We have been counting down the sleeps to Wombwell IKR Round 6! This is the only track that James has actually raced on before. He has had a little bit more seat time since then. He’s done some rounds of the scholarship at Three Sisters Circuit, and a couple of indoor sessions at Teamsport Leeds. (Indoor karting is completely different to outdoor though).
We left the house at a relatively respectable 7am. Picked up the trailer and set off down the motorway. Wombwell is by far one of the easiest tracks to get to from Harrogate (North Yorkshire). The A1 was once again, kind to us. Arriving in good time, we set up with the rest of the Mark Baines Motorsport Team for our first day of driver coaching with them. We’ve had one day with a driver coach before [you can read about that here]. We plan to try and have a few days with different teams to learn how everyone does things differently. Each time on track we all seem to learn something new – myself and Darren (dad.husband.mechanic) in particular.
First order of the day is to get James signed on. Signing on means heading to race control and confirming that he is present to drive for the weekend. Following that its grab a cup of tea from the butty van. By now the mechanic has the trailer parked and door open waiting for a lift with the kart. Trolley out, we haul the kart up an onto it. James’s kart weighs around 75kg (with his weights added) – so its a two person lift! I am not entirely sure what Darren then does for the next hour or so but I went on a track walk with James – Lucy in tow on her scooter. As we land back into the paddock, Mark and the other drivers from his team are heading out on a track walk, so James goes again too.
[What is a track walk –> blog to follow]
Racing at Wombwell cannot start until 11:30am due to the noise and the neighbours. Wombwell has been running for decades, but with all the new housing around the noise of the karts causes the populous an issue and racing is restricted to one weekend of the month. Engines can be started at 11:30, and its a quick turnaround and the first practice session is usually on track about 11:30:01 😉
This was James’s first time on track without his good friend Jamie. That did seem to upset him a little bit. Not quite his happy chirpy self. Darren had his work cut out for him too, and changed three engines and two carbs. This was to see if we could get more performance out of the kart and also to reference our own equipment against. This had a negative impact on James I think, who found the day quite stressful. I don’t think we helped by suggesting one of the engines should give him a few extra tenths… he was then over driving to achieve and ended up in a bit of a pickle with himself.
Now this is a different creature. Race day has a different feel in the air. The awnings went up overnight and everyone is ready a bit earlier. We arrived around 9:30, having pre prepared the kart before we left. First job of the day, sign on and collect our rented transponder. The transponder is what times the drivers. They weren’t ready, but we signed on and took a picture of the running order and grid positions for the heats. The day is set to consist of three heats and a final.
We came back to our team pitch to a bit of a commotion – one of the karts had a broken a seat bracket – this meant Alicia wouldn’t be able to race! There was some discussion about welding the bracket, but no-one had the confidence to do it. Luckily, Darren is a qualified welder, and offered up his services. Wombwell is the local track to a few in the MBM team, and one had a unit not to far away with a mig. Darren jumped int he van and went off to weld the kart. In the meantime I kept an eye on little Lucy and got James into the scrutineering queue. Scrutineering passed, its time to race.
Heat 1 – 6th to 3rd place. 2nd heat – 5th to 3rd place. In the 3rd heat, James was given a black flag for contact. He pushed another driver off the track. [read this blog on flags] I think that the flag was somewhat harsh. There was no malice and there was only a touch of contact, but the stewards word is final, and we respect that.
Final – 3rd to 4th. James was pushing hard gaining on 2nd, but frustratingly he spun just a couple of laps in. He did however make up almost 3 seconds to battle for 3rd, but missed out by just 4 tenths over the line. Just one more lap and he could have been on the podium – in only his 2nd ever race in his kart!