Race report from Wesbank.
by Pierre Martins
14 April 2007:
Wesbank Raceway, ugh...
Basically this track is a 2.653km combination of a boring 800 metre long drag strip for a main straight, followed by a mickey mouse infield section with two stupid tight hairpins that belong on an indoor kart track, and finally a section of the smallish NASCAR style banked tri-oval brings you back onto the drag strip through a daunting gap in the concrete wall.
Silly track, I’ve never done well there and this weekend was no different.
Lance and I finally managed to get his kart ready after pulling long hours over Easter weekend. This kart was his 21st birthday present from his dad Vaughan and I wish you could have seen the growing smile on Lance’s face as the kart took shape.
Thanks to Vaughan who did final setup and sorted some minor snags, the kart was ready in the nick of time for Friday practice. This would be the first time for Lance in a decent kart and we were all eager to see how he would go in this thing.
Other than gearing and the usual checks, my kart didn’t need much work. We were ready.
Friday practice turned out pretty uneventful. Got my gearing right, sorted out a sticking throttle and readjusted that bastard gear linkage that’s been giving me problems for the umpteenth time. Lance was battling with the handling of the Stealth, but he got better with each session and by the day’s end we were both almost on pace.
Not much more I can tell ya about practice, except that I experienced the speed of the Moore bros new PVP karts again. I was sitting behind Giles and he would pull four to five kart-lengths on me coming out of each corner. Man, those things have awesome torque!
Hrumpfff. Couldn’t get my head straight, had no rhythm to speak of and my lap times were as erratic as peace in the Middle East, so I qualified way off pace in 8th spot.
Lance brought some respect for the team and surprised everybody by sticking the Stealth on pole straight outta the gates, a full four seconds quicker than yours truly. The proud look on his old man’s face said it all.
From there on it became a battle of the nose cones into every corner, with me fighting off a gaggle of faster guys on my tail. Geesh, I don’t think there was a single corner during the first four or five laps where I didn’t have one or two or three nose cones trying to dive up the inside, outside, or on both sides. I remember thinking – ‘Leave me alone, dammit!’
There are two things you have to live with if you wanna race 250 karts. First, the other racers will not keep their noses out of your pit area and / or your race. We're all over each other. Secondly, you have to accept that all superkart racers are recruited from mental asylums. It’s a well-kept secret, but ‘tis the truth I tell ya.
Want proof? – Spend an hour or so in the company of local contender Steve Lavender.
Anyway, this was a very odd race for me. The straight line speed of the kart kept me in 4th place down the long straight, but in the twisties I had to block like there was no tomorrow. I was useless in the infield though, especially the bumpy chicane leading onto the banked oval. Vaughn got around me on the outside of the oval once, but I out-dragged him down the main straight. On the next lap he stuck himself on my inside through the oval and we played chicken through the gap in the wall. He backed off first.
Hey Vaughn, you chickenshit! He-he-he…
But I couldn’t hold them off any longer and they pipped me one by one through the second half of the race. I can’t remember the exact order, but I think it was Gary Gribben who got through first, then Giles Moore, but he got out of shape in the esses and I managed to re-take him. Then came Greg Farah, Giles (again) and finally Vaughn.
We had some awesome dices, but to be honest I think I was holding them up. Every time someone got through I struggled to hang on. I battled with the pesky gear linkage problem that’s been bothering since Zwartkops and every now and again I’d slip a gear coming out of left-handers, but that’s no excuse. I sucked.
In the end Sean Moore took it from my team mate Lance and old hand Gary Gribben. I came home in 8th spot. A bittersweet result for our team – Lance got his best finish ever and I’m happy for him.
My pit helper, Tertius, had two brain farts in a row and put the front wheels on inside out. Figure that. And if you think that’s stupid, it gets better. He also put the side pods on wrong, so they scraped on the ground instead of being slotted into place on the under-tray.
This I discovered when everyone else was ready to leave the staging area. By the time we rectified his two stupid mistakes the clerk of the course had let them go out on the warm up lap and I was going like a bat out of hell on cold tyres to try and catch up to the pack and slot into my grid position.
That lap was probably my best lap of the weekend. After the race people told me even the commentator went crazy at the sight of me flying like rocket on full taps trying to make it to the start. Pretty funny, but I was too far behind. By the time I flew through the gap in the wall I just caught a glimpse of the last kart to make it into turn one, way, way to hell and gone at the end of the 800m long main straight.
Man that main straight is long. Even at well over 250km/h it felt as if I could have mounted a small grill and cooler box in the left side pod, have a BBQ and six beers and still sober up in time for braking for turn one.
800 metres is a lifetime in 250 karts, so I decided to have some fun instead, tried different lines, showboating and sliding through the esses. Eventually I caught up and passed a couple of backmarkers and made my way through to finish 6th, thanks to Lance who retired on the warm-up lap with a wheel problem and Gary Gribben who DNF'd with a carburettor problem on lap 4.
Sean Moore took another win from Greg Farah and Vaughn Obhlidal, who turned out one of his best drives ever.
Jeremy Burgess put Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi through multiple world championships and he once said:
“It is important what you learn from a race, regardless of your result. With a good result it’s important to know why you’ve done well, so you can repeat it again. With a bad result it’s equally important to know why, so you know what to fix for the next race.”
Well, I think I know why I turned in such a kaka result. - My excuse book was full, he-he-he…