Race report from Wesbank Raceway.
by Pierre Martins
18 & 19 August 2007:
Wesbank again. If you’ve been following my race reports you’d know that I’ve never done well there. To be honest, I don’t like the place and I’ve never really bothered to attack the track with the right mindset.
This time round I decided to at least try and work the track out, instead of just circulating like a zombie. In the end I managed to keep my nose clean and got myself on the podium again, but some other drivers were not as fortunate…
Saturday Practice & Qualifying:
Practice times turned out blisteringly quick right from the first session, with most of the top guys turning lap times equal to, or quicker, than the 1’11”-something race pace from the last race at Wesbank a few months ago. I managed a high 1’10” in the last session, a personal best, but couldn’t maintain that in late afternoon qualifying and ended up 6th on the grid, somewhere in the 1’12”s.
Vaughn Obhlidal had a less than ideal qualifying session. He hoofed it coming out of pitlane, got sideways and smacked the inside concrete wall, wrecking the front bumper and nose cone on his new PVP. A silly crash, but a prelude to more serious incidents come race day.
Sunday morning Warm-up:
And then the first serious incident of the weekend happened. On his third flying lap Vaughn Obhlidal hit brakes at the end of the long Wesbank main straight. The kart snapped sideways on him and he crashed into the outside armco barrier square on at way over 200km/h, spun around and hit the barrier again with the rear of the kart. Cause of the accident was a left rear puncture. Scary shit.
The session got red-flagged and the ambulance was called. Not nice. Vaughn was taken to hospital and scanned etc. Thankfully he only suffered minor whiplash and was back at the track later in the day.
Things were getting pretty wild up front and on lap two huge egos came together and there was contact between Sean Moore and Veron Pappas with Sean going off in a big way, airborne. It looked real nasty. I expected to see red flags, but fortunately Sean was unhurt and the marshals cleaned up pretty quick and the race continued without interruption.
That incident handed me P3 behind Giles Moore, but super-fast Fabio Tafani blasted past me and Giles on the next lap. Nevertheless, I had good rhythm and pushed hard to take Giles a lap later and Fabio on the last lap to finish in P2, behind Veron.
A good race and another good result for me, albeit overshadowed by the obvious post race tempers and accusations regarding the incident between Sean and Veron.
Looking at Sean’s wrecked PVP after race One I couldn't help but remember my old man’s accident way back in the seventies when he hooked wheels and barrel-rolled a Sprint Car in oval track racing. That accident left him an invalid and ruined his life.
Needless to say my frame of mind wasn’t right for heat two. I got a mediocre start, sat in P4 for a while, but my lines were all over the show and I couldn’t find any rhythm.
I got relegated to P5 when Tony Farah took me at the end of the main straight a few laps from the end. Veron Pappas picked up a problem and coasted on the last lap. I managed to just-just pip him to the line and regained P4. Fabio Tafani took it in race two, with Giles Moore in P2 and Tony Farah in P3.
Overall victory for the day went to Fabio Tafani, with Veron Pappas second and yours truly third overall for the day.
A relatively good weekend for me, but a bad weekend for the local 250 Superkart scene.
Vaughn’s crash in morning warm-up was evidence of just how dangerous 250 karts can be. I didn’t see the actual contact between Veron and Sean, so I can’t comment on what really happened there. All I can say is we need to put safety first. We don’t need intentional bumping and barging. That style of driving belongs in tin top racing, not open-wheelers and if we continue to allow unnecessary contact it is only a matter of time before someone hooks wheels and lands up seriously hurt or dead.
Something has to be done.