Buckmore Park, one outstanding track. I’m glad the last round was here. The only time I’d ever driven Buckmore was back in the LGM championship in 2014 in Senior X30. I immediately jelled with the place, my kind of track. Their is an aura you get there that I don’t get standing anywhere else, not even at Lonato.
Another 3 day event for me, Friday testing, Saturday testing/racing and Sunday all racing. Friday I would spend a good chunk of the day running in my 2 IAME Parilla Reedjets after rebuilds by Ricard. I flirted with trying a rotary, it would have probably been 1 of my Atomik RSV98’s but decided to fully concentrate on reeds. I was on another CRG Daytona Heron this time, basically a grey one I had bought, restored and built up. I back to backed it against my other one and found it had a good chunk more front so decided to concentrate on this kart. My setup consisted of plonking the kart on the ground and leaving it as standard as it just felt at home here. I knew I needed consistency, reliability (something I’ve lacked this year) and to have pace to stand any chance of getting 2nd in the championship, there was an outside chance of 1st as well if Mr Trott had major problems. The rest of the day I spent dialling everything in, trying a couple of carbs here and there as well as Comer MIK 351L, despite owning 3 of the things, 2 being brand new I’ve never ran a Comer. It had a tonne of punch compared to my reedjets, this really suited my driving style.
The caravan had decided to to spring a gas leak so we were staying in a beautiful cottage not too far away from the track, lovely place. A good nights rest and it is back to Buckmore early morning. 3 more practice sessions then our first heat. In the 3 practice sessions I tested my new and used tyres to see which I preferred. All the X30 drivers and teams are complaining of irregular batches but I don’t think anyone in F100 has suffered or we’ve simply got away lightly. I tested some rims too and decided on my race setup.
A lovely back of the grid 27th I had for heat 1, with the Comer plonked on, I was hoping for a good result. I got a decent start and safely navigated around the first few corners. Narrowly missing a bit of carnage my team mate Matt Bedford got caught up in. I started to make my way through the grid, there’s a good 5 places to overtake on the track despite it being quite tight. My favourite being the tight hairpin corner opposite the dummy grid. I got up into the top 10 and got stuck behind Adam Wardiell for a good few laps. Placing his kart well and having a good bit of speed to boot! I kept attempting a move into the first corner every time but Adam managed to keep me tight so I couldn’t get a good enough run, I didn’t want to risk a DNF as it would then be championship over. Unfortunately into the next hairpin I caught the back of Adam under braking and sent him wide dropping him behind me. After that encounter I made my way up to 5th just behind Matthew Puncher over the line. I had also noticed Chris Trott off to one side, DNF’ing this heat and this would now make the championship even more interesting! As we finished and came in to parc ferme I immediately went over to Adam to apologise, it was the tiniest error of judgement and not the way I want to gain a place. Sorry Adam!
The exciting thing about Buckmore on the Sunday, evening racing and floodlights! I think every single driver had been looking forward to this. We were starting late, around 4PM so that meant a nice lay in! We got back to the track for about 12, I wanted to make sure everything was ready for the rest of the racing on the Sunday. I was swapping back to one of the reedjets for Heat 2, for this one I was starting 20th. I got another good start and everything was clean this time. Another race of finding my way through to another 5th place, no issues this time! My championship rivals Alex Cobb and Drew Stewart were having decent days as well so it was so tight for the championship.
Heat 3 was meant to be my pole position start but after a re-jiggle of the grids for some reason I was 2nd. I had Oliver Smith next to me on pole and Mr Holloway just behind. The start of this heat was a bad one for me, I went into the first corner and just understeered wide, allowing Mike through into 2nd. I knew I had to win this one, couldn’t afford any drop of points. Mike was tricky to pass, I was trying to pick my moment as Oli was getting away but then when I went to go for the move, Mike, fortunately for me locked up and went wide. I defended for a couple of laps and then started hunting down Mr Smith for 1st. Oliver and Mike compete in the heavy class which is 162KG plus so the fact they can set times not far off us lighter guys as well as battle up the front is quite a feat! I’m coming in at 156KG so more work over the winter for me! I caught up Oliver in the next few laps and made the move into the first corner, I managed to pull a gap and bring it home for a heat win, I’d done as much as I could, now to see where we would be for the final…
It was only pole wasn’t it, first of the year! I had been wanting to win a round for 2 years but I’ve either just had massive bad luck or just not ultimately had the pace. I knew I had the pace this time and settled in the kart so it was game on. I had Matt my team mate along side, Drew behind and Alex in 4th, couldn’t get any tighter in the champ, I think Chris Trott was down a bit further after his DNF, still all to play for, anything could happen and anyone could win it! it was properly dark now at the track and I wear glasses inside my helmet, as I got out on track I knew it wasn’t a great combination. On the warm up lap I was having trouble having my eyes adjust properly with my glasses on and the glare from the floodlights wasn’t helping. I got a rubbish start, the understeer kicked in again and Matt got round the outside into the lead as well as Drew underneath into 2nd. I nearly rear ended Drew a couple of times as he battled with Matt for 1st, having trouble picking out apexes and braking points. As the race got on it got a bit better as my eyes adjusted. Drew went for a move on Matt into my favourite overtaking place and I knew I had to swiftly make a gain as well so followed him through. I settled down behind Drew and got my rhythm, I was running the Comer again here and could feel it wasn’t as punchy out of the middle hairpin, I thought immediately I’d broken a reed petal but I just had to try and drive around it. It wasn’t helping I kept clipping a couple of kerbs as well.
I could reel Drew in all around the track until I got to the hairpin again where I would lose all the time I just gained. So very annoying. I had 1 opportunity where I got close enough for a move into the first hairpin, it’s that split second decision. I decided against it in that very moment. This all happening within a tenth of a second, I just couldn’t judge if I could make the move or not. It was to be clean and 100% or I wasn’t doing it otherwise I’d wipe both of us out. This basically decided the race but it was the start that lost it and something for me to work on over the winter! The gap ebbed and flowed for the rest of the race but was never close enough again for an oppourtunity. I settled for 2nd and Drew took a deserved win. Chris finishing 9th took the championship win, massive congratulations Chris, deserved winner. I couldn’t help but be disappointed, it was the win I really wanted in all honesty. Drew and myself can’t work out who is 2nd or 3rd in the championship, it is that close and has many deciding factors so we are awaiting the official points.
What a year it has been, what a year. Best one by far. Lonato, KZ, Donington Park and screaming 100cc engines! Don’t think you get a better year than that! A massive thank you to my parents, Elizabeth and Ian for their continued support of my racing, means so much to always have them there at the track as well as all the time they give up to just get to these meetings and prepare beforehand. John Wellstead and Niels Christoffersen of Ricard Racing for all the advice this year as well as all of the top notch engine work. Oliver Scullion for creating the best kart series in the world and to all drivers and everyone I’ve met this year for making the rounds so damn enjoyable and the best years racing I’ve ever had. It has also been a pleasure to represent Shepshed Kart Club this year, bringing a plethora of trophies home for you chaps and lasses in the process!
Here’s to next year!