BUKC 24 Hours 2017
This year’s BUKC 24 hours race was an utterly unforgettable experience, packed full of great memories (OUR BEST EVER FINISH), and the occasional bad one (breakdowns, breakdowns, breakdowns…), but an overall joy to witness, fuelled by team spirit and excessive calories. Hosted at the magnificent Teesside Autodrome, and with an incredible selection of talent in the A Team (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Honda Engines”, piloted by Rhianna, Jake, Morgan, Kamil and Simon) and the B Team (‘Cash me on track how bow dah’, with Ben, Henry, Ashley, Josh, Dan, Luca, Howard and Mandy at the wheel) providing an excellent blend of youth and experience, great things were expected and great things were indeed delivered (well, for some anyway). After a romantic Friday evening at Tobey Carvery and a terrible night’s sleep in a Premier Inn, the entire team, stocked with kit, banter and no short level of caffeine, arrived at the track early Saturday morning for a track walk, the race briefing, practice and qualifying, shortly before this marathon experience would kick off at 1pm.
After some beautiful nosecone artwork by Morgan, Howard and Ashley and an hour’s qualifying that left us with two gorgeous fighting machines ready for battle, Team A managed to qualify a lofty 8th among the 46 teams taking part, with hopes of a podium to come in the race. However, an unlucky Team B, struggling with traffic, a difficult kart and poor grip, were only able to put their wheels 41st on the grid. As the time struck 1pm, this epic race got underway. With excellent starts, Rhianna (starting for Team A) managed to jump up to 7th, with Henry in Team B making up a stunning six places to end the first lap in 35th place. The race quickly settled into a rhythm, with clusters of drivers bunching together but struggling to overtake at this challenging circuit. After a quiet opening few hours, interrupted only by the occasional Maccy D’s trip and an accidental case of arson by another team on an undeserving bin, the team strategy of throwing caution to the wind and running as long as possible on a tank of fuel was beginning to pay off, with the A Team up to sixth and sniffing a place in the top three, while B Team continued their impressive climb up this elite field, running 28th at the six-hour mark.
As darkness fell across Middlesbrough, Team A’s gambit on fuel was really beginning to pay dividends, moving up to 4th as other teams came in earlier for fuel stops, a podium now achingly close. Sadly, Team B’s hopes of a top-20 finish would soon take a major blow, a clutch failure hampering the team and costing them around 20 minutes while a replacement was fitted, dropping them down to 38th place. With the breaking of dawn came yet more bad news for our exhausted little troopers, as engine failures on both karts formed a coalition of chaos to end Team A’s podium aspirations as the massive amount of time cost dropped them to 6th, while 40th place was little more than salt in the wounds for a crestfallen Team B. In the race’s final couple of hours, an excellent stint by Kamil was enough to haul Team A up to their eventual finishing position of 5th (by far the best finish for a UoB team at the 24 hours), while Team B made it home in 41st place. Although both teams felt more was possible, this was still an unforgettable experience, especially for those experiencing the BUKC 24 Hours for the first time. Now let’s try and go one better next year!
Our thanks go out to Team Ware for their support, to the British Universities Karting Championship for organising such a spectacular event, to the committee members for their strong and stable leadership in preparing the team, and to the entire team for taking part in this wonderful race!