September 30, 2011

Regular readers of this irregular publication will recall that last week’s issue was pulled at the very last minute due to everyone involved having sloped off to Milton Keynes for the Insurance Endurance karting event. How did Team Bankstone fare in yet another motorsports event involving undersized vehicles, you are probably wondering. No? Well, sorry, we are going to tell you all about it anyway in positively exhausting detail.

The day dawned cold and misty, temporarily vindicating Bankstone’s thoughtful distribution of branded team caps and jackets in place the usual polo shirts. Soon, however, brilliant sunshine saw these fine promotional items unceremoniously discarded, leaving Team Bankstone (or TB as we like to call them) to compete in merciful anonymity.

Given the non-comformity of most team members’ size and shape with that of the stereotypical karting competition winner, TB had its collective heart set on the coveted Pitstop Challenge F1 wheel-changing side event, in which it had indeed achieved utter and outright triumph in the 2010 event.

Reluctant to surrender hope altogether in the main event, however, evil genius team leader Dickon Tysoe cooked up a cunning plan for snatching victory from the very jaws of near-inevitable defeat. This involved avoiding other people’s accidents, profiting from an almost uncanny instinctive sympathy between man and machine, leveraging a well-honed race strategy designed to minimise time lost from driver change-overs, fuel stops and mandatory pit stops.

Equally essential to victory, of course, was having top-notch nick-names (more – much more – detail on this below).

The Pit Stop Challenge event involves jacking up a clapped-out former Formula 1 car, changing the wheels and jacking down again – and, ideally, doing it all quicker than any other team. Avid F1 fans will know that a respectable time within which to accomplish said tasks is something under three seconds. Anything under 20 will do for Insurance Endurance. Some early pitstop practice furnished TB’s first fresh-minted nick-name of the day. Ian Pritchard became ‘Hugh Jackman’ because he was operating a jack, he is a man, and his first name is… well, it’s near enough!

TB had an hour and a quarter to get some practice laps, plan which order its members would race in (allowing an early departure for those who needed to get away), and determine its start position on the grid. After revealing that his wife had given him a list of items to pick up from Ikea on the way home, Simon Toop became (bear with us) Simon “At home I am a Viking” Toop. Takes a little longer to say, but it’s well worth the extra effort, we feel sure you will agree.

Meanwhile Simon “At home I am a Viking” Toop’s colleague at Adrian Flux, Peter Cook was dubbed Peter “Reverse into the pit lane” Cook. Quite why, nobody can now remember. Although there is general agreement that Dave “purple mango special” Plummer owes his nick-name to having attended a curry-house-based tactics planning session with team leader Tysoe the evening before, rather than to any exotic bodily deformity.

Fascinating as all this back-story may be, Bankstone News readers will probably be content to learn simply that Clarke Bailey’s nick-name is Clarke “Huddersfield Giant” Bailey. You can draw your own conclusions.

With the familiar loping bass, fade-in snare, and whining guitar two-thirds of the way through Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain jangling over the Tannoy, TB’s number 18 kart, ably piloted by Simon AHIAV Toop, snarled out onto the track to take up its slot in the formation lap. The safety kart peeled into the pits. The chequered flag fell. The race was on!

Aiming to do 20 minutes each per session, the team had agreed driver hand-signals to indicate when early relief was required. Those not driving abused the numeric signal boards to improvise lewd and offensive messages using numbers in place of letters.

Paul “Plugs” Upton was next up for TB, exemplifying the true spirit of courtesy and restraint by allowing a procession of other karts to pass him in a safe and controlled manner, thus becoming Paul “Driving Miss Daisy” Upton.

With TB now in 13th, it fell to the Huddersfield Giant and Hugh Jackman to claw back a couple of places before lunch. The latter proved a disappointment: chicken more rubbery than kart tyres and burgers of a weirdly leathery consistency. From which Matt Collett took his “Grrr hard burger” nickname. The burgermeister, it turned, out was indeed no slouch behind the wheel, fully living up to his F1-via-fastfood monicker.

A stirling stint from the Purple Mango followed. It was while TPM was out on the track that the number 18 kart was flagged in for the much anticipated pitstop challenge. This threw the meticulous planning of team manager Dickon “Ross Brawn” Tysoe into disarray.

Dickon explains (kind of) what happened next: “We were in a quandary. All our practice runs had been with “At Home I am a Viking” driving and “PMS” on the left rear wheel gun. A quick shuffle was needed. With that out of the way, we decided to change the roles around a bit. So with the kart heading in along the pit lane, we had “Huddersfield Giant” on the front jack, “Grrr Hard Burger” on the back jack, Ian “Not Colin” McRae and “Driving Miss Daisy” on the front left, “Ross Brawn” and “At Home I am a Viking” rear left, “Reverse into the pit lane” on front right, Andy “The Brigadier” Jones on rear right, ably assisted by “Hugh Jackman”. Unfortunately “Ross Brawn” lost his nut, along with several precious seconds, but we still ended up with a broadly respectable 17.04 seconds on the stopwatch.”

Ending with a good but not great PSC time left TB with a tense remainder of the afternoon to wait out pending the eventual confirmation that, with a time 4.5 seconds faster than second-placed arch rivals The Bike Insurer (TBI), Team Bankstone had indeed clinched the coveted title for a second year running. One more of these and TB get to keep the trophy – and presumably go down in the anals of karting history.

Quickly switching “PMS” for “Not Colin”, TB rejoined that karting fray with a vengeance. “Reverse into the Pitlane” made a good showing with his memorably orange footwear. “The Brigadier” put in some stellar laps, and TB was working its way back up the leader board.

But then, in an act of villainous sabotage well worthy of “Dick Dastardly” himself, Lester “Dick Dastardly” Short of The Bike Insurer stole a Bankstone Racing cap and jacket, and borrowed a pair of specs to impersonate TB’s Dickon Tysoe. Thus disguised, he then proceeded to hang out a Kart 18 pit-board to bring the TB kart in for a spurious unscheduled pitstop!

TB’s attempts to bribe track officials to black-flag TBI’s Kart 29 having failed, TBI brought about their own undoing by overtaking under yellows and picking up a 30-second penalty. Shortly after TBI fell foul of a mechanical breakdown which cost them a full nine minutes and any chance of beating TB.

Now well into the second session, with the Viking long departed for Ikea, Dickon “Formerly known as Ross Brawn, now known as Loose Nuts” Tysoe opted for a daring single-fuel-stop strategy and forewent his second stint at the wheel to make full use of the talents of fast drivers The Brigadier and RITPL, thuswise enabling TB to edge its way up into a not entirely disgraceful 7th place finish.

A fitting reward for a true team effort.

Dick Tysoe (L) with Dickon Darstardly (R). We think!

Dick Tysoe (L) with Dickon Darstardly (R). We think!


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