VSKC Round 6- WAKEFIELD PARK NSW

the GRAND FINAL

An interesting new venue, perfect weather, great racing and a new champion topped off the 2006 Vic State Superkart series.

I dragged the family along for the long drive up the Hume, stopping at Winton for some quick test laps to make sure the new HyperRacer seat and steering wheel were all fitted nicely. They were.

Wakefield Park, a hilly 2.2km club circuit just outside Goulburn is a great series of corners, but bumpy. Very, very bumpy. The track was privately built in the early 90's by enthusiasts whose vision was for a classic, old-fashioned club circuit. They even duplicated old heritage-coloured garages and original 60's advertising signs (since gone). Unfortunately they never envisaged that the bitumen would be ripped up by V8 Supercars and there are very few sections which don't pound a superkarter's ribs. Apart from that I love the place.

The circuit is actually for sale if anyone is interested. I'd buy it but it's too far away. That, and the small matter of a few million bucks...

The big gearbox karts handle the bumps even worse than our little 125 non-gearbox machines, hence we were all over them through corners. I admit that it was tough, bone-jarring stuff. I'd love something with suspension. Nahhh...this is more fun!

SATURDAY- QUALIFYING

My only introduction to the track would be 20 min of qualifying on Saturday morning, and those who made it early for Friday practice spent as little time out there as possible. Not me though, I hammered away but I spent more time trying to survive the bumps than learning the corners and could best manage a 1:12.2. The Champion elect for 125 Maxes, Dean Crooke in the HyperRacer, poled with a 1:09.05. I don't mind that difference, weight considered.

First race off provisional licence, I had qualified not much further from the rear...9th out of 12 Maxes, 18th outright from 25 karts (combined field of gearbox and non-gearbox karts)

RACE 1

We were supporting the Festival of Sporting Cars Spring meeting (Or were they supporting us? As glorious as some of the classic sports cars were, the most entertaining racing was from the karts). I was even reunited with a couple of stalwarts from my old Austin Healey Sprite Club days. They have some rapid cars, but were reasonably impressed with the speed of these silly little karts.

Now that I am off my P's and therefore with no excuses, I really must improve my starts. There's this little trick everyone does of lubricating the clutch so it slips more off the line and increases the revs. Everyone does it, that is, except me.

Perhaps another problem was that I was not rolling fast enough. The supposed standing start format was non-existant halfway up the grid. People who were two rows back were flying past me as the starting flag dropped. Sure, the organisers were trying to keep things moving but it must have looked a shambles. This is one reason why superkarts will always be low on the food chain.

So, I was swamped from 18th to 23rd before the first corner, then back up to 21st by end lap 1. It was all forward from there, passing Horswell (NSW), Filliponi, Sinani (NSW- 80 Gearbox) in an eventful race.

Vic Championship contender Rod Clark threw it down the road in clouds of dust on lap 4, something that was to be a regular occurance. But he's mighty quick and hauled us all in, passing me on my last lap. However, the winning 250 of Darren Tyler had passed Clark right before the line, putting him a lap down before my final lap, so I was credited a place ahead of Clark. If that makes sense.

14th place outright, 6th of the Maxes and a 1:11.4, almost a second faster than quali.

RACE 2

Another shocking start off 14th, dropping to 20th at the first corner but 18th by end lap 1. Following Filliponi, we were both baulked by the 80cc Gearbox of Ward, a legacy of the 'box karts being slower over the bumps. A frustrated Filliponi had to watch me slipstream easily past him as he had to stay off the throttle behind Ward onto the main straight

I then took off after Metham (NSW), nailed him and then got past Mehmet Sinani's 80 Gbox, which didn't improve my class placing but got me closer to Evan Fuller (Vic). But, I ran out of laps to get him and Rod Clark, who managed to go a race without binning it.

Some other tardy driving and attrition got me 14th outright again but 5th place of the Maxes, my highest finish thus far, and a 1:10.4. Another 1-second chunk off my previous times.

