So what do we like doing, when we are not in the office? In December last year we had our first ever Triteq Go Karting Challenge – Richard Apsey produced a special report on his experiences. “Karting, or any motorsport for that matter, is all about getting to the end of the race first, in the least amount of time and in the most cost effective way. You may be the fastest driver out on the track but that counts for nothing unless you have reliable equipment and the full support and communication of your team. Triteq understand this and apply the same analogy to work hard for you to ensure you reach the 'chequered flag' first in your particular race.”
A number of years ago I was involved in endurance pro-kart racing. I raced for a clubman team in the 2001 MSA British Endurance Kart championship which visited a number of race circuits around the UK. Each of the 12 races would typically last 6 hours with a driving stint lasting 2 hours! We won our class that year and two years later I started my own endurance pro-kart team with a colleague. We raced at club rounds where we enjoyed top 5 championship positions each year we raced. More recently in December of 2012 I took part in the first Triteq employee indoor kart race. No surprises that I had a slight advantage over the competition and won the event. Defending the Triteq trophy, I returned to the driving seat on 1st May 2013 with a bounty on my head for anyone who could beat me, courtesy of our MD, Jackie Berry. I didn't get fastest lap, but I did cross the finish line first.
Looking back on my successful karting history there were some discrepancies: I was not the quickest driver, we did not have the budget to buy the latest equipment and we often did not have the optimal setup. So why was it that we were able to finish so near the front every year against other teams, some of which were sponsored and seemed to have unlimited cash flow? The simple answer is that we made sure that our equipment was reliable, we made the most of what we had and we tried to be innovative. We looked at ways in which we could be faster without spending significant money and by looking at aspects of the race where time could easily be reduced. For example, some teams would spend large sums of money on regular engine tuning, body kit enhancements and so on to try and decrease lap times by 10ths of seconds and yet waste seconds in the pit lane! This was one area in which we made up most of our time. On one occasion we jumped about 4 teams in the pits just by making a well-timed, well executed pit-stop.
A minimum weight limit of kart and driver was measured by a weigh-bridge every time a kart came into the pits. One of our tactics was to start the race with the lightest driver first with the kart carrying necessary ballast weight and taking the chequered flag with the heaviest driver without any ballast weight. The advantage of this was that it was quicker and easier to remove ballast weights than it was to add. Other teams did not appear to catch on to this.
On one occasion we embarrassingly ran out of fuel on the track and had to get the kart back to the pits to refuel. Once refuelled we had a further delay trying to start the engine – pulling the engine rip-cords to draw fuel from the fuel tank took far too long and so we ended up last in the race. Not wanting to be caught out again, we devised a 'plan B'. We inserted a tyre valve into the fuel overflow bottle cap onto which a foot pump could easily be connected. A small amount of positive pressure from the footpump allowed fuel to be forced quickly into the engines ready for a fairly immediate start. We benefited from this modification another time when fuel ran out and were able to re-join the race having only lost a couple of places.
Another more common problem was when a driver would come into the pits for a driver change and refuel. It was the in-coming driver's responsibility to loosen the fuel cap to the tank ready for fuelling. Having driven for two hours solid, the fuel cap would often be fumbled and dropped, usually disappearing under the kart. Thisrequired the driver to get out so that the kart could be lifted and the cap retrieved. Fortunately we addressed this issue by having a spare cap in another team members pocket ready to fit to the tank if necessary. This simple, yet effective, measure was useful on at least 10 occasions and probably saved us around 10 seconds each time. Many of the little tricks we utilised came about because of a need to prevent a problem or issue, whether perceived or previously encountered, from occurring.
The stresses and vibration that the kart is put under for practice, qualifying and the race itself means that the kart has to be reliable and last the distance, a parallel with many of the designs Triteq undertakes. An example of how important reliability can be was apparent in our final year of racing. We went into the last race of the season leading the championship. All we needed to do was finish in the top 6, so not too difficult based on previous success. However, during the race the transponder, which allows Race Control to register our position in the race, fell off the kart due to worn cable ties and by the time we realised and managed to get the driver to return to the pits for a replacement we had dropped down to last place. Thankfully, our nearest championship rival also had problems which set them back, so all was not lost! That was until the end of the race when the other team finished in a position giving them equal championship points, but then won the championship when they were awarded 1 extra point for fastest lap!! Had our kart been reliable, we would have won the championship – we were all gutted over something as simple as a worn cable tie that could have been so easily avoided. So attention to the smallest detail is so important when reliable operation is critical.
Karting, or any motorsport for that matter, is all about getting to the end of the race first, in the least amount of time and in the most cost effective way. You may be the fastest driver out on the track but that counts for nothing unless you have reliable equipment and the full support and communication of your team. Triteq understand this and apply the same analogy to work hard for you to ensure you reach the 'chequered flag' first in your particular race.