Racers Blog – Here’s a great first hand report from Dubai based 12yr old Logan Hannah on her first World Karting Championship in the SWS Finals at Le Mans, France.
Friday 9th May: My mum and dad had booked a cottage in a remote village around 50km from the track so was a very early start for the 3 of us – me, Dad and my Grandpa who had traveled over from Glasgow to support me. I had no problem getting up out of bed on a cold and damp morning as I was excited for what lay ahead.
At the race event paddock there were no issues with registration and drivers briefing – and we were all issued with the most important item for all drivers, our ID tags, which were our race numbers and weight ballast, which in my case was ‘zero’ as I weigh over the set 40kg minimum anyway. The organisation was very strict – drivers had to report 20mins before each session to the pit entry, complete with ID tag or you are excluded from that session – scary!
First practice session felt good, I had a few early spins in the damp but drying conditions whilst also learning the new track and getting used to the brand new Sodi LR5 karts which are much faster than the ones we drive in Dubai SWS races. In 2nd Practice and Qualifying my times were steadily improving but so are most of the other drivers and I ended up starting 18th on the grid for Race 1 – I started to realize I had a lot more to do against some really fast and more experienced competitors.
The weather turned out warm and sunny so the track was getting faster with more grip each session. Suddenly there was a bit of excitement when my Dad asked me where my ID card was and I could not find it….eventually I traced it back to where I had dropped it earlier – that was a close one !!
In the afternoon, Race 1 turned out to be one I’d rather forget…..even before the race had started my steering column became loose on the out lap and I couldn’t manage to tighten it. After stopping on track to get some help the race started without me and when I eventually got moving again I was already 1/4 of a lap behind the rest with a lot to do. I pushed really hard, managing to catch up mid-race and reached 15th with a couple of laps remaining but when I was challenging for 14th place we got too close into a tight left hander, and I made contact and spun out, as a result I dropped back to 19th at the finish.
My emotions were mixed because I had already recovered from a terrible start and was looking good for a strong finish position so in the end I was disappointed but still encouraged to go all out for a better result in Race 2.
Later in the day for Race 2, I started from 19th, I got an excellent start and had already overtaken several other drivers within the first lap. This was a tough and exciting race with a lot of action and more overtaking and in the end I was really pleased to finish in 12th place which showed more of what I was capable of and left me much happier and looking forward to the 2nd day of racing.
It seemed a very long drive back home that night especially as the SatNav in the hire car decided to take us along all the single track roads through all the forests and farms – my Mum joked the rental company had adjusted it to tourist settings. I was really shattered after all the kart driving and fell straight to sleep after some dinner with my family – hopefully I could continue moving up the rankings tomorrow with a top 10 finish my realistic target.
Saturday 10th May: I woke up slightly later as we did not have to get to the track so early and I was not impressed with the weather – cold, damp and cloudy with rain certainly on the way!
At the track I could see driving conditions were going to be very different from yesterday and many of the drivers with previous rain experience were much better prepared with warm and waterproof clothing – not like myself and the other UAE drivers. For 2nd qualifying in the morning, I was a bit nervous of spinning on the wet track but gradually as the session continued I started to get the hang of it….smooth and wide lines in the corners and earlier braking seemed to be the secret but still pushing hard.
At the end of qualifying instead of returning to the pits as usual we were directed to the grid to prepare for the start of Race 3. I qualified 15th but my lap time was only just behind the group of 6 drivers who qualified ahead of me so I was quite pleased especially for my first time driving in the cold and wet.
In Race 3 there was a big mix up as it was the first time we had been assembled on the main grid and not in the pit lane….everyone was confused and thought it was a standing start so we were all racing hard then the officials stopped us with a red flag after only 2 laps – It was a pity because I had already moved up several places! Then we all had to get out of the karts while they were put back in the correct grid positions and we were given more instructions by the officials that it was still a rolling start. The second attempt, was a clean start and I had a good one, quickly making up a couple of places with an aggressive move on the outside of Turn 1 only to spin out by pushing bit too hard a few corners later and dropped back….this was the story of Race 3 as I would make up places by overtaking or passing other spinning drivers then spin out again myself – by the end I could only manage 17th place which could and should have been better as I was now driving really well in the increasing wet conditions.
The 4th and last race of the SWS Junior Cup Championship was the World Grand Final which was run in the wettest track conditions thanks to a heavy rain shower just before the start.
By now at Race 4, I was more confident to drive fast in the wet and was looking forward to pushing hard to improve a starting grid position of 17th based on my total points scored in the previous races. On the formation lap the surface water was deep in some places, so all the karts were throwing up a lot of spray and I got soaked very quickly but did not really care as I was focused on getting a good start, that unfortunately did not happen.
Into Turn 1, I had a good run on my favorite wide line which would have been great if another kart had not spun out directly into my path. I could not avoid a coming together and when we both managed to re-start I was back in 20th position. The rest of the race turned out to be the best fun I had over the whole weekend as I gradually worked my way through the field, making sure I was clean and fast with no spins?.
Each lap I could hear my family cheering loudly as I managed several overtaking moves during some exciting battles, swapping positions several times till I crossed the finish line in 14th position with the 8th fastest lap of the race which overall I was very happy with after such a bad start and so of course were my family and friends who were still cheering loudly for me as I walked out of the pits to receive their congratulations. I was completely wet through…my race suit, helmet and boots were soaked but I did not care as I was still on a high from that exciting race and the wonderful experience of the whole weekend racing for the first time in Le Mans.
Thanks for all your support – bye for now Logan.
You can follow Logan’s journey here on her Facebook Page.
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