Oakenhurst is proud to sponsor Matt Pearce in his Daniel Ricciardo Series karting season. Round 6 took place on September 28th – 29th and the team has sent us a race report about his weekend at Fulbeck. Fulbeck started as a track in the late 1950s when local people started racing home-built machines around the inside of an aircraft hangar at RAF Fulbeck.

During Saturday practice it was very wet and windy, and in the first practice session Matt only achieved an Out Lap because the bolts that secure the carburettor to the engine worked loose and 2 out of 4 of them came out completely! Whilst repairing the carburettor, the rain came down and the repairs took away the time to change Matt’s kart to a wet weather setup, so the team didn’t have get the opportunity to learn a good wet weather set up for the track. Practice 3 was the team’s first full session in which Matt reported good power but had an oversteering issue due to too much front end grip. As the day continued the team felt they had a mix of wet and dry set ups, but weren’t completely happy with the overall pace as the fastest time Matt posted was 4th fastest overall.

Heavy rain overnight created a damp track for qualifying on Sunday, but the appearance of the sun meant there was chance for a dryer track in qualifying. The team let the rest of the drivers leave the pit lane to lay down some rubber, drying out the track more and creating more grip for Matt’s fast lap late on in the session. Matt left the pits just in front of the faster drivers and reported good engine performance, but Matt’s fastest lap time was only good enough for 5th, 0.6secs down from 1st. Last season Matt qualified first, so clearly there were set up issues with the kart. After the session the team made some more adjustments to hopefully improve their lap time and race pace later on.

Matt started the Heat from 5th, and the track was now dry enough for all drivers to be on slick tyres. With a clean start through the first corner Matt prepared himself for a shot at 4th, and took a lunge up the inside of the next corner, which caught 4th by surprise and he ran wide losing multiple places. Chasing 3rd, Matt made the same move a few laps later to take 3rd cleanly and started to close the gap to the front 2 drivers. After a few laps of hard racing to try and catch up, Matt’s tyres started to overheat creating a loss of grip and making it impossible to catch 2nd. Matt eventually crossed the line in 3rd.

As the pre-final race approached, the weather turned and rain was forecast in the next hour. However for the time being the track was dry, and most of the drivers apart from two decided to stay on slick tyres. The race started and everyone made it through the first few corners cleanly, but the rain arrived early, and going into turn 3 Matt sore the front two drivers make a mistake and run very wide. He took his opportunity and turned into the corner earlier, taking the shorter inside line, it gave him the extra grip he needed and a better run into the next part of the track. He got on the power and was about to take the lead, overtaking the two front runners, when the driver in 2nd spun right into the path of Matt, resulting in a collision that put Matt in the tyre wall, beaching the kart in the wet grass. Matt had to get out to get the kart back on the track, and by the time he was back in the kart he was in last with a lot of distance to make up. Shortly after, the race was red flagged and stopped due to the standing water and most of the field being on slicks. The result was taken from when each driver crossed the line the lap before it stopped, putting Matt in 18th (last).

The rain continued, making the final a wet race and leaving no question about what tyre to use. Starting last, Matt planned to give the drivers in front plenty of space to avoid the likely spins and contact in the first corner due to the wet weather. During the warm up lap Matt quickly realised the visibility was very bad due to the spray coming from every driver in front. The expectation of a few drivers spinning didn’t play out, as everyone made it through the first corner. The poor visibility meant Matt couldn’t see past the rear bumper of the driver in front, so after a couple of laps Matt took a blind but educated overtake attempt. It was only after passing the drivers ahead of him that he could see that the next group had created a gap ahead of him, but it gave Matt the visibility to focus on the best racing line and catch up, putting in some of the fastest lap times on the field. Having caught up with them, Matt made a brilliant move just past the pit lane entrance on a corner not normally used for overtaking that promoted Matt up to 10th. Matt continued to chase drivers down and make daring overtakes in awful conditions. Finally, Matt ran out of laps and crossed the line in a respectable 6th place, having come from the back of the grid.

After the race, Matt said, “That was a great race. I really enjoyed that, despite the poor visibility.”

When asked how the day went, Matt responded saying, “It was a difficult weekend. The unpredictable weather conditions were tricky, but that’s the same for everyone. The team did a fantastic job to get the kart set up without much time and the loss of so much practice time on Saturday. After the good result in the first race and then the poor result in the pre final, it made the final race of the day a damage limitation race.”

“Special thanks to my sponsor Oakenhurst Aircraft Service Ltd for coming to support me this weekend and cheering me on. I hope you enjoyed the spectacular final, and sorry you got a bit wet!”

To watch the Daniel Ricciardo Series Rowrah racing event, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?…