Action-packed 4th Round crowns Ted as Rain Meister
Little did I know, driving out of the yard on Sunday morning what a day there was in store for us at Kilcornan Karting in Limerick at the 4th round of the PCI-Karting Championship.
I believed Eileen from the Weather office that the West would be bright and shiny and it never entered my mind this could be a rainy day. However getting closer to Limerick it was clear no way this was going to be a dry day, so finally it registered that our metal was tested in adverse weather conditions.
All participants arrived safe and well. We had a few special cars with us this time, Anthony had his beautiful looking 1973 Targa with him, while Gerard brought his classic red 1987 Carrera and Damien drove in with his immaculate Boxster. 14 Drivers looked eagerly forward to an interesting session, as the banter and jokes rolled on across the lobby, as to the previous session drivers where only there to establish a dry line for us etc.
For me this was the first time Karting in the rain and i think for a good few others too, do by no means would it deter any of us according to the sound bites we where getting and it would only add to the fun of how we would master the Karts in the rain.
The Grand Prix format was chosen which meant 6 heats with 7 Racers per heat, with 3 heats for each racer, to be followed with 2 semis Finals and the Final. The heats where preceded with 5 familiarization laps.
Mike the owner of Kilcornan Karting made sure we understood the principal mechanic’s of driving in rainy conditions - like don’t use brakes etc., but let me make it clear to all who read this there was no fear in anyone’s pair of eye’s I looked, all I could see and read was “we are ready”.
So the stage was set as we suited up in wet gear and mounted our designated Karts, whilst Damien’s dad, Billy Stembridge I could see was getting into position to take picture’s of the lads as they would come along around the corners.
The familiarization laps started with a bang and we clearly could see why Mike warned us with clear instructions as Kart number 20, i think it was Dara flung himself on the back stretch into, that resembled a lake rather then a puddle of water and I could feel the water panning down his neck.
We could easily see how he got himself there, as we all where coming off turn 3 tight full throttle and hanging to the little bit of grip we could get and not to slide sideways over the grass off into the lake. Before long qualifying was over with all 14 Racers on the track, no other particular incidents other than the odd spin of one or the other as he/she just took the corner to hard and inevitable slid sideways.
After the first five laps we all where called back in to the pit, witnessing the result of the first laps as racers came in wet all over and dirt sprays written in the face's of their advances.
Designated Drivers where called to take their seat's in the Karts for the first Qualifying heat, as the rain started to come down again.
The checkered Flag dropped and 7 Racers launched off the blocks straight down to turn 1 going right with the first incident as two of the drivers collided sliding sideways trough and out of turn1 turning 360's and carrying on in to turn 2 going left with the next sliding incidents, off the throttle a bit and half ways through foot to the metal sliding out into turn 3 going right keeping it as tight as possible full throttle just letting of a little coming out of the apex before full pelt again down the back straight up to turn 4 going right cutting the corner at full speed over a little hump down the finish straight back on to turn 1, all the while itching to keep traction and holding on to the line.
We could clearly see while waiting for our turn of the heats, some of the boy's where getting on better with the conditions than the others, which didn't mean the others weren't trying as hard as possible. I shouldn't forget Karen our only Girl on the Track was able to match the lads and clearly gave them a good run for the money. Even Ted had a hard time to get past Karen, she surely didn't make it easy for him but you could clearly see all the harder he tried, imagine lads she would beat him, the time he would get at home.
The Heats where as hot and competitive as i have ever seen in our PCI-Karting Championship, when the adverse conditions where making it real hard to get on well, but no way lads did anyone of them not but compete and battle with all its consequences. You had to see it to believe it and all i can say, i have to take my hat off to everybody and complement all to the efforts that where maid. I remember one of the heats Colm trowing his fist up in delight as he run trough the checkered flag as winner in his heat closely followed by Daniel as far as i remember. Daniel himself won one of his heats as well as Ted who won 3 heats, as was Shane with one heat.
I noticed Anthony had a few tingle tangle's in his heats with a visit to the lake as well but he recovered well each time to score important points in all his heats. Jody in each of the heats had spins as well as the conditions took their toll and it was really only Ted that had the gift during the heats to end up with the most points before the semi-finals. Daniel had a outstanding heat2 which he won comprehensively, while in heat 3 Colm denied him by a whisker the win and in heat5, i struggled to hold off his challenge for him to take 4th. Shane was something of a dark horse and won heat5 his best result, occupying 5th in heat4 after some incident and finishing 4th in heat1 after a good recovery from a spin. Karen took 3rd in heat2 consistent in her time beating Jody into 4th , while i could hold Karen off by just 72 hundreds of a second into 5th but disaster took the toll in heat5 where Karen had to content with last after a catastrophic incident into the grass.
Dara who had competitive written all over his face followed Ted in second in heat1, again taking 2nd in heat4 behind Ted and 2nd again in heat5 behind Shane. Damien did well in heat1 where he overtook me in lap2 apart from the first lap that ultimately cost him serious points and finished 5th, in 4th in heat3 where he fought off the challenge of Anthony and finished off 6th in heat5 after a ride on the wild side. Connie had to be happy with 5th in heat2 after a difficult first lap, took 6th in heat4 after a skid into the grass and made 5th with good lap times before having a spin in lap5.
Gerard was spec'd up in all the trimmings as he stepped up and finished an impressive 2nd behind Daniel, 3rd in an very tough heat3 and a close 2nd again behind Ted.
I could go on and on but this will give you a flavor of how competitive it was. I will finish this part that pity's the conditions as in one heat i was turning into turn3 with two lads in front of me and another two upfront of them just colliding and spinning all over the track with us trio coming up no room to go ( “remember, forget about braking” ) as one of the trio went left to avoid collision another was just able to follow and i had no other joice but to squize trough on the right only to take a good sup of water flashing trough the apex of turn3, with the water drowning up and over my right hand side with water rushing into my helmet. Let it be said this wasn't the worst and some of the racers got off much worse( “trips to the lake etc.”), just lucky we had Raingear (“Nappie's” as i call them).
