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MSA British Superkart Championship Rounds 1 & 2

MSA British Superkart Championship Rounds 1 & 2

8th April 2017 – Bishopscourt

The Superkart championships returned to Bishopscourt for the opening championship rounds of 2017.

After several free practice sessions, the drivers had a 20-minute qualifying session. The grey sky became blue and the sun came out during the afternoon.  

Qualifying

Jack Layton walked the track to learn it as this was his first visit. After testing a couple of nosecones at Silverstone last month, he thanked the Parker Motorsport team for fitting a new one. The balance of the kart was good and it gave him confidence as he rode the bump at the final turn. He set pole with a time of 1m06.720s. The top three were close. Andy Bird was “quick out of the box” in a new Anderson chassis despite feeling the kart was unstable in the first turn He was second with 1m06.831s. Paul Platt was in a happier place with his PVP and a 2017 Gas Gas engine. He set a 1m06.944s lap and was on a better run after an ignition change but the chequered flag was waved. He also bedded in two sets of tyres. After his engine problems at Silverstone, Gavin Bennett was pleased with progress and was fourth albeit suffering from understeer in the slower corners. He ended up changing the rear wing to the older version for race one.  Dan Clark was fifth and less handicapped by the power disadvantage of his Gas Gas as at Silverstone and Ross Allen was sixth.  James O’Reilly was in a new Anderson chassis but was seventh as the kart was pulling to the right during the session. Gareth James was disappointed to be tenth after such a good showing at Silverstone as he was struggling with the settings.

Race One

At the start Bird found himself in a DEA sandwich as they sprinted for the first turn.  Tony Long had a bolt shear on his brake and spun on the pit straight. Bennett was still struggling with understeer but felt the balance was improved for this race. He said he lost 2.5 seconds after being baulked by backmarkers.  Layton’s head jerked to the right as Clark made a move for the lead on the pit straight but held his line.

After losing several places at the start Platt made his way up to second. After the last lap board went out Platt passed Layton but overcooked it at the bottom bend, letting Layton past. He thought he would be able to slipstream down the bottom straight: “I was going to pass him and I then suffered a misfire, aah!” Platt said. Layton crossed the line just 0.293 ahead. Bird was third after finding stability in the first corner compared to qualifying and Clark was relishing being quick in the corners. Allen was finding the Jade a “little frightening” and for the second race would increase the rear wing angle to get more rear downforce.

  1. Jack Layton Anderson DEA
  2. Paul Platt PVP Gas Gas
  3. Andy Bird Anderson Gas Gas
  4. Daniel Clark Anderson Gas Gas
  5. Gavin Bennett Anderson DEA
  6. Ross Allen Jade DEA

Race Two

Platt and Layton shared the front for the second start. Platt was on the outside of Layton as they sprinted for the first turn but he would be on the inside for the next sequence of corners.  Further round, Clark had to take to the gravel to avoid James O’Reilly and lost a lot of places, while Bird took avoiding action too and stalled while on the grass.

At the front, there was a quartet of Platt, Layton, Bennett and Allen. “It was close,” Bennett said. “The engines are evenly matched. I think we’re in for a good year.”

Having walked the track for the second time before race one, Layton was attempting to find a different line out of the final turn. The bump was proving a problem, Layton having to lift off while Platt in the Gas Gas could deliver more power. Layton’s seat felt weird too.

On the final lap, Layton saw an opportunity on the back straight via a backmarker. “It was Andrew Johnson.” Platt found a gap, Layton didn’t. “That’s motor racing.” Platt crossed the line with both arms pumping, his first MSA victory since Brands Hatch 2015. “It feels so good to be at front again.” Bennett was third and Allen nearly intercepted him on the pit straight. “It was good,” Allen said. “I’ll keep it the same settings for the third race.” His square steering fairing was helping him aerodynamically at the end of the straight. Clark was fifth after fighting his way back through the field. Tom Hatfield was sixth.  Driving an HRK for the first time in a MSA championship race, Julian Davies was pleased to be seventh. “During the first race, I was thinking ‘Oh God, which way is it going to point?’ I wanted to try something different. People were saying it wouldn’t work without a rear wing, but the mechanical grip’s great.”  Having struggled with the balance in race one, Gareth James was eighth again for race two, puzzled with setup problems.

  1. Paul Platt PVP Gas Gas
  2. Jack Layton Anderson DEA
  3. Gavin Bennett Anderson DEA
  4. Ross Allen Jade DEA
  5. Daniel Clark Anderson Gas Gas
  6. Tom Hatfield Anderson DEA

 

Unfortunately, the third race didn’t take place when there were two red flags in a preceding F125 pen race. With an ambulance needed to take a driver to hospital and the circuit requiring a minimum of two ambulances at all times, the race was cancelled on safety grounds.

Words By Simon Stiel

Image By Niall Doherty

 

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