Monday, May 10, 2004

Cuppers Karting 2003

Patrick Nicholls, Hertford
Event date – 18/11/03

Hertford took victory in the second annual Cuppers Karting event, depriving LMH of the title they won last year.

The venue was the tight and twisty indoor circuit at Klub Kart Racing in Aylesbury, which is a great circuit for racers of all abilities, and presents many difficulties. The many tight turns mean that overtaking is challenging, and dealing with slower karts can cost drivers a lot of time. The nature of the race – a 2-hour team endurance event – would also mean that the teams’ stamina and tactics would be fully tested in addition to their driving skills. Fast, consistent driving and good pit-stop strategy would be vital in order to be successful.

The teams competing first had to try and secure the best spots on the grid during a 20-minute qualifying session. The action was furious, especially with cold tyres on the karts to start with. However it was Univ who took the pole position to put them in a good position for the race. The tension rose in preparation for the start, which in time-honoured fashion was conducted to the old BBC Grand Prix theme music and some suitably funky disco lighting to build up the atmosphere.

At the start, Univ held their lead, with Hertford losing out for 2nd to Jesus at the opening corner. However, at the next turn Jesus got it all wrong and hit the wall hard, dropping them down the order. In the opening laps the action was particularly frantic, with many teams trying hard to make up ground but overcooking it and causing plenty of accidents. By 10 minutes into the race Hertford had taken a lead that they would never relinquish, but the race behind was very closely fought.

There were plenty of changes to the order as the race went on, with a few stop-and-go penalties being given out for causing accidents, or speeding under yellow flags (which are displayed when there is an accident). Among those affected were Templeton and Jesus – who compounded the penalty by crashing on the way into the ‘sin-bin’. This dropped them from second back to the middle of the pack.

As the race neared its conclusion, the strategies employed by the teams became clear. Some teams had saved their best drivers for last – including Wadham’s Adam Craig, who set an Oxford track record of 27.00 seconds.

The finishing order was Hertford, Univ, Queens, Jesus, Templeton, Mansfield, Merton, with Wadham bringing up the rear of the eight teams contesting this final despite the impressive laptimes. Hertford’s victory was achieved through consistency rather than outright speed on the day, but was still well-deserved.

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