When the heats where run we where called up to our relevant semi Final. I had P 6 on the grid i think and thought just stay nice and tidy and see what happens, while then go on attack as i would progress, but what a shame on lap 2 i spun twice with no hope of recovery so i knew then i be only a spectator to the Final. The Semi-Finals where close run affair's as everybody was vying for good positions and to make it to the Final, with the first semi-final won by Colm hunted by Jody with 13 hundreds of a second behind, followed by Karen in a brave 3rd , a fabulous 4th for Oisin and Daniel after some troubles in lap1 and 4 in 5th , while Ted cruised into 6th with the same trouble's and Connie in 7th after a disastrous lap 3 from which he couldn't recover. The second semi-final was just as tight as the first one and the first 3 had only hundreds of a second between them with Gerard taking first and Dara 2nd Anthony finishing 3rd, Damien took 4th with a solid performance, Colin 5th with his fastest lap of the day of 35.64 seconds and Shane in 6th with a unrecoverable spin in lap4 closely followed by me after a disastrous lap2 in 7th. The results of the semi-finals represented truthfully our best 7 Racers on the day and deservedly where in the final, with not one being disappointed and only looking forward to a grand final, with who will win it and what incidents will occur and where the battle will be.
We where on tender hooks looking forward to the final as Gerard, Colm, Dara, Jody and Karen followed by Anthony and Ted lined up on the grid awaiting the checkered flag to drop. Like a Hornet out of a Bee's nest at the drop of the flag, Ted catapulted himself from last, by the first lap into P2 with Karen in P1 Anthony in P3 Jody in P4, Dara in P5, Gerard in P6 and Colm with a spin and a slide in P7. The second and third lap was very even and close other then Ted overtook Karen to take P1 where you couldn't see when and where another move is coming from as everybody was giving their absolute best in this close and rainy Final. With the 4th lap being very decisive when there was a race incident that cost Karen and Colm a lap according to the printout, that left Colm chasing and Karen going hard to recover some places by clinging on to Anthony for a toe. The last lap was the most gripping when it was clear with nothing happening Ted would win it, but Anthony the Championship-leader was chased by Jody who is second in the Championship for the lead. In true Race fashion the best came last and on the last turn of the race as it looked like that Anthony will hold on to P2 with Karen shadowing him but with no challenge for the positions outcome as out of nowhere on the last turn Jody pressed trough on the inside of Karen who tagged Anthony and Jody flying past Anthony to take 2nd at the checkered Flag. Could it be any closer I ask, unbelievable stuff, just like the big boy's or Alonso/Hamilton style. Dara finished in a credible 4th with Gerard having to console 5th and Karen and Colm a lap down in 6th and 7th respectively.
Needless to say that us spectators for the final where on as high on adrenalin as the finalists where and every move was followed with predictions and comments as well as urging the lads on, every time they raced past the pit lane. So let me tell you this I can't afford going racing in a Open championship or the like and Karting is the only and the closest I can get in Racing but it is as eventful and as gripping as any racing in the world and to the 7 finalists and all the other Racers I bow with respect for the efforts they have undertaken to make it such a great race and memorable event. Mike the owner of Kilcornan Karting had as a great a fun as we had realizing that we where taking racing serious, raced fair and square and having the best of fun.
The positions at the end of the race where as follows:
1st Ted Gaffney
2nd Jody Griffin also had fastest lap in 34.81 seconds
3rd Anthony Saunders
4th Dara Collins
5th Gerard O'Keeffe
6th Karen Gaffney
7th Colm Cleary
8th Daniel Whelan
9th Damien Stembridge
10th Oisin Forde
11th Shane Falvey
12th George Neurieder
13th Connie Shiel
14th Colin Lynch
This outcome will change the standings a little in the
PCI-Karting Championship Leader board as follows:
1st Anthony Saunders 32 Points
2nd Jody Griffin 28 Points
3rd George Neurieder 16 Points
4th Ted Gaffney 15 Points
5th Connie Shiel 11 Points
5th Damien Stembridge 11 Points
6th Karen Gaffney 9 Points
7th Neil Lane 6 Points
7th David Whelan 6 Points
8th Colm Cleary 4 Points
8th Denis Collins 4 Points
9th Fearghal Collins 2 Points
10th Gerald Monks 1 Point
Let me finish with a couple of things, please do not fret with me if I haven't mentioned some of you or very little it was not intentionally but I could have written another 5 pages to justify the event only I think it will get to long. A special mention and many thanks has to be given to Billy Stembridge for the fantastic pictures he captured in the rough weather for us and Billy if you read this “ many thanks on behalf of all of us for your effort and the time you have devoted to us in capturing great pictures with professional and artistic quality's, we hope to see you again soon.” Also let me say that I am delighted to see a great bunch of lads developing and partaking in the Championship, Club-Members and their Friends / Family members and so on, for I am grateful of everybody's support and I am confident of a great Championship to look back to. It is at this point where I would like to Thank everybody again for a great day out as well as Colm for organizing the venue to the warm down lap at the Hotel after the race.
I have posted Billy's pictures he took for us on a new website, as flickr has a limited mileage with the old MB's you could say, as well as the previous sessions so please go to:
Last to mention, the 5th Round of the Championship is in Tynagh Co. Galway and session start is at 13.00hrs. with drivers-briefing at 12.30hrs. If you would like to participate please mail me under email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or text on 085/7818824 as well as on the forum.
So drive easy and see you soon
Many thanks George