I could not hide my disappointment when the last penalty was given to us in the last half hour of the race. It showed all over my face and for a moment I wished I could just go home and hide. I didn’t want to see the looks of sympathy on others’ faces as they tried to console me.
Then I remembered I had a team waiting for me – a team who had fought very hard to catch up. They are already kicking themselves for the errors made and I shouldn’t make it worse by being sulky.
We were not slow by any means as we proved in qualifying by coming in second, but there is a lot more than just being fast.. especially in endurance races.
If you haven’t already read about it in the papers or on my website, my all-female karting team CTMC2! Racing took part in the OCBC Corporate Karting Challenge yesterday. It’s a four-hour endurance race with four drivers in the team, taking turns to drive throughout. This is a one-off elimination round so if we had made it to the top 4, we would have gone on to the Grand Final in October.
The day started alright – four of us went out for practice and Lemna and May San adjusted quickly to the kart, clocking competitive timings. We sent them out for qualifying and Lemna’s 45.763s was good enough for P2! We were in front row baby!
May San started the race, but she unfortunately spun at Turn 5 (where she already spun twice in practice) and we lost places all the way down to 8th and even last at some point. From that moment on, we had to play catch up. By the end of the first stint, we were up to 6th place… and there we stayed for a long time as Lemna incurred the 2-lap penalty for crossing the blend line. Then she was given a drive-through penalty for excessive bumping during overtaking.
During May San’s last stint, she was given a drive-through penalty for excessive bumping too. It was towards the end of the 30-minute limit so we did a driver changeover and Lemna had to serve the penalty for May San. We were neck to neck with Team iResource GOC KS 2 for 4th place and it was a shirt-biting period.
Then shit happens again.
While Lemna was serving the drive-through penalty, she exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane and so we were given a 1-lap penalty for speeding in the pit lane. By then there was just 20 over minutes left to the end of the race so it was just driving to finish the race.
It’s a sucky feeling knowing that we could have been there but we didn’t. It’s our first race after all and the team is inexperienced. We were told not to bump too much when trying to overtake as it would incur penalties, but I guess when you’re out there you just want to keep getting ahead. Nerves, pressure and everything clouds the mind.
No one is at fault – we are all in this together. I’m sure nobody wanted to make those mistakes intentionally and what has happened cannot be changed, so let’s not brood over it.
I’m grateful to my girls for being with me on this journey. It’s a pity that the journey has to end sooner than we hoped for, but we tried and we fought. Hey we did kick some asses out there in the otherwise male-dominated field!
Formula 1 champions make mistakes too and the best we can do is to learn from this experience. Should there be another opportunity to race again, I’m sure we will do better this time. I achieved my dream of forming an all-female karting team and a big thank you to my girls for being with me; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you girls.
Racing is not just about winning, but about making the most out of the experience. I know defeat hurts and the disappointment is just overwhelming, but let’s just look forward with no regrets and put it behind us. I’m sure we made an impact and maybe luck wasn’t just on our side yesterday.
Thank you Desmond and Lawrence for helping us with the strategy and the coaching. Thank you Kartright and all SMSA officials for organising a smooth race. Thank you supporters – both who came down to watch and those wishing me luck from afar – for the faith. Thank you to the other teams for giving us a fight. Thank you one and all.
On a personal positive note, I’m happy that both my runs were clean and I even clocked a P.B. of 45.750 seconds! Omg prior to yesterday I was doing 47.188 seconds on the rental karts at Kartright (the ones used in the OCBC Corporate Karting Challenge are from a brand new fleet).
I woke up this morning with a heavy heart as I recalled the incidents of yesterday, but I promise you I will not think about it anymore once this entry is posted. Someone has to stand strong for the team and as team captain I should start.
This is my first time managing a team and I have to say there were areas where I could have done better, times where I was inadequate. Regardless, I never stop learning and with each experience I will become a better person.
I’ve never met these girls before forming this team (except for May San who was an acquaintance during uni days as we shared some tutorial classes) and at least we take away new friendships from here.
After reporting on racing for so many years, finally getting to participate in a real race and even managing a team (albeit on a small scale) gives me a whole new perspective to the game. Team principals often tell me it’s more than just driving and I never fail to agree with them, but now I understand it fully for myself.
I will continue finding opportunities to race, whether individually or as a team, and I hope there will be people out there who believes in me and will support me. Sponsors 2011-2012?