Team Soton race their way to success

Last Sunday, the University of Southampton’s crack karting squad made the two hour trip north to chilly Northamptonshire to compete in the qualifying round of the British University Karting Championship (BUKC). […]

BUKC Karting Wessex Motor Club Whilton Mill

Last Sunday, the University of Southampton’s crack karting squad made the two hour trip north to chilly Northamptonshire to compete in the qualifying round of the British University Karting Championship (BUKC).

IMG_2395Things didn’t get off to a particularly great start. While loading the car up the night before, Karting Captain James Dennison discovered a puncture, spending the next two hours performing a very un-Formula One like wheel change.

This led to a few nervous glances from some unnamed team members, clearly not confident in their Captain’s understanding of all those mechanical gubbins. Fast forward two hours however and both team cars had made it to Whilton Mill karting circuit with minimum drama and the drivers began (sleepily) psyching themselves up for qualifying.

Vice-Captain Stuart Wells was first out for the A team, setting an impressive benchmark with a fourth place slot on the grid. As this did not involve a podium, Captain Denny channeled his inner dictator and banned Wells from the canteen for the rest of the day.

Scott Michaels and James Dennison followed this up with a third and fifth respectively, whilst Chris Mansbridge achieved the B team’s highest grid place with a solid 14th. As the reader can see, expectations for the B team are surpassed when they finish with a full quorum of wheels. Unfortunately, owing to an overtake under yellow flags, Scott was sent to the back of the grid, a penalty which he took in typical good grace, and without revealing his inner toddler.

I never was very good at starting from the front anyway.

Moving into the first of two races for each driver, Southampton were feeling confident pensive. Whilst Captain James was nervously checking the nuts on his alloy, Stuart was scything across the line to start the very first race of the day. Unfortunately however, another competitor was also scything; straight into Stuart as it turned out. Last year’s Captain was left beached on the grass awaiting rescue, with his replacement muttering sullenly about further culinary restrictions.

Stuart (right) really gets Chris' (left) juices going with a scintillating explanation of his spin.

Stuart (right) really gets Chris’ (left) juices going with a scintillating explanation of his spin.

We’d love to call this a minor blip in the first round of racing, but it was more a Range Rover sized sign of things to come.

Diego Martinez and Scott both started from the back and after a breakdown in communication with their karts, finished at the back. At this point, Dennison was a virulent shade of puce, putting the finishing touches to Mein Kartf.

Titas Bucelis gave the team a semblance of hope with an impressive 10th place finish before Captain Dennison made his qualifying race bow. With six minutes to go, Captain Dennison was running in sixth place when a backmarker forgot he was portraying the statistical irrelevance that is Max Chilton and held lofty dreams of Pastor Maldonado instead. The buffoon lost control in front of him and knowing that an impact may have injured the other driver, Dennison gallantly put his kart into the barrier. However, the impact was made with such force that it broke part of the exhaust and Captain Denny had to retire the kart.*

With the B team not fairing much better, thoughts turned to whether either team would actually qualify for the main championship – a sharp downfall from the years where Southampton competed for the top spots. Captain Winded vowed that the team would battle on as Scott’s mind contemplated a season in the rookie champs, his face resembling that of Max Mosley at the News of the World offices.

Come the second round of races, things improved dramatically. Dan Castro made up eight places from his starting position whilst Titas and Stuart battled forth to a top ten finish. As the heavens opened and the (absolutely useless) floodlights came on, Scott re-established communication with his kart to come home ninth from the back of the grid.

After the final race of the day was cut short due to an on track pile up, Jonathan Hoey and Captain Comeback had little time to make up positions, yet still managed impressive 10th and 13th places respectively, with Dennison coming up from 36th place on the grid.

With all of this taken into account, and the disqualification of Kingston B due to illegal kart tampering, Southampton’s A and B teams finished 19th and 24th respectively out of 45 teams in total, meaning BOTH TEAMS QUALIFIED FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

James karting

With the day’s karting done, the soggy wet suits in the boot and Scott still moaning about his sugar, Team Southampton retired to a local Indian to reflect on a day very well done.

If you’re interested in representing your University in the national karting championship, send a message to Wessex Motor Club on Facebook. Seriously, we miss being good.

*Captain Fantastic was thankfully unhurt, but has channeled the inner rage involved into machinations for a hostile takeover of the AU.