Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4 Races, 4 Podiums, 1 Championship (RTR #4)

After the solid performance at the Pepsi Center, Kirk and I went into the weekend of round #4 with some confidence. We were leading the Championship by 22 points over Jack Bradley and 40+ over Cory Milne. Losing the championship could definitely happen with just a little bad luck. To give you an idea of the scoring winning a final is worth 200 points. 2nd is worth 190, and 3rd is worth 180. The plan was to run up front, but be just conservative enough not to throw it away with a stupid mistake. We wanted to either be in front of Jack, or in the position directly behind him.

In the week leading up to the race day, we got out to The Track at Centennial to test 3 times. I really like getting to turn laps 4 days/week, even if it is just 2 or 3 sessions in the evening after work. The weather has been fantastic around here lately. Cool breeze, in the 70s, and just generally pleasant. The testing we did on the afternoon of Labor day (the Monday preceding the race), it was clear that we'd be going very fast this weekend. We were setting very competitive clockwise times on old crappy tires and rich jetting. Same thing on Friday evening that week. We were at the track on Saturday to set up and get in a few more sessions of practice. The forecast was for a bit of rain, and that is exactly how it happened. We went out 3 or 4 times that day between showers. We did not think rain practice would be valuable, as the forecast for Sunday was clear and dry. I did go out once as the track was drying to play around (dampness + slicks = fun) and you can see that in one of the videos below.

Kirk helps me prepare on Sunday morning.

Sunday, September 13 dawned cool and clear. Nice! Let's go racing! Our setup from the few previous days was working awesome in the cool temperatures, so we were stoked. I went out and did a few laps in practice just to make sure everything checked out and nothing fell off. Sweet, no problem.

This weekend, all 5 shifter classes were put on track at the same time. Going into qualifying, we decided to only use the last 4 or 5 minutes of the 10 minute session. It's a little risky, but it had worked for us before. Let the guys all go out and fight for the same bit of track, then as they start peeling off into the pits, I go out in a big hole (in traffic) and try to do my best. I did a 53.51 which was my personal best to date and also good for class pole buy about half a tenth over Bradley. The next tenth of a second behind Jack had two more karts in it. Close times, should be some good racing.

AJ Noud rmkartworks and the Schimmels.

The 1st of 2 heat races was interesting. I didn't have the best start and lost 2 spots, slipping to 3rd in class. The temperature had come up a lot and the setup was migrating toward crappy and slow. I had to defend my 3rd position and cruise there. Jack won that heat by a bit. I had taken a point off him in quali and he took two in this heat. I was now leading by 21 points.

In the second heat, we had made some adjustments and I was feeling quite a bit better about our pace. I launched into 2nd in class, behind Jack, and just held station. I was on Jack's pace and finished 1.5 seconds back and closing. Things were looking up for the final, but the lead was only 20 points, which is a lot worse than 21. If I ended up behind Jack, there could be nobody between us.

In the main event, I had a good start and Jack had a problem, resulting in a 1st corner incident for him. I lead the class for a bit till Cory came through. He had been quick and I didn't really have any reason to fight him. I dropped the left side wheels and he pulled out a little gap. I decided at that point to focus on finishing. I held the 2nd position with a little pressure from behind and a silly moment as I approached a lapped kart with a tire issue. Coming home 2nd on the podium was a nice finish to the series for us. Grabbing the pole position that morning was great too. In technical inspection, we disassemble the engine to prove we are within the regulations. Everything passes, championship in the bag!

Kirk and I are proud of the effort we put in this season. It's only my 2nd year behind the wheel and we show up on a $200 open trailer. A regional spec moto championship may not be a big deal in the national karting picture, but I'm pretty damn proud of it. :) Lots of lessons learned and so many highs and lows. One thing that is often overlooked about karting and amateur motorsport, is all the cool people you meet. There are a lot of people out there doing it for all the right reasons; fun with friends and family!

Some video clips of practice, qualifying, and the 3 races can be seen below. I tried to make the videos a bit shorted than I have been to stay inside a short attention span.

Results link

Podium shot

Kirk and I starting the celebration

Racing the Rockies Round #4 Spec Moto Practice and Qualifying from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Racing the Rockies Round #4 Spec Moto Racing Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Random photo that turned out ok. I'm trying to learn how to get some decent action shots.