In the post Returning to Karting I mentioned that my eldest was taking part in the Rookie Cup Championship held at Rye House. This is an arrive and drive Cadet Kart championship where Rye House supply everything. Round two was held on July 2nd. This time the weather was good and track was dry! We were there nice and early so had time to go in the shop, discuss a few things and generally chill out before the race. We had some interesting news beforehand that the track would alternate between the hire kart circuit and the owner/driver circuit. For those who don’t know Rye House, the hire track is slightly shorter in the mid section where as the owner/driver track has a tighter hairpin at the end of a slightly extended straight.
On the way there, the eldest stated his target was a lap time in the 49’s. Note this was what HE was aiming for, I haven’t given him a target. Given our focus has been to improve, learn lines and be consistent, this seemed a fair target for him.
First up was qualifying. As with most motorsport, this involves just putting in your best lap time and that determines where you start the race. This is a 15 minute session and after a steady start, he began to find his rhythm. One thing that became almost immediately apparent was a much improved line! His line looked so much better from where I was watching. As I was watching the others, I noticed that in the dry they were a lot more aggressive. Something he’s not faced before. A couple of the drivers were given warnings for contact which was fair enough. In terms of mistakes, he had a couple of small spins after locking rear wheels but overall his driving was much improved. He didn’t quite make it to the 49’s with a qualifying time of 50.6 which placed him 10th on the grid out of 12.
“Lights out and away we go!” Off the line, he did his usual, kept his nose clean, kept out of trouble and cracked on. Someone in front spun so he managed to pick up a place by the end of lap one. Sticking to his lines and trying to be consistent. This will ultimately pay off for him. As the race settled down, he stayed pretty much where he was in 9th until about half way through, then he managed to get an overtake in and move to 8th. At this point he began hunting down the kart in 7th, and after a dozen laps or so was right on his tail. Edging closer and closer it looked like it was definitely game on. Someone else took a spin promoting him to 7th, then disaster struck. On the infield he took a nudge and found himself inspecting the daisies. Due to large amounts of rain recently, he was bogged down and it took 2 marshals to crane him out. The time it took meant he lost 2 places and dropped back down to 9th where he finished.
At this event I didn’t worry about taking photo’s and videos to share, I just concentrated on watching him, encouraging him and just being in the moment. Overall it was very much a positive event for him although the result might not have been what he wanted, there were two big positives we could take.
Number one, his driving and lines were much improved. Times still a little off but the time will improve as he becomes more and more consistent and confident. The driving was just so much better though.
Number two, the target he set of getting a 49 second lap … well he did, he was fairly consistently in the 49s and even had a couple of 48s. So target successfully smashed I think.
Number three (this was discovered at home), we studied the data available on Alpha Timing and when we compared his lap times with the eventual winner (of both this and previous round), the graphs were very similar, just 2/3 seconds apart but the peaks and troughs were consistent between them.
Next time, we will continue working on the consistency, we know it can be there. Something else I noticed, watching the winner was how relaxed he was. This is typical of motorsport, watch those at the top of their game, how cool, calm and collected they are. They might be doing 100mph+ through a welsh forest sideways, or drifters putting a car sideways at 100mph within inches of another car, F1 when Sir Lewis Hamilton is in the zone, they all look like they are driving to the newsagents to buy a pint of milk and a newspaper. Following on from judo, where we are encouraged to relax, I think this is something we need to work on.