This is the message that greeted us from Captain Joe Searles : “The plan for Friday is for me to completely wipe the floor with all of you, not because of any weight advantage but because of my skill in a cart”.
The sun was already out and a thin layer of radiation fog was draped over the airfield when the first of us arrived at the Redhill Aerodrome, everybody was in high spirits as we all helped to check and ready the helicopters for our trip to Lydd Airport and then on to Lydd Kart Circuit.
Once we’d had a good bit of banter and a briefing from Joe we were already for departure. Little did we know at this point we had a sleeper in our midst! Most of us had spent some time in a kart, however on one side of the coin “as I later found out” Geoff C had completed about four races already this year, and on the other side we had John R. The last time John drove a kart it was most likely still being pulled by a horse!!!. We all had our little rivalries and most wanted that top step at the end of the day, Jeff and I were keen to compete again after our last little battle at our previous meet; Battling for second and third we both crashed out and ended up coming almost last, however with comments like “Upon returning to Redhill there will be a BBQ to give us a chance to discuss why I beat you all” (Another Joe Comment). We all wanted to beat one (½ pint sized) man.
The flight down to Lydd was perfect, a beautiful clear day with a high cloud base, perfect for getting some altitude to see the Kent countryside. GSWNS was flown by Andy R, with Jeff, Tim and Rick as passengers. GEERY was flown by John R with Joe, and I was flown down in GNDIA by Geoff C. All landing safely at Lydd, and with some creative parking on my behalf (when I say creative it means, parked in the wrong place). Then we all jumped in the mini bus and headed to the Kart circuit.
The Brief – “Listen to me; I will say this only once”.
When we arrived, we were directed in to an area to collect our race suits, most opting for the XL to the XXL. However, the odd one or two were directed to the children department (Joe). Once changed, it seems we adopted our manliest stances, some of us deciding to clutch our helmets in a bid to seem even manlier (I of course achieved manliest). The Marshal then proceeded to give us a very thorough but fair brief explaining that the rules were to be abided by at all times and as we were all helicopter pilots we had an element of trust. The rules included no bumping, no rubbing, in fact no contact at all. We were also told to stay within the lines and not go over the curbs as this will damage the karts; two cautions are given and then with the third we would be dragged from the track for a little chat!!!
Once the brief was over, I did ask the marshal to go over the whole lot again for Geoff, but this was taken as a joke! Let’s just say that Geoff was awarded two of his cautions in the 10-minute practice before being plucked from the track 10 laps in for his third violation!
After our qualifying session, we were awarded our grid position.
Tim, Geoff, Richard, Jeff, JOE, Bob, Tim, John, Andrew.
Once all lined, the lights went green and we were GO GO GO, with a great start from Geoff he moved straight in to first and put up a great fight for 5 or 6 laps only for the position to be re taken by the pole sitter. Geoff trying to do everything to regain the top position found himself with his final black flag and pulled into the pits!
Once released he re-joined in last place and was unable to move up the pack. The race was full of battles, all drivers trying to get as close to the podium as possible. But alas the EBG instructors were awarded the top spots with Joe coming in at a pathetic third place.
In fact, and despite all his talk, Joe came in 23.529 seconds behind the winner and 7.964 behind Jeff in second place!!! Not even close! The award for the fastest lap goes to Geoff C with a time of 50.038.
I must congratulate all for making the whole day brilliant and may it be very much on again next year.
With all the racing and trash talk over and done with we all had an amazing sunset for our return trip. On landing the BBQ was already to go. A big thanks to Linda for a top bit of grub. Once fed and intoxicated with a beer or two along with the atmosphere of the day; we all decided to listen to Joe on how he beat us! And when I say listen I mean insult! and when is I say beat us I mean LOST!!! Third is only the Second Looser.