Jarrett travelled back to Valencia to compete in his first European Championship Race. As a reminder, this is Jarrett’s first year competing in OK Junior class at the FIA Karting European Championship, and his aim is to learn and prepare for next year where he will try and compete at the front of the grid.
This weekend was an education in how moving from Honda Cadet in the UK last year to OK Junior Europe is going to need some changes to Jarrett’s race craft. One big change is race starts. Race starts in Honda Cadet are standing starts, which means you are fully stopped before stepping on the gas.
In OK Junior, the starts are rolling, with karts at close to full speed as they cross the starting line.
This change in starts has lead to an increase in nose cone penalties for Jarrett in Valencia. What are nose cone penalties? Karts have a detachable front fairing. In this case detachable means that if the front fairing (nose cone) is hit too hard it will “detach” and drop down but not come loose. The idea is to stop a driver smashing into the kart in front, and when you end the race the officials will check to see if your nose cone is detached or not. If it is detached, it is an automatic 5 second penalty. An analysis of UK karting by www.kartingpenalties.uk has nose cone penalties as the most common penalty making up well over 80% of all time penalties received. As drivers come in, an official looks to see if the nose cone is still in position.
Jarrett in his Honda Cadet racing career over four seasons had maybe two nose cone penalties in total. In Valencia this weekend he had three. His first nose cone penalty moved him from 14th to 23rd. He then had another nose cone penalty moved him from 11th to 20th. His third nose cone penalty from 18th to 23rd. Due to the very close racing in OKJ five second penalties are very costly in terms of position.
There were 83 drivers at the race event, and the top 36 qualify for the final. After the qualifying heats, Jarrett had scored 84 points, while the 36th drive to qualify for the final 107 points. The nose cone penalties cost him 23 points, so would have been Before the final, there is a pre-final for the top 72 drivers, which Jarrett competed in, but with three nose cone penalties, he started too far back to make the final.
Starting 24th and then finishing in a 11th place (before penalties) in a qualifying heat is a great result for Jarrett, and shows the potential he has as he learns more about racing Ok Junior.