Karting teams battle away at difficult Rye House raceday

Photograph courtesy of the University of York Karting Club

Photograph courtesy of the University of York Karting Club

York’s teams fought hard and achieved some encouraging results in the third and fourth rounds of the British University Karting Championships at the Rye House circuit in Hertfordshire. Despite the 200-mile journey, York still managed to field two strong teams, with current and former Presidents Sophie Cockman and Daniel Maddox entering the fray, as well as BUKC debutants Jamie Malkinson and Andy Gilmore.

However York were disadvantaged by the fact that only one member of their team, Gonçalo Magalhaes, had raced at Rye House before. Like usual, the raceday at Rye House is split into two rounds; the first round involves 25-minute individual sprint races, with each team member taking part in one. This is followed by the second round, where each team is split into two pairings and they work together in an hour-long relay race.

Round Three

With early track conditions cold, and the karts not yet at optimum conditions, York continued their tactic of sending experienced drivers out first, with Magalhaes (A) and Andy Carpenter (B) taking good grid slots of 14th and 6th respectively. Both drivers had good starts, and Magalhaes put in a brilliant stint to not only maintain his grid slot, but improve to take a 12th place finish. Carpenter meanwhile struggled, and as the faster drivers came to the front, had to settle for a 23rd place.

In York’s second race of the day, Dan Ryan (A) and Maddox (B) took to the track in encouraging 6th and 12th place grid slots, although the race was overshadowed by a rather nasty pile-up on the first corner. A driver from another university went off on the start/finish straight, and as he returned to the track, brought mud and water from the waterlogged run-off areas back onto the racing line ahead of the fastest corner of the track. This lead to karts under-steering off at around 40mph into the tyre wall, and a pile up of ten karts ensued, with both York drivers unfortunately amongst this.

The nasty pile-up on the first corner during York’s second race of the morning at Rye House in Hertfordshire. Photograph courtesy of University of York Karting Club.

Luckily, nobody was seriously injured, with only a couple of drivers suffering bruised ribs and swollen knees, whilst Maddox and Ryan escaped unscathed. However, Ryan’s kart was damaged beyond repair, meaning he was unable to continue the race, and took a 33rd place finish, doubly frustrating given he set the fastest laptime of the race. Maddox was able to continue, but his kart had lost its initial performance, and he fought hard to take a 24th place finish.

Up next for York, Mike O’Neill (A) and Gilmore (B) started in challenging grid slots of 31st and 25th, but both avoided incident in the first lap. O’Neill showed good pace, and had made his way up into a top 20 position, only to be taken out by a poorly judged overtake from a rival, and this led to O’Neill settling for a 26th place finish. Gilmore, meanwhile, was showing a combination of decent pace and racing maturity, and finished 25th, a great result in his first ever BUKC race.

In the final race of the morning, Cockman (A) started in 22nd and Malkinson (B) started in 30th. Despite having not raced a club100 kart for ten months, Sophie started well and was running in a good 21st place, before a mix-up by marshals resulted in her being incorrectly given a black flag, costing a lap, and falling back to a 30th place finish. Jamie was enjoying his first BUKC race, and likewise to Gilmore, impressed with a very solid race, coming home in 24th place. The overall results for the third round had York A in 41st place, just ahead of York B in 44th place (out of 53). Dan Ryan had York’s fastest lap of the morning, a 43.94 second lap.

Round Four

Into the afternoon, and for the A team, Ryan and Magalhaes combined for the first team relay race and started in 22rd place. Despite some very consistent driving, the kart was very sluggish, particularly at the higher end, meaning they kept losing time on the track’s long start/finish straight. With all considered, a 23rd place was the best that could be hoped for, and a very good effort by Ryan and Magalhaes.

For the A team’s second relay race, Cockman and O’Neill teamed up and had a 15th place grid slot. Sophie and Mike both drove brilliantly, as they fought to consolidate their high starting spot, and with ten minutes (of the hour) remaining, they were still in the top 15. However, disaster struck in the closing laps as one of the leaders was unnecessarily aggressive when lapping Sophie, driving her off the track, and into the tyres, causing a nasty impact and costing the team crucial time. Rejoining the race down in 20th, Sophie rallied well and made up another place on the final lap as the team took a very respectable 19th place.

For the B team, Maddox and Carpenter were first out, and despite consistent lap-times, struggled a bit for pace, and were unfortunate as quicker teams avoided problems, taking a disappointing 32nd place.

Last out for York were Gilmore and Malkinson, and despite some minor kart problems, raced impressively and even with one unfortunate spin, still took a 27th place, very encouraging from the team’s new drivers, who’ll look to build on this in future races.

The overall results for the fourth round had York A in 32nd place, with York B in 47th place. Mike O’Neill had York’s fastest lap of the afternoon, a 44.16 second lap.

This all meant that after four rounds, York A are placed 36th with York B 45th, but with this difficult “away” raceday out of the way, York can look forward to the next round at their local track in Teeside with a real sense of optimism.

The next two BUKC rounds are at Teeside Autodrome on the 10th March.

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