CKN Driver Diary: Nathan Kelly @ 2013 ASN Canadian National Karting Championships
My weekend at Goodwood Kart ways really had a lot of unexpected results, but all in all it was a fantastic weekend. I would like to thank PSL Karting, Michael Dobbelsteyn, Bell Helmets and K1 Racegear for their constant support, but most of all I’d like to thank my family their support of my racing career! Before my arrival at the Canadian Nationals, I had an opportunity to visit with the IWK Children’s Hospital and speak with them about my upcoming event; this was a nice relaxing way to spend my last day before my trip west. I drove to Goodwood from my hometown in Nova Scotia and was able to make it in roughly 14 hours. Upon arrival at the track I was quickly reunited with my team members from PSL Karting, and I quickly got back into the groove of things.
Before my week in Goodwood, I had spent a lot of time training for the event. A lot of cardio and weight training to ensure I was in good physical condition for the week of Nationals. Many hours spent in the gym and training with a trainer was my preparation for this event, I wanted to be at the top of my game. Dr Brad Ferguson, who also happens to be the chiropractor for the Canadian Touring Car Championship, created my training routine, he has also done work with Formula 1 teams in the Canadian Grand Prix and created a superb routine for me. Most of my training consisted of Cycling, Running and core/up body exercises. I worked hard on maintaining a healthy diet throughout the months leading up to the event, as well as the week of Nationals itself.
Goodwood is one of my favorite karting tracks. It provides a challenging circuit that appears to be less complex than it actually is. Difficult corners such as seven, provide a real challenge for all the drivers, which make practice sessions essential to success. Every section of the circuit is different and presents a different set of challenges. Goodwood also provides an excellent facility for teams off the track, I was concerned going into the weekend that the pit space would be to small for such a large event; but the organization of the paddock was quite impressive.
We were quite lucky to have fantastic weather all weekend. High temperatures and high humidity presented a slight challenge for motor tuning throughout the week, but it didn’t take the team at PSL Karting/JVD Power long to get it sorted.
I had been out of a kart for four weeks, so it took me a couple sessions to get back into driving. We did not make many chassis changes for the first couple days as I felt there was not much to gain if I am still not driving at my full potential. My mechanic (Sylvain Clair, “Chef”) came ready to achieve strong results and we worked very well together all weekend. Chef is an excellent mechanic to work with as he has a great knowledge of the chassis/motor, and he’s also an excellent drivers himself. Once we got out motor sorted out, we began to play with the chassis. Through the support of Michael Dobbelsteyn, PSL was able to get me a new chassis for the Nationals, which was a huge help! By the final practice sessions we were consistently running times within the top 10 portion of the Rotax Senior Field.
For me qualification did not go as well as I had of hoped. We ended up qualifying 12th position, which isn’t too bad, but I didn’t quite meet my goal of a top 10. The formatting for this event required you to start in the same position for each of the heat races.
The first heat race I managed to move up from 12th to 7th. This was quite a good run and I was happy with my results. My goal for the heats was to maintain or advance my position as much as possible.
In the second heat I found myself finishing in 9th, which again wasn’t too bad as I did advance forward. The final and third heat I was driving rather conservative and only managed to pull off an 11th place finish with a bent steering shaft.
Prefinal & Final
The points total for the heat races meant that I would be starting 7th for the Pre-final, this was a good starting position, as I knew I could advance from there. Off the start of the race, I was in a small wreck, bending another steering shaft… The finish in this race pushed me back to 11th position where I would start for the Championship Final.
The final race had an amazing atmosphere too it, it was one of those moments that can be incredibly special and you will always remember the feeling before the green flag. That is the one thing that remains consistent about racing; the feeling of excitement, nerves, and tension all together in one. I had an excellent start moving into 8th position within the first two laps. As I went to make a pass on the 7th place driver, he turned in very early driving over my front end and causing some serous damage. This pushed me quite far back in the field around 14th or 15th. From there I began to slowly advance my way up, but then was in a very similar incident in turn four. I think because the circuit is so narrow, it gives drivers a false perception of really how much room they have. I was forced to retire early to mechanical problems with the front end. It was an unfortunate way to end me weekend, but all in all I had some good races throughout the week. Although I did not achieve the results I wanted in the Final, I was able to learn a lot throughout the week. My next karting event is in New Orleans for the Rotax Pan-American Championship. In-between that and now I hope to have at least one more formula car testing day in September. To get more updates feel free to follow my twitter @nathankelly31!