Thursday, 7 July 2016

Welcome Back!


So, it's been a while since I've posted anything on here- but that's not to say I haven't been busy!

Since the start of the year I've competed in the biggest rental kart event in the UK-the BRKC, had a wonderful trip to New York with my long-suffering better half, started a new career which (finally) gives weekends off, drove a Ferrari 458 Spyder & Single Seater at Thruxton circuit AND have still been karting on a regular basis at my local indoor venue, TeamSport Bristol-phew!

Is there any such thing as too much of a good thing? A couple of months ago I have to admit that I felt my passion for karting & motorsport in general was waining somewhat, which was probably linked to my decreasing competitiveness during the monthly TeamSport events I was participating in- but after some down time & a bit of reflection I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to attacking the second half of 2016 by putting in as much effort as I can into everything I do, racing or otherwise.

As of July I've all but made it through the first round of TeamSport's annual KartChamps competition & having missed the finals for the past two years due to other commitments, I intend to do all I can to ensure I reach the Finals due to take place in a few month's time. I'm also debating whether to enter the next round of the CovKartSport Championship at the end of July taking place at the Daytona Tamworth venue. Watch this space..

Anyway, that's enough for now-thanks for taking the time to read, I hope to see some of you on the track in the near future & for those of you watching the British Grand Prix this weekend-enjoy!

Take it easy :D


Monday, 23 November 2015


I'm really happy to announce that for the third year running, I will be competing at the British Rental Kart Championship 2016 event! The venue once again will be at the fantastic Formula Fast indoor circuit in Milton Keynes, & will take place on the weekend of 15th-17th January.

Once again, the very best kart racers from the UK & abroad will take part in this annual extravaganza, with a £1000 cash prize up for grabs, along with entry into the 2016 Kart World Championship event!

For more information on the BRKC, along with the host venue, check out the following websites;

I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Peace out ;-)

November 2015

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

It's now been a few weeks since the inaugural '6 Hours of TeamSport Bristol' endurance race, & I've only now really started to feel like being a part of the winning team was a success. This is mostly due to the way that the race ended, with a kamikaze move & contact with my competition on the very last corner of the race- but at the end of the day I realised its still a victory, in certainly the longest & hardest race I've ever taken part in.

After the race had finished, I said that if all of the incidents & things had happened on the first lap rather than the last, it wouldn't even be a point of discussion, & that over the course of the six hours we all had our 'moments' of bad luck but also of good fortune- & I want to explore some of those if's, but's & maybe's here;

So, I guess first of all, would Martin & I have won if the guy who was in third at the end of the race realised he wasn't fighting for position with Zac & just let him past? Answer; No, Zac would probably have won on pure pace alone, he had enough laps to catch me & I was near-enough finished at that stage.

My counter-argument; If I hadn't let Zac unlap himself so easily in the first place, would he have been a position to fight for the victory in the end? Probably not, & in hindsight even if I'd held him up for a couple of laps, it would have been enough.

Next, would Zac, Krystian & Andy have won if they hadn't received a black flag & the subsequent penalty early in the race. Well, possibly, but that was of their own doing. Martin & myself were lucky ourselves to only get two 'warnings' during the race & therefore not receive any penalties for on-track incidents. We did serve a penalty of swapping karts during a driver-change, which was deemed to have gained us an unfair advantage, just to clear that up!

Would I have had an easier time of things if I hadn't firstly had a minor accident with a back-market earlier in the race (costing me around 5 seconds with a half-spin) & then also getting stuck behind Aaron Smith & Michael Peach in the closing stages? During that final stint of the race, I lost 15 seconds over a few laps, which allowed Zac (who had already un-lapped himself) to close right in on me. Again, if I'd had as easy time as Zac did passing these guys as the end of the race drew near, I'd have probably had a winning margin of at least a few seconds rather than 4/10ths.

