Here we go again !
It is 2023 and I am taking part in the Kart Fun Trophy, the rental championship hosted at Mariembourg, Belgium. We will be using the same Sodi RT8s 390cc with the same track configurations :
Q : 10 min on the reverse small track
R1 : 30 min on the reverse small track, grid is set up with the Q result
R2 : 30 min on the normal full trackl, grid is set up with the R1 result
For this first race, the level was really good, with quite a few high profile rental drivers, so I was looking forward to race !
The track was a bit wet outside the racing line, which didn’t leave much room for error. Also it was changing quickly, drying up and heating up fast, with 35 karts on the track. This meant that the last 2 laps were critical to get clean.
And that was my mistake. I tried to give myself some space too early in the session and for too long, which resulted in 3 things :
- My tires were not warm enough when clocking my first flying laps
- I’ve set up my laptimes too early in the session
- I’ve got held up by other drivers in my last 2 laps
Which meant that I will be starting 13 on the grid for the first race. In such a tight field, it basically prevents me to have a shot at the podium, despite a kart that could have gotten me pole and possibly a podium. Probably my poorest qualification session in years, but it is a good lesson to be reminded of : Be patient.
Race 1 :
The reverse configuration of the track is a lot more technical than the normal configuration and rewards the driving skills more. This means that you can compensate for higher weight or slightly weaker kart. While I was a bit heavier than last year (92kg vs 88kg), my kart was really good and I had good hope to make a few spots.
The first 15’ were very intense, the midfield was desperate to make places early on and we ended up losing contact with the top 4, which definitely sealed my chances to climb back to a podium spot. I was able to get up to 7th, then I got passed and stayed 8th for most of the second part of the race. We have a really really good pace, on par with the people on front. The guy in 7th was slower in the technical section but had a very good engine to make up for it so I was unable to pass him.
Fortunately, P5 and P6 came together in the hairpin in the penultimate lap, and P7 couldn’t avoid them, which granted me P5 with 1 lap to go. I just had to defend and nail the technical section and it was a P5 in the end.
I am fairly happy with this result, but my first half of the race was really poor. I struggled to pass people that were slower than me and I still have issues dialing my aggression and taking the best decisions.
Race 2 :
Ok this is the first round of the year, but I shouldn’t be doing such rookie mistakes. Racing on the normal configuration meant going on a part of the track (the 5 first turns) that we didn’t race on for the Q or R1. And that meant that turn 2 was wet at the apex I fell into the trap like a rookie and lost my P3 and my chances at a good finish. I fell at around P10-13 after turn 2. Between the treacherous condition and the aggressiveness within the field, I ended being pushed out of the track twice after my mistake, making me last at the end of the first lap.
From there my race was done, my kart was average (very good straight line speed, poor frontend grip) so I had no hope going back in the top 10. That’s it.
There were some good things (my pace in R1), less good thing (my Q) and downright bad things (my R2 start, R1 struggles to make past slower people) but I am confident that I will be up front the next races. Despite the results not showing it, my pace was really strong and I know I can fight up there. Next one is in March, hopefully it will be dry !