by Jamie Wesson
Wednesday Night Championship Round 8 (Group one)
Despite the previous three days being a complete wash out, by the time Wednesday night rolled around it was a pleasantly clear, and dry evening. The track was very green and slippy at the start of qualifying, and the cold karts didn't help the grip levels either. It came down to the very last lap for the group one runners to put in their fastest time, with Tom Kitchener securing pole ahead of Kallum Jones and Jam Wesson. Alex Harding had to make a brief pit stop due to the seat sliding back which lost him a lap, but he still nailed fifth. Lawrance Remington had one of his best qualifying results all year to line up ahead of him in fourth, carrying the momentum from achieving his first win last time out. Alex Haydon Williams, Connor Smith and championship returnee slash guest Ben Davis rounded out the first group.
Race 1 -
As soon as the race started, Connor was putting pressure on Alex Williams. As Alex went defensive into the first corner, Connor switched over to the racing line on the left and gave the power pedal a boot full as he turned in for the apex. Finding some good traction he bolted out the corner as Alex struggled to keep the momentum from the tighter entry line. A perfect undercut passing move.
Just ahead, Alex Harding was interested in getting amongst the top three, but the karts still hadn't hit their peak operating temperature. He went for a move down the inside of Lawrance into T1, which is the hardest braking point on the track, coming at the end of the main straight where the karts are reaching their highest speeds. However he was surprised when the brakes failed to give him the expected amount of bite, still requiring further heat to generate the necessary friction. He went far too deep and nearly hit the barriers on the outside.
Ever the opportunist, Connor then used this small misfortune to try and get ahead of Alex too. They were level with each other as they exited turn one and headed into the Lightbulb corner, Connor on the inside with Alex on his left. Remarkably, Alex held on all around the outside, giving him the inside line for the Switch. Taking heed of the corner name, Connor backed off and made a switch-back move himself, brilliantly placing himself on the inside line once again for the hairpin. But Alex was not going to give in. He once again held his kart around the outside as Connor placed his nose into the apex. This had a detrimental effect on Connor, who was then caught on the outer line for the loop. Ben Davis, who had come out of nowhere from the back, was then all of a sudden on his right too, using the inner line to move himself ahead.
This flurry of activity continued a few laps later. After getting the brakes up to temperature and working efficiently, Alex tried the move on Lawrance again and this time pulled the pass off successfully. Meanwhile, Connor made an attempt to repass Ben at T1, but couldn't get it to stick when he locked up and went wide, allowing Ben to undercut his way back ahead. He tried again at the same corner but this time it failed miserably. He spun out, and lost a further place to Alex Williams instead.
Continuing to fight despite everything going against him, Connor got a good run off the long right hand loop by going a little wide mid arc and pointing the kart for a more direct exit. He slowly pulled Alex in down the back straight, and with only the tiniest bit of his nose pointing into the smallest of gaps at the final corner, he slid up the inside at the first apex and finally made a move stick! This little piece of overtaking knowledge would prove crucial to him in the second race.
While all of this was going on, at the front....nothing happened. Tom led from lights to flag setting the fastest lap of the race, ahead of Kallum who gradually pulled away from Jamie as the race went on. It would be an interesting race two...
Fastest Lap: Tom - 39.222
Race 2 -
As the second race got underway Alex Harding began his push through the midfield. Jamie was going to follow him all the way though, and after Alex dispatched Lawrance with a clinical move into Turn one, Jamie got ahead too with a move up the inside at the hairpin.
Remember that pass from Connor into the last corner that I mentioned earlier? Well at the front, he put that same move on Alex Williams again, this time to much more crucial effect as he moved himself into the lead of the race. However, this caused the situation to get a bit too tight for comfort as the rest of the field were still tucked in tightly behind the pair. Alex was essentially mugged by Ben and Alex H after Connor's pass left him stranded on the outside.
Using the same move that he executed so perfectly on Lawrance, Jamie moved himself ahead of Alex Williams at the hairpin too. This allowed him to get on the back of an intriguing battle between Alex Harding and Ben Davis. Ben was doing an excellent job of holding 2nd, and Alex was searching for a way past. He was trying every known passing point but Ben consistently had the line covered.
Jamie was lying in wait right behind, looking for his opportunity to pounce on Alex and have his own run at passing Ben. But Alex soon spotted a weakness down the back straight, and a couple of laps later exploited it to great effect, getting a great run off the loop and inching his nose up the inside before they reached the last corner. Ben shook his head, knowing defeat was nigh. Sure enough, as the two turned in for the first apex of the double right hander, Alex was on the inside and moved himself in front, followed by a grateful Jamie who was on his bumper the whole way.
Thus began one of the fastest ever duels I've ever taken part in. It had been a fast night anyway, with the thick cool air giving the engines plenty of kick, and the track co-operating with the tyres nicely. All of a sudden Alex and Jamie were kicking out consistent 39.1's. We were flying!! Jamie was braking as late as he could into turn one, despite being only inches behind, because he knew Alex was doing the same. The confidence the two had to ride the kart on the limit through every apex was staggering. And through all of this, Jamie was still trying to figure out a way to pass a kart that was lapping low 39!
Soon enough, he found it. Alex got a little bit of oversteer through the Lightbulb, allowing Jamie to close right up as they went through the kink. He ducked out of the toe right at the last moment and popped the kart down the inside into the hairpin. Somehow, it stuck, and he kept the place by holding the inside through the loop. An amazing move.
However, as soon as he was in clean air, he started struggling with the brakes, failing to get the kart slowed sufficiently for the apex's. Alex got a run on him down the main straight which he had to go defensive for, but he soon got the braking back under control and ran the rest of the race to the end, with Alex in close pursuit.
While all of this was going on, Connor had been out in front, mounting a superb lead that even Alex and Jamie couldn't reign in. Thanks to Ben holding up the chasers earlier, he had scampered off into the distance and jubilantly took only his second group one win! I didn't get much detail of what happened with the rest of the guys behind me, but it seems Tom struggled with a cold kart at the start of the race and then failed to make significant progress, with Kallum not fairing much better. Kallum had been following Jamie for the first part of the race until the latter passed Ben, when on the same lap Kallum was passed by Tom at the pin. Tom was then unable to progress any further, being held at bay by Ben all the way to the flag. It was another great round of the Wednesday Series.
Fastest Lap: Jamie - 39.154