Learning The Ropes and Losing Grip - Round 7 : TW Steel Daytona DMAX Championships

So round 7 of the TW Steel Daytona DMAX Champs actually took place a month or so ago but it took me a while to focus on what I had learned from that round and assimilate everything.

For those of you who don't know I have been taking part in a karting champioship this year with Daytona motorsport. The DMAX champioship is designed for people who do not own thier own karts but want to take part in some serious and pretty high level racing; how I found myself there is a mystery. I have loved karting for some years now but have never really been that good at it. Being somewhat thrown in at the deep end with the DMAX champs has certainly taught me a lot as you are about to read.

The Race

Round 7 was at Sandown Park which is essentially my local track, when drivers return to their home circuit they normally expect to do well, however, this time the track layout was totally different so any hope of an advantage soon went out the door.
The alternative circuit is an amazing idea, it means they guys at Daytona had essentially built a new track. There were some familiar corners but they linked to wholly new straights and the racing lines were completely different. It was not only new but a hell of a lot of fun too.
Racing was tight at the front and also at the back where I tend to languish as many of you regular readers will know. Sadly one of the back marker gang can no longer make the races but myself and a few others had some very close heats indeed; either they are getting slower or I am finally getting slightly better.


One of the things that first struck me about this whole season was the rules. It's one thing going to an arrive and drive karting session and being told not to bump each other and slow down for yellow flags. It is another thing entirely having to learn the full race rules and how to perform a rolling start with 20 other drivers all holding their grid positions.

The first time I tried a rolling start at Milton Keynes was embarrassing to say the least. After being told it was a ROLLING start I proceeded to attempt to stop on the grid ready for a standing start...a lot of people waved their arms and gesticulated rather firmly that I should keep going. My red face was soon forgotten as the madness of a full throttle entry to turn one dawned on me and I certainly never made that mistake again.

Other rules I soon had to learn were some of the ones I mentioned in my previous post; the idea that if you accidentally make contact coming into a corner and you gain the place you have to rapdily give that place back or risk a black flag. This tends to be a problem for faster drivers but it happened to me at Rye House and as I dutifully let someone back through another 3 drivers saw the gap and overtook me too, I was furious as well as being pretty much last. These are the lessons you have to learn in racing.

A New Level of Embarrassment!

In terms of red faced shame I thought my grid "issue" in round 1 was a bad as it could get; that was until I did something far worse in round 7.

My mistake occurred during the same part of the race; the parade lap into the rolling start. It is certainly one of the hardest parts of this type of racing. You get a grid position and you have to drive around in grid order keeping the right distance between people and be ready to hit the throttle when you pass the line. That in itself sound easy doesn't it? well it would be if it weren't for another major factor...tyre warming.

Tyre Warming

You may think tyre temperature is something that only F1 drivers have to think about but I assure you, if you head into a corner at full tilt on cold tyres in a kart you are quite likely to be having a chat with the barrier rather than sailing across the apex as you hoped. It is critical to get some heat into the rubber before the race starts, it becomes even more important when you think about the fact that 20 karts are all heading into turn 1 looking to make up some early positions, it is probably the most important corner of the race.

During the formation lap not only do you have to keep position you also have to warm your tyres and so does eveyone else. This is done by essentially doing mini burn outs and spinning the back wheels as much as you can. When you get to a corner some extra throttle means you can essentially drift the kart round spinning the wheels. This sounds fun doesn't it? well it gets tricky when everyone is weaving, spinning wheels and drifting and it is also hard to keep control of the kart. Every time you deliberately try to slide you risk over doing it and spinning and that is exactly what happened to me just before the final turn and start line, right in front of everyone watching.

I was getting cocky, the season has been amazing and my confidence was at an all time high so why wouldn't I do some "pro" tyre warming. Well, I soon learned my lesson, I was sitting 4th on the grid and hoping to beat my arch rival Faris Malik when my slide became a spin and I ended up facing backwards as the entire grid drove round me. The rules state you have to start from the back if you lose it on the parade lap, I started from the grass! I managed to get the kart back on track and flew round the corner just in time to see every other driver speeding off past the line.

All Was Not Lost

So, I made a massive mistake and certainly felt the eyes of shame from the grid, the spectators and the ever supportive and rather brilliant race director Jim. However I only made a mistake in that one heat. Sadly the final also didn't quite work out for me and I came last apart from one of the better racers suffering a penalty and being placed behind me. I did have some good results during the heats though, a 13th, a 17th and..well a 19th.


To say I have learned a lot this year is a understatement of massive proportions, and this little episode was just another lesson. I thought I knew the ropes but sadly slipped and got a good old fashioned dose of rope burn for my troubles but onwards and upwards!

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