I’ve been at Rye House Kart Raceway in Hertfordshire, practicing for Round Three of the Shell Optimax F1 Driver’s Challenge that takes place on Tuesday 16th May.
It’s a big, fast track with good facilities and friendly staff. Being outdoors you’re at the mercy of the weather, but today it was hot and sunny.
I had a one-hour practice session including tuition. The instructor advised me on line and speed corner-by-corner; well worth the extra £20. I won’t go into the details in case my ‘competitors’ see the blog before the event next week. I wouldn’t want to give my secrets away!
I was using a ‘pro-kart’ provided by the circuit. These karts are twin-engine carts capable of up to 75mph (I think). Also on the track were a few privately owned karts that were clearly faster than mine, and in the hands of people who have driven there before. Of course, I did my best to stay out of the way and learn what I could from them.
About 45 minutes into the session, I lost all power. The kart had seemed a little slow to pick up speed all day, but you never know how quick a new track’s karts are. However, when the thing could barely get back to the pits, I knew there was something wrong. “Overheating” said the mechanic, and I’m happy to bow to his superior knowledge. That’s the first racing driver’s excuse I’ve used. Probably the first of many!
I switched to another kart and this one was much better. It had softer tyres, and was so pointy I nearly ended up in the tyres on the inside of the first corner as I turned in.
After my session, I hung around the circuit to see what else I could learn from others. There was a corporate event with about eight participants. Two had clearly done some karting before, and I picked up a few tips on passing places.
I’ve got another session without tuition booked for tomorrow.