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White Van Drivers' Challenge - 16 May 1999 - Aldershot

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The race controller was Dudley. We fielded two teams for this event. It was all a little awkward. Just when Gil had sorted out two nice teams, we had two drop-outs, and we had to re-plan.

So it was: Norwegian Blues -

  • Gil
  • Dave (Pup) Robinson
  • Frix (Simon Gamble)
  • Roger (Crash and Burn) Barnes

This was very evidently a tough team to beat, we thought.

We started with Pup, because he was the only one of us who looked fit for the Le Mans start. Unfortunately, the kart didn't fire up first or second try, and we started way down the race order. The Pup, however, drew us back up to fifth or sixth, and even though he was passed by Gary of the Fugitives, he finished his stint in fifth place, having had a fastest lap of 31.09.

Roger was next. He advertised himself as a mobile chicane, but at least he was mobile. He held his own, a couple or three seconds off the pace, building an impressive queue, and losing only two laps on the Fugitives, who by this time were in first place.

Gil then frittered away loads of laps in the Sin Bin - a unique experience for Gil, as he usually manages to commit his crimes unseen by marshals. It was a fit-up, though. The allegation was "overtaking on a yellow flag", but, frankly, he thinks he was rear-ended by someone who hadn't noticed the yellows, and ended up ahead of someone who had. He finished his stint in fifth place, having had a best lap of 31.06.

After the fuel stop, Frix took over, and spent much of his session in a duel with Joe of the Fugitives. Since they are both rather "pushy" drivers, this was nail-bitingly entertaining, though after one incident, where Joe tried to scrape Frix off on the barrier, two karts had to be brought out to replace breakages. In his frantic dash, Frix achieved a best lap of 30.99! A storming session that pulled back two laps.

Roger returned for his second stint with the Blues still in fifth place, but ended it eleven laps behind The Odd Squad, who were now in the lead. Roger did, however, escape censure by the marshals throughout both his sessions, and, together with the Pup, was awarded Norwegian Blues Prize for Meticulous Attention to Avoiding the Eye of the Marshal.

Finally, Gil drove to the end, picking up a couple of NO BUMPING warnings and yet another black flag. That one was a fair cop, guv. After orchestrating a spectacular shunt on the bridge, in which he avoided being actually involved, he set off down the now-clear track ahead, ignoring the yellow lights, and chuckling happily. The offence was "Not Slowing Down on Yellow Lights" - not totally true, but not totally untrue, either. His best time was 30.61, one hundredth better that the Fugitives best - the Blues' only victory of the evening!

The Fugitives

  • Gary Denny
  • Joe Czirbesz
  • Stuart Shearman
  • Tanya Stiles

The sparkling promise of this star-studded team was tarnished early by Gary's inability to start the kart off the grid. Last away, he was a lap down in eighth place after seven minutes, but an inspired drive, filled with elegant passing manouevres, found him lying second, only seven seconds behind the leader, at the end of his session, with a best time of 30.83.

The very quick Tanya was next, ending her session with one NO BUMPING warning, in the lead by two laps, with a fastest lap of 30.62. A quality drive, bearing in mind, especially, that it was her and Stuart's first visit to the Aldershot track!

Stuart then took over for a short session to the fuel stop, holding position, and Joe took over, still nearly two laps in the lead.

There followed the epic struggle between Joe and Frix. Frix was slightly quicker, but he was behind, and trying to unwind a lap. Their path was strewn with backmarkers. Joe was taking the view that none shall pass. They were on the track together for a full half hour, and seldom more than a coat of paint apart. Joe was awarded a NO BUMPING warning. Frix, somehow, escaped, but was awarded a black flag for allowing himself to be T-boned by an innocent bystander. Well, that's his story... Gary and Gil, as respective team captains, found the whole session very stressful!

Nevertheless, despite an extended race stoppage and a number of full-course yellows, Joe completed his session still in first place, but without improving on Tanya's fastest lap.

Stuart then raced to the end. It was a frustrating drive for Stuart. He found himself stuck behind a very slow, very wide, driver from one of the backmarker teams, a guy prepared to weave and block, obstruct and generally get in the way. Stuart finally earned a black flag for his efforts to pass this drongo, and when he emerged from the Sin Bin, he found himself to be a sandwich behind the race leader, whom he trailed by two laps, and Gil, breathing down his neck, but eight laps adrift, partly because of his black flag. In the final minutes of the race, Stuart pulled back a lap on the new leader, and final winner - the Odd Squad - and finished second on the track.

A mysterious decision to award the two-lap fastest lap bonus to the team that had the ninth fastest lap of the evening resulted in the Fugitives being relegated to third place on the podium - an unfair outcome, but what the hell. We had a nice time, and quite a lot of ass was kicked, one way and another! And the bronze medals look nicer than the silvers, anyway.

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