Buckmore Park once more served as the venue for the 2017 edition of the annual Rydon Charity Karting Event raising a fantastic £3,600 for CRASH.
The event is one that Rydon directors and senior management tirelessly prepare for, calling upon the best driving talent that the construction industry has to offer once a year, for a shot at lifting the trophy and tasting the champagne after the chequered flag has dropped at the Chatham circuit.
93 drivers situated into 19 teams were suitably safety briefed and brought up to speed with the regulations and the itinerary for the evening. As competitive minds inevitably wandered and itched to get out onto the track, the drivers were launched into a short, sharp, 15-minute practice session to acclimatise themselves with the demands of the circuit and the powerful 390cc karts to gain vital track experience in readiness for the race.
The practice session showed early pace with Mark Mitchener’s #7 Haas F1 team, setting a 52.072. Haas’ lap was a blink of an eye quicker than Ben Finch’s #12 Audi of 52.130. Peter Arnold’s #10 McLaren Honda team showed a glimmer of hope for the team, who’s real-world luck has been waning in Formula One, as they rounded out the top 3 with a best lap of 52.426.
The eventual pole-position team for the race, as determined by the ‘Grid Bid’ system, Ben Irvine’s #1 Mercedes were languishing down in 12th place after practice, with lap 2-seconds adrift from Mark Mitchener’s pace setting lap. Could they get back to the sharp end or stay mid-pack?
However, 3 hours on the clock for the race would inevitably throw up a stir and change the dynamic completely. Drivers develop their knowledge of the track and hone their race craft throughout. Mechanical factors such as a drop in temperature and the circuit ‘rubbering in’ would provide more grip and thus generate faster laptimes, as would the proverbial sandbags removed from the vehicles once the green lights flashed to signal the start of the race, showing the true pace of the Buckmore Park karting experts.
A busy circuit for much the race as traffic caused an issue and multiple overtaking manoeuvres were required to put distance against the team’s immediate rivals.
Mark Unsworth’s #2 Ferrari team rose to prominence in the race, showing that a consistent and rhythmic race plan was in order to ensure victory at the Buckmore Park circuit, feathering through the backmarkers and keeping the 2nd place team, the #4 Force India led by Jeff Henton, at bay.
Jeff’s team took the fight to the #2 Ferrari, finishing on the lead lap and ensuring that the Ferrari wasn’t going to romp to victory so easily. Both the Ferrari and Force India teams racked up 199 laps in the 3 hour race to take 1st and 2nd respectively, with the Ferrari team holding the coveted trophy aloft. Mark Unsworth’s Ferrari also took the honour of fastest lap, with a 50.720, set on lap 196 of 199!
Ben Irvine’s #1 Mercedes showed that it was in fact a contender in the race, as they improved on their practice time by over a second and racked up 197 laps. Ultimately, their performance was enough to secure 3rd place and a step on the podium. The #7 Haas of Mark Mitchener’s team who snatched 1st in practice could only muster 4th place, 3 laps off the winner.
Rounding out the field was Mike Brown’s #9 Sauber team as they failed to replicate their strong result in practice of 9th, and his team claimed the hypothetical wooden spoon, finishing 23 laps down on the field. Despite that, Mike’s team did show some great pace and will be determined to finish higher up the order next year.
AFTER THE FLAG
A large cheque was presented to CRASH’s Fundraising and Events Manager, Kate Marsh after the event as Rydon and our industry delegates put competitiveness and fatigue aside to collectively raise £3,600 for CRASH, as each and every one who participated has helped offer a lifeline to those less fortunate.
Thank you to all 93 racers and the countless staff who took part in the Rydon Charity Karting Event, and we hope to see you all next year in the name of CRASH!