The Wessex Challenge. An event I know so well after competing previously at the event many times in the past. I’ve had some good races and some slightly worse races over the years but nothing quite like this…
After a successful testing day on Friday, the mood in the Hamera camp was upbeat. Deciding we would not put new tyres on for the day, our pace was excellent and even faster than some of the other runners on new slicks which put us in an optimistic frame of mind for Saturday’s races. Even though the entire running on Friday had taken place in the dry, we were still quietly confident that we would be in the mix when the heaven’s opened the following morning.
Morning practice passed by in a blur with the kart feeling superb in the wet conditions as well and me really looking forward to qualifying. However sub-optimal tyre pressures hurt us in the latter stages of the session. With 30 seconds on the clock remaining, I knew I was going to have to put in a particularly great lap to have a chance at a high starting position for the first heat. And so with gritted teeth and complete commitment, I set about my banzai lap. After flowing through the chicane and smashing my way across the various kerbs I ended up 13th overall which wasn’t bad considering I was less than happy with the set up at the end of the session
I would start my heat from 7th position and after a particularly rough start, I was down to 11th. A rather uneventful race followed with me only picking up one position however we did have the pace to be competitive.
The pre-final was taking place in the dry and after a strong run was ended in the barrier due to assistance from another driver, the only way was up. That is, if we could get round the first corner.
As 32 karts funnelled their way through the first corner for the final race of the day, contact further ahead rotated another competitor, scattering karts left and right with the driver of the number 11 racing machine just squeezing his way past the carnage.
“Yes I’m through!” I thought to myself with joy. That feeling of relief was short lived. Very short lived.
A kart directly ahead of me rotated and spun, leaving me with nowhere to go. I desperately tried to avoid contact but at 70 MPH it was a lost cause. I hit the other kart at an angle which launched me into the air and back down which was enough to put me comfortably in last place. I rejoined the chase but after 9 laps I pulled, deciding that discretion is the better part of valour. Still there’s always Sunday…
As I looked at the sky on Sunday morning, I hoped that we would at least get some consistent conditions to test our kart set-up as the previous day’s work hadn’t been entirely elementary.
Still this was the situation I was in and I was certain to make up for it on day two. However the start in my heat was just as messy as the day before with karts flying this way and that before another driver launched himself over the front of my kart in the chicane resulting in damage to the most important element of any race machine, the driver.
Starting to dislike the tone the weekend was taking, I lined up for my second heat the 7th on the grid and quickly managed to make it up to 4th with a wrist that was bringing me excruciating pain. I finished in that position but I was less than impressed. I should have won that race…
After my third and final heat where I climbed up the order from last once again due to a technical issue on the formation lap, I finished 16th when the chequered flag was waved which wasn’t a bad recovery all things considered. Nonetheless things were still looking bleak for the final where I would be starting from 21st position.
With gently falling rain and cooler track conditions, the final got underway well with multiple positions gained. However while the pack was pushing and shoving to try and gain the upper hand, I got spun around at the horseshoe by yet more help from my fellow competitors. With half a lap’s deficit to the rest of the field to try and make up, I used my old maxim of ‘never give up’ and set off in hot pursuit. In the end I was in so much pain and the kart wasn’t easy to drive, due to a set up gamble we had taken, so unfortunately no real progress was made.
So not smooth sailing by any means but since when was motorsport easy? We seemed to show our traditional good pace and all we need now is a little luck.
The problem is that so does everyone else and it seems to be in rather short supply…
Written by Maciej Hamera, KR Sport Racing & Image supplied by Andy Street, Street Images Photography