The K1 Speed Enduro kart team just missed finishing in the top 5 in the sportsman class field in the Cal Speed Karting Petite Machismo 8 hour enduro kart race that was held at the Cal Speed karting center at Auto Club Raceway this past weekend. With over 100 drivers in attendance making up the 23 teams on hand, between the pro and sport classes, the K1 Speed team had their work cut out for them throughout the day competing against the best in enduro kart racing in the west.
Early morning practice with cold track conditions made for a less than ideal racing surface but once the day progressed the track got better. During practice the K1 Team worked to learn the track layout and break in a fresh set of tires that would be used throughout the rest of the day.
“Right from the start I knew track conditions would be slick, and the kart definitely let me know in a few corners not to push it,” stated team driver Brad Harvey.
Once the track surface warmed up a bit lap times improved, with team drivers Ryan Kaufman and Ben Swanson putting down better lap times, placing the team in 7th by the end of practice. Ben Swanson took the driver’s seat for the 10 minute qualifying session and was able to put the team in a 6th place starting position in the sport class (16th overall) for the 8 hour race. During the 30 minute break after qualifying the team came up with a good fuel and pit stop strategy as 23 driver changes were required for the class.
In true Le Mans racing fashion, drivers ran to their karts in their respective starting positions for the start of the enduro. Team driver Brad took the first driving stint and went 3 wide with other sportsman class karts into the first set of corners on a very crowded starting grid on the Grande course layout before anyone made a position change forward or backward. Holding his ground, he was able to maintain the starting position, and keep that spot until just before the first driver change, which dropped the team to 7th. Ryan Kaufman was next in the driver seat for his first stint and he kept the team mid-field.
Two hours into the race, a full course yellow came out due to a crash and brought the field back together and put driver Eric Valdez in striking distance of a position change. The race was unfortunately red flagged 2 laps into the full course caution, due to a timing error on track and held for 10 minutes. Once the race got underway again, Eric would make a run for the next position but had issues with the kart in certain corners.
Unfortunately, the team found an abnormally worn front left tire after Eric’s session, which forced an extended pit stop later in the race. Once the kart was back on track there was an immediate difference in how the the kart handled, as noticed by team driver Amanda Bryant. She dropped her lap times by 1.5 seconds posting 1.05:xx laps consistently, while other teams would fell off the pace. The team began to bounce back, with drivers Ben and Eric on track for extended periods to help make up for lost time thanks to their quick lap times. This combined with a gamble on fuel stop strategy, brought the team up from a 9th place position to 6th.
Sitting just 2 laps down of 5th, Ben finished out the race for the team holding onto the 6th place position (16th overall) beating a couple of pro kart teams that had issues early on and dropped back.
This was a great finish for the K1 Speed Team as this was only their second enduro kart race and it gives them a good shot at being a strong contender in the next enduro in the coming months. The team completed 399 laps in the 8 hour race, made 3 fuel stops and had 23 driver changes. The K1 Speed team would like to thank K1 Race Gear for all of their support and equipment – check them out online at www.k1racegear.com
Click here to view the rest of the photos from the days race including the running LeMans style start.