Tuesday, May 6, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 2 – May 4, 2008 – No Fluke, Two for Two

NEWS – With Conor’s strong return to action fresh on our mind, we decided to try a Great Lakes Sprint Series race for him in between MSOKC Race No. 1 and No. 2. There were three locals in Conor’s class and about eight others from around the Mid-West and beyond, including four really fast guys who consistently finish at the top in the national events. These four ran out front all day, so the best we could hope for was best-of-the rest honors. Conor qualified sixth and finished fifth in the heat race. Conor and two others were battling for fifth in the feature until Conor's clutch broke, which put him out. It was a good experience for Conor, but we’d have some work to do to compete at the front at that level. Preparations for MSOKC Race No. 2 included clutch repair for Conor, new brake pads for Henry, and switching tires around.

PRACTICE – Teenage boys can be difficult to get out of bed at 6:45 AM on Sunday, even on a race day. We got started a bit later than usual, which didn’t give us much contingency time in the event of a problem. And, of course, we had a problem in practice. An exhaust silencer bracket on Henry’s kart broke during his first session. We scrambled to fix this while continuing to get the other boys out for their practices, but were able to manage in the end without missing a session.

BRIGGS JUNIOR – Turnout for Peter’s class was again an issue on Sunday, but at least he wasn’t alone this time. A former club member who does mostly regional and national event joined us for Race No. 2. This ended up to be a valuable thing for Peter, who improved his lap times significantly with someone to chase down. Peter’s class was again combined with the class that he ran last year, which also had twice as many competitors (two karts). Peter got the jump at the start of his first heat and led by a small margin for the first lap. He conceded the lead about mid-way through Lap 2, after which he went to school on the faster kart. He fell into line at the start of his second heat and the feature and followed the faster kart to the finish. Early in the feature, he was actually applying pressure at several places around the track. His best lap time two weeks ago during Race No. 1 was 51.301 seconds. During race No. 2, his best lap time went from 50.124, to 49.953, to 49.739 seconds. At the end of the day, the other kart was disqualified for non-spec tires. We’re hoping for an even better turnout in this class for Race No. 3.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor’s class was well-attended again on Sunday – nine karts. He drew heat race starting positions towards the rear for the first and at the front for the second. In the first, he didn’t anticipate the green flag and dropped a position at the start (from sixth to seventh). He made up two positions early and another towards the end. He had just enough time left to catch the group in front of him, recording the fastest lap time in the process (45.793), but no time to do anything about it and finished fourth. At the start of his second heat, Conor tucked into second from outside the front row. He managed to get a good run through Turn 10 on the first lap and moved into the lead going into Turn 1. He motored off and again set the fastest lap time in the process. A fourth and a first were good enough for a front row starting position for the feature. This time, he timed the start perfectly and took the lead gong into Turn 1. The pole sitter applied pressure for the first lap and a half or so, and then began to drop back. By mid distance, Conor had a two second lead. Conor’s best lap was a 45.789 on Lap 6, which was easily the fastest lap of the feature. From there, he cruised to his second feature race win in a row. The margin of victory was 4.770 seconds.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry’s class had a bumper crop on Sunday – 12 karts. He started both of his heat races from the middle of the pack. He would like to forget both of his standing starts, however. In the first heat, he bogged the engine down with a heavy hand on the clutch and lost several positions while getting away. He made up one on each of the first two laps and another after a good battle towards the end to finish fifth. The start of his second heat was almost a carbon copy of the first. This time he was mired in the back of the pack and had trouble making his way forward. He eventually finished ninth, which combined with is first heat finish, resulted in a lowly seventh place starting position for the feature. “Just stay out of trouble and have fun” was the instruction I gave Henry for his feature. He got away well this time to maintain his position at the start. He inherited two positions on Lap 4 when two karts in front of him tangled. He inherited another spot when another kart pulled off with engine trouble on Lap 7. He had been pressuring the two karts in front of him for several laps. On Lap 8, the kart immediately in front of Henry got sideways going through Turn 1 which allowed Henry to pull along side. As the other kart was straitening up, they touched slightly (side to side) and the other kart went straight into the grass in Turn 2. He proceeded through the grass directly to Turn 4 where he re-entered the track ahead of both Henry and the other kart in this battle. The short-cutter let the other kart pass but stayed in front of Henry. They ran this way to the finish, with Henry in fourth and pointing to the kart in front of him each time they passed the head flagman. The race director initially ruled in favor of the other kart because Henry had not clearly completed the pass before the incident, and in his opinion, the other kart did not gain a position (i.e., first, second, third, etc.) on Henry. The race director changed his mind when we got the rule book out and read it. The rule pertaining to re-entering the track does not refer to 'gaining a position', it refers to 'gaining time or distance on the track', which the other kart clearly did on Henry. The other kart was put back one place in the finishing order (behind Henry). This became a moot point, however, when two of the karts that were ahead of Henry on the track were disqualified in post-race tech inspection for non-spec fuel, which promoted Henry to second.

NEXT RACE – So Conor is now two for two, proving that his Race No. 1 result was no fluke, and Henry has a pair of seconds to show for his efforts. We also managed to get Peter up to speed in Race No. 2. Our next race is on Memorial Day weekend, but it is on a Saturday (May 24, 2008) instead of Sunday to avoid the middle of the holiday weekend.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=301395