This weekend was James’s first MSUK race since he completed his ARKS test in December. We are absolutely over the moon after the weekend. James’s performance far surpassed anything we could have hoped for.
Friday 21st February – Testing
We left the house at 5am! These mornings are really starting to get earlier. I had spent the night before getting our clothes packed, with snacks – enough for each of the three days. Darren had managed to pack up the car the on Thursday night too, so we were set to go first thing. Once the shell shock from 4:50 alarms wore off, we bundled James and Lucy into the car – onsies on – and set off on our trip down to Whilton Mill in Daventry.
We were heading to a 3 day weekend of karting. Practice Friday / Saturday followed by our first MSUK race on Sunday. Joining us at Whilton was Finn Leslie and family. They have taken us under their wing in the world of karting, and supporting us no end. James and Finn have really become good friends. Its great to see how much they are invested in each others success.
This weekend, we ran with a new team called Ultimate-R. Ben fortunately had a space for us when we decided to attend Whilton last minute after GYG had cancelled the weekend before because of the bad weather.
Arriving at the track
Leaving James and Darren to get the kart out of the car and into the lovely awning – complete with light, power and heating! I nipped down to the shop, to get a number of items on the shopping list! I had pre-ordered wet weather gloves (James loved these) and boots (came up too small – even when a size bigger – and I need to return them) brake pads, break cleaner and chain lube. When I got back with the parts, Finn and James were on a track walk. Giving the parts to Darren to fit, I wandered off to look around too.
We run an Alfano 6 and usually manage our own data. Ben at Ultimate-R uses the Mychron, and was able to lend one to us. This meant that we could compare data with Finn and the other girl there called Skye. Data means we can see where the drivers have strengths and weaknesses.
The whole day was fantastic, and the drivers got a total of 7 sessions on the track. I love watching them go out and try different lines, finding the breaking points and feeling the grip. The use of data means we can really show them the improvements (or otherwise) from the different sessions in the hope of putting together good fast laps. James and Finn were absolutely flying.
This was James’s first time out on his LS3 tyres – the new cadet tyre for 2020. The tyre is much stickier than the LS2’s even in the cooler temperatures.
Saturday 22nd February – Practice
What a glorious day! Bright and dry. The day didn’t go as well as Friday. James had a bout of self doubt. He was almost trying too hard to get improve his times and became more ragged in his driving style. He got a little upset when looking at the data and felt he was being compared negatively. James is by far the harshest critic on himself. He amazes both me and his Dad every time he gets out on track.
Ben at Ultimate-R was nothing short of amazing with him. Taking time to try and understand where James was coming from. Adjusting his coaching technique to get the best out of James. Frustratingly, he made little progress in terms of the numbers, but where he would normally get quite cross with himself, James kept a much cooler head and continued to push on.
Sunday 23rd February – Race Day
Being James’s first MSUK race, we didn’t have too high an expectations. We know that his nerves often get the better of him. Today was different. James was cool, calm and collected. He was excited and determined. As James is on a Novice Licence, he has to start his heats at the back. This gives new drivers a bit more space. It keeps them out of the ‘thick of it’ so they can focus on themselves once on track.
In good company, and there was 9 novice drivers at Whilton Mill. This included the 2001 Formula 1 Champion, David Coulthard’s Son! Darren was a little star struck to say the least!
A fully dry session, James set of in 7th of the novice drivers. He got a really good start and pushed forward really well. A few drivers got a little stuck in traffic, but James drove straight through. Sticking some great moves, he was driving in 16th position at one point. 16th, against some of the very best drivers in the UK. For some, their experience paid off and they passed him, but heroically, he crossed the line in 19th out of 33 drivers.
The heavens had opened! Darren had had to change tyres. From Slicks – to intermediate – to wets! All the other mechanics were changing gearing as well as tyres. We were just not that organised. James set off as 3rd Novice on a full dry set up – but with wet tyres. Sadly this put him off the pace, but he drove a great heat, coming over the line in 27th.
James set off from 23rd. On the outside of the track he got leaned on and pushed wide, which left him last (32nd). Determined like I’ve never seen before, he got the bit between his teeth and pushed on. Sticking moves and late braking. His fastest lap time of the weekend, and crossing the line in 22nd! Go kn my boy ❤️
Sadly got a nose cone penalty, james thinks from the first corner cufuffle), so officially placed 25th.
I could not be prouder ❤️