The Rye House Pro-Kart (RHPK) Winter Cup took place and present for the first time at the event were Team Karting magazine with a brand new driver line-up in Matt England, Jack Ransom and Leigh Babbage. Partnered with BIZ Karts for another season the Winter Cup would be a chance for us to fix any teething problems and get to know each other better as teammates.
With the event finishing earlier than championship rounds practice was just two hours with an open track allowing teams to pit and make setup changes. With a difference in heights and stature between all three drivers to contend with, we were only able to make it out for thirty minutes of the session which was split down into a ten-minute session each. After coming in from practice all three of us felt the kart needed some changes done which we would try in qualifying.
With practice out the way we started to make some changes to the kart ready for the one lap shootout which I’d be doing. It was an interesting new format RHPK brought in for qualifying where you came straight out the pits across the line and that was the start of your one lap.
Unfortunately qualifying did not go well, the changes we made didn’t seem to quite work and new tyres didn’t help either! This left us down in 21st and last place. So again, spanners and ratchets were going everywhere as we made some drastic changes to the seating position and handling.
Usually the RHPK championship is a four hour race, but for the Winter Cup the organisers run two races, each two hours in length. Starting from the back was always going to be difficult considering the quality of the grid let alone the conditions we were racing in without a proper setup.
However, on the rolling lap I could feel the kart was now a lot better thanks to some great setup choice from the team. The first lap went perfectly for us as I managed to get us through to 11th place. By the end of lap two we were 8th then by the end of my first stint we lay in 6th place! It was just what we needed to do before I handed the kart to Jack for the second stint.
Jack has hardly ever done any laps at Rye House, but that didn’t stop him going out there and matching my times! Jack is the smallest driver in the team and looked uncomfortable throughout the race, something we will look into for Round 1. He was able to hold position in his stint before we came in for our last stop. We also took this chance to refuel to give us plenty of fuel for the start of race two.
Leigh went out in the final stint and with the track getting dryer was setting some great times despite being 20kg overweight! This was due to led we drilled to the seat which we will be looking into for Round 1. He managed to hold position and bring the kart home in 6th place. We’d gained 15 places overall and got a result no one saw coming!
For race two all teams at drivers briefing had to pull the starting position from a Trophy which determined where you started for the race. This was interesting as this meant both the Super Class and the Clubman class were all mixed up which definitely made the starts/race more interesting.
I pulled out P12 for the team which, considering our race one start, we weren’t too disappointed with!
I managed to get another great start and kept out of trouble which soon had us sitting in 2nd place with the fastest lap and reeling in the leading team Custom Rods! However, as we approached 40 laps I started to struggle slightly as was passed by RPM 1 & 2 so it was at this point I pitted.
Jack then jumped in and was immediately flying putting in some very fast lap times! However towards the end of his stint the light faded and the rain started to fall again making it difficult to just stay on!
With around 20/30 minutes to go Jack came in as Leigh prepared for the final stint. With only a little bit of fuel needed to get us to the end we did a ‘splash and dash’ putting in just enough needed for Leigh.
Leigh then went out and was able to still put in great laps consistently despite the weight disadvantage. He brought the kart home in 4th place which is a record result for the team! The overall result was decided on points added together from both races and after this we were classified in 4th place for the Winter Cup!!
Bearing in mind Leigh Babbage hasn’t sat in a kart for three years he was on fire putting in laps only one tenth off myself and Jack.
It was a record breaking start and a result that puts in good shape for Round one in March, a race that is going to be televised and has a full grid of 36 drivers that sold out in just seven hours!!
As always a big thanks must go to BIZ Karts, UFO engines and Andy Webb from Sprocket Photography.
Written by Matt England
Images courtesy of Andy Webb, Sprocket Photography
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