The Royal Navy Royal Marines Karting Team has been active for a number of years now and has recently benefited from new leadership and a substantial grant from the RNRMC and others, which has allowed for new karts and equipment to be purchased.
The Team is run by Lt Jean-Luke Laister and his father, John Laister, who have a number of years of karting experience between them, including racing at British Championship level.
The Team races in the Armed Forces Karting Championship against the Army, RAF, and a few civilian teams. The Championship is held over six rounds throughout the year at some of the best karting tracks in the country. The Team had a number of successes in 2019, including victories at two of the rounds.
Members of the Team will try and get to the track as early as possible to begin setting up (based on work and operational commitments). The format for the race weekends is typically practice on the Friday and Saturday morning before the race on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening will be a chance for members to unwind and Sunday will be a maintenance day on the karts, cleaning and setting them up ready for the next round, while also dismantling the awning and packing everything into the vans to transport it back to RNAS Yeovilton, where the Team is based.
The races are typically a ten minute qualifying session followed by a three hour race. Three pit stops are mandatory, which is a perfect time for a driver change, with one stop required at the mid point for fuel. The karts are typically shared by three drivers, meaning each driver will get an hour of racing each along with practice before the race.
There is the option for heavier drivers (over 80kg) to enter the heavyweight category. The heavyweight karts race with everyone else in the race and championship but there is a separate trophy and championship for them to compete in.
The Team currently have six karts in total using two Honda 160gx engines which have been designed for endurance racing. Four karts are part of the Race Team with two karts part of the Development Team.
Over race weekends, initially all the karts will be set up the same and the setup will be determined by Lt Laister and his father, John Laister, based on testing throughout the day. Once all the karts are in the right area the two will individually look at each kart and speak to each driver to fine tune the setup for all the karts to ensure the best chance of success.
On the social side, there is also plenty of time to relax and everyone socialises around the barbecue in the evenings at race weekends. We usually have a decent social at the last round of the year and there is also an end of year dinner held by the Motorsports Association and attended by all the disciplines within the RNRMMSA.