Derek May gives us an insightful overview of this years incredible win in RHPK.
Derek, can you please introduce the people behind Spectre Racing.
I started Spectre Racing in 2017 with Stuart Allan and myself as drivers. Stuart became ill and I was struggling to find a replacement driver. Joe Ochiltree suggested Stephen Cornwell and he did a one off race with Spectre (the only time that I was faster than him). Two months later he re-joined Spectre to race for the rest of the season and we finished with a second place in the last round. Stuart decided to stop racing at the end of the year and Stephen and I made plans to race together this year.
I was responsible for preparing the kart putting the emphasis on reliability first then speed while Stephen started looking for a third driver. He could not find anyone who could commit to the whole season so the team became myself and Stephen with a “guest” third driver at each round. Fortunately Stephen knew some quick drivers: Joey Richardson who raced in between his Club 100 commitments, Niki Richardson who impressed Lewis Hamilton with his karting prowess in his early days, Matt Cornwell the multiple RHPK champion with LG Racing and finally we had Piers Prior on loan from ABA for one round due to Stephen’s broken ribs.
The final member of the team was Brian Cornwell who became involved after I crashed the kart in testing and he straightened the chassis. Once involved he spent hours repairing and modifying the chassis during the season to keep it reliable and quick.
Going into the first round of the year in March, what were your expectations for the season? Looking back did you think you could win it?
We entered the March race just to do as well as we could. Even though we had won the Winter Cup we realised that some of the top teams such as Helicopter Services and ABA had not raced and Custom Rod’s chassis had broken in the first race so their result was not representative of their potential. Even though we won in March we were aware that nearly all the top teams had encountered problems but Stephen’s fastest lap, the one in the 41s, showed that we had potential.
Last year we saw a very different Spectre Racing, finishing up 6th overall – What has been the biggest change to the team this year to go onto win the season.
The biggest improvement came from team work. After every test or race we studied every available piece of data to try to improve the kart both in outright speed and consistency. We did more testing and used data logging and GoPro videos to compare and improve driving techniques, mainly mine. We also improved our pitstops and often had both our stops amongst the fastest 5 stops in each race.
Obviously, your drivers have been nothing short of incredible this year, but drivers aside what changes or ideas really made a difference to Spectre Racing?
At the end of last season, one of our engines started knocking. The cost of repairs was going to be high so we decided to purchase two new ones from UFO. These engines were better than the old ones from the outset and have got better and better. Continuous development also made a difference as we manufactured and tested some new components, many of which ended up in the bin, but some improved the lap times or driveability and were used. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what they were.
This year, I think the whole field, your team included were hoping for an epic title battle in the last round of the season with the mighty Helicopter Services. What are your thoughts on #filtergate and how it shaped Round 9.
Without filtergate we would have had a 1 point lead going into the final round with a dropped score for 5th place to fall back on. Helicopter Services would have needed to finish in the top 3 and ahead of Spectre Racing to win the championship.
With the changeable November weather affecting tyre choice and set up the championship could easily have gone either way. I don’t think that it would have been a classic head to head race, more a race of survival. I actually enjoyed watching and keeping dry.
This year Spectre Racing was awarded “Team of the Year” A fantastic achievement to be nominated by almost all teams in the series – How did you and the team feel?
To be nominated by so many teams was unbelievable. It felt almost as good as winning the championship! The award also made we realise how insular I have been. I have been so focused on Spectre Racing that, when it came to casting my vote, I had no idea what other teams had achieved. There are a lot of teams out there that put in a lot of effort as I saw in round 9 so we are privileged that we got so many votes .
Could you give any advice to aspiring RHPK teams next year?
Just try your best. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose (until you lose). Preparation is the most important aspect. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune because, if the preparation is good, you don’t need to keep replacing parts.
2019, You have confirmed that Spectre Racing will be back defending the title, have the drivers been confirmed? Can you reveal the lineup?
Derek May, Spectre Racing