2011-11-14 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
Another visit to Ocala. This time we decided to come on Friday and spend time testing. It was morning driving so we were ready for practice just around 3 pm. Track had to be shared with rental karts and every time they went out, configuration had to be changed back to tomorrows race. With lights on, we were able to do 4 sessions, one of them was very short. After leaving the pits, Michael overestimated himself and end up in barriers even before first turn. As a result - bent axle. It was already dark and after help from Nathan from OGP to straighten the axle, I let Michael just to make few laps and make sure kart is drivable before tomorrow.
For the race we got new tires, just like most of other guys. Morning warm-up was good - 37.75, better than yesterday. Qualification, although he finished 5th was 0.2s slower. Heat race was 18 laps and he finished on 4th place, with faster best lap than in qualification. For the long Final race (22 laps) winner of heat race decided to start from the back. He was quickly (in 4-5 laps) on a back bumper of Michael and failed to pass him in tree turn sending him 5-6 seconds back. Now Michael was sitting third and waiting for first 2 to make mistake. They collided in last lap and Michael picked up his first win in Ocala and 2011.

Video of Final race
2011-11-01 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
Back to Florida with freshly rebuilt engine and very interesting track configuration. On top of that we found 14 entries in our group, 3 in Tag Jr class and 11 in Rotax Junior - 2 from Georgia (including us), 1 from North Carolina and the rest are locals.
Michael qualified 5th in Rotax but had 2 bad starts in Heat and Final. The top group was incredibly close. At one time in the middle of the Final race we had second through nineth place in one big group with any possible outcome. After local battles Michael found himself finishing 4th.

