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The Fugitives Return - 30 Jan 2003 - Aldershot

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The Fugitives Return #1
Martin Higham

The Fugitives Return #2
Gil Williamson

The Fugitives Return #3
Andy Daines

The Fugitives Return #4
Mark de Brun

The Fugitives Return #5

The Fugitives Return #6

After a six-month layoff, The Fugitives stormed back to a podium finish. It was very nearly a first, but we weren't able to cheat quite enough to achieve that.

We posted the fastest lap in practice at 30.68 seconds, and the kart was obviously going to be excellent. However, the Le Mans start, as usual, left us in 6th place off the grid - but it was Martin's fault this time. It's usually Gil's. Although lapped by the leader - Collards Q - he was in 4th place by the 6th lap, and lapping at a good speed, despite an early spin. He maintained this position through the first twenty minutes, then hit 3rd place as one of the leaders made a driver change.

Gil took over, driving up to the fuel stop, gaining little advantages all the time (and collecting a NO BUMPING warning). However, after all the fuel stops, we were in first place.

Mark did his first stint after the fuel stop, turning in excellent times and holding position well. However, towards the end of that session, there was a racing incident of some kind, and after the race restarted, we were in second place behind Traktix.

Andy went for his session, and did excellent work, regaining the lead quite quickly, but we had more driver changes to do. During Andy's session, a nasty incident on the ramp up to the bridge resulted in another kart riding over the kart. After this, the throttle kept sticking, but we couldn't afford to stop for repairs, with Traktix breathing down our necks. It became quite tricky to run at anything short of full throttle. Andy also picked up our second NO BUMPING warning.

Mark took his second session, maintaining first place, just under a lap ahead of Traktix.

Ten minutes from the end, both Traktix and The Fugitives had another driver change to make. Traktix made theirs, losing half a lap, and Mark handed over to Gil to take it to the end. It was a tricky change, with the kart revving like anything and Gil trying to hold it still while Mark got out. On exiting the pits, we were on the same lap as Traktix again, with Gil just ahead.

Disaster struck. One of the Thunderbirds teams - the one that came last - had been behaving badly all evening, and was blocking Gil, and, with the sticking throttle there was some contact. Gil was handed a black flag for this third incident, and pulled into the pits. Almost immediately, there was a race stoppage. Having discharged his penalty, Gil crept out of the pits (to cries of "foul" from the spectators because the red flag was still out), into a stationary field, just behind Traktix. It was only a minute from the end of the race. Had the race ended there, we would have won, as we had finished 247 laps ahead of Traktix, and Traktix had still not crossed the line for their 248.

The race was re-started, with Gil climbing all over the back of Traktix, but in only two laps, with a still-sticking throttle, there was no chance of overtaking, and we crossed the finish 0.93 seconds behind the winners.

We take comfort from the fact that this was our first outing since June, and we had a new driver - Mark de Brun - in the team. So near and yet so far.

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