Race report from Zwartkops.
by Pierre Martins
17 March 2007:
Brand new PVP chassis courtesy of Sean Moore who brought the chassis and other parts in from PVP in Denmark, at cost, plus I didn’t have to pay any freight. Hey Sean, thanks bud. I owe you a few beers.
Further thanks to Raul and Tony Farah who went out of their way to source various parts for me and service my Kelgate brakes on such short notice. And thanks to Vaughn who did the paint job and my mate Nico at Exotic Design who did the final clear-coat and helped me with setup the weekend before the race.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - The sportsmanship in this class is second to none.
With the way I operate I obviously didn't skimp on this kart. New parts everywhere and as you can see the thing turned out stunning. This race meet would be the acid test to see if it would go as well as it looked.
I also did some prepping on the link between the steering wheel and pedals – Me. Last year I started most races from the back of the grid and blitzed it on the first lap to stay in contention with the leaders. That’s probably the cause behind tangling too often as I made my way through.
This year I’m hoping to qualify better and seeing that I’ve missed the first round, I’ve decided to take some pressure off myself and race for fun, well, for this event anyway...
I changed the gearing a bit shorter and went out again, turning 1’06”s in the second session. In the last session I was in the 1’04”s, quickest in practice. The kart turned out virtually trouble free, though the brake bias was out and some minor gear linkage problems.
Once again I've built a competitive kart straight out of the gates. I’m getting good at assembling these little monkey puzzles. Driving them is another story though, I'm guessing a certain Mr Scully would be able to put this kart around Zwartkops in less than a minute. Yeah, right.
I use a shift pattern towards me for upshifts, away from me for shifting down. I prefer going with the forces the kart throws at you. When you’re thrown backwards in the seat, you pull the lever towards you to change up. When you come into a corner under hard braking you’re thrown forward in the seat, so it just makes sense to push the lever forward, away from you, to change down through the box.
The new chassis settled nicely, but the gear lever started hitting the steering wheel on the upshift due to chassis flex and I started missing gears. I adjusted for enough clearance when the kart was stationary, but underestimated the tolerance when the chassis flexes at speed.
That cost me two seconds in qualifying and a position or two in race one. For race two I adjusted it for more clearance and solved the problem. Like I said, first time out this kart was almost trouble free.
Anyway, I qualified in ninth spot, three seconds off pole position.
On the back straight I saw a lot of dust and a red kart bouncing along merrily off to the left. - Giles.
I dunno why he was off the track, but by the time I got next to him he yanked the thing back onto the track and almost smacked into the side of me. I had visions of two brand new karts being written off right there, but a little evasive action and all was hunky dory. And right after that the cheeky bugger stuck his nose in next to me as we entered the table top. I thought oh-no-you-don’t-you-little-shit, got off the brakes and closed the door on him.
For the next two laps he stayed behind me. I didn’t really try to block him, perhaps he just stayed there to regain his composure. But my gear linkage problem reared its ugly little head again, I started missing gears and Giles got past me on the pit straight.
He left me for dead and went on to take Tony, Vaughn and Greg to finish third in race one, behind his brother Sean in P2 and Gary Gribben in P1. I got mentally tired and cruised on to finish in a lonely P7.
I held position for lap one with Vaughn and Tony in front of me.
By lap two I upped it a notch and zapped Vaughn on the back straight and Tony into the table top. And that’s pretty much how the race took shape. Yours truly in P5 with Tony riding my ass and Greg a few seconds ahead in P4, trailing Giles in P3, Gary Gribben in P2 and Sean Moore in the lead.
Tony stuck his nose up on my inside into the hairpin a few times. I left him room, but he couldn’t make it stick. I wasn't worried though, I knew I could slap him back into place down the back straight.
Once he managed to squeeze through, but lost drive on the exit, so I just switched back on his inside and threw a bit of cheeky humour into the mix by throwing a hand signal - ‘Okay, you go…’ but I had much better drive out of the corner and he had no answer for me. I chuckled in my helmet all the way down the back straight, He-he-he...
Sorry Tony, I don't mean to rub it in, but it was funny.
I got the aerodynamics right on this kart. Perfect balance, enough down-force with diffusers and subtle gurney flaps in just the right places to reduce drag, making it very quick at top end. The diffusers that I tried on the nose cone worked pretty well, settling the kart beautifully through fast sweepers.
And the new PVP chassis is a gem. The thing handles and rides bumps way better than any other kart I’ve driven. And that’s on factory settings, I haven’t even done corner balancing yet.
Anyway, we were still playing cat & mouse when the flag dropped. The race felt like it was over too soon. Sean Moore took a win from Gary Gribben, with Giles in another P3 that earned him driver of the day. Greg finished in P4, a few seconds ahead of me in P5, with Tony and Vaughn just behind me.
Lemme wrap up this long-winded story before my tripe-writer runs out of ribbon…
Considering how tight things are in the top ten, I’m okay with 6th overall for the first time out in the new kart. I qualified, raced two races and brought the kart home in one piece. (That alone is almost a new experience for me.) Mario arrived in time to watch race two and promptly crapped on me after the race for my sudden lack of ‘killer instinct’ and whatnot, but I was on another mission this weekend, just playing it safe…
Racing without an ego is actually quite enjoyable. I think this season is bound to be fun.