With all that being said & done, I still need to tip my hat to Zac & Krystian, who both had incredible pace during very long stints, as well as Oliver Bayani (& his teammate Dutch) for grabbing the fastest lap of the race. Andy George also gets a mention for being a paint min the ass but also a completely fair racer! In a straight fight, these guys (the youngsters that is) are just on another level in terms of pure pace, but anyone will tell you that a race of this kind is about putting all the pieces together, & minimising the damage that these 'uncertainties' can do to your chances. At the end of the day, that is what Martin & I were able to do, & that is what allowed us to take the win.

After all, It's only a bit of fun, right?! 


Sunday, 11 October 2015

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Gran Karting Lanzarote circuit whilst on holiday in- you guessed it - Lanzarote!

The facility was fully FIA approved & boasted a billiard-table smooth track surface as well as spectacular views of the sea & mountains. As well as getting to sample a couple of the circuit's hire karts, I was treated to the sights & sounds of gearbox karts pounding around the circuit. Several drivers were out on track, practicing for the final round of a national competition, I was told. The performance of those karts looked absolutely phenomenal, like four-wheeled super bikes- amazing!

My laps of the full 'international' circuit yielded a best time of 1.09.021, with a top speed of 66.74 Km/h-obviously way off the times being set by the gearbox drivers, but I still finished top of the group in both of my sessions. My best lap was good enough for a place inside the Top 10 times for that particular day. 

The track itself had a few very fast corners as well as some tricky hairpin bends. A layer of gravel had been dragged onto the racing line on the entry to one of the left-hand turns, which made for a few sideways moments! Overall though I felt comfortable on the long, winding circuit and the sight of the sun setting behind the mountains as we lapped the track is a memory I won't forget for a while. To finish our last session under floodlights after starting in the day was reminiscent of a certain Middle-Eastern GrandPrix, at least that's what I told myself anyway! 

I would recommend a visit to Gran Karting if you ever find yourself in Lanzarote- the circuit will even provide free transport to & from your hotel should you desire. Below is a link to the track's website, go check it out if you have a moment:

Keep on motorin'!


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

6 Heures du TeamSport Part Two

Martin's hour in the kart was almost up, & I was relishing the opportunity of a 25 minute sprint on light fuel before handing back over to my teammate. Our driver changeover went smoothly, & I was back out on track & pushing hard again. I was soon up behind Aaron, who was struggling with a dog of a kart, & his lack of power made it easy to pass him, this time at least! I had one goal in mind for this stint, & that was to catch Andy George, who had taken over the lead of the race after some scintillating driving from Krystian & Zac. Now, catching Andy wasn't so much of an issue, but passing him was quite another. As the laps & minutes ticked away, I did everything I could to try & find an opening, but he positioned his kart expertly on each lap, making it impossible for me to pass cleanly. As we approached the 2nd refuelling window, I knew I had to get ahead of we were to have a chance at the win later on, but the only way I could see myself getting ahead was if we came across some traffic. Thankfully, a few laps before I handed back over to Martin, we came across a group of battling drivers who were all racing hard with each other. Andy got wrong-footed coming off the flyover, taking a defensive line against me but then having to get out of the throttle to avoid the drivers ahead, allowing me to go around the outside before the right-hand turn on to the main straight.

 I was back in the lead, & able to pass the other karts as the squabbled with each other, increasing the gap to Andy before he was called to the pits. I then got caught up in a stupid accident with a backmarkers, having a half-spin coming off the flyover & losing about 5 seconds, before getting the signal to come in to swap with Martin. As I came to a stop however, Martin wasn't there ready to jump into our kart, but instead sat in another (no.16) & he took off before I even had chance to get out of the seat. The pit marshall explained to me that Martin was worried about the reliability of our kart, so had opted for a change. We were however given a 5 second penalty to be added on to our fuel stop because of how quickly he left the pits after I came in, as we didn't lose anytime in changing over essentially. I pulled off my now sweat-soaked balaclava, & necked a bottle of water before returning to the pits in anticipation of Martin's fuel stop.

