Thursday the 26th of July saw the debut of the Angry Birds karting team. The karting team was made up of one current racing driver, Clare Vale, one ex racer, Shaun Sweet, me (Dirk) who has played with racing cars and in 12 hour endurance kart races and three newbies – my girlfriend, Taryn Miles, her brother Nathan Miles, and Alex Boryna. The karting league is held at the Xtreme Karting Circuit in Sunninghill and is held twice a month over three months, thus 6 rounds. We decided to enter a team after a very fun evening spent challenging friends and family around the circuit. It has by far the best and neatest indoor karts that I’ve raced in Johannesburg!
We got together one Sunday before the event to get a practice session in, get a feeling for the track and see if we could find some more time. We did improve on a slippery track and used the opportunity to get the experienced drivers to help the less experienced drivers. We were getting ourselves race ready! Raees Gaffar is part of the team but unfortunately missed out on the first race due to Ramadan and racing coinciding. He’ll be back soon, though, and he will be quick!
We arrived on Thursday night with both apprehension and anticipation. I think our aim for the first event was to be competitive and to improve our times – and in the process not finish last! Clare and myself did the 10 minute qualifying session – each spending about 5 minutes on track. We managed to qualify 4th out of 5 teams, so we were happy with our initial efforts. I did the quickest lap in our qualifying session by 0.02 of a second – it was very even out there!
The race is a 2 hour endurance event with pit stops for every team every 10 minutes. Teams have to have at least 3 members but we decided to run 6 of us. It makes it more fun, and for people who are not karting fit, two 10 minute sessions are quite tiring! We sent Shaun out first and he did very well – when he pitted we were running 3rd with Shaun doing a 16.33, faster than any of us had done!
Things were going well! We sent Alex out next and he didn’t manage to hold onto 3rd but was running well in 4th and setting PB’s as he went. Taryn was next and bettered her previous PB by over a second while holding on to a strong 4th. We then sent out Mrs Fast, Clare Vale, who set a PB but was not as quick as Shaun, but we strengthened our grip on 4th. Next up was Nathan, who impressed us all with his times and consistency, also setting a PB in his session.
By the time I got into the kart for the last session in the first hour, we were running well in 4th. I aimed to get good lap times, pass a few people and most importantly not get passed! I managed to hold my own even though there was a power failure mid race – and being underground it was a properly nerve wracking moment, as everything went completely black! Luckily I managed not to hit any barriers, unlike a few karts behind me… The lights came back on and we went racing again. I managed to make two passes and didn’t get caught so was happy with my session!
The second sessions saw everyone get to the previous PB and in the case of Alex, Taryn and Nathan, better them again! Clare battled with a kart that started running out of fuel and surging around the corners, and the team lost some time in the pit stop while refuelling took place.
I took the last session, and wasn’t passed and also managed to pass a few people. This time we didn’t have a black out, making the drive a lot more relaxed! We held onto 4th for the flag and we’re now even more excited for round 2! The Angry Birds team are now ready to race more!
For more information on the Xtreme Karting Circuit please visit http://www.xtremeindoorkarting.co.za