Well from the excellent to the terrible. Sometimes you are ill, like FEKC round 1 and have a valid excuse and sometimes you just plain suck. I am being harsh, but we all expected better and Riley wasn’t really driving how he had done in the previous junior races. There was way too much following going on and not enough attacking driving. He was annoyed and that annoyed everyone else.
There are some factors, we put down a new chassis and this initially looked like it was a good thing and he seemed more “alive” on the kart during Saturday practice, but after setting fastest lap last week at WMKC on his old chassis you have to wonder what the hell you are doing. Come race day and it was apparent that kart and driver were not as confident as previously.
Heat 1 Riley started 12th but the outside of the grid made a woeful start and got passed pretty much by the whole inside lane in the first corner. He fought back to 11th .
Heat 2 was even worse when he left himself on the outside even though he had a golden opportunity to get to the inside, there was “congestion” in front on the inside and I think the new bumpers make drivers nervous about holding the inside in close traffic. Anyway that move cost Riley about 20 places as he couldn't get back in. He raced back to 10th, but there was an accident in front of him and he clipped one of the karts as it return onto the track and picked up a bumper 10 second penalty which on a close packed race dropped him to 23rd… Jeepers can we have the 10 place rule back please!!!
Heat 3 Riley was starting 26th anyway and got back to 14th which was reasonable. That left him 15th on the grid for the final. His worst grid slot for ages. I think all this had taken its toll on his confidence. Saying that, through racing and staying out of trouble he end up fighting over 4th, he never really made a decisive move though and some good defending later kept him behind and he got poached on the last lap to end up 6th. Given the weekend, we went home smiling.
Moral this week, it doesn’t matter if you change something and it's better, it still takes time to adjust to it. (Let’s hope driver and kart can bond soon). When you change something as big as the chassis then it takes time for the driver to adjust to it and that can cost you confidence, which is the difference between going forwards or reversing down the order, especially in a packed race. Saying that we normally go home smiling whether we have won or come last, because there is always something to learn and all the racing is fun wherever you are in the field.