Sport17th March 2014
Deaf Racer Bas Lammers Making The Most Of Pre-Season Racing
With three race weekends behind him, deaf kart racer Bas Lammers looks forward to a successful season
As a double world karting champion and having raced against some of today’s best Formula 1 drivers in the past, you might think deaf racer Bas Lammers has nothing more to prove in the sport. Having signed a two-year contract with new team Formula K, just try telling Bas that as he starts the season with a punishing schedule jetting around the world, keen to make his mark in every race he competes in Deaf Racer
We caught up with Bas during pre-season a little more than four weeks ago. Since then he has travelled to Italy from his home in Holland to do some testing, returned to Italy a week later to compete in the Winter Cup, dashed off to Dubai after only a matter of hours at home, and then competed in Malaysia last weekend, after another brief return home.
Keen to follow his progress as the best deaf kart racer in the world today, we were again given exclusive access to ask Bas how his pre-season schedule had gone and what he was expecting with his Championship about to begin. “I'm really happy with the start and results so far in the first 3 races,” Bas told me. “It has been 3 very busy weeks but they all were unforgettable. I have been driving a lot and that was the main intention for the team. It is so important to make as many practice sessions as possible because it makes me a better driver and I learn more about the new kart.”
Just like in Formula 1, karting is about synchronisation of the package as a whole with the Team Manager, Mechanic, Engine Tuner and Driver all working together to get the best out of the kart. Each race provides a further opportunity for the different parts of Bas’ new team to get in tune and he is happy with the progress over the last three race weekends, “I’m very happy to have such a professional Formula K team around me,” he told me, “things are progressing really well.”
With a typical five-day race weekend, skipping from Italy to Dubai and then on to Malaysia in three consecutive weekends, Bas admits that the travelling takes a lot of his energy. He manages the travel by going to the track one day early, allowing him to spend a day relaxing before the practice and racing starts.
The first stop of his whirlwind tour was in Lonato, Italy for the Winter Cup. Making his way to the racetrack, Bas admits that he wasn’t sure where they were on performance compared to the other top drivers, not only because of the new kart but also because of the introduction of new race tyres for this year. “None of the drivers have an idea about the new tyres,” Bas told me, “How they work, which tyre pressure to use, which chassis set up to use. As it was the weekend went really well for us because after qualification we saw that our speed was really good compared to the other drivers.”
In his first race for his new team Formula K, Bas finished a highly credible second place, with everyone involved happy to get a podium position in their first race. Behind that second place is a lot of practice, qualifying and then the final over 24 laps. Typically Bas will take part in 4 or 5 practice sessions on a Wednesday and Thursday, each session being of 15 minute duration. On the Friday he takes part in another 15 minute practice session before doing the official practice with the transponder. This is followed by qualifying which takes place over 8 to 10 minutes.
With in excess of 34 drivers wanting to race, Saturday is a fast and furious day where the drivers take part in 3 or 4 qualification heats to determine the 34 drivers who make it through to the pre-final on Sunday. The pre-final is contested over 20 laps, with the finishing positions used to determine grid places for the main race which is contested over 24 laps and usually takes about 20 minutes to complete.
With so many karts on the track, racing is highly competitive with even a small mistake likely to relegate a driver several places. The second place finish for Bas in his first race for Formula K was highly credible and announced his intention as a serious title contender this year. Fiercