A Driver’s Diary

Pic 2
Ready for the test… karting helped prepare me for this encounter

I moved the kart forwards. I moved the kart backwards. I even did a shuffle on the weight plate but still it wasn’t enough.

175 point something kilos was the reading and the look from the scrutineer’s face confirmed I had failed the minimum weight limit.  We filled in the relevant paperwork and I made a hasty retreat to the garage to fit lead to the CRG, before the trip to The Office.

“The good news is the penalty does not mean there’ll be points on your licence,” she said. “But it does mean you’ll be disqualified from the heat.”

I couldn’t complain really. I realised I was going to be close to the limit but failed to ensure that the kart came up to the 177 standard. My first weekend on green plates wasn’t going to plan. My pace was way off what it should be and intermittent showers were causing havoc with set up.

Team Wright was at full action stations, pulling off full wets from one set of rims to put on intermediates. There seemed heightened frenetic activity at Forest Edge with spanner-men diving into the awning at the last minute with pleas for allen keys to make tweaks on the grid.

Steve Pratt had returned from the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance challenge and he was still buzzing from the experience. Keeping a kart running round the clock required heavy investment, but boy did it sound worth it. He was there with Nick Maton who’s going to continue with endurance racing next year.

At one stage Steve explained how they had to transfer the entire working bits from another kart onto the existing frame (or vica-versa, cannot remember which!)

“We had spanners flying all over the place,” Steve explained. “Five people were working on the kart at the same time. But we got the transfer done, and in just half an hour!”

Former F1 star Anthony Davidson put this karter through his paces

I would have loved to have seen a video diary of that weekend in France, it did sound totally awesome. And it just those sorts of stories, getting into the nitty-gritty of karting that gets others excited about the sport and hopefully involved too.

Karting appears regularly on TV if you know where to look. The Super One MSA series is on the box with some great action – and very good race commentary. And there was the World Karting Series from northern Spain, won this year by the McLaren protégé Nyck de Vries. He’s 15 now, so he could well be in an F1 car by 2016.

No chance of an F1 seat ever for me (unless someone sticks in a new brain and rewires my central nervous system) but karting has given me some great opportunities this year. It was a chance chat with a colleague at work that led me to do a film with Anthony Davidson at Palmer Sport in Bedfordshire.

I always wanted to find out just how much quicker a Real Racing Driver is over an enthusiastic amateur and I got the chance in Formula Jaguar cars. Ant delivered a 1’15.405 and I did a 1’19’904, five point nine per cent slower. What a day, thanks in no small part to karting.

You can get to see my TV piece — and some of the other action – from here: http://www.mykartingworld.net/forums/thread.cfm?threadID=43 . Do let me know what you think. More pieces are being planned as I type so watch that virtual space!

Anthony loves karting and, of course, came up through the ranks himself. These days, when he’s not on the Mercedes GP simulator doing work for the team, he’s at the wheel of the stunning Peugeot 908 sports scar, most recently at Silverstone for the 1,000km endurance event. I was there for the race in September and it’s a cracking form of motorsport, as interesting (if not more in some respects) as Formula 1.

Anthony delivered one of the best overtaking moves I’ve seen this year, two wheels off line and into the dust to overtake Allan McNish’s Audi R15, going on to win the event with his team-mate. It was a move that had gutsy delivery written all over it, and a move which had its roots in pure karting.