Race report from Aldo Scribante.
by Pierre Martins
12 May 2007:
Don’t know where to begin, but how does qualifying on the front row and cleaning up in heat one sound for starters?
If that's not enough, try icing the cake with an overall win for the day and the driver-of-the-day-trophy as the cherry on top... How sweet is that?
Not a good start. After we offloaded the truck and completed the usual prepping ritual, I found myself struggling with an intermittent misfire during the first session. I thought ‘Oh no, here we go again’, but Vaughan Garrisino helped me replace the coils with a set I borrowed from Steve Lavender and that sorted the problem. Thanks Vaughan / Steve.
The rest of the day I spent working on my lines and brake markers. It became evident that this weekend was bound to be very competitive with the top seven guys all lapping blisteringly quick in the 1’04”s on old rubber.
In the end I was happy with my practice times. Mid to low 1'04"s, despite scaring myself shitless when I came flying down the main straight on full taps and a dumbass rookie driver cruising out of pit-lane decided to cross the white line and cut across the track right in front of me!
That could have been ugly, I'm talking a speed difference of way over 200km/h here. Thankfully I managed to pass him on the grass and get back on track without losing it. Scary stuff.
Warm-up & Qualifying:
I found more pace on new rubber and posted the fastest time in the 1’03”s during morning warm-up. Mind you, I’ve done that a few times - quickest in practice, but everything goes pear-shaped in the race...
It's what I call 'track day mentality' - You get in a car and find pace quickly, everybody is in awe of your lap times and you tend to get mentally lazy and bask in the attention you're getting. Meanwhile back at the ranch everyone else is working on getting faster and on race day they catch you with your pants down.
Track days are snapshots of your driving talent, nothing more, nothing less. A race weekend however, is an on-going process, a build-up towards going faster, and that's a different kettle of fish altogether. If you can't do it in the race, you've achieved nothing more than showing off in practice. Lesson learned.
Anyway, my lap timer showed two laps in the mid-1’03”s during qualifying, I thought that would be enough for pole and came in, only to discover Sean Moore snatched it away from me with a high-1’02”. Nevertheless, I was happy being on the front row. Things were happening!
I planted my right foot as the lights went off, Sean botched a gear and I saw him drop back from the corner of my eye. Suddenly there was a clear track ahead of me.
Hooking 3rd, 4th and 5th down the main straight I knew my moment of truth had arrived - Time to find out if I would be able to cope with leading a race in one of the fastest formulas on South African tracks and a bunch of the top drivers in the country on my tail. Talk about pressure - Wow!
All in all I produced one of my best drives ever. Mario’s signals from pit wall kept me informed as to the size of the gap I pulled and I managed to control the race from the front, from start to finish. The kart was going like a rocket, gearing was spot on, the thing handled like a dream and I never put a wheel wrong.
Yeah, that sounded a tad like bragging, but what the hell did you expect me to write with a clear track ahead? He-he, my first win in 250 Superkarts, who woulda thunkit? Sean finished a short distance behind me, followed by his brother Giles in P3 and my team mate Lance in P4.
I expected a tough start for race two and sure enough, it turned out a drag race between Sean and I. We were dead even all the way down the straight and deep into the braking zone for turn one. He had the inside line and I had no choice but to concede P1 into turn one.
From there on the accordion phenomenon took effect. I would close up to him into corners and he would pull away on the exit. The torque of that PVP engine is phenomenal. I reckon I probably have one of the quickest Rotax Twins in the country right now, yet he would pull three to five metres on me coming out of each corner.
So I had to make it up under the brakes. By mid distance he became a tad ragged and was holding me up in the esses and the hairpin, but there were either not enough room to make a pass, or I was just not close enough to take a lunge up the inside safely before he pitched it into a corner. (I'm still a tad apprehensive about crashing after last year's mishaps.)
And then the flag dropped. Game over with Sean Moore in P1, yours truly right on his ass in P2 and Giles Moore in P3, thanks to my team mate Lance who broke down on the last lap after a brilliant dice with Giles.
Although Sean and I both took a first and second in heat one and two respectively, I took the overall win for the day by a tenth of a second, based on the overall times of each race.
As for thank you's and whatnot, I've already thanked everyone in person who helped me pull this one off, so I'm not gonna list all the names here. Instead I'd like to point out another driver, Steve Lavender, my team mate from last year. Steve's been kinda down on his luck lately and I know what that feels like. Been there, done that, got a few T-shirts. I’ve learned that the best thing to do in times like that, is just to hang in there.
You have to experience bad times to fully appreciate good times.