I wasn’t going to enter the F100 Winter Cup at Clay Pigeon Raceway, however, the temptation to drive these beautiful machines and to test my new Topkart setup was just too hard to turn down! It was looking good weather wise, Friday and Saturday were cold but dry then it was turning absolutely dreadful for Sunday. No problem with that though, that would be the day we would be travelling back. Clay have practice on a Friday and a bit of testing then racing on the Saturday. Works surprisingly well.
It’s never simple though. I began by running in my Comer MIK 351 VTI inboard engine on my Topkart JEK chassis. I’d set the seating position as per a Topkart guide I’d found, a good few 3cm further forward than I usually go but I hated it, I have a very unique driving style and if I’m not in that position I loathe it. I gave the Comer a good few laps at a quick pace but it felt a bit lacklustre in all honesty. It then proceeded to shower and snow but it dried up fairly quickly. I had 2 choices, run in 1 of my Rotax DSE-L engines or run the 1 with 50 minutes on. I chose to do the latter to get some decently paced testing done and I’m glad I did as I was pleasantly surprised by its pace. Forget the MAX being associated with this name, these are a proper Rotax and what the company should be remembered for making.
This is some of the only onboard footage I got from the weekend. It always seems to be a lovely sunset whenever I put the GoPro on at Clay!
So I was very pleased with the package, however I have some slight niggles with the kart which I need to iron out on a test day, as much as it pained me, I knew the sensible decision was to switch back to the CRG/reed combination we get on so well with. I’d brought with me my grey CRG Daytona Heron which was lit at Buckmore as well as a Comer MIK 351L and 2 Parilla Reedjets. I tested these on the Saturday morning but of course it was now raining. Luckily for heat 1 it had dried enough for slicks and I was starting 18th. I made a steady start, keeping out the way of incidents, everyone then concertinaed into the chicane and I had misjudged it slightly and went up the back of #4 Alex Cobb, sorry Alex! Luckily I dropped back off and neither of us seemed to have any damage. I proceeded to cut through the pack and make my way up to finish 4th in the end with the fastest lap.
Heat 2 would be the start of the rain, it was now a consistent shower. I was starting 2nd here along side Jamie Macklin. I managed to get the lead before the first corner and hold that for the first lap. I managed to pace a gap until the end and brought home that for a heat win and another fastest lap.
I would start 9th for Heat 3 and it was by far my worst race of the day. I only managed to make my way up to 5th, I had no pace at all struggling with a lacklustre bottom end problem and being 6 tenths off my team mate at Ricard Racing Oliver Smith who took the heat win.
It had now started to throw it down considerably for the final. Easily as bad as Round 1 of the 2016 British Championship which was absolutely horrendous! I was lining up 2nd along side Oliver Smith on pole with Trott and others just behind. I cannot tell you how bad the conditions were, F1 think they have it bad, this was crazy! I had to pretty much lift my visor straight away as I couldn’t see a thing. I got a half decent start and tried to get Oliver into the first corner as I knew he would be so hard to get past otherwise, we touched going into the first corner and I went a bit deep trying to hold 1st. I failed to keep it and Oli got back through.
I suddenly had this kart come past me on the straight which turned out to be Jamie Macklin who had looked a threat all weekend. All I could see was a blob in front of me and then realised he had lost the rear, I had a guess at which side to go and luckily managed to avoid him. The gap ebbed and flowed between Oli and myself, I was struggling a bit and I could tell he was as well, I don’t think either of us had gone for a full wet setup. Next thing I knew I had this front bumper popping up next to me but I couldn’t work out who it was. I was trying to hold off whoever it was while trying to keep Oli within touching distance. Next I knew they were by me and into 2nd at the double apex right. I looked at the number and it turns out it was Jeff Donovan! Jeff is a quick guy but not usually challenging for the win, however half a lap and he had latched onto the back of Oli Smith! Jeff had some serious pace I was jealous of!
When Jeff got past me I knew I could get him back getting a better run off the corner however I decided against that. Massive gamble. What proceeded to happen was Oli defended to the death, I’m not sure if he knew it wasn’t me but either way I managed to catch back up. Jeff went for the outside down the start/finish straight and I managed to nip back past into 2nd. Turns out this was the last lap that had started, I somehow did a godly lap and got back onto the back of Oli. Going into the last corner we had 2 completely different lines, Oli going for the tight, kerb hugging line and me going for the middle of the track. Oli got a bit of oversteer and this meant I had a run. All of a sudden a gap opened up for me and I was in it. We were inches apart, side by side across the line, I kept it so tight I hit the massive inside kerb and this launched me into a spin.
I got out my kart and shouted to the marshall coming over to help me if that was the chequered flag or not, turns out it was, I had no idea!
I was so cold I couldn’t restart so lifted my kart over the barriers. I had no idea who had won until my Dad came to collect me and said I was appearing 1st on the board, couldn’t quite believe it. I had a look and sure enough he wasn’t joking haha! 0.010 was the gap! Mental!
I had been waiting for that first win all year after coming so close at every other opportunity and it came at a round I didn’t even plan to do! I was relieved more than anything to finally get that first F100 win! Along with Oliver Smith 2nd this was a Ricard Racing 1-2 and a CRG Daytona Heron 1-2 as well as an IAME 1-2 I believe, great way to end the year. The stand out drive was definitely by Jeff Donovan, if he’d have got the lead he would have won it, undoubtedly. He duly got driver of the day at the Presentation and his 3rd place was still a fantastic achievment, well deserved Jeff! One to watch in the wet!
Thanks to John Wellstead and Niels Christoffersen for all the help over the weekend, twice I wouldn’t have got out without them. Lastly my parents, Mum for braving the conditions to get everyone pictures and my Dad for being a legend on the spanners despite being under the weather with a rib problem. Both of them for giving up the time and braving the horrible conditions to once again support me and my racing.
This round also incorporated the presentation evening for the 2016 F100 British Championship. It was a fantastic night with amazing food, great company and the banter was flowing throughout the night. This is a group of amazing people absolutely living the dream that I wouldn’t change for the world. I’ve met so many great friends from this series I’m glad to say. One extra big thank you to Oliver Scullion for making this series what it is!
Below are some images from the meeting as well as a video of the final. Full results can be found here.