Go-Karting is a sport and an activity that Racing Fans love. It makes an average fan feel like a race car driver. Professionals would remember their Karting days. Their fathers would gift them karts enabling them to race in domestic and then continental championships en route to their dream of making it to the pedestal.
I have always relished the prospect of getting behind the wheel and testing my skills. Karting opportunities are sparse in Mumbai and I couldn't resist the opportunity of getting behind the wheel during my holiday in London.
Team-Sport UK offer some stunning tracks to race on and I visited two, one the Tower Bridge and the other at Edmonton. All are indoor tracks, so the threat of weather doesn't jeopardize your karting experience.
Tower Bridge :
Track Layout : ( Image Courtesy Team-Sport UK )
This track offers electric karts which are faster than the petrol karts. 2 tracks of 400m spread over 2 levels can be joined ( weekends ) making it a humongous 800m with amazing gradient changes.
The First turn is a left-hander going down and entry into the next turn is crucial which is a slow left going into a small uphill into a very slow right-hander. Carrying too much speed into the corner will cause oversteer and the backend will go away from you spoiling your entry and momentum uphill into the right-hander. A Short flat-out run leads into a hairpin and onto the section where you basically floor the throttle. The Final turn is a fast left-hander and the momentum can be carried into the first turn for the next lap. ( Based on the way I started in 4th in a dummy race ).
This track is a real challenge and you need to have knowledge about racing lines in order to keep competitive lap times. Overtaking is extremely difficult and one must wait for mistakes to fancy a chance. Closing in on someone who is struggling is easy but passing them with ambitious maneuvers might backfire. The maximum slip-ups were seen in the 2nd left-hander as the track goes away from you and the gradient changes just compound your error.
The Grip levels do increase and Lap times do come down as more rubber is laid on track. The Ambient temperature isn't affected by the weather outside which definitely is a boost for the drivers.
I had Chris Ellis, a dear friend accompanying me. It was his first time out and in his words "I don't want to stop karting. Lets do it again."
We visited the track on 12th December 2012 but the memories are very fresh.
Well time for some photos!!
At the Reception for signatures :
Nice Collection of Helmets :
The Walkway to the Dressing Room and the Track :
Time to Suit Up :
Post Briefing, we were shown our Karts :
My Lotus E21 (Kart 41 ) :
Chris rearing to go ( Kart 36 ) :
Push Push Push :
First Session done, 4th - 28.062 sec. Chris - 7th - 28.570 sec.
Fastest - 26.385 sec.
A Brief Break and we were back into our karts for the next session. Kart 37 for me and Kart 33 for Chris.
This is exactly what I meant earlier. Its easy to close in on a slower car but overtaking on such a track is another story. I had to fend off another karter after a couple of laps.
Finally I got past him :
Chris Holding onto track position :
Another session done, 4th again - 26.490 sec, Chris - 5th - 26.596 sec
Fastest - 25.571 sec
The Third Session was a grid start and thanks to Chris who tailgated me, I was relegated to 8th and last and had to work real hard to recover. Kart 36 for me and 40 for Chris.
Mistakes by others helped me recover.
Chris didn't have a clean session and made contact with the barriers on a couple of occasions
End of Session :
Still in 4th!! - 25.565 sec, Chris in 3rd!! - 25.550 sec
Fastest - 25.191 sec
Final Session, Kart 40 for me, Kart 36 for Chris ( basically we switched karts ) and I must say that I struggled with this kart. It could be that Chris drove the wheels of this kart in the previous session while I followed a more cautious approach in mine in the last session. I simply didn't have the grip going into corners and lost the backend a couple of times. It wasn't the best end to the Karting session.
The slides :
Did catch and overtake some though :
End of Session : Chris tops the Timesheets!!!!
Chatting with a Steward :
Great Experience and doing a Vettel :
Chris, What a Performance!!!
A Big Thank You to Sam Foster for obliging us with some great photos!! Extremely Gracious and Hospitable!!
Day 2 : Edmonton, North London, 13th December 2012.
The Metro Stations reminded me of the Premier League Clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and the North London Derby!
The track layout has changed a bit on the Team-Sport UK website. Some more corners have been added in the final sector.
The Track doesn't have any gradient changes, is wider and allows karters with more overtaking opportunities. One can go flat-out for longer so the lap time is slightly less. The Track Temperature is lower than the one at Tower Bridge and the Ambient Temperature is quite cold. Holding onto the Steering can be a challenge.
First Turn needs you to break at the right spot, it isn't a hairpin and can be termed as a double apex right-hander. The Karter can use a drifting technique and floor the throttle on the second apex. The Next turn is a left-hander where a wider approach gives you a better exit. The Next 2 right-handers can be negotiated without having to lift but braking into the third requires preciseness as it is almost like a hairpin. This right-hander leads into a left-hander where getting a good exit again is absolutely important as the next two right-handers again are flat-out. A Bad Exit would leave you sliding and searching for grip as there is only one line coming out of that turn. Its very easy to close in on the karter in front in this section and then attack him going into the final 2 turns and onto the start-finish straight. The Strategy worked exceptionally well for me. The First Turn too is a great place to overtake by early breaking and taking the inside line.
Time for some photos!
The Track :
All Ready for Battle :
1st Session Time :
I was the Fastest! - 25.830 sec, Chris - 26.067 sec
2nd Session :
Chris topped the timesheet and I finished a close 2nd.
Chris - 25.614 sec, My Time - 25.807 sec
Final Session :
Chris was the fastest again - 25.244 sec, I finished 2nd - 25.582 sec
I just loved the 2 days of Go-Karting!! I can't wait to return to London and do it all over again.
My personal favourite?? - the Tower Bridge Circuit !
I hope I get to do some Karting in Germany in July!!