Monday, May 18, 2009

MSOKC Point Race # 3

Sunday was a perfect day for racing. It started out a little chilly but by noon it was sunny and 70 with not much of the typical Ohio wind. For the 3rd points race of the season, the MSOKC ran counter-clockwise at Circleville Raceway. 13 TAG karts showed up this weekend to make it the biggest field of the year so far for the MSOKC and the most karts I've race against yet.

Practice went well despite the cold conditions. Grip was sparse but I managed to click off mid 45 second laps which was my goal. My kart and I got warmed up nicely with no mechanical issues. I did, however, pull off early in the 2nd practice because I picked up a big vibration in the rear axle. I was worried I'd bent my axle or blown a bearing but it turned out I picked up a few big rocks with the rear tires. That was a relief!

With the Heat 1 grid randomly set, I started 12th out of the 13 starting karts. Luckily, this put me on the outside of row at the start. Coming into turn 1, the two karts in front of me dove into the inside line causing the classic problem of too many karts and not enough real-estate. While they got jammed up as each of the inside karts had to let off the throttle in a corner that should be flat, I drove to the outside and ducked under the 7th place kart in turn 3. Not bad for the first three corners of the race. I stayed in 7th for three laps but was closing on P6. On lap 4, the P6 kart went wide in turn 3 and I was able to dive underneath over the curbing to take 6th place. I crossed the finish line with a huge 12th to 6th jump. Passing karts is the key to a good starting spot for the feature and I was lucky to be able to take advantage of the traffic jam on lap 1.

Between heats, I made a few key setup changes to the kart with the help of Paul Milleman of PM Karting. In practice and Heat 1, my kart was unstable and difficult to drive. It oversteered on entry and exit so it was clearly time for a setup adjustment. We widened the front and rear tack, toed the front end out by 0.5mm per side and adjusted front camber. This made the kart much more driveable and I dropped about 0.4 seconds on my fastest lap. With the field flipped, I started on outside pole for Heat 2. I dropped to 3rd on the first lap and stayed there for the next two laps. I was not driving well in the track's LH corners and it cost me two more positions on lap 4 and 5. I finished 5th.

The feature race grid is set by your points sum from Heat 1 and Heat 2. With two consistent Heat race finishes, I started 4th for the feature. This is my best start in a field of over 10 karts so I was pumped for the final. I really wanted to pick up my first legitimate podium (finishing 3rd out of 6 karts doesn't count in my book). I got a decent start was was able to move under Angel Wilkinson in Turn 3 to take over 3rd. I put a 2-3 kart gap on Angel and kept it until lap 6 when Mike Under got past her. He was a bit faster than both of us so he caught me and passed me in Turn 9. At this point, I was wiped. I have never gotten this tired in a kart race before and it really effected my lap times. I lost about a half second per lap for the last three laps. On lap 8, Angel dove under me in Turn 10 and we made contact. My LF tire got into her right bumper and RR tire causing me to track out and get passed by the P5 kart who was on her tail. On the last lap, I thought I had a nice gap back to 7th place and I was too far from P5 after the contact on the previous lap, so I put it in cruise control until the checker. I learned a hard lesson in the last corner of the last lap as the P7 kart dove under me to take 6th place away. All I had to do was keep pushing and I would have easily kept 6th. It was a dumb mistake but I learned from it. It was a disappointing end to an exciting race where I was in podium position over half-way through the race.

I posted a video of the feature race below. For now, I need to get into better shape so I'm going to go for a jog.

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