Teamsport Birmingham 2017

Our first race of the 2017/18 year was a momentous occasion, with a new committee, new enthusiasm and most importantly, plenty of new members. This momentous occasion was held at Teamsport Birmingham, a challenging track that is many drivers’ favourite of the whole season, with a twisty technical section opening the lap before giving way to a long, flowing left hander and a fast left-right chicane that serves as one of the most exhilarating corners on the entire calendar. This is then followed by another technical section and a fast right-hander to end the lap. With this being the first social race of the year, turnout was high especially among the new members of the club who had signed up during our successful sports fair, with 52 drivers split across 13 teams taking part in this 2-hour endurance event. After each non-captain driver was given 5 minutes practice during qualifying, it was time to roll out the big guns as the captains (who would be starting the race as well) took to the track. After a glorious 5 minutes of bumping, weaving and trying in vain to get a clear lap in, the starting order was as follows:

1. Rhianna Purcocks (team-mates Rory Smith, Josh Nevett and James Foyle)

2. Michael Gibbins (team-mates Ed Gent, Jack Powell, Thomas Gough)

3. Luca Ingrassia (team-mates Chris McVeigh, James McCrae and Isaac Britton)

4. Jake O’Sullivan (team-mates Josh White, Ollie Firth and Ashan de Silva)

5. Wilson Woon (Michael Bluff, Alistair Parkin)

6. Horace Li (Rakan Nithia, Xuan Wang, Will Hetherington)

7. Ed Berwick (Anil Nair, George Hayward-Meek, Daniel Sawicki)

8. George Hatto (Imaad Thassim, Sami Raza, Thanos Tzevelekakis)

9. Tom Batchelor (Andy Brennan, Evie Oldfield, Alexandra Ng)

10. Dan Tolley (Nick Taylor, Michael Okeke and Joe Daniels)

11. Josh Wong (Jordan Osborne, Sasan Radan, Rehaan Cheema)

12. Jack Joynson (John Su Jun Sen, Chengyi Xu, Tan Yung Zhuang)

13. Simon Morton (Jonathan Burton-Barr, Wings Chung, Jiacheng Liu)

After an eventful start with Luca nearly taking out half the field into Turn 1, the pack settled down still mostly in order, with the top 5 maintaining position, while behind them George was unlucky to drop to the back as Simon, who had been held up badly in qualifying, started to fight his way up, reaching P9 within a few laps. As the laps crept by before the first round of stops, Ed was able to fight his way up to P4, Josh to P6, Jack to P8 and Simon to P9 as traffic resulted in the battle for P2 and P3 being separated by mere inches. The first stops saw a multitude of position changes, with different teams running different stint lengths in order to try and employ the under-cut or over-cut. This paid off for somme with Luca’s team (with Chris now driving) jumping into P2, running for one lap longer after Michael’s team suffered a slow driver change. Further down the field, Wilson’s team (who had been running as high as P3 pre-stops) lost a significant amount of time after Alistair ran over a marshal’s foot in the pit lane, while George’s team made their way up to P6. Further down the field, others were struggling with Jack’s team (now piloted by Chengyi) getting caught up in a few scraps and dropping to 9th, while Tom’s team ended up in plenty of mishaps, including a few spins as well as causing a red flag when one of his team-mates ended up backwards on a ramp.

Meanwhile, new drivers and over-eagerness to impress were causing plenty of disciplinary issues, with George, Ed and Jack’s teams all losing significant time and places at various points for black flag penalties, including Sami seemingly being unaware that T-boning someone might not be legal! Meanwhile Michael’s team were dropping back fast, their early promise in P2 fading as they ran P9 at mid-distance. Meanwhile the battle for the lead was close, as Rhianna’s and Luca’s teams duelled for P1. The pit-stops throwing the order out of sync meant that the two karts were often battling wheel-to-wheel, with Rhianna’s team coming out ahead. Some brief hope was ignited for Luca’s team when they exploited yellow flags to save time for their penultimate driver change in a VSC-esque strategic masterstroke by James, meaning that they emerged in front of Rhianna’s team on merit for the first time, before Rhianna herself took over for the final stint, returned the favour and disappeared down the road. With the captains taking back over for the final stint, the karts were flying as drivers desperately fought for pride in the close battles still remaining out on track. In the end though, the team that had led away finished far away. Rhianna brought it home in P1, with the only sub-46 second lap of the entire race set on the 130th and last lap. Behind her came Luca, setting his team’s best of a 46.615 (4th fastest lap overall) to come home a lap behind in P2. Finishing off the podium was Jake’s team, finishing 3 laps down and with a fastest lap of 47.442. Behind them was Simon’s team, recovering from their poor qualifying to finish an impressive 4th with the 3rd fastest lap of a 46.320 just seconds ahead of Ed’s team, who set a fastest lap of 47.431. George brought his kart home in P6, with a fastest lap of 48.084. Michael’s team were able to stage a small recovery towards the end of the race, setting the 2nd fastest lap (46.271) to finish in P7. Horace’s team finished in P8 with a best lap of 47.915, while Dan managed to win a battle for P9 with Josh’s team on the last lap. Wilson’s team were able to finish 11th, setting a fastest lap of 47.506, with Jack in 12th and Tom in 13th bringing up the rear. It was a brilliant start to the year and many of our new members enjoyed themselves. Our thanks go out to Teamsport Birmingham for hosting such a great event at such a wonderful track, for our new drivers for trying out this great opportunity, and to the committee for organising such a fun race. Till next time!