Molecule Labs

Race Report #10 for Viking Racing, Kart #64.

Sunday November 8th was the day for the tenth and last race in the 2009 Jim Russell Northern California Rotax Challenge this time returning to the high speed and challenging Dixon track. As it was run in reverse direction, it was the sixth new track configuration we had to learn this year. We arrived on the track Friday hoping we could get some practice on the track Friday night but literally as we got our canapé up and the kart rolled out of the trailer it started to rain. Since there are no rain races at Dixon, practicing in the rain did not really make sense, so we had to do with Saturday practice like everyone else. Sunday morning at race day the weather was sunny - perfect and warm for the season.

As we won last time on this track we had high hopes that we could be very competitive again despite the new track configuration. Saturday we prepared as usually using our coach Kris mainly using radio communication and we improved a lot throughout the day and based upon last races’ data we found a good kart setup. It was a clear goal to get on the podium and get as many points as possible for the Championship.

Sunday morning we went out for the 5 lap warm-up but were not really happy with our times. The competitors were relatively faster than us compared to Saturday. The track was cold and slippery but equal to everyone. We were happy with our driving though so we decided to do only a few changes to improve the kart and go out for the only 2-lap qualifying, which is very difficult since the tires will not make it to get warm. We went out for qualifying and did our best but judging from the times alone we were not happy with the results. Kris was relatively happy with the times but we were surprised to find out that we qualified on pole in our class and second in the overall field of Masters and Masters Light. Best qualifying in the season!

Although we were at pole, we still had to start on the outside as we were 2nd overall on the grid, so the mission for the start was clear – get behind the leader in the Light class on the inside and keep our lead. We made yet a good start and accomplished exactly that in the pre final. Although it was very close racing we kept our lead until second last lap, where we went too wide in to corner 1 and got passed. The remaining 1½ lap was really close and half a lap more and we would have won. We ended the pre final in 2nd very good result for the start of main final.

We started the main final from 2nd – overall 3rd, meaning we were now on the inside and the plan was to stay at the bumper of the Light leader leaving no room for the pole in our class. Once again our start worked out well, and we passed the leader going in to corner 1, and was now in the lead! We had started to pull away from the 2nd place and opened a small gap when disaster stroke… Going in to corner 5, the throttle stuck a full gas and we spun off in to the dirt! The race was over as there was no way to keep the kart on the track with full gas in the corners.

We lost a podium in last race as we forgot our neck collar, and this time was another rookie mistake. Although very very theoretical and probably impossible to replicate – a zip tie we had used for front end alignment and forgotten to cut off on Saturday had slid from the brake pedal to the gas pedal and locked the gas pedal at full throttle. We will probably not forget to cut old zip ties ever again. A frustrating end to a good weekend, where we once again should have left as winners.

As it was the last race of the season it is a good time to look back and evaluate. We had an initial goal of finishing the championship in top 8, that was quickly adjusted to top 5, and we ended on an overall 4th place. A very strong result in our rookie season and first time ever in a go kart. Had it not been for some silly mistakes as a forgotten neck collar and a zip tie, we could probably have ended in top 3. During the 9 races we participated in, we were at the podium 4 times, 1 win, a second and two thirds.

With these great results we are looking forward towards 2010 where we will raise the bar a notch. Provided we can get sponsor support we will expand the local Norcal Rotax racing to also participate in the Gatorz Challenge Of The Americas and finally participate in the US National Rotax Championship. The overall goal is to finish the Gatorz in top 5, the local Rotax Challenge in top 3 and the US nationals in Top 10.

We would like to thank our sponsors for making this season possible!