Oakenhurst is proud to sponsor Matt Pearce in his Daniel Ricciardo Series karting season. Round 5 took place on August 31st & September 1st and the team has sent us a race report about his weekend at Rowrah Karting Track, a track that is set in a disused quarry in the lake district.
Upon arriving in the Lake District early on Saturday morning, the team were greeted by heavy wind and rain, making awful conditions for them to erect their awnings. Which was proved when one of the canopies was ripped when it caught on a support leg, ripping in two places, one up to 2m in length. This meant the team couldn’t prep the kart until it was fixed, so they carried out a makeshift repair to the awning, majorly delaying their start to the Free Practice sessions. When the awning was repaired and up, they’d lost almost half the day and, ironically, the wind and rain had subsided.
Rowrah is set in a disused quarry, allowing for many vantage points with a great view of the circuit. It hasn’t been on the calendar for years, and Matt last drove there in 2009. Since then, the karts have changed a lot, so the team had no real data to help set up the kart for the best qualifying and race performance. Their lack of data and the awning set back meant that they only had three ten minute practice sessions. The track had dried for their first practice session, in the second it rained and in the third it was dry again with Matt posting good times, quickest in the second and 4th quickest in the final session.
It rained overnight, although the rain had cleared the next morning and the track was drying for qualifying. Rowrah is a fast circuit but with many turns, causing a lot of traffic that Matt got caught in, meaning he couldn’t get a clean qualifying lap, and it caused him to get caught on the drying track and putting two wheels on the curb sent him into a spin and then the tyre wall. The team were concerned that the damage may have affected the cassis, but it appeared that the now bent rear bumper took the brunt of the impact. A poor qualifying session left Matt down in 11th on the starting grid for the heat, which was topped off by it starting to rain again.
The track was very wet, but Matt does better than most in the wet which quickly saw him climb to 4th in the heat, but then experienced engine problems, intermittently miss-firing, and completely stalling which was thought to be the result of water in the air box. Matt found himself parked by the side of the track but managed to get the engine going again and go back up to 13th for the finishing line.
It was still wet for the pre-final, but the rain had stopped. The team contemplated risking going out on slick tyres, but fortunately decided against it which ended up being the right choice as the track didn’t dry up and there was a lot of grip. After a good start and some great overtakes, Matt made his way for 13th to 5th behind two battling karts. Matt saw his opportunity, but as he was about to make a move one of the karts made a late change of direction (which is illegal) forcing Matt to brake hard. The loss of traction going into the left hand hairpin left Matt unable to negotiate the corner and spun. Fortunately Matt got the kart back on the track and set about chasing down the leaders once more, but with only a few laps left Matt did well to finish 9th.
The track had dried for the final, and with stable weather conditions and top drivers out of place due to multiple on-track incidents, it would be a competitive race. Without a lot of data, the team made a few adjustments to tyre pressures to allow for the warmer track to get the most out of the tyres but not overheat them to early in the race, but a lot of it was guess work unfortunately.
Matt drove well, and despite being further down the grid than planned, he made some great moves and was posting fast lap times. Eventually, the tyres lost their peak performance and Matt couldn’t catch the leaders in the time he had. But his great drive was rewarded with a podium finish of 3rd place which was a great way to finish what had been a rough weekend for the team. Hopefully the next race won’t hold quite as much stress!
Many big thanks to Oakenhurst for their continued support and sponsorship, which is so important, and greatly appreciated by Matt and our team.
Matt said after the race “What a weekend!!! I felt we had the pace on Saturday after the little running we had. I felt confident for Sunday, but as ever the weather played an interesting dynamic to the racing. After a disappointing qualifying session, I managed to get on the podium in the end and take some points out of Sam as he finished behind me in every race.”
To watch the Daniel Ricciardo Series Rowrah racing event, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?…