Monday, 25 August 2014

Missing a Dunking at Dunks

Woke up this morning, Bank Holiday Monday, and it's pissisting down out there. We certainly were lucky to get back from Dunkeswell Kart Track before we got soaked, just a few spots of rain as we tidied away failed to dampen the enthusiasm for a very good weekend. It would be so different if we were racing there today, a veritable Dunking at Dunks!

Attaq Motorsport was represented by Alex Tyler, TKM Alonso 32 and Ed Gamble, TKM Wright 98, for the first TKM grid at the South West Championships for around 10 years. Alex had been instrumental in pulling the grid together and to judge by the feedback the grid will be back in 2015 when Dunkeswell will also hold a round of the Southern TKM Inter-Club Challenge. Helping us out was reigning Clay Pigeon Junior TKM champion Steve Le Cocq (Kosmic TKM 31) who will be debuting in seniors later this season. 

With open testing on Saturday followed by timed qualifying, there was everything to play for from the off and after practice Alex and Ed went onto race engines and tyres with high hopes. So it proved, in Q1 Alex put in a front row lap until it was taken off him for a white line indiscretion which left him 7th while Ed gridded 5th. In Q2 it was Ed on top in 4th with Alex unable to find a "tow" and languishing in 6th on the grid of 11 karts. 

Dunkeswell rolled out a great evening for the Championships, with a hog roast, quiz, karaoke and disco on the Saturday evening. The next morning we just squeezed our first race in before the "Quiet Hour". The two Attaq drivers diced throughout the race, Ed taking 5th and Alex 6th but both were pipped by fellow Clay TKM racer Luke Barton. Like Ed and Alex, Luke is having his first year in seniors and very much running at the front end of the grid.

So far so good, but with about 20 minutes to go before Heat 2 we discovered a crack in Alex's axle, a possible cause of transmission problems we'd been trying to diagnose all morning. All hands to the pumps to whip the spare axle complete with hubs, disc and sprocket from our spare Tonykart which "just happened" to be in the trailer and drop it into the Alonso. We made it to the grid by the skin of our teeth without chance to put race set up on, but the chain guard was fouling and we decided to non-start instead of risking further damage. A shame, but based on the hindsight of 2013 when a snapped chain buzzed an engine and effectively brought an end to Alex's Junior career it was the right decision. Ed kept Attaq's flame burning with a stirring 5th chasing Luke for position. 

Starting the Pre-Final from the back was never going to be optimal but Alex took on the challenge with relish, especially as Dunkeswell is one of his favourite tracks. While he made great progress to finish 5th, right on the bumper of 4th, Ed had a nightmare of a start and dropped right to the back and so had to fight his way through to latch on to Alex with a couple of laps to go. A great dice ensued between Alex, Ed and James Lovell of TW Motorsport who just held the Attaq drivers off over the final tours. So close was the last lap, that those of us watching at Pit Bend were convinced Ed and Alex had taken each other off at Hangar, the furthest point from us. As they burst into sight, we could only see James's kart and crash helmet and it wasn't until they peeled off into the Bus Stop we were actually sure there were three drivers in a very close train.

And so to the Final, with Alex on 5th and Ed 6th - about where we had targetted on positions, but so much closer to the front on lap times than we dared to hope. Alex was caught at the start and dropped behind Ed, but was given time to re-group as Luke's engine was running slightly below par. Alex managed to slip by Ed on lap 8 and latched onto Lovell's bumper again hoping to replicate the overtaking move he pulled on the Intrepid driver in Heat 1. But it wasn't to be, James had him covered and flashed across the line in a fine third with Alex less than three tenths behind. Ed was with him all the way, until Luke's engine suddenly came back with a bang and he set fastest lap as he squeezed through to 5th place.

With Alex 4th we had the excitement of full scrutineering. Despite the weighbridge's best attempts - we religiously mark the fuel level when we finish every race, and according to the scales we were spot on the minimum 146kg limit after every race despite having a higher finishing fuel load each time - we then stripped the engine down for inspection. There has been a lot of controversy lately about illegal TKM engines and the top four had a thorough going over with all measurements checked minutely. Suffice to say we all passed, but it's still nerve-wracking. It just proves you can have good TKM racing without cheating.

So no trophy this year for Attaq Motorsport, but we're really pleased with finishing 4th and 6th overall in a good-quality field. We'll be back next year to try and go at least one better, preferable three. 

5th and 6th on the grid for the Final - Alex (32) and Ed (98)

Alex, Steve and Ed prepare for the Final