One by one, each kart came into the pits, the drivers getting out, walking around a little, having a drink, stretching, checking the timing screens. The karts were brimmed with fuel & back in their was again after 90 seconds, & Martin was one of the last to come in. At this point we were still leading the race, with Krystian eating into our lead. This next stint would define our race, with Andy having completed two mammoth stints & Zac still to go out-Martin had to rebuild our advantage over the next 40 minutes. I rejoined Andy & Dutch in the spectator area, grabbed an energy gel & enjoyed watching the race unfold as a train if karts formed behind Michael 'Peachy' Peach, with Krystian right at the back of it! Martin was half a lap ahead at this point, & by the time the young Polish driver was in amongst the 'Peachy train', my teammate was already on the back of them! Andy informed me that during his stint he'd been given a black for an incident with another driver, which is how Martin & myself had been able to get almost a lap ahead at this point. Zac was a little frustrated that Martin had gained us an advantage by swapping karts during our driver changeover, but he cooked off a little when I told him we'd served a penalty for it during our refuel. 

With just over an hour to go, Krystian made his teams' final driver swap, with Zac taking over for the final stint. Martin had a nice lead at the front, but was understandably beginning to tire after almost 3 hours in the kart. Number 16 at least looked like a very quick kart, & Zac was unable to really close the gap as we approached the final hour. By this point my shoulders, hands, back & knees were beginning to feel a little sore, but it still looked as though I would be able to take it fairly easy given our gap back to 2nd place. As if!

With around 55 minutes of the race to go, I jumped back in for my final stint. I emerged from the pits a few corners in front of Zac, but also crucially 1 lap ahead. For the next 15 laps, we made our way through the traffic, gaining & losing ground with each pass, before Zac was within range to mount an attack on me. Somewhere ahead of us on the track, Dutch was having a short final stint before handing back over to Ollie, & I hoped he would remember our pre-race agreement not to let Zac have too easy a time getting past, without resorting to anything dirty of course. Once Zac was close enough behind me that I knew he would soon be trying to pass, I pulled over to the right side of the main straight, eased off the gas & extending my hand in gesture- after you! With only around half an hour to go, I thought I'd make it a little less painful for Zac by allowing him to I lap himself without any hassle, knowing that if I could stay close to him as he then made his way through traffic, he'd have no time left to take almost a whole lap out of me. Well, that plan worked for about 15 minutes, & then things got crazy!

Initially everything seemed to be going to plan- I was able to stay about 1 sec behind Zac as we circulated in clean air, & just as he started to eek out a bit more of gap, we came up behind Dutch, who did just enough to allow me to close right back up Zac again. Zac eventually muscled his way through, & I followed, giving Dutch the big thumbs up as I went past. He would soon hand over to Ollie, but they were more or less now cemented in 4th place overall. 

Zac was soon sprinting ahead again, & I was unable to match his pace as fatigue began to set in. With around 25 minutes still to run, I tried to balance the need to push with the desire to conserve energy, but I still thought I had enough in hand over the youngster to see me through until the end. As we approached a group of karts including Peachy & Aaron Smith, I was hopeful Zac's attack would again come to a temporary halt & I would be able to consolidate my position. However, Zac was past Aaron in no time at all & almost immediately past Michael Peach, without even a hint of defence. 

