Race Report from Welkom.
by Pierre Martins
In my wild teens I told people I’d never see twenty with the way I carried on with fast cars and bikes. I was an accident waiting to happen.
Then I turned twenty and changed my line somewhat. I said I’d probably crash and burn before the age of thirty. Fortunately I had to move the goalpost twice since then. Well, here we are in the year 2007, I’ve reached the ripe old age of forty six and I’m thinking – Hell, I better crash & die soon or people will start thinking I’m a bull-shitter, he-he-he…
Anyway, I’ve picked #46 as my race number for this year not because I’m an avid Rossi fan, but because of my age. Duh.
A new season with new everything. New karts, new colours and new team mate.
Youngster Lance Garissino will be driving the Stealth chassis with the very strong Rotax twin I bought from Veron Pappas last year. I will be in a brand new PVP chassis running my other Rotax twin, the one “with-the-special-cranks”.
But (yes, there has to be a 'but'), despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to have the new karts ready in time for the opening round of the 2007 season. I’ve been fortunate to be at race tracks just about every weekend this year, testing race Porsches for Mario and whatnot, but that’s another story. Let’s just say I’m a lazy bum and didn’t work on the karts as often as I should have in the off-season.
To cut a long story short, I ended up playing spectator for round one and Lance raced his old kart.
I picked Mario up after work on Friday evening and we headed out to Welkom, booked in at Capaneros and had a fantastic dinner. Taste Capaneros food and it’s easy to understand why it was Rossi’s preferred eating joint when in Welkom.
Watching the guys up close from pit-wall during Saturday morning qualifying I was dumbstruck at the entry speed of 250 karts into turn one. I even asked Mario - ‘Geesh, do I go in there that fast?’
Mind-blowing stuff! Driving a 250 kart at full swing has to be the sharp end of driving skill in all forms of track racing. It’s just such a pity that not many drivers are willing to give 250 karts a try. I’ve driven well-setup 900bhp Porsches and the corner speeds are nowhere near a 250 kart.
Tin Top drivers should try this. These little things have a way of bringing you down to earth literally and figuratively when it comes to your driving.
I’ve been asked about this many times. So there, I said it.
The first race of a new season usually delivers a few surprises. Last year it was me, pulling two third places in round one.
History also has a way of repeating itself. Last year Fabio Tafani had a flat on lap one, this year he got a puncture on the formation lap.
This year’s surprise came in the shape of Sean Moore in his brand new PVP kart and engine. I helped him with gearing before the race and told him the mature thing to do was to sit behind the Farah bros, learn their lines and mug them on the last lap if possible. For a relative rookie it’s best not to mix with the Farahs. They are old hands with race craft to spare and will outfox you before you wipe the shit from your eyes.
Mario and I found a good spot to watch the race – High up on the banking at the hairpin we could see the guys coming through the high speed sweepers at the end of the back straight, exiting turn one and most of the back section of the track.
At the start of heat one Sean Moore was first out of turn one and managed to pull a two second lead on the Farahs down the zig-zag section into the tight right-hander and the short straight that follows. Wow! He obviously didn’t need my advice about sitting behind the Farahs. No need to, he had pace and oh man, that PVP engine blew everyone else away! Go-go-go!!!
Mid-distance the race settled down and Greg Farah started reeling him in, as expected. A few laps from the end Greg got past him, but Mr Moore showed him no respect and passed him straight back to take his first win ever.
Lap two of the second race got red flagged when the heavens opened up to give us a taste of what racing in Europe must be like.
We hardly do any wet races over here. I’ve never raced a superkart in the wet. The guys tell me grip is phenomenal on those little wet weather tyres.
I remember way back I did a bike race on slicks in the wet and grip was way better than expected. Damn, I lack experience in wet weather racing…
Anyway, the race was declared a wet race and re-started. This time Fabio was in it and with his experience quickly took the lead and made a poop-hole out of Sean Moore. But not for long though. Second half of the race Sean caught right up, but just couldn’t make a pass. I must say I was impressed with his driving. First heat he was a tad on the ragged edge, but in the wet in heat two he drove a mature, consistent race.
At the re-start Tony Farah ran wide, hit the marbles and spun. That was very uncharacteristic of Farah driving. Something seemed amiss in the Farah camp this weekend though. Mama Farah was ill, Tony and Greg were in sixes and sevens, which is kinda odd for the Farahs…
Nevertheless, Greg managed a 2nd overall for the day with very mature driving as expected. Other great drives of the day came from my new team mate Lance racking up 22 points and putting us 4th in constructors whilst I sat on the sidelines, Ivor knocked a massive seven seconds off his previous best times at Welkom and almost got to beat his brother Vaughn in race two. Our new lady driver Elna turned some pretty decent laps in race one, pity the chain came off in race two though…
At the risk of sounding obsessed, Sean did in one race what I couldn’t do the whole of last season - Beat the Farahs convincingly.
I’m gonna have to pull up my socks if I wanna feature at all this year. Every time I saw that red PVP flying through turn one I thought – ‘Hell, I’m gonna have problems beating this dude…’ and to make things worse, there will be two of these red PVP things to contend with when Giles Moore’s new kart is up and running…
Maybe I should just give up.
Or maybe not.
See you suckers at Zwartkops.