Let the words flow. Let the pictures speak

Business Time!

Abha Mankar,  Anshuman Chatterjee, Arjun Maini, Jehan Daruwala, Masood Mahommed, Mayur Kamat, Nikhil Kashyap, Parth Ghorpade, Shashank Ravishankar and Tarun Reddy qualified for the grand finals at the Silverstone, UK, hereinafter referred to as, “The Final Ten” in the second part.

However, two of the contestants Abha and Mayur were unable to make it to Silverstone due to their visa issues. Thus, “The Final Ten” now stands to be, “The Final Eight”. We deeply regret the unavailability of  the above mentioned contestants.

Come Day 2, it was time to get down to business in Daytona. The day bore witness to the Final Eight driving on one of the longest circuits they had driven on so far. They were scheduled to drive the four stroke pro-karts having a top speed of 55mph in the morning session, while in the afternoon session, it would go on to a more faster junior dmax kart (17 BHP) having a top speed of 75-80mph.

Safety first; before anything, the contestants were first given a safety briefing on the various aspects of racing. Fresh with the safety regulations in mind, track director Jim took the contestants on a walk around the track giving tips about the various turns around the track. The international track at the Daytona runs a lap measuring 1150 meters comprising 11 turns. Almost immediately after the start line, turn one is a flat bend that is taken flat out using the entire available track. The trick behind cracking it is to approach from the right with an apex on the left at the midpoint of the kerbing, and then flowing out to the right.

The first opportunity to overtake, an extended S bend, turns 2 & 3 require hard braking. Cracking it would require one to approach hard on the right, brake just before the tarmac joint straddling the track. Turn in to slightly touch the flat kerb on the left but missing the kerb. Through the corner only allow the kert to drift of the middle of the track, any further will destroy the second part of this turn. Power should be applied at the left apex and held on through the second apex on the right. From the middle of the track, it is possible to take a small amount of kerb through the second apex. On the exit use the entire track available to the left.

Turn 4 is a very tight hairpin that is approached over a slight crest. The best approach to the same would be to move across the tack to the right from turns 2 &3. Brake hard just before the crest and be careful as the kart may be slightly loose and airborne on turn in just after the crest. This hairpin opens out as you pass through it. Make sure that the kart is allowed to flow out to the kerbing on the right to carry as much speed as possible through this very slow corner.

Turn 5 is a complex corner that requires an early application of throttle. Straight – line the first section, a slight left and position the kart to the left near the kerb. Turn to the right leaving the kerbing just before it ends and brake as you do so. It is only a medium to soft brake to balance the kart for a fast exit. Apex the first right hand corner in the middle of the kerb and then allow the kart to flow to the middle of the track for the second right apex of this turn. From the middle of the track aim to go out to the kerbing on the left for the final section of this corner.

Turn 6 is a fast corner that starts downhill and then bottoms out and returns uphill. Like many corners on this circuit it gradually opens out as it progresses. Approached fast downhill, a dab of brakes is required to steady the kart and to maximize the exit speed. The throttle should be reapplied as you turn from the left across the inside on the right before reaching the kerb and apex at the bottom of the hill. Hold the kerb as long as possible but the kart will be thrown to left as the corner starts to go uphill. It is correct to let the kart go up to the smooth kerbs on the outside but not the rough concrete that is immediately behind.

Turn 7 is a hairpin which appears immediately after exiting turn 6, and it slightly opens out on exit. Very little speed has been built up from the previous corner and a small incline further reduces the acceleration. Exiting turn 6 on the left, move across the track to enter this corner from the right. It is possible to turn across the apex on the left flat out or if this causes exit problems, have just a small lift of the throttle. From the apex at the middle of the kerbing, maximize the exit speed downhill by using the entire track to the right, and try not to use the kerb.

Turn 8; approached downhill after the second longest straight, this corner is the most difficult on the circuit. The straight before has a slight left turn that is easily straightened flowing from the right to almost touch the kerbing on the left and then back across the track to the right. It is very tempting to gain more room on the entry to this sharp left corner by going up the high level kerbing just before entering the corner. This is too rough and will unsettle the kert under braking. Stay as far as possible to the right without putting a wheel on to the high kerb. Brake hard from the middle of this kerb and turn into the corner just after the kerb finishes. Move across the track to almost touch the kerb on the left and then use the entire track moving out to the right. Power should be reapplied at the apex on the left and the kerbs on the exit to the right should not be used.

Turn 9 is a long fast corner that can be taken flat out in the dry. On the main straight get to the right and turn into this corner just before the lights and tarmac joint. Get close to the kerbing on the left just after the turn off and hold near this kerbing all through the corner. Do not take a normal racing line on the exit of this corner. Remain on the left, if possible, ready for turn 10.

Turn 10 is one of the slowest hairpins on the track follows the fastest section. The entry will be determined by the previous turn. It is important to be on the left so that a full racing line can be taken. Brake just before the tarmac joint and turn in just after. Move across the track to clip the apex on the right. From the apex travel across the track to the left to maximize the radius taken. Power should be reapplied at the apex on the right.

Turn 11, another corner that has a preceding slight kink before its entry. The slight right before is late apexed to straight-line it, and to position the kart on the right hand edge of the track for the entry of this corner. Brake whilst on the right just after the cut through. Power should be reapplied at this apex and then the kart allowed to flow across the track to the right without going onto the kerbs. The small patch of kerbing on the left after the kerbing should be ignored.

Lot of stuff to keep your memory occupied? That is only a sample part of what is expected of a wannabe formula one driver. The contestants took seats on pro-karts to go on familiarization laps before going on two back to back races. They were allocated random grid positions for the first race and reverse grid for the second one. Post lunch, they went on to ride some more powerful engines in the form of junior dmax karts. Again they went on practice laps followed by two heats based on which they were allocated grid positions for the race that took place in the end. The intention of the karting through the day was not to race and find winners, but to familiarize with the tack and the different karts.

As goes the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, so in the evening the Final Eight went to Xscape for some bowling action. They went on to prove that, karting was not the only thing they were good at, as the contestants won in their respective groups. Consistently scoring well, Nikhil went on to lead in group A, while Masood went on to make a late come back and lead Group B.

The evening meal was at the Pizza Express, and then back to the hotel after a tiresome day where they drove the karts for more than 100 kms each. Heavy again? Get used to it is all we can say.

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