And then there were ten.
Bradley Philpot, Russell Endean, Michael Weddell, Annelien Boutens, Ruben Boutens, Ted Monfils, Anwar Beroual Smith, Lewis Manley, Ed White and Crispin Zuercher.
They will qualify in Superpole format: each driver does a single flying lap on their own, in the same kart. No pressure… it’s rare that I’d rather be spectating, but this time I’m quite happy to sip tea on the VIP gantry and watch the action unfold.
As Michael gets underway I’m fully appreciating the recording wizardry for the first time this weekend. The live feed which is streaming over the Web is shown on a screen beside James, and I’m hugely impressed at the professional quality produced by multiple cameras all around the circuit. A DVD of the event will be produced soon, and I look forward to that.
Michael is disappointed with his time, shaking his head as he passes under the timing screen on the back straight. He pits and hands the kart to Annelien, who cements her reputation as a qualifying specialist with a sublime lap – a full half-second faster than Michael. And try as they might, nobody can match it. Crispin gets closest, third (Anwar) to eighth (Russell) is covered by seven hundredths of a second. But BRKC 2014’s only female driver will start the final from pole position. Lauren and Becca – sharing the VIP gantry with James and I – are beside themselves with excitement.
To begin with, it looks as if she might run away with it as the others squabble over position behind her – Anwar losing several places early on, Ed making a couple, Brad unable to make much of an impression in what looks like a difficult kart, Weddell and Monfils bringing up the rear… but as drivers start to pit, Ruben Boutens begins to wind it up. With half of the 30 minutes gone, he’s taking a couple of tenths per lap out of his sister’s lead. She responds, but he’s relentless; we’re holding our breath as he breaks the 33 second barrier and just keeps going faster and faster. It seems inevitable that he’ll find a way past and when he does – with a millimetre-perfect move into the hairpin – it caps off a supreme display of precision from both of them.
Ruben takes the flag, Annelien makes it a Boutens one-two, and Lewis Manley holds off Ed White for the final podium position. Crispin is an excellent fifth followed by Anwar, Brad, Russell, Ted and Michael. We’re sad to see it end, but I’m not sure anyone in the building could have taken much more.
We gather on the viewing gantry as James orchestrates the presentation down on the circuit, cheer Ruben, Annelien and Lewis onto the podium – Lewis needing some coaching on how to open a bottle of bubbly – before reluctantly saying our goodbyes. I’ve never seen spirits so high at the end of a karting event, and with good reason. We’ve all had a weekend to remember, and then some.
And that’s it. Fat Lady sings.
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that Ollie and all the staff at Formula Fast deserve a medal. And probably a few extra hours of sleep. We really appreciated the huge amount of work that went into organising and running such a complex event so efficiently. The effort that went into keeping the karts as equal as possible – testing late into the night on Friday and Saturday – was hugely impressive and (despite the odd moan) deeply appreciated. No other venue we’ve visited has ever worked so hard for us. I’ve certainly never been to a friendlier kart circuit – from front desk to pitlane, every single member of staff was a pleasure to deal with.
James Auld is a legend and I’ll not hear a word to the contrary. His commentary added a veneer of excitement and occasion – and information – that made BRKC 2014 the great spectacle it was.
Having seen the odd snippet of the footage Darren Cook and his team have produced, I can’t wait to see the finished article. We’ve immortalised every BRKC event in video and photographs, but this is a whole new league.
And once again, Brad seems to have pulled off the impossible (with Becca’s help) – he’s made the BRKC even better.
Downside? We have to wait a whole year before we can do it all again!
For final results and videos, visit www.brkc.net.