ECKC 2013 Rounds 3 & 4

On Canada Day weekend, it was time to get back out on track!  This time, it was for rounds 3 and 4 of the ECKC series, this year held at Goodwood Kartways. Since this is also where the Nationals will be held later this season, I knew I needed to get some time on track before these major races.  Although I didn’t have the benefit of days and days of testing, I think I managed to do a good job of finding pace. Friday, the practice day, was a day of constantly struggling to find our pace.  I didn’t get to go out for the first practice session because there seemed to be something wrong with my brakes. This would be an issue that would continue to plague me until we finally figured it out prior to the final on Sunday, thanks to the help of Mr. White.  When we did get out on track though, we were struggling nonetheless.  It was definitely a frustrating day.  Along with doing a lot of tyre changes, bleeding brakes... a lot, and carb adjustments, I was also struggling to find that pace I needed to run to be with the front of the pack.  By the end of the day, we were 16th, which while it was an improvement, was still nowhere near where I wanted to be or what I expected of myself. I was hoping that I would find the pace I needed overnight by going over data and GoPro footage, analysing where I could gain time.

The next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn, ready for what the day had in store.  It appeared that for once this season, the weather would cooperate and I would have a day full of dry weather and not have to worry about changing to rain set-up.  For once, that was actually the case.  However, in the morning I was still struggling.  Only 21st in morning warm-up, I was in the “slow” group for qualifying, theoretically meaning I had the disadvantage.  After a pep-talk from my friend Mr. Conquer prior to the session, however, I was in a whole new state of mind.  I managed to pull together my best lap of the weekend in qualifying, and would start 12th for the pre-final.  Although I still knew I could improve, there was a bit of optimism for the day ahead, especially when I knew I messed up on my fast lap.  The pre-final consisted of me trying to get even higher up in the standings, which I did to a reasonable extent. By the end of the race, I was up to ninth, which I was content with, although I was still hungry for a better finish.  As well, I had found the pace I was looking for, so I was happier there too.  After one waved off start, we finally got the green for the long-awaited final.  I was into 7th by the end of the first lap (which included a brief trip into the air), where I would start to hunt down the driver in 6th.  Then, I saw my opportunity going into corner one, even though there’s often a chance those passes will end with a trip to the concrete wall and barriers.  Nonetheless, I stuck my nosecone in and got the position, which was probably the high point of my race.  I continued to drive my hardest and started to catch the driver in 5th, but I ran out of laps.  In the end I secured my 6th position, and my best ECKC finish in Rotax Jr to date.  I was definitely looking forward to coming back the next day, because I knew if I could get myself into the quicker group for qualifying and get a better position then, I could be in contention for podium finish.

Unfortunately, Sunday started off rough as well.  As I went out for practice, it was looking good... until about the fourth corner.  I threw my chain, didn’t set a lap in practice and was therefore back into the slower group for qualifying.  I knew I still had the pace to qualify at least where I was the day prior, if not higher, though, so it wasn’t too abysmal... yet.  Qualifying didn’t go nearly as I had hoped.  I failed to set a clear lap, so it was back to the middle of the pack for me.  I would start 16th for the pre-final, but even then I knew I had the speed to make a comeback.  Even then, emotions were running high under the SummitGP tent, because I was rather frustrated with myself.  Sadly, the pre-final didn’t help.  I was doing rather well after the first lap, and had gone from 16th to 11th.  A few laps later, when I had gotten up to 9th, it all came crashing down.  I was making a pass into a corner, and it didn’t end well.  I lost essentially all I had gained, and was down into 14th.  After the race, I was also stuck with a position penalty for front-to-rear contact, so I ended up having to start the race in 15th.  It was definitely a lot of work for only one position, but there was nothing I could do about it.  Determined going into the final, I was ready to make a serious comeback and prove that I was fast and a front-runner.  One thing I’m certain about after this weekend was that I did a good job.  Steadily working my way up, I was gaining positions rather quickly.  By lap 5 I was already 8th, and with lots of laps left I was hoping I could work up to a top-5 finish.  Although afterwards I didn’t gain as many positions as I hoped, I was in 7th with 3 laps to go.  Again, doing one of my favourite passes into corner one, I placed myself in 6th, where I would end up finishing.  Improving from my starting position by nine positions definitely a result I was happy with, considering how abysmal the day was looking.  In the process, I also set 3rd fastest lap, showing major improvement throughout the whole weekend.  I’m really thankful to the support I got from my mechanic (who continues to be my dad) and SummitGP, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to get the results I did.  The weekend definitely ended on a positive note, despite the negative notes.

So overall in this ECKC series I’ve got two 6th place finishes at Goodwood and two 10th place finishes at Mosport a month ago - it appears I’m consistent! I’ll definitely be looking forward to running even higher with a bit of luck.  This weekend also has me looking even more forward to the Nationals, so just general excitement for the remainder season to come!

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