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Our first contest at this excellent new track, a scant fortnight after its opening.
We were fielding Team Torque with all Norwegian Blues drivers - the usual suspects were in four of the positions, and it was David Shafto's first competitive outing. -
The event was an enduro, five drivers per kart, and we were to drive 30 minutes each. There was to be a 2-lap bonus for the fastest lap.
The ingeniously designed Le Mans start had placed our kart right at the back of the field, but three of the drivers fell during the sprint to the waiting karts, and Gil managed to get off in about sixth place. Regrettably, the favourites, "What Flag?", who had been fastest in practice, shot into a half-lap lead, as their start position (chosen randomly) had been very favourable.
With cold tyres and thirteen karts on the track, there were multiple pile-ups early on, and Gil's street-fighting skills were in frequent use. Such was the confusion that he only picked up one warning for aggressive behaviour! After Gil's half-hour, we were in second place, not far behind the leaders, who, however, had set up the fastest lap so far, and were thus effectively 2 laps up due to the bonus.
Gary quickly retrieved the time lost in driver change, and his session, Joe's and David's successful first outing were characterised by excellent safe fast drives, always on the same lap as the "What Flag?", often nearly lapping them, but never quite achieving that crucial fastest lap.
Disaster struck at the last driver change, where John was to take over from David. David arrived in the pits, and John hadn't appeared there yet. David left the kart there to go looking for John, and the kart set off on its own. When they came back it had driven itself off into a corner of the pits and they had to manhandle it back. In short, a slow change, and we'd lost more than a lap.
However, fate came to our aid. "What Flag?" committed a black flag offence, and were given a 30 second penalty, which they managed to extend to 80 by arguing about it. Between this and a brilliant drive by John, we moved into a 2 lap lead which was cemented in place by John hitting the fastest lap time again and again. But John wasn't finished yet. As he rounded the final bend to approach the chequered flag, he crashed into the barrier, 3 yards from the finish. The man with the flag had to drop it to pull him out of trouble, and John puttered ignominiously across the finish line - happily still in the lead.
A heart-stopping victory, with John cast as both villain and hero. There was never a dull moment.