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The very first, fully wet race

This blog was something I wanted to start so I could keep record of my race analysis as I have an extremely bad memory. No better way to start it than writing about a race full of drama.

I woke up, it was warm and dry, I had my boiled egg and had a quick look at the sky. It didn’t look that bad so I thought why not wear that white shorts and blue t-shirt? They matched the trainers too.

Did the usual commuting (train+bus+long walk) and as soon as I got at Esher station I started regretting the fact I was wearing white shorts. Then, instantly, I thought that if the rain did not stop I’d have a pretty miserable race as I had no experience on racing in the rain.

Arrived at the track wet and in time to realise that we would have a lot more pros than normal. Old karting friends, all wearing their own racing suits and discussing the weather condition. Some interesting blokes too, well, at least to look at.

Then the usual 25min wait to the qualify. I tried to use the time to work out the best lines and what I should and shouldn’t do.

We finally got to the karts and off we went. God it was wet, it felt like the grip between wheels and Tarmac was like body oil between hands.

The kart felt over powered for the first time and every time I put my foot down in any straight line the kart would go sideways big time.

Understeer was scary, specially in the turns one, two and five. Turn one was just mental. I tried to slown right down, way before the corner and no matter how slow I was there was always a 5m understeer sliding before a sudden grip near the kerb. That was terrifying. The fastest corner of the track felt like it was impossible to make.

After a couple of laps struggling with the understeer I finally decided to use the kart’s power to alight the car in the direction I wanted. That meant that I would from now on be going sideways instead of forwards and if anything, enjoying it a lot more.

That was it, qualifying was over and I was now seriously dismissing any possibility of racing with the big guys to be in the top 10. My grid start position was 18th.

While in the grid, I put in my head that the only way to get good results in this race was to make no mistakes and keep it smooth.

After a bad start, I immediately lost a couple of positions before getting to the first corner. By the second corner I had taken my positions back and gained one.

It wasn’t too long until I could see a faster line where the leaders were driving on. That changed my race a lot as I now had the confidence to go very wide and could get more grip out of the corner.

Unfortunately going wide wasn’t a rule, the corner one had a massive understeer all the way to the end of the race and corner five had a similar problem but I’ll come back to it later.

The straight line grip leaving corner 5 and corner 8 was ridiculously low, I could never floor it without having a massive power slide. The trick here was to build up slowly but even like that it wasn’t a particularly fast exit.

I seriously thought that the tyres would warm up and the track would get drier too but it didn’t.

The only way to get faster was by being brave enough to risk your race trying new things and if you were lucky or talented enough it could pay off.

Off I was to understand that first corner. The first thing I learnt was about the lack of grip on the front wheels so I thought trying different entry lines to the corner could solve it. Well it didn’t! No matter how wide or close I was, the understeer was exactly the same.

Then I thought that if I could turn that understeer to oversteer my chances of getting a better mid corner speed would be greater. I was probably right but from that point is where I started spinning and getting out of the track.
Maybe because of a lack of skills, perhaps because of a lack of concentration. I probably spun 3 times on that corner, the only corner I have actually spun during the race.

The fear of sliding straight to the tyres on that corner was immense. Not because it would hurt, but because it was grass after the tarmac and it would be a pain to get back to the track.

I saw many people spinning on this race, and I’m not only talking about the new drivers like me but many advanced drivers were committing mistakes.

I also saw many drivers overtaking while going sideways in a corner, bumping other drivers and taking them off the track. Which Its not quite right on my point of view.

My race got better as I drove smoother and consequently faster. The brake pedal had to be pressed in a linear way and for longer in order to avoid getting the kart sideways before entering the corner.

I had some good battles during the race with some more experienced drivers which had better lap times then me but were making more mistakes then I was.

As a result, I finished the race in 11th position, one position off my target.

Conclusion of the race was that concentration and fast thinking are more important then the eager to overtake other drivers.

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