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Race Report for Viking Racing, Kart #64. Redline Oil Karting Championship, Infineon International Karting Center. Race #1 March 21st, 2010

March 21st was the date for the first round of the NorCal Rotax Challenge, this year named Redline Oil Karting Championship consisting of 8 races at Infineon International Karting Center and 2 races at Kinsmen Kart Club in Dixon, CA. After our exciting start of the season in the Challenge Of the Americas we were eager to get started with the championship as well as gauge this years competition.

This year the format has changed and instead of racing Saturday, official practice is now Saturday with qualifying, pre final and main final Sunday. We arrived at the track for a Friday afternoon tune in as well as some lead and follow practice with our coach Kris Shaw. We were welcomed by beautiful weather and track temperatures around 110'F. Already early in the sessions and on old tires we were able to reproduce lap times matching our very best from 2009 under race conditions. A good indicator of our progress over the winter.

As we did not know how the competition would show up in this years' championship it was difficult to put down an exact objective, but settled on an overall top 3 objective in the 2010 Championship at least with a few wins. As our weekend objective we wanted to keep improving throughout the weekend and if possible set the fastest lap of the weekend in the last lap of the main final. We continued our tuning during Saturday's practice trying out several different axles, gearings and hubs. As we are fortunate enough to have two identical karts this year it is easy to test out different setups back to back and find the ideal setup anticipating how the track will come in at race day.

In the first morning warm-up Sunday morning we were able to get an idea about the field. The Masters class turned in with only a handful of drivers but the Masters Light class was pretty big with 9 drivers giving a substantial overall field of 14 karts. The Light class weighs in 40 pounds lower than the Masters, which is more than significant in a kart with relatively low power. All in all the scene was set for a very close and competitive race. We put down a lap time that was the fastest in our class by a huge margin of 2 seconds and 2nd fastest overall only 6/100 of a second behind the fastest. Again the fastest person was 40 pounds lighter and from another class so we were satisfied with our performance.

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We mounted new tires as the only change for qualifying and went out. As we had practiced for two days at used tires the feel of new tires caught us a bit by surprise and we started to hit curbs etc. and only improved our times a tad over practice despite the new tires. Although being expensive practicing more on new tires is something we need to work on. Despite we were not happy with our qualifying we copied our practice results, qualified on pole in class and 2nd overall.

We went out for the pre final starting at row 1 but completely missed the boat in the start and were passed by a driver from the Light class going in to Corner #1. In an uneventful race we raced bumper to bumper with the driver in front of us but passed on the inside going in to Corner #1 at lap #8 and started our pursuit for the lead. Within a couple of laps we closed the gap to the lead and once again went bumper to bumper for the rest of the race. Being 40 pounds heavier we did not have the needed momentum out of the corners to pass the overall leader, although we won our class.

Going in to the 18 lap main final we were determined to improve our start, which we did as we passed the leader going in to Corner #1 and never looked back. The remaining 18 laps went on rather uneventful and we passed the finish line as the in class and overall winner with a 3 second gap to the closest competitor and a 30 second gap to the closest in class competitor. More importantly we set our second fastest lap time of the weekend on the very last lap of the race meaning we met our objective for the weekend to keep improving.

Overall a very good start to the championship that showed we got the pace and our hard work over the winter paid off. This race also served as a good preparation for next weekend's Challenge Of the America's races that will also be held at Infineon International Karting center. As this is our home track we hope for even better results than the first races but being a big race with stiff and close competition everything is quite open. 

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