OEKC Round 2 – Bayford Meadows
March 19th 2017
After the missed opportunity of Rye, we headed to Bayford. Expectations were very low as we never seem to go well here and to top it off, Richard hates the place as a circuit to race. We have never seemed to gain a good setup around Bayford and conducted a good test beforehand. On a positive note, Brad liked the track!
We intentionally concentrated on gaining places later in the race rather than be in the thick of things from the start. A very strange strategy in normal circumstances but we would never have the pace we needed to compete at the front. Patience and long stints were needed today. We qualified 3rd from last which was a little surprising to be this slow!
The first half hour was tough. We didn’t seem to be making progress and found ourselves fighting at the back. Our overall aim was top 10 but even this seemed unlikely at this point. Toward the end of the first stint we made up a few places and placed 14th before the stop. Brad resumed and found it difficult. How could the kart that handled so beautifully and was so fast the last race be such a dog?! All in the setup. Brad stuck to the plan and the race slowly started opening up. We were now 9th. Brad’s solid stint put us back in the mix. The track was now starting to come to the kart. Ambient temperature and more grip on the track meant we were a little quicker with a more predictable kart.
Richard started the third stint and finally has some decent pace. We felt 6th may have been possible at the point as we found ourselves in 7th position. (6th was still a fair bit up the road!) We started closing on another kart who we were needing to lap. This kart had overheated its rear tyres and was sliding around a lot. We were gaining very fast. Upon the quickest part of the circuit the kart understeered and went off track. Richard drove to the other side of the track, off the racing line, to be as clear from danger as possible. Then disaster…
The other kart, now off track, decided not to slow and bring the vehicle back on safely and controlled, but to keep on the throttle. The kart was snaking and sliding on the grass until he unexpectedly found grip on a small area. The kart catapulted toward Richard and t-boned our kart. This caused an horrific accident. The karts touched. Our kart, on full throttle, was now airborne and came to an immediate stop at the very top tier of the tyre barriers. Richard was thrown around 9-10ft in the air to the opposite side of the track. He now faced oncoming traffic after bouncing off the track, on to the opposite tyre barriers then back on the track. Special thanks go to Sid from KKC as he stopped his kart, ran back down the track to stop others from running over Richard. He then came to his aid along with the ambulance and other parties close to the scene. The race was red flagged and all stopped. Somehow, Richard was very lucky to tell the tale.
For Richard, the 2017 season is over. He will concentrate on his recovery for next season as he sustained a torn quad, two broken ribs, multiple small hairline fractures to the leg and kneecap, snapped acl ligament, torn lcl ligament and a broken pelvis. Knee surgery will be needed.