Video of Final race
2011-10-11 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
Medal for not finishing
There was only 1 reason to go to CMP - engine break-in. A little disappointed to find there are only 3 karts in Rotax junior class. After spending all practice sessions breaking-in engine, Michael got only few fast laps in last session. Second in qualification and heat race and not much loosing on a leader, it looked like quiet weekend until Michael lost chain in Final race. Oh well, 3rd place medal anyway. The worst part is we had to go through tech to get it. This time it was exhaust packing, which I just put new one that morning. Pulling packing from exhaust makes it hard to put back. Many times it makes sense to replace it again. I did not, I pushed hard and made it back to exhaust, no waste of money for another one.
CMP had much better gas this time, no crappy Sunoco 93, it was something like HT93. In my opinion very close to VP gas.
2011-08-16 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
OGP 2011 Fall Championship, Race #1
Decision about going to this race was made just a day before. Our engine is due for complete rebuild and we know it will be challenging to keep up with other guys in our class but we don't have resources to refresh engine and we wanted to race OGP Fall Chanpionship. The weekend was as expected, engine was giving up. In final race was not even pulling 12K RPM. Michael finished 7th, on a tail of faster group in 10 karts total class. Nothing much to tell about except that I didn't have to buy new tires to experience such a fiasco. Next thing up - engine rebuild, for sure.
2011-07-13 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
Organizers pulled different track configuration so we were dedicated to use all practice sessions to learn this one.
First practice ended after lap 1 with flat tire. Second practice down to 43.6, still almost a second off. In third practice down to 43.3. Engine was not showing the RPM and sunoco gas was terrible.
In qualification Michael gained half a second and only 0.25s from the pole, starting 3rd.
Heat race had to be started in a rain and we were forced to buy mojo rear rain tires. New tires are really bad until they have some 10+ laps in them. Being focused in finding tires and rims for the rain, not much attention was paid for rain setup. After all it was only a heat race and officials shortened the race to only 5 laps. Michael was slow and also was pushed off the track once finishing 4th.
Back to dry tires in Final race and starting 4th, Michael spent 4 laps trying to move to 3rd position. To be slightly faster was not enough to make a passing move. In next 3 laps gap to 2nd place was down to under 1 second from being over 2. Instead of wait and prepare passing move, Michael tried to make it right after gap became minimal, was not successful and lost good half a second on second place. Guys in front of him didn't give him another chance.
2011-06-21 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
Weekend ended with a flip
We showed up in Jacksonville Saturday early morning thinking we know what gear to use after spending half day practicing there on our way home from last Ocala local race. After gathering some information from Friday practice lap times, I decided to put 2 teeth smaller gear on Michael's kart for a single morning practice and first time on used Bridgestones we got for last FKCS race in Monticello. We also had slightly bent axle, tires out of balance and slippery gloves Michael is always complaining. In 15 entries Tag Junior class Michael got impressive 6th place (34.5) in qualification with 1 leopard and 1 rok in top 5.
Heat race start was great. After moving to 4th position and staying right behind Rogero, Askew and Towles, Michael managed to show 34.1 lap time in lap 3. He lost 4th place in lap 6 on top speed and after that made couple of mistakes which did not contribute to position change, but he lost contact with leading group. Engine was showing lack of top speed and, as I discovered later, we were over-geared by competition by at least 4 teeth. 6th place behind Michael was 11 seconds back.
Final race start was even better - 3rd place after turn 1, right behind two non rotax karts, still on wrong gear. Askew made an aggressive and unexpected pass on Michael at the end of the straight in lap 4. To avoid contact, he had to go into the dusty part of the track and lost control, falling back to 8th place. In last 10 laps, with many small mistakes and vibrating wheel (because of bent axle), Michael gained 2 places to finish 6th.
Next up Rotax junior class on Sunday. I dropped 1 gear for qualification and we were back to Mojo tires, which are slower than Bridgestones, but way more consistent and well balanced. Sunday class had only 8 entries. In 4 qualifying laps, steady improvement but mistake in last lap, which was still OK to get 2nd starting position (34.8). Michael kept second place in Heat race for 4 laps. Was keeping up with leader and distance to 3rd until lap 4 when they pulled him on top speed. By the end of 12 laps race, he lost 2 positions and finished 4th.
This time Final start was not good. 5 karts lead pack was formed with Michael on it tail. He made couple of mistakes, loosing contact with the group and coming back to it. And finally on lap 10, another driving mistake send him to dusty part of the track where he was forced to leave the asphalt. Unfortunately he hit the grass/ground at least desired point, where the big dip is. This sent Michael up from his seat into the air and I was watching how he actually passed his kart flying over it. This accident brought red flag and ambulance. Fortunately nothing was broken, just a bruised elbow he landed on. Nothing was bent or broken on a kart... magic. 8th place and that was our last FKCS race in 2011 since the next race is in deep Florida south we definitely not going to.
2011-06-13 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
GSKA Night Race - 3rd of 3 after showing great speed in afternoon practice. Track was slow for everybody. No Rotax junior track record improvement. We spent all practice (3 sessions) looking for correct gearing.
At second practice Michael showed 23.09 which is his best if not counting 22.85 on mini with no restrictors. I was hoping sub-23 seconds time is still possible so we kept changing until I lost completely what gear we should put on.
Qualification was 23.28 - second place by thousands of a second.
Pre-Final was better (23.17) but no time to catch the leader after loosing position in turn 1. Final start was the same but this time first two were racing similar to Michael lap times and it was impossible to make a pass. At least Michael had the best lighted chassis :)
2011-05-28 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
6th in OGP Rotax event
This race was part of 3 day vacations in Florida. The rest of the family was joining us on Saturday afternoon for 2 days in St. Augustine.
Rotax Junior class was bigger than usual with 10 entries and with exception of 1 kart, the rest is mid to very good drivers. We came with our 2009 tires, lost 1 in qualification and replace it with new for Pre-Final. 8th qualifying time was all we were able to do. Slightly better in Pre-Final and partially very good in Final race. After leaders lost control and started to race up front again, Michael kept very good speed and was going faster than leader at that time. Unfortunately, after loosing contact with fast karts because of lapped traffic and because his seat tilted to one side, he was loosing lap times like 0.3-0.4s a lap from his best. 6th on checked flag due to accident in leading group. Michael came very tired (OGP increased race distance to 24 laps) and with pain in neck (had to keep it straight with tilted seat).
The rest of the vacation was beautiful :)
2011-05-18 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
First FKCS event in Junior class
We know Monticello track very well, it is the closest to us Florida State event and it is only second time we were able to go there to race in big event. Last year in MiniMax was a bad luck. After injury in practice and missing qualification, Michael picked up few spots in Pre-Final only to be taken out in Final race in turn 1. Last year we were able to race only on Saturday. By moving to Rotax Jnuior, we now have the ability to race Tag Junior on Saturday and Rotax Junior on Sunday.
Thanks to Karl, we picked up used sets of Bridgestones (slicks and wets) and did pretty well in races. Qualification started in wet condition. Asphalt was drying slow so it was just very slippery and no rain. After qualifying 4 laps Michael found himself in 5th position out of 13 who decided to qualify on wets. 3 people decided to start Pre-Final from the back as it was obvious that the rest of the day is going to be dry.
Pre-Final race was his second experience on Bridgestone tires after very short morning warm-up (flat tire in lap 1). After very bad start (5th to 10th) and loosing one more position to Ethan Low, there was a group of 4 karts constantly battling for 8th position (8-11). On checked flag Michael was second in that group just 0.1 from 8th position.
Afternoon races were cancelled due to rain and lightning in area.

Next day was Rotax Junior racing. Class was smaller by 5 non-rotax karts, so it was only 11 karts for qualifying. I made some weird changes to the chassis. With only 3 qualifying laps every small mistake was affecting the result. Michael did plenty of them, so only 8th starting position for Pre-Final. I have to say also we were the only kart with used tires. Fronts were non-CIK mojos from early MiniMax race in Ocala. Rears were our first 7.10 tires we got with junior chassis (which is at least 2 years old). We had to finish the day with them and it was not bad at all.
In Pre-Final Michael had opportunity to move up, if not his 2 big mistakes. On lap 3 he was last running kart because of that and was able to go back to 8th position by the end of short (8 laps) race.
Final race was again full of small mistakes but also great battle. Michael finished 7th with a smile on his face and picked up 1 more position for other kart DQ. Overall very good experience this time in Monticello and we looking forward for Jacksonville race.
2011-05-11 00:00:00 by Ihor Bilyy
CMP #6, Kershaw, SC, May 7, 2011
First Rotax Junior race. Morning sessions didn't go well with best lap times going up every session. In qualification he got flat tire after warm up lap and was starting 6th (last) in a class. In the middle of the race Michael moved to 3rd place where he also finished. Final race did not bring any changes and lap times were about the same as his best in first morning session. 3rd place because very fast leader decided to be disqualified for use of newer tires.
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