In search of the perfect lap.

Last week me and some friends went to have our monthly race at the gokart track. Rune had informed me earlier that the levels of grip were very good there now, so I was looking forward to driving there. I joked that since it has been some weeks since the last time I drove a gokart and I wasn't feeling well that day, I'd probably set a new track record.

About 7 people turned up at the track. Among them a few guys who race, or have raced, cars. One of them has also raced gokarts more seriously than our once-a-month meetup. I think Geir is probably the only currently active racer. He drives a really cool Alfa Romeo Giulia in the Corsa Italiana racing series. The orange and white car in the topmost picture.

(The picture of me in a gokart was shot at Kerpen in Germany. Yes, one of the two tracks run by Michael Schumacher. And yes, we drove both of them. And yes, we set decent lap times :-).

I had a peek at the board with the 15 or so fastest lap times. The new best lap was a 24.16 and my previous best lap was pushed all the way down to fifth place or so with a 24.67. With that sort of gap I didn't expect any new track records to be set by us that day.

Oh boy was I wrong.

I usually take the two first lap to try to warm up the tyres by weaving rapidly to the point where I almost spin the kart, by braking really hard (without locking up) and by pushing the front wheels hard into under-steering, thus scrubbing them warm. When the tyres are cold the kart usually lets go really easily when weaving. This time they didn't. The thing was glued to the track surface. After a couple of laps the tyres had so much heat in them that I could drive about 90% of the track with the throttle pedal planted (as opposed to just perhaps 80%).

The track has a technically challenging middle section where you have to sacrifice the start of the section to get good speed out of it. Usually you get a noticable lift on the left rear wheel. This time there was so much grip that I was accelerating even before that left turn -- and instead of just the rear wheel lifting off the ground, I had both of the inner wheels 20cm in the air.

I can't remember what my best time during the first heat was, but I easily beat the 24.67 that was my previous record. Previously, anything under 25.50 was considered a very good time. Now all of us were doing laps well under 25.00.

In the second heat I progressively beat my personal best 6 laps out of 15 laps and managed to set two times below the current lap record for the track. The fastest time I managed to clock was 24.08. I'm also quite pleased that my average lap time was 24.307. Most of the slow laps being laps when I was overtaking other gokarts (one of them even being a lap when I played chicken with Geir into one of the corners. Horns clearly visible at this point).

The new record stood for all of 20 minutes before Torstein beat it again with a 24.00. To be honest, I think he would have broken the magic 24.00 limit if he had gotten the better gokart for the last heat. (Those who had the best times after 2 heats got the last pick in gokarts). Torstein drove amazingly fast given the gokart he got.

As Ståle pointed out: a lot of ribs will be smashed over the next week to beat the new times on the lap record board. News travels fast :-).

In the end I think 6 out of 7 people who turned up ended up on the board.

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