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TKART magazine Champion Advice | How to win an European race
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26 January 2016
Two days with the Strakka Bhaitech team and Tom Joyner, the round 2 winner of the KF Europeans Championship 2015


WARM UP 9:25 am

fast lap: 54.670
place: 4th - group 2 (12th overall)
gap: 0.396 (from Nielsen)

PFI, Brandon, England. Round 2 of the KF Europeans, the top title hunt for the class. After the Portimao opener, Joyner is down in the standings and needs to recover. However, Friday's qualifyings don't go as expected: Tom is just 23rd, 0.508 from the top driver, and from here, the weekend is all up hill… In the warm-up, his lap times are not outstanding, but it's pointless to make changes: the track is still cold, so evaluations are postponed to after the first heat, scheduled for 10:30 am.


HEAT 1 10:35 am


fast lap: 54.521 (best lap)
place 4th
gap: 1.733 (from Hanley)

Down to serious business! Tom is in group C: he starts 9th out of 20 drivers, in the middle of traffic, but manages to rise up 5 positions and posts the best lap. Things are going in the right direction! The chassis and engine are working right, but winning comes down to a few hundreths, so the team keeps striving for perfection. Tom says he felt the chassis slip slightly on the last laps. Tire (Vega) management is key: pressures have to give the right starting prompt to recover, but also have to guarantee performance until the finish. Joyner and the crew decide to start with a "conservative" approach and opt for slightly lower pressures to avoid taking risks. At the end of the heat, they also consider if they should swap inside and outside tires, to get even wear and tear. This is something that the team usually does often during a race weekend, but here at the PFI they decide it is better to avoid: there isn't enough time to mount the tires properly and get the pressure right.


HEAT 2 12:15 pm

fast lap: 54.740 (best lap)
plase 3rd
gap: 0.850 (from Hanley)

With the qualifyings dictating a low starting position for all 4 heats, Joyner starts from mid-grid once more. Yet, by the end he is again author of the fastest lap and this time also of the best improvement: up 6 positions and third at the chequered. His lap times are excellent overall, but the English champion feels that the change in pressure (even if by a mere 0.1-0.2 bar) has worsened the set-up. In addition, he is having a slight understeering problem on the front left tire on right-hand corners.
The team (Tom, Flavio, Richard and Gordon) gather up in the motorhome tent and debate on the choice of engine and the understeering issue. Team manager Rickard Kaell also steps in and, following the tuner's observations, the decision is to change the engine and revise the whole engine/carburetor package. To undertsand how to solve the understeering effect the mechanic makes sure the chassis is straight, working on and off the test bench. And as an extra precaution, he also considers who hit the track before every heat: the KF with Vega tires, or the KFJ with Le Cont?


HEAT 3 16:35 pm


fast lap: 54.810 (best lap)
place 4°
gap: 0.697 (from Verschoor)

Tom's rebound continues. Once more he starts at mid-group (tenth this time) and recovers: up six positions and fourth at the finish. and, go figure, he posts the best lap... again! Tom is the fastest of the heats! The new engine-carb combination is doing well, better at mid range and highs, a little less on the low end. So the team decides to put a slightly thicker spacer at the exhaust socket (+1 mm), to try and get a better bottom response. Overall, though, Joyner is satisfied with how the kart is behaving.
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