Thursday 7 June 2012

Kart Force: Alive to Drive race results

Even though weather reports stated heavy rain all day, all teams arrived on time, signed in, donned their race suits and the banter began.

Bang on time, with the efficiency that Daytona are known for, the race safety briefing started. As soon as it was over, drivers made their way outside to start the 30 mins practice and qualifying session. The track was dry and there was no rain, and the race started, again bang on time.

Up until the last drivers went out for their turn to put in a qualifying lap, “Team KartForce” was in Pole Position, but Pole went to “Wayne’s Team”, a team we created from individual drivers wanting to enter the race but didn’t have a team, led by Wayne Lidgbird. Had we known these guys were so good, we would’ve spread them out amongst the other teams - but our lads never shy away from a challenge!

“Team KartForce” started in 5th and after a terrible start we were down to 7th after the first lap. We remained in 7th until our second driver took over and consistently put in fast lap after fast lap, clocking our fastest lap of the race during his stint. He had the most fun as it was dry throughout his stint but he methodically made his way up the grid and got us back up to 5th place.

Then the Heavens opened and the rain came down, sometimes torrentially. The track was slippery and karts were spinning out, and lap times dropped for everyone. The more experienced drivers, like ex-European Champion Simon Nicholson from “Team Blue Lizard” who’s part of the Dino Kart Record (hyperlink to team aiming to break the existing 24 hr world record, shared their experience and knowledge with our lads and gave them plenty of useful tips.

Even though it got wetter and colder throughout the race, the atmosphere never changed. There was a fantastic yet healthy competitive spirit, but also an air of fun and camaraderie. As driver fought the elements and other drivers, the crowd cheered at every incident.

Our last driver was sent out for the final 30 min stint of the race and we were still 5th with a large gap to 4th place. However, as one of our most steady and consistent drivers, his lap times almost the same throughout his drive, he closed the gap and took 4th place. He continued closing the gap on 3rd place, but unfortunately wasn’t able to make it on to the podium.

For 2 of our lads, this was their first outdoor endurance race. For the other 3, this was their 2nd outdoor endurance race. Their excellent performance is testament to the fighting spirit of these lads, who even though they lack experience, their pure drive and determination pushes them to achieve these very impressive results – against seasoned kart racers. Once again, the lads have shown that you don’t need all your limbs to race on a level playing field with non-injured drivers – you just need British Bulldog Balls, and they have these in wheelbarrow-loads!

The lads want to send a special thanks to Josh Hill and Johnny Mowlem. Josh and Johnny have given their time to coach the lads and help them improve their driving skills. There’s no way the lads could’ve achieved the impression results in our last 2 races without the expert tuition that both Josh and Johnny have provided.

Our thanks also go to Charles & Jim Graham and their fantastic team at Daytona Sandown Park. Their support and enthusiasm ensured this event was such a great success.

 Our next race is going to be a very interesting one. The lads are stepping up a class and, for the first time, will be racing in a competition ProKart. On Sat 30th June we take on 34 teams from across the Army, Navy and RAF in the Tri-Services Karting Championships. This will be the first time a team of injured troops will have entered this event and we aim to impress our fellow service personnel. We’ll be practicing in the new kart throughout June so watch this space for news of our next race result.

The team are training for a world record attempt for the most ground covered in 24 hours using hand controls on their karts. Here's a short clip from on board the kart as the team practises.

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