Wednesday, 10 August 2016

British 24 Hours 2016. Teesside, 12-14 August. Preview

This is where it gets real.

There are plenty of 24 hour kart races, but none quite like this. The European Prokart Endurance Championship (EPEC), of which the British 24 Hours is part, includes two other 24 hour races at the Isle of Man and Le Mans. But the British 24 Hours, held at EPEC's behemoth home circuit in the northeast of England, holds a special place in our hearts. With up to 70 owner and rental kart teams sharing track and paddock space, its scale and carnival atmosphere have no equal.

Everyone goes to Teesside. It's The One, the most coveted prize of all.

At its heart, a race - any race - is a simple thing. Get to the finish line first. And at Teesside, as in any race, the devil is in the detail. We must push our machines and ourselves to the limit but no further, treading the knife edge for over 1200 racing miles. We must balance speed on track with mechanical sympathy; use our collective years of experience to make sure that not a single second is wasted in the dozen or more scheduled pitstops we will make. We must plan down to the last detail yet be ready to react on the fly. We must be lucky, and we must make our own luck.

Only then will we have a shot at taking the chequered flag ahead of the 41 other teams also striving for the same glory. With a single hire class in 2016, our usual (fearsome) competition - Northampton Maidens, Teesside Tigers, CD31, a host of Elite Karting League regulars - are joined by a host of strong newcomers from the defunct Standard Hire class. The fight at the front is going to be tougher than ever.

Corporate Chauffeurs has, over the years, become a well-drilled racing team. We've put a lot of effort into preparing for the British 24 Hours; in 2016, we've raised our game again. Equipment, logistics, planning, analysis of past triumphs and mistakes... no stone has been left unturned. For me, fatherhood has dictated a quieter race buildup this year, but I've been blown away by the commitment and sheer hard work of my teammates over the past few months.

As usual, we'll field two karts, numbers 11 and 22, crewed by a mix of Teesside old hands and talented newcomers. Russell Endean and Jonny Spencer return to defend their Club Hire title at the wheel of #11, joined by Club100, BUKC and BRKC front runner David Longman and former Super 1 star George Lovell - who also happens to run his own kart circuit.

Having missed the podium by a hair's breadth in 2015, #22's crew have a point to prove. Corporate Chauffeurs captain Alex Vangeen, Michael Weddell and I are joined by teenage superstar-in-waiting Piers Prior and Race of Champions quarter-finalist Bradley Philpot, who swaps from #11.

Also for the first time, we'll be without the services of my wife Marianne, who will be following the action from home while extolling Daddy's heroics to our three month old daughter. She's devastated to be missing the race and not at all secretly glad that she won't spend the weekend working flat out on her feet beside a noisy, windswept and rain-lashed kart circuit. We'll miss her in more ways than we can count.

Work commitments have sadly claimed our excellent 2015 team manager Arnaud Tinet. But his shoes have been enthusiastically filled by top 2-stroke racer and PR guru Luke Jones, who is responsible for our new sponsors and expanded social media presence. Having done sterling work in the buildup, Luke will run the pitwall and direct strategy for both karts during the race, He'll be assisted by returning karting widows Charlie Fitton and Marie Mcgeachie - respectively, Jonny's and Michael's girlfriends.

Once again, we're hugely grateful for the continued support from the Vangeen family business, along with T.B. Mackay Energy Services and new-for-2016 sponsor Opie Oils. As always, we'll put our hearts and souls into delivering the perfect result for them, and for ourselves.

Testing for the British 24 Hours will start on Friday 12 August. Official practice and qualifying will start at 9am on Saturday, and the lights will go green at midday. For race updates and live timing, visit our Facebook page

To everyone racing this weekend: good luck, and stay safe.

I'm counting the minutes, and I know I'm not the only one.

1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading your write-ups which are interesting, exciting and entertaining. Still smiling at "not secretly glad...".