Round 1 of the LAKC 2020 Championship proved to be a bitter-sweet weekend. We drove down early Friday to get some much needed seat time ahead of the race.
All day, Luca worked hard pounding laps, pouring over his data then going back out to apply himself, always pushing further. His lap times consistently dropped every session. With Douglas Creesy’s oversight, Luca is now wrenching for himself on his kart, setting it up the way he wants for race day. He had improved his lap times by an an impressive 3 seconds, breaking the sub 55 seconds/lap for the first time in the last session as the track was falling off. It was an astounding improvement as he dropped his previous best times by 8/10ths of a second. I believe that he may look back on this blog entry to recognize it as a seminal moment in the development of his race craft.
Saturday’s first practice session started where he left off the previous day in the sub 55 second/lap times. He has moved up to the next level. Now he was working hard on finding those hundredths of a second that turn mid-pack front-runners into podium place finishers. His best lap times reached 54.958, with his theoretical times at a 54.606 lap – 2/10ths off the lap record! The data showed that he was doing the lap time, he just had to put it together. He was as ready as he would be for his first senior race at LAKC.
Sunday proved to be a whole different story. Don’t you just love motor racing!
Warm-up was problematic as the tires used the previous day were shot. He could only manage a 7th fastest time. This resulted in being released for qualifying in the middle of the pack. Things then got worse. Luca was impeded on his hot lap for a 7th place spot on the grid with pole taken with a time almost 6/10th off his best times of the previous day.
Luca had started the day with humble confidence. Qualification had filled him with frustration and he was quiet – a sure sign of his nervousness. I forget that these are his first steps away from the Junior class. The Heat race was as exciting as it was filled with racing incidents – Luca being involved in a few of the many.
At the start of the race, he was pushed wide at the first turn by the kart behind him. A couple of laps later, he was almost taken out at the end of the straight. Deeply committed to an overtaking move, the driver suddenly cut him off, sending him up and over the other kart’s rear wheel narrowly avoiding a DNF. He hit Luca again a little later. Three other drivers suffered close calls from that driver’s racing indiscretions. Some harsh words were exchanged between the drivers after the race, as they lined up at the scales.
For the Main, Luca went out 15th of a 17 driver grid and was relaxed. With nothing to lose, races like this have the potential of living on into one’s memory for the pure fun of the racing. He was looking forward it. A strong start meant that by the end of the first lap he was in 12th with tires still cold – exactly where he needed to be. As he accelerated out of the apex on Carousel, he suffered a sudden mechanical failure that spun him around and out of the race. His rear bumper had detached, trapping itself between the tire and chain locking the rear axle.
He was disappointed. Providence had robbed him of a possible fun race.
Tri-C Round 2 next in 4 weeks …