Beginner’s Diary: Crash and Burn

Chris was having a good day before he scared himself and his wallet!

Up until this point, it had all been going swimmingly well. The previous practice session saw my best performance to date in the kart at Forest Edge in Hampshire. The fast run-up to the bus stop chicane was particularly memorable for a rather audacious overtaking move – which actually worked. I knew my victim was vulnerable when he kept looking behind him rather than focusing on his line.

 So by the time of the next session, my spirits were high. The kart was feeling good, even with the same tyres which had been running since last summer with some five hours of life on them. I’d got used to predicting the sliding nature of the machine through the corners and judging how fast to push it through the new fast right-hand corner at Wingers Dip. And boy is it fast now. The approach has been straightened so entry speeds are much faster into the turn where skilled drivers pull up to 3G. Plus the fact that the corner is off-camber makes it a hugely challenging section and a joy to attack.

On this subsequent practice session, the track was a little damp and this made it all a bit more fun. I was closing in on a couple of guys in front too and settling down into the rhythm of a race. The ultra-slow corner just before the start / finish line was uneventful … in fact too much so as I can never get enough speed coming out of the turn to maximise my exit over the curb. But once away over the start I can generally floor it through the subsequent corner before braking into a right-hander near the entrance to the pits. Getting on the power early here is vital to getting a good approach to the next re-profiled corner, which heralds the beginning of the new straight.

But something was not quite right.

After pumping the throttle out of Haynes Loop, I released for a dab of brakes for the next corner. Trouble was there was no release and as I turned the wheel the kart just continued ahead … inexplicably power was still very much “on”. Ahead I could see several drivers having an “off” at this corner, no doubt caused by too much speed for what was by now turning into a slippery track. The kart continued charging forward and I tried avoiding the beached drivers as best I could with a bit of frantic hand action at the wheel. Thankfully the CRG careered into a gap between the other karts and my machine bounced and skipped over the rough terrain. What felt like a lifetime of course was only a few seconds. I had no idea where the kart would end up and the awful noise and violent jolts through the seat sent telepathic shivers through my wallet back at the Wright Technology Centre.

Brain eventually engaged and I found the “kill” switch to cut the power. Chief Engineer David Wright bounded over and quickly identified the problem as a stuck throttle. Apparently these can become frayed over time, particularly if water gets in as it reacts with a chemical lining the inside of the outer cable to cause the metal cable to wear. Bits of wire then become trapped and refuse to release the throttle cable into the “closed” position when the foot comes off the pedal.

A video of that little incident can be found at labelled  karting_2.wmv. I attach my Go Pro Hero Wide video camera to the radiator cap which gives you a great view of the action.

Next time it’ll be the Southern Championships at Forest Edge and – with the promise of warmer weather – should be another fantastic experience. I have yet to experience the full capabilities of Rotax Max on hot, sticky tyres. I wonder how I’ll do….

My thanks once again to everyone at Forest Edge and the Wright Racing Team.

There’s a video of the incident at