You can have all the talent in the world, new personal sponsors, a flash new livery and increasing fan-base, but if a fuel pump breaks during qualifying then you’re on your back foot. If your team fix it, only for a regulator rectifier to hiccup then it’s likely that this isn’t your weekend. This was the unfortunate case for Kyle Wilks at Thruxton – his local round of the championship. Mechanical misfortune and interruptions from Mother Nature meant he started Sunday’s race from toward the tail end of the grid.
Still, that meant a prime opportunity to impress those new sponsors with his race-craft and consistency. Plus, it was hoped that all the mechanical gremlins were out of the way, done for the weekend, leaving the race to run smoothly and problem free. The weather was certainly better for race day; just a handful of white clouds providing relief from the summer sun – the monsoon of the day before a distant, wet, memory.
For Kyle, the first task was to get a good start, and that he did. Then, it was a matter of surviving the first lap – keeping his Kawasaki rubber-side down. Thruxton is uniquely and superbly fast, with nuances that prove tricky to master; its super-fast sweeping curves such as Noble, Goodwood, Village and Church present opportunities for catastrophe or, at the very least, for scaring oneself senseless. But Kyle survived the opening lap and what’s more, had moved ahead of some who started in front of him.
The vibrant and distinctive Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer liveried Kawasaki cut an impressive figure as Kyle danced through the triple-apex chicane to complete each lap; clipping each apex sublimely every time, unlike many of his fellow competitors. It soon became clear that had Kyle not suffered the mechanical misfortune in qualifying he could have been much further up the field. As it was, these were the cards Kyle had been dealt…and I for one believe he played them superbly.
Due to the nature of the circuit, there are few opportunities to overtake, such are the speeds taken through many of Thruxton’s curves; all things considered, 23rd from 37 starters was proof of a job well done – another solid performance. The 15th fastest lap was indicative of what could have been if not for that pesky fuel pump, and if nothing else matters, the Crabbies colours looked great.
Because of those mechanical issues, it was a frustrating weekend at Kyle’s local round, but this is part of motor racing, something Kyle and the team can learn from. Kyle will now look forward to the next round at Oulton Park, a circuit he has already raced on this year, hoping to continue to improve…