One year ago we lavished in victories nearly every week. Victories were sometimes 12 seconds ahead of second place. The world seemed happy and fulfilled with goals being realized in nearly every aspect of our racing efforts. Today we are in Adria, Italy, the newest complex in the international karting scene which has already become an absolute reference point due to the quality of the track and services.
The mood is much different for us as the lone American entry in the FIA CIK Karting KZ2 European Championship as we are in uncharted territory, wrestling with 60 other world class, well seasoned, experienced young men who have probably tested their mettle on this track a few times before. Not only are they comfortable with their weapons of choice, they are acculturated to their familiar environment, language and food included.
Yesterday we were not within a second of the “fast times” of the sessions and the shop area was full of long faces and silence most of the part. Dialing through the different driving techniques required to pilot a shifter kart with front brakes, soft grippy tires, and twice as much horsepower as your normal comfort zone of the previous years didn’t even seem like fun for the moment. The pilot, Sting Ray, was forced into a position not very familiar, dealing with emotions and anguish not very often dealt with when you are used to winning just about everything you’ve ever competed in. How we decide to deal with these challenges could help in the mental development of the 14 year old professional driver, and lay a foundation for dealing with new challenges in the future. God has a way to temper our swords that isn’t always pleasant. To grow big and strong, you must sometimes walk through some manure.
Today the kart is different. I’m sure Eddy Tinini was dreaming about all the different combinations to make the chassis better suited for Sting Ray’s driving style with these new track conditions. At the same time, Sting Ray was dreaming how to be a better driver. His personality is very self critical, therefore it is imperative to separate the self doubt from the analyst in him.
His personality is very self critical, therefore it is imperative to separate the self doubt from the analyst in him. We talk a lot about this and when things are quiet at night the words seem much gentler; and easier to understand. So we start a new day, new set up, a little bit of experience on a new track, in a new world, with a new kart, new engine, new rubber compound and a bigger steering wheel so he can have enough strength “hold” the corners with his flu-weakened arms, and hope that the changes are helpful, allowing all the talent, expertise, support and will to bring a fresh attitude of accomplishment.
The first track session was 4/10ths of a second off the pace, and it was evident which sectors were in need of improvement. (The blink of an eye is 4/10ths!) Breaking EACH apex down to a 1 inch target will allow the results and confidence to improve. By Saturday morning there might even be opportunities to pass someone.