KT – AFKC Rd6 – Cumbria

In Karting Team by Samuel Cresswell

The last weekend in September held the 6th and final round of the Armed Forces Karting Championship for the 2022 season. The team has competed in 10 previous races over the last 5 rounds of the year exceeding the team’s all-time record so far.

The final round was to be held at Cumbria Kart Circuit which was the furthest race on the calendar for the team. After a long drive the team arrived in Rowrah with spirits high as only a handful of points separated the top 4 teams, the closest fight for the Station/Unit Trophy that we had seen for years. The REME Corps, RAF Waddington, RAF Brize Norton and the RNRM Karting Team were all neck and neck going into the final 2 races with all teams showing strong potential during the Friday free practice.

Individually, Kart 47 (RNRM Super-Category Kart) was also leading the SC by a fine margin with a chance to win for the second season in a row, while kart 45 was also in contention for the overall military championship win.

Race Day

Race 1 – Qualifying

Race day came around with the previous evenings weather leaving the track wet and slippery to start the day off in qualifying. The ideal tyre for the 10-minute qualifying was most probably the wet tyre, however the tyre that the kart finishes the session on must be the tyre that starts the race. Therefore, the majority of the teams chose to use the slicks as the track was due to dry pretty quickly – saving them having to do a tyre change during the race to slicks.

Karts 46, 47, 49 & 89 all chose the slick tyre like the majority of the other teams, but Liam Waterhouse and Martin Theodorou (kart 45) made a last minute risky decision to use the wets, with the intention of putting a fast lap on the wet tyres then changing to the slicks before the end of the qualifying session meaning they could benefit from the fast lap time of the wets and starting the race on the slicks. After problems changing the wheels the risk did not pay off as too many laps were sacrificed during the change.

With qualifying for the first race finished, Sam Cresswell & Jonny Gregory (kart 47) and Matthew Chambers & Tom Shelton (kart 46) had a great drive on the slicks both finishing in the top 10 with Liam Waterhouse & Martin Theodorou (kart 45) down In 18th, Ollie Suatt & Luke Thomson (kart 49) in 27th and Harvey Harris & Andrew Deane (kart 89) starting at the back of the grid due to a mechanical.

Race 1

Race 1 began with the inevitable carnage on the first lap due to the mix of slippery conditions and slick tyres. Kart 46 & 47 managing to avoid the chaos however kart 45 & 89 being further back in the grid became victims to other karts blocking the track from spinning out. 45 managed to get back underway after a short trip across the grass while 89 used the escape road to regain. The race continued and the pit window was open. Teams have a 10-minute window mid race where all driver changes have to be made or penalties can occur. A change in pit strategy saw the team struggle to pit all 5 karts within the window unfortunately occurring time penalties for 47 and 49.

Albeit quite a challenging race, 45 led a hard charge making up the most positions in the race (15) and climbing from 18th to take a seat on the podium finishing 3rd. 46 and 47 crossing the line only seconds apart from one another to finish a respectable 11th and 12th while 49 and 89 having their first race in mixed conditions finished 25th and 33rd respectively including the time penalties.

Race 2 – Qualifying

The weather continued to dry the track and qualifying for the second and final race of the season. Novice Tom Shelton (Kart 46) topped the RNRM teams qualifying result putting the kart in 9th with a superb drive from novice Harvery Harris to put 89 right behind them in 10th. Kart 47 finishing qualifying mid field in 16th with 49 in 28th.

After the first race, the team were approached by the officials after kart 45 had breached the regulations during the first qualifying. Having no time to have checked the regulations prior to qualifying, unknowingly to them the decision to change tyres during a qualifying session was not allowed. Liam & Martin were then told they would have to start from the back of the grid for race 2.

Race 2

The final race was underway with the first few laps this time going without contact as the conditions were much improved. All RNRM Karts got off to a good start and jostling for track position began almost immediately and would continue for the whole 1 hour 50-minute race. Pit stops were on the money and the driving standards better than ever from the team leading to Kart 46 finishing 6th, 47, 89 and 98 all finishing bumper to bumper in 17th 18th and 19th.

Kart 45 having started from the back was off to a brilliant start, with Martin picking off 11 karts on the very first lap. Keeping the pace up for the remainder of the race resulted in Liam and Martin climbing a record 33 positions and from the back of the grid, crossed the line in 1st place. The first time a kart had won from the back of the grid in RNRM Karting history, and for along as we can remember in the AFKC.

All 5 karts crossing the line in the final race was a great way to end the season and a testament to the teams’ hard work, positively finishing off the most successful year for the team to date. Below are the results at the end of the season.

AFKC 2022 Presentation – Results and Awards

The individual kart championship had a total of 52 entries by military teams in 2022, below are the season results including their main drivers.

  • Kart 45 (Liam Waterhouse & Martin Theodorou)                        2nd
  • Kart 47 (Andrew Grant, George Garrett)                                       2nd Super Category, 8th overall
  • Kart 46 (Joe Judson, Tom Shelton & Matt Chambers)                9th
  • Kart 49 (Ollie Suatt, Luke Thomson & various)                            25th
  • Kart 89 (Harvery Harris, Andrew Deane & various)                    33rd

The Station & Unit Cup comprises of 17 Stations/units of which the top 2 scoring karts from each race contribute points for their respective team. The results are:

  • 1st RAF Waddington:               388
  • 2nd RNRM Karting Team:       387
  • 3rd RAF Brize Norton:              385

Overall, a hugely successful season gathering lots of points, race wins, podiums and trophies over the season with the RNRM Karting Team getting ever closer to inevitably finishing on the top spot.