Thursday, July 14, 2011

MSOKC Race No. 5 – June 25, 2011 – Conor Gets a Win… …in Peter’s Kart!

NEWS – Peter is in Italy again this summer with our neighbors and good friends the Rizzoni’s, so he was unavailable for Mid State of Ohio Kart Club (MSOKC) Race No. 5. We took the opportunity to experiment with a new exhaust header on our Yamaha Spec 100 Pipe kart by putting Conor in the seat. Conor had never done two classes in the same day before (see picture below - click to enlarge), so it was a good opportunity to test his endurance as well.

PRACTICE – Race No. 5 was another Saturday night race at Circleville Raceway Park (CRP), although this was a qualifying format event instead of the normal heat race format. We arrived a bit early again to give Conor a chance to acclimate to a chassis in which he is very familiar but with more power than when he won the Junior SuperCan championship in this kart. Conor was able to record some impressive lap time both in free practice and during class practices in both the Spec 100 Pipe kart and his 80cc Shifter kart. We had new tires for qualifying for the 80cc shifter kart, but Conor would have to make due with some very used tires on the Spec 100 Pipe kart.

SPEC 100 PIPE – The Spec 100 Pipe class was combined with the faster TaG class, which had only one entry. In the Spec 100 Pipe qualifying session, Conor qualified second and missed pole position by just over 0.2 seconds. Only 0.4 seconds covered the rest of the field (five karts total), however. This class allows the choice of two engines. The pole sitter uses the other engine, which is fast over a lap distance but does not accelerate as well as the Yamaha. In the heat race, Conor was able to gain the lead going into the first corner. The faster TaG kart, which had started in the rear, tried to pass both the second place kart and Conor going into Turn 5 on Lap 4 (of 8). She squeaked by, but caused Conor to lift slightly which allowed the second place kart to get by, too. A pair of seconds earned Conor the second place starting position for the feature. He once again passed the pole sitter going into Turn 1. Conor was able to extend his lead a bit over the first few laps this time. When the faster TaG kart came up through the field, she could only manage get by the second place kart going into Turn 5. This caused him to lift, and because of his poor acceleration, he dropped back by about 10 kart lengths. Just as all appeared to be smooth sailing to the finish, the TaG kart clipped Conor in the left rear going for an aggressive pass in Turn 10 on Lap 7 (of 10). The TaG kart had a half spin, and Conor was turned around by about 90 degrees, but he was delayed only slightly and hung on for the feature race win.

80cc SHIFTER – The 80cc Shifter class had the biggest field of the season so far this year – 10 karts. This included a former Junior SuperCan competitor of Conor’s who in now racing for Andretti Autosport in USF2000. We seemed to have nailed the setup for the new set of tires we put on Conor’s kart for the qualifying session, as Conor qualified on pole by over 0.4 seconds. In the heat race, the second place qualifier jumped the standing start by a mile. He was rolling past Conor with a head of steam before any of the other karts moved (see picture sequence video below). The rules state that, when someone jumps the start, the race is supposed to be red flagged, the offender moved to the rear of the field, and the race re-started. Well, that didn’t happen. Conor fell into second place behind the offending kart and applied significant pressure over the first seven laps. He made several passing attempts, but each time, had to fall back in line. The leading kart seemed to be focusing on defending his position, which resulted in lap times much slower that Conor’s qualifying time and caused a bottleneck of four karts behind him. Conor’s best opportunity for a pass came entering Turn 3 on the final lap. Conor went wide to set up an inside pass in Turn 4, but got hung out to dry when the leading kart left no room. Conor dropped to fifth before he could get back in line, which is where he finished. A first and a fifth earned Conor the fourth starting position for the feature. Conor gained a position at the start, but lost it on Lap 4 to another professional driver (and the champion of this class last year) who was substituting for a regular driver who was complaining of back pain.

NEXT RACE – While it was fun to see Conor get a win in the Spec 100 Pipe class, it was frustrating to see what happened in the 80cc Shifter class. Prior to the start of the 80cc Shifter feature race, there was a hastily-called meeting to discuss the consequences for jumping the start. While no penalties were handed out this time, a stern reminder of what is supposed to happen was given. This will hopefully prevent a recurrence in the future. Our next race is MSOKC Race No. 6 on Sunday July 17, 2011, at CRP. Peter will have just returned from Italy and the rest of us will have just returned from a week in Kansas City where we are visiting family. In between all of this, Laura and I had relaxing week of vacation in Colorado for our 25th wedding anniversary, and Henry is home from Providence for a few weeks. Yes, it’s been a busy summer.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at