OEKC Round 1 – Rye House
February 26th 2017
The 2017 season will see Brad Gelmen partnering Richard Lewis in the OEKC. Brad has been a part of Ikonn Racing for a few years now competing in the Thunder Saloon car championship. Reece has now moved into a full time role mentoring, mechanicing and travelling around the world racing with a new, very talented cadet driver.
Winter testing was very productive with a intensive program for Brad in order to familiarise himself with the demands of the machines and championship. We see this year as an exploratory year so Brad can comfortably compete, with us embarking on a championship push in 2018.
A damp race day presented us with a few setup considerations in the morning. We achieved a good wet and intermediate setup which maybe useful later in the race. On a drying track we decided to use wets/intermediates. There were many mixed choices with some opting to use slicks. We qualified 5th overall which was a decent starting position.
Richard started the race. After turn 3, the lead kart had an engine failure. By lap 4 we were in third position with a comfortable gap to forth. First and second were in sight and we had great pace. At the hour mark, we prepared to pit at which point we were second, on the same lap as third and one lap up on forth. Our pace was quicker than first position.We had an average stop but maintained our pace as Brad started his very first stint. A few initial laps of inconsistency turned into metronomic type laps. Once Brad settled, he performed better than we could have expected and put in a very mature and solid drive. After this stint we were a solid third with many laps up on forth position.
Entering the third hour we managed to get back into second position and it was looking as if this was the best result we could achieve today as first had more pace at this point and were pulling away at a decent rate. Our unlucky trend then reared it’s head… a kart had left the track and dragged water back on while recovering. Richard was the next kart to enter this blind corner. An expected Marshall flag was not present so the kart hit the water and with no grip, went off into the gravel trap. While trying to recover the kart, the next 8 karts entering the corner all crashed at the same point and used our kart as a barrier! Even worse, we had to wait before we could recover as we had no room to move. Miraculously, we had only suffered very minor damage and continued with the race.
We were now fifth, and lost all of our advantage. Brad set about the final stint with pace even stronger than his last hour. Great work, but towards the end he complained of a sticky throttle. During the previous accident, the throttle pedal assembly had taken a slight impact. The issue got worse and we had to put again on safety grounds. We finished the day in 8th position. Very disappointed as we thought second place was achievable initially and even third after the first incident. Next race Bayford Meadows…