We are back in business people, after what felt like a very long winter break from proper racing, we headed down to Colchester Essex for the first round of the 2015 UK Short Course Nationals race at the mental ARC RACEWAY. This was one of my favourite tracks from last year so Team Kirk were happy to be going back. As I did last year I found myself turning up to what is arguably the toughest race track of the season with another brand new Tekno truck which I had only half a days running with. Regardless we could not wait to hit the track. We travelled down on Friday night so we could get plenty of time on the track on Saturday in order to get tyres sorted etc.
SAT PRACTICE DAY
As expected tyre choice was going to be critical for running at the front at this track, just the sheer number and size of the elevation changes at this track call for a compliant car that is not too edgy to drive as the sudden camber changes with too much tyre grip will send you on a little journey off the track. I tried a couple of different tyres and ended up going for the Schumacher Mini Pins all round. I had already tuned the tyres at home by removing the 2 outer rows from the front tyres.
I got talking to Mark Rumble from ARC after seeing his car literally drifting across the astro surface at a blistering rate of knotts, he also tuned his Mini Pin tyres, but much more aggressively than I had, his front tyres barely had half a dozen rows of pins left intact and the rears also being modified for optimum grip levels to enable the crazy high speed laps.
Following his lead I set about removing even more pins from the front tyres, nervously going one row at a time. It did improve the car but it was still very edgy to drive with a high risk of grip roll with even the smallest amount of turning on the wheel. I was cautious about doing this as once they are cut off the pins cannot be put back again. More trial and error, and one of the main reason I enjoy this series is the support from the other racers!
We got there nice and early to setup our pit area next to the rest of the Xfactory UK Team drivers, the heat list went up and I was in Heat 3 with the reigning champion and the rest of the super fast drivers so I knew that a trophy today was off the cards, but what a challenge being against the speed and experience contained in this group of drivers. Danny Conway, Darren Boyle, Mark Rumble, Luke Eyre and Mark Everett to name a few.
A mixed bag in terms of performance from me, the car was fantastic, I was a little over cautious with the tyres and ended up with way more grip in the car than was comfortable, making it difficult to drive fast, the TEKNO just eats up the jumps and bumps but it was the corners (of which there are many) which caused the crashes I had. As the day went on I tried a few different tyre combinations and just could not get it where I wanted it to be so ended up going back to the cut mini pins.
The speed was there over a single lap, however constant crashing cost me any solid finish results.
ROUND 1: 5th place
ROUND 2: 6th place
ROUND 3: 6th place
ROUND 4: 6th place
FINALS – Qualified 7th in the A-Final
LEG 1: Started and finished 7th, a series of grip rolls and pipe excursions costing me as it did in qualifying, still messing with tyres trying to find the sweet spot.
LEG 2: Started 7th and finished up one place in 6th. I flattened the tyres where I had cut the pins off and it suddenly started to come alive and was giving more confidence to push the car into the off camber corners, another learning round even if its not the best time to be taking risks….
LEG 3: Started 7th and finished 4th after just giving 3rd place away to Mark Everett as I thought he was lapping me????? Lesson here is listen to the commentator. Mark had been much faster all day so as he approached me whilst I was running in 3rd place I just gave him room and let him by me on the last lap too. The car finally felt like I wanted it too and I was able to me much more consistent with whilst being largely on the pace without the grip roll demons throwing me off the track.
A fantastic event and good the get the hardest track out of the way whilst everyone was a little rusty, although I did place higher at this track last season we had a couple different and fast drivers with Darren Boyle and Mark Rumble joining the series both running the Tekno SCT410.3 so not all bad and I showed pace at points, it just shows that getting the tyre choice right is absolutely crucial for playing at the top end.
TEKNO had a great showing with Mark Rumble taking the A Final win and dominating all day long, last year only myself and Pete were running the Tekno and after introducing the UK drivers to the car at this round last summer it appears to have gone down a storm with only 3 cars in the A Final not being a Tekno?! #TEKNOFTW
My truck was awesome all weekend, simply just add batteries was the theme, it took some massive impacts whilst perfecting the double and falling off the very steep cambered corners whilst getting the tyre choices sorted.
I cannot wait for the next round at Nottingham (NDOR) on the 7th June.