The Club's Results

Cuppers Karting, Lent Term 2002

1st & 3rd Multisport E-

4 man relay
First leg Jonathan Glass Second leg Neil Talbott
Third leg Martin Peck Fourth leg Jon Davies
Winners, by 2 laps (78 laps completed)
Time: 2:21:18.01
The man occupying the 5th seat in JPD's car, as we drove over to the inaugural cuppers karting competition, could have been forgiven for thinking we were taking the event a little too seriously when, ten minutes out of Cambridge, and already in the full throes of a tactical debate that would last most of the journey, we started cursing ourselves for leaving the cox-coach radio set behind in the boathouse. Putting four boaties together in such a situation is surely a recipe for competitive overload, and this was no exception. We discovered though, as JPD cruised across the finish line of a gruelling 2 1/2 hour endurance relay race over two laps clear of our nearest rival, that this is all fine as long as you win.

It had been raining all afternoon, and having put up with a rather damp outing I was hoping the rain would continue into the evening - the chance of racing on a glorified skid pan in machines with a top speed quoted as 70mph was too good to miss, and we were all glad to see a steady drizzle continuing to fall as we threaded our way through a maze of roundabouts towards the centre of Milton Keynes, to finally find the race track. After signing the required disclaimers and vouching that none of us were pregnant or carrying back injuries (!) we were issued with some rather fetching overalls and introduced to kart number 13, which was to be our steed for the evening. Twenty minutes' practice allowed us only time for two or three laps each to get acquainted with the circuit, but one of those laps put us into second position for the start.

Safely across the line and up to race speed, yours truly was involved in an early coming-together at turn four, as the field bunched a little eagerly under braking for the hairpin. Emerging from this in third place, I had three or four clear laps to get settled before encountering the first of the (tragically slow) backmarkers. Weaving round these provided interesting sport for the next fifteen laps, and the regular appearance of yellow flags all around the circuit gave me confidence that others were finding the traffic as much, if not more, of a frustration than I. Coming off the gas every time I passed a marshal under a yellow flag saved me from the black flags suffered by many teams for driving recklessly, and I continued to pass cars, without being passed myself. It was then that I noticed, through my rain-soaked visor, that the pit crew appeared to be giving me the finger. This could mean one of two things, the second being that I was in the lead. I refused to believe this until I was called in for a driver change, but so it turned out, and even after refuelling the kart and sending Neil out on his merry way, we were still comfortably ahead.

On paper Neil should have been the weak link in the team, without the hundreds of hours of either real (JPD) or virtual (JMG, MCP) race experience of the other team members, but although lapping a couple of seconds slower than some on the circuit, he drove consistently and, as viewed from the pit-wall, improved tremendously over the course of his 35 minutes on the track. He drove a clean leg and showed a cool head in traffic, though a tendency to make use of the pedals in tandem did nothing for the temperature of his brakes, maintaining our lead sufficient to put Martin out onto the track in 1st place after the next change.

Those hoping for a calmly focussed, consistent drive from Mr Peck were a little disappointed to see a black flag appear for car 13 only a couple of laps after he had gone out onto the track. What had happened? Had Martin overtaken under a yellow, or perhaps punted some innocent backmarker off into the gravel rather than taking the trouble to brake for the hairpin. Either way he'd been spotted - his number was up (literally) - no more Mr Nice Peck... or so we thought. Turns out, the muppet had only gone and run a red light on the way out of the pit lane. A brief admonishment from one of the stewards and he was on his way, in SECOND PLACE. Luckily, with a consistent drive and the odd pit-stop from our near rivals, Martin climbed back into the lead and extended it. With the general standard of driving improving, both in terms of car speeds and number of yellow flag incidents on the track, Martin had the chance to set a string of good lap times until he inexplicably pulled into the pits on lap 59. Our complicated system of frantic waving had been imitated, it seems, by another team trying to get their own driver to come in. Luckily, JPD spotted the hapless Peck drifting into the pits and waved him on. He completed a further four laps, remaining just ahead of a rapidly closing 2nd place car, before pulling in for the third and final time to allow our secret weapon, Mr Jonathon of Davies, some track time.

A couple of laps in and Emmanuel's (2nd) top driver pulled off for a driver change, putting a much more erratic driver back on the track. Jon pulled away by at least 10s a lap and soon we were a lap in front. Some outrageously fast, and consistent lap times put all our previous efforts to shame and when he caught car 14 for the second time to put us two laps in the lead, more than a small cheer went up from those of us watching his progress from the pits. Sadly, the race was cut short due to the late arrival of the coach that brought most of the competitors from Cambridge, and hence late start of the race itself, so Jon's run was shorter than it might have been, but no less sweet for it. Those extra ten minutes, and perhaps a little less faffing by Mr Peck, might have seen us finish three laps in front but we were happy enough with two, and with bringing the title back to (1st & 3rd) Trinity. Long may it continue... (Jon)

1. With No. 13 in the pits
2. The presentation
3. Winning team

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