, with Round 1 nerves, it’s wet, new kart … that’s fine. What was fantastic to see was the times coming down. Reduction in times means improvement, learning and that’s all I could want. As he became comfortable he managed to qualify in 8th, out of 10 starters (12 are registered but we had 2 no shows). His time wasn’t far off the top runners which was again, a positive. The other kids on the grid look like they have done a couple of these series before.

Next, we started the race. I moved positions from where I was watching so that I could see the first corner in particular. As a F1 fan, he knew that the first corner is often a mess. To be fair, I watched them around the first corner and everyone made it safely round. He kept himself out of trouble, maintained position and lived to race. I then made my way back to the other end of the track, by the time I got there, I checked the live timing screen and found him in 2nd! WTF this is awesome! It transpired as I was moving from one end to the other, down at Pylon there was a big incident, the eldest kept his cool and successfully navigated it to come out in third. Then I think he got second after a spin in front of him.

This was fantastic. Watching him, he was holding his own, he was focused on his lines, what he was doing, getting round the track time and time again. After half a dozen or more laps he was still in 2nd, but getting chased down by two quicker drivers. They come in to the first hairpin for the middle section, the two faster karts behind tangle and spin, phew the pressure is off. Or so I thought, he promptly spun at the next hairpin before the pit straight. Doh! He lost a position or two, but then did a few scruffy laps with a few spins here and there. Lost a few more positions and finished 8th overall. So, started 8th, finished 8th. Good effort.

What was nice to see was when coming off the track, although it was tough being so wet, he had fun, enjoyed it and even did well to hold 2nd for as long as he did. Talking after the event you would think he had been doing this all his life!

New Kit Time

After how well he did at round 1, we decided to get him his own kit. A bit of shopping later and we had a new Arai CK-6 helmet from Rob Hanscomb Management, the kart shop at Rye House. The following day we placed an order on Demon Tweeks for a Sparco suit, boots, wet suit and gloves along with an Alpine Stars neck brace. So now he has his own kit to wear for the events.

Rye House Driver Development

As well as karting championships, arrive and drive karting and the myriad of other activities that Rye House offers, they include a driver development session. The eldest had one of these sessions on a Friday after school. It was another very soggy session which fortunately he enjoys. The session was a great help to him, with the instructor helping point out where to aim for on the track, the lines, where it differs wet to dry. This seemed to really help build confidence on getting hungry on the kerbs, making use of them to set the kart up for the next bend. This time out, although in the hire kart rather than championship kart, there were far fewer spins compared to round 1. The timing sheet we were given at the end show a good consistent decline in lap times showing he was learning and improving.

These development sessions appear to be well worth it. The instructors know the circuit and know the karts and how to get the best time out of them. We will be getting more of these, probably dry sessions as well as more wet sessions.

First Kart

This one was a bit of a shocker, but we now own a kart! We managed to get hold of a Project One Cadet kart, with a Honda GX160 engine. The chassis homologation is expired so it can no longer be used for any Motorsport UK races but we know that the eldest has about 12 months before he’s outgrown it and will be in the Rotax Mini Max events. All is not lost though, because the youngest will be able to jump in to the kart very soon. The kart was a bit of a package, containing a trolley, set of wheels with wet tyres, sprockets, chain and even a suit, boots and helmet.

Since getting the kart, we have started building the list of bits and pieces to get hold of, like spare plugs, oil, filters (air & fuel). As well as trying to sort some ‘pit’ stuff like camping kitchen, gazebo and a small tool kit. Although I am mechanically minded, learning karts and how to maintain/set up them is going to be fun. On top of the kart, we have bought an Alfano 6 dash & data logger which will help to learn with reviewing lines along with managing times to see improvements.

Anyway, I will leave this post here and try and continue the karting topic going forward.

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