SUNDAY- RACE 3

Another beautiful day in Goulburn. The track was a little slower in the morning, but thankfully while everyone was a little slower, I was a little quicker. A customary awful start for me again as I set off after Lee Filliponi and Fuller (NSW). This all went well as I got past Filliponi and others but still couldn't crack Fuller. A recovering 250 of Clint Brown (NSW) split us as I was getting close.

On about lap 4 I copped a huge piece of metal bracket from one of the gearbox classes in front. It skewered the lower front left of my fibreglass nosecone, where it sat for one worrying lap. I was bracing for it to go under the front tyre, but fortunately it dislodged and attacked poor Lee Filliponi instead, to add to his misery!

This time Rod Clarke left his excursion until lap 7 but still recovered to get past me on the last lap. He flew past me down the straight like I was standing still. Maybe my old Series 1 Rotax is getting on a bit.

15th outright and 6th in class again, this time a 1:10.6, almost a second faster. A this point, with things running smoothly, I got a dose of ambition and made some tweeks to try a and crack the 1:09's. May as well have a goal!

RACE 4

It was time to get serious! I still drifted to the rear of field. The start was better, but still not as good as everyone else's. End of lap one I was 21st and 9th in class.

Fortunately Rod Clark tossed it on lap 2 this time which gave me a leg up, and it was all downhill from there, so to speak. Next, Filliponi, who was having a shocking weekend, then the rest of the race duelling with a nice older gentleman called Graham Taplin. He was also amazingly quick. I nabbed him on lap 8 of 9, then got a massive tow from a gearbox kart to set my fastest lap on the last lap.

11th outright, 4th in class, and a 1:09.6. the second-fastest race lap of the Rotaxes, second only to Dean Crooke, the now-crowned State Club Champion. I had to look at the timesheets twice before I believed it

RACE 5

There was quite the relaxed, end-of-term atmosphere on the grid for the final race of the season, but with the usual niggle. Dean Crooke had wiped the floor with the rest of them throughout the season in the remarkable HyperMax. Father Jon is a relentless promoter for his son and their creation, a kart successfully designed specifically for long-track racing. Consequently they have invoked the disdain of the boys club. Every sport has a boys club.

Sadly, even at this meagre level of motorsport, there's backbiting about someone who simply wants to "sex-up" and introduce innovation to the tired sport of non-gearbox superkarts. There is all sorts of gossip and excuses, none of it constructive.

But few seem to be trying to go out and out-engineer and outdrive them. It's as if some people think whinging is more impressive than competing. If you can't beat 'em, ban 'em.

Take one look at the HyperRacer and you'd see a machine that people from outside the sport of karting will want to own and race. That is, people without pre-conceived ideas or prejudices. That's good for the sport. End of story. Superkarts cannot survive on an unstable diet of converted sprint kart drivers.

That's why it was refreshing that up ahead of me, Dean Davies in the more conventional Speedkart simply went at it hard all day, keeping the other Dean honest. Apart from a spin in race three he scooped second every time and this is despite a weight disadvantage.

My race was somewhat messy. Another poor start and all sort of action up front. Once again I settled in to a duel with Mr. Taplin and had him stitched up. Then a misfire developed in the last two laps and I struggled home in 17th, 7th in class, with a 1.11:04. Still, it was a great weekend with my second fastest lap intact. No more P-plates, mixing it with the big boys. I'm not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

Many thanks to all the suppliers and customers who've taken an interest in this little game throughout the year. A big thank you to sponsors Lagler Australia, and Timbermate Products. We've got some big plans for next year...stay tuned!

 

 

 

HyperRacer's report here
Kartsport news race report here
Natsoft Race results and statistics here

For Sale. No tyre kickers!

 

 

I never knew tyres did that with heavy cornering. Perhaps I should stop looking at photos

 

 

The perennial Colin Dodd in his trademark scruffy but extremely fast Midget

 

Gearbox karts are generally faster than us. I think I am looking at the camera in disbelief

 

Around the outside of Mehmet Sinani. The front is almost off the ground due to the bumps

...but he gets me back at the start of the straight


 

 

 

 

Chasing Mr. Taplin

 

 

Even Rod Clarke would agree this is a great photo!

 

 

 



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