As I mentioned earlier, with Aaron, you never whether he's going to just let you by or fight for the very last inch of space, but it seemed that the red mist had descended at this point & he was going to do his damnedest to stop people getting by, whether he was fighting for actual position or not. Not only could I not get past, but I was losing chunks of time as he took a rather unusual route through the corners. I could see Zac disappearing off in the distance, & I was praying for the track marshals to start using the 'leader behind' board, to signal to other that they were being lapped. This wasn't to be though, & I grew more & more agitated as the laps went by, unable to find a way past Aaron. We were now in amongst a group of karts led again by Peachy, & only after Aaron had an altercation with another driver (I believe that led to a penalty) was I able to squeeze through) Zac had taken an enormous amount of time out of me by the time I came up behind Peachy, & again I found that he was a lot less interested in letting people past than he had been in the earlier stages of the race. Before I knew it, Zac was only a couple of corners behind, with only 1 other kart between us. If I could just get past Michael, I thought to myself, then I should be home & dry. Eventually I got through, & I was sure with only about 15 minutes remaining, I should be able to beat Zac to the line. Just. 

As it turned out, the driver that was sat between me & Zac after they had passed Peachy was driving for Kart Monkeys team, newcomers to TeamSport Bristol & performing well in the their first event here. They were at this stage however 1 lap down, but I don't think the driver was aware of that & he was fighting with Zac for what I assumed he thought was 2nd place overall. This initially worked to my advantage, & as the final minutes ticked away, I was able to maintain position about one corner ahead of them. I was drenched in sweat, my mouth was dry & my hands & shoulders were screaming to give up, but I pushed on, doing the math in my head as to how many laps more the race would run with the time shown on a track-side screen. 

With 40 seconds remaining as we crossed the line, I knew I would only have to hold out for another 2 laps, as a small crowd gathered in the spectator area to witness the end of this epic race. Going over the short straight going under the flyover, I checked over my shoulder to see how much of a gap I had- it was small, but enough not to need to defend my line. Zac was still behind, & it was looking like it was going to stay that way. We crossed the line with 11 seconds to spare, to start out final lap-this was it! 

On the final lap, I took the slower but more defensive line going over the grid markings heading under the flyover, with Zac pushing the kart behind me as hard as he could. I could hear their tyres scrub on the track surface as we went up & around the bridge, & as we came off the ramp I positioned my kart mid-track to try & set myself up for the final 2 corners. Suddenly, the kart behind made a dive to my right, catching me off-guard & pushing me wide into the left-hander before the final corner. All he had achieved with this crazy late-race move was to unlap himself & destroy any chance of a clean finish. I was well off-line as the 3 of us went into the final right hand corner before the finish line, & Zac, ever the opportunist, took the regular racing line as I had to turn tighter & slower. I had track position on the inside but he had momentum exiting the corner. I made one move across the track to re-take the racing line, the one move I was allowed to make on defending my position. Zac was heading straight for the finish line but with no space to move to the right to overtake me. We squeezed each other as we raced toward the chequered flag, contact was made & then it was over! We had won the race, by 0.4 seconds after 6 hours of racing- incredible!!

I cruised back to the pits with an understandably frustrated Zac behind me. I was in total disbelief as to how the race had finished, & almost disappointed for how the final lap had played out. I shook my head as I watched the driver in 3rd place set off for his final lap ahead of us as we returned to the pits, unable to comprehend why he would want to jeapordise the result at the end of such a long race. Maybe he though he was going for the win? He must have know they were a lap down?! As I said, crazy.

Here are the full results from the first ever 6 Hours of TeamSport Bristol Endurance race:

And here's a link to a video of the last 3 laps from Ollie Bayani's perspective, with a view of how close things were at the end!

I plan to write a brief summary shortly on the event, including my feelings about the end of the race- but for now I'm going for a lie down!

As always, my biggest thanks to Martin & the team at TeamSport Bristol for putting on such a fantastic event, & to all the other drivers for making it such a fun & challenging race

Safe racing all


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

6 Heures du TeamSport Part One

I woke from a deep sleep as the bedside alarm went off. 4.30 a.m, Sunday 13th September. It's still dark outside. After a long week in work that had already included a pre-5 am wake up call, I contemplated for a moment just turning over & going back to sleep. But there was already an excitement stirring within me, the anticipation of what was to come having a better effect than any caffeine could. The reason for all the early morning excitement? Racing, Or more specifically, karting. At 6 a.m that morning, the first-ever TeamSport Bristol 6-hour endurance race would get underway, & I was going to be a part of it!

Driving to the circuit that early on a Sunday morning greeted me with next to no traffic & only a couple of dog-walkers (why do they go out so early?!) Arrival time was scheduled for 5am, as we all had to sign on, sit through the driver briefing & have a half-hour qualifying session before 6am. I was greeted by some familiar but very tired-looking faces, first amongst them was Mike 'Dutch' Westhoff, already raring to go at this early hour. Ollie Bayani, Krystian & Zac were also present, as well of course as my team-mate/race director/general bringer of mischief Martin Savage, who had managed to thankfully get enough staff to sign on in order to run an event this early!
Our team, 'Total Eclipse of the Kart', had been allocated kart no. 5 for the race, & I felt immediately comfortable with it as I completed my first few qualifying laps. Halfway through the 30 minute session, I swapped with Martin so that he could set a time before heading back out for the final few minutes. Martin suspected the clutch may have been beginning to slip a little already, but none the less- we were on pole for the first ever 6 Hour TeamSport event!! 

Coffee was soon had, & after a short briefing (no disintegrations!) the assembled drivers started to get ready to make their way to their nominated karts, for the short qualifying session. Martin & I had decided we'd both have a crack at setting a lap time, whilst some other teams nominated just one driver to tackle the session.

Martin & I had already worked out a running order for the race, which had to take into consideration two refuelling windows, where for a period of half an hour, no driver changed would be allowed, & each kart would be called to the pits individually for a 90-second stop in order to refuel the karts. The karts would be called in in numerical order, so as to be as fair as possible, & then once the refuelling window had closed, drivers changes would then be allowed again. 

Martin would be starting the race for our team, with a stint time of approximately 1 hour before handing over to myself. I joined Dutch in the spectator viewing area to watch the start of the race, at the precise time of 6.08am. The five red lights came on- then green, we were racing!! Martin got away cleanly at the front, immediately building a small advantage over the 2nd placed driver. A small accident on the first lap left one kart already half a lap down, but there was a long way to go..

My first stint was due to be a gargantuan 90 minutes, including the first of our 2 refuels, so I was going to be in the hot seat from around 7 to 8.30 am. Gradually the first hour of the race went by, & with 15 minutes to go I started to get myself ready. Suit back on first, then boots, earplugs & balaclava. I made my way down to the pits with our number board (to be given to the pit marshall in order to signal to your on-track teammate to come in) put on my helmet, gloves & neckbrace, then it was just waiting..

Martin had more or less controlled the race at the front, & had only lost the lead late in his stint to the ever-quick Ollie Bayani, who's team had adopted the no.8 kart that Zac, Krystian & Andy George had abandoned during qualifying. The signal was given for Martin to pit, & a lap later he raised his arm to signal to the other drivers he was coming in- for me, it was go time. Everything seemed to go into slow-motion as he approached the spot where I was waiting for him in the pits, my heartbeat quickening, senses on high alert, the noise muffled by the earplugs, balaclava & helmet. Martin pulled up bang on his marks, climbing out of the kart to the right as I entered from the left, taking his seat insert with him. The kart hardly stopped rolling forward as we seamlessly switched over, & then I was on my way! 

Everything felt immediately comfortable for me, the kart was picking up well & handled predictably- perfect. I set off after Dutch, who was leading after taking over from Ollie, with Andy George between us having yet to stop. Andy is a driver that knows how to take just the right line in order to protect his position without losing too nice time, as I find out later in the race- this time around however, I was able to surprise him with a nice move coming off the flyover, I was back up into 2nd, & feeling great at this early stage. Dutch was next up, & far more compliant in letting me pass. Between Dutch, myself & Ollie, we had agreed pre-race not to hold each other up in an effort to try & defeat the team of Krystian, Zac & Andy. The only reason for this arrangement was that we had all  originally planned to team up together, so we felt working together would be the best way to have a chance of scoring a good result. 

I was ahead of Dutch now & flying at the front, passing back-markers with minimal time lost, & opening up a nice lead. Only a couple of brief yellow-flags broke up the first 45 minutes of my stint, & as we approached the first refuel, I began to wind it back a little to try & conserve some energy for later in the race. Andy had managed to pass Dutch at some point, & due to spin mid-way through his stint, I was soon back up behind the big man, who was fighting with another driver for position. I knew I had a good gap back to 2nd place, so sat back & enjoyed watching the battle ahead for a few laps, watching as Dutch pulled off a nice move through the esses. I followed him through a lap later, but then stayed behind him, acting as rear-gunner for a few laps while he built himself a small lead over the driver he was battling with. Dutch was already on his way however, & as we left the other kart behind I made a clean pass to lap him as the refuelling window opened. At this point the kart was very light on fuel & felt really alive. It was great fun coming up behind the karts that had just pitted (therefore heavy with petrol) & just blasting by them on the straights! I was then right up behind Andy George again when the signal came for me to head to the pits. I peeled off the circuit, made my way slowly down the pit lane & jumped out as the pit mechanic poured petrol into the fuel tank. Martin was in the pits overseeing this first round of stops, & he was able to give me quick update on positions. We decided that for my next stint, I would go out for a short 25 minute sprint before the next round of refuels, & switch drivers just before the window re-opened. It only took 40 seconds to refuel the kart, so with over half a minute to go I did a little stretching before climbing back in & getting comfortable for the last 10 minutes or so of this stint. The last few laps of my 90 minutes past without incident, & I was soon back into the pits to hand over to Martin- it was time for a well earned break.

I had a quick check on the timing monitors, confirming that we were still leading the race, before catching up with Dutch, who had handed back over to Ollie. Things were working out well, it seemed that Krystian & Zac would be on track around the same time as Martin (who is a little quicker than me) whilst I would be out for a majority of my stints with Andy & Dutch. All Martin had to do was hold off the 'Power Rangers' as best as he could, & leave the rest to me-easier said than done. After taking care of hydration & a much needed bathroom break, I got myself comfortable & went about updating social media as to our progress, before shooting some video from the spectator area. Andy George was off track now also, & we talked about the difficulties of passing backmarkers. One driver that we all feared coming up against was Aaron Smith, who had a tendency to drive extremely defensively, even to the detriment of his own lines. The problem is, that you never know if he's going to be compliant & let you through if you're amongst the race leaders, or fight tooth & nail with you regardless of your position. I think at some point we all came across Aaron during the race, as did we all experience this spectrum of Aaron's driving. But more on that later…

Monday, 14 September 2015

Built to Endure..

A quick announcement regarding TeamSport Bristol's inaugural endurance event- originally a 12 hour non-stop race starting at midnight on Saturday 12th September. The event has now been revised & will run as the '6 Hours of Bristol' starting at 6am on Sunday 13th with the chequered flag falling at midday.

This has allowed for a larger field of drivers to compete in smaller teams for the same amount of track time per driver as was planned for the 12 hour race. I'm pleased to confirm that I'll be teaming up Martin Savage for the event, who will racing alongside his duties as event organiser & race director! Oliver Bayani & Mike 'Dutch' Westhoff will also be competing together after initially forming the other half of our team.

Hopefully the event will see a good turn out of TeamSport regulars as well as some new faces- & I'm certainly looking forward to the challenge!

On another note, I wanted to say a quick well done to Zac Venn & Krystian  for finishing first & second in their category in the TeamSport KartChamps final in Reading- great work guys! My best wishes go to all the other Bristol drivers racing at KartChamps throughout September in their various weight categories. Show them how it's done guys ;-)

Look out for a full write-up on the 6 Hours of Bristol once the race has come to a finish!

Until then,