Despite Tough Conditions, Austin Wayne Self still puts the KartSport Arrow on the Podium
A series of unfortunate events plagued Austin Wayne Self’s weekend in Florida but were not enough to dishearten him or his KartSport Arrow team.
The Orlando rounds of the 2011 Florida Winter Rotax Max Tour showcased the top talent in the karting world. Drivers from over 30 countries flocked to the Orlando Kart Center to claim top honors at the Rotax Max Challenge last weekend.
Friday’s qualifying rounds all occurred on a wet track. At the end of timed practice Austin had the #70 Arrow Kart in the top position on the speed chart; #1 out of 68. However, the new Mojo rain tires the team mounted for 1st round qualifying didn’t agree with the set up and dropped the Arrow Kart from 1st to 39th. Not knowing for sure but suspecting the new tires, the team went with a used set of mojo rains for the second qualifier and delivered a front row, P2 starting position.
“We have very little experience racing Mojo tires and prior to tonight had no experience with Mojo rains,” said Tim Self, owner of AM Racing. “That was a very hard lesson to learn and has now put us in a challenging position for a top 3 finish Sunday and the maybe the season Championship”
“When something like that happens, you gotta rebound and move on, “ said Austin in an interview.
To qualify for Sunday, the team would have to race in the Last Chance Qualifier Sunday morning and finish in the top six to move onto the Pre-Final.
Saturday began with a cool dry track and everyone was back on Racing Slicks. With only one morning practice to test the new dry setup, all the karts left the grid except for Austin’s. An electrical short in the starter caused the kart to catch fire in the grid and scuttled the opportunity to test carburetion and set up. The Team would have to put an untested setup on the grid for the pre-main. Starting outside the front row in the Pre-Main, Austin was pushed into the wall on the start severely bending his steering shaft. Austin’s driving was impressive and seemed as though he was “back to himself.” The battle for second through fourth lasted the entire race as top racers from the world battled with Austin. Despite having to hold the steering wheel at 90 degrees to keep the kart straight, he was still able to manage a fourth place finish. However, as if on cue, the penalties pushed him back to ninth position for the Final.
Prior to the Final on Saturday night, Austin said with confidence, ”I will be in third place by the second lap, and I want to get to the lead by the fifth.”
This talented racer started ninth and was in the front by the third lap, surpassing his expectations and everyone else’s watching live online that day. Austin would eventually finish second, although this intense competitor never is satisfied with anything less than first. Salvaging second place was an accomplishment for the Arrow crew after the bent steering shaft, electrical fire and penalties occurred earlier in the day. Austin now had three wins and a second place finish in his last four races.
Sunday’s forecast was projected to be dry and set the stage for a great eight-lap sprint to the finish. Austin and his crew came into the day confident they would finish the Last Chance Qualifier in the top six to reach the Pre-Final.
The race did not go in Austin’s favor the least bit. In turn three of the first lap, Austin was pushed from behind and was caught in a five-car pile up. This pushed Austin to nearly the back of the field. With two laps to go, he got tangled up with another driver, which ended with both racers off the track and out of position to qualify for the Pre-Final later that day. Austin’s weekend was finished at this point.
The weekend was tough on Austin and the Arrow crew, but both are hoping to learn from the mistakes that were made and move forward. “You can’t win every race, but those who can learn from their mistakes will win in the end,” said Austin after his race on Sunday.
Austin will be looking to return to the top spot on the podium in February as the FWT Rotax Series returns to West Palm Beach, Florida at the Palm Beach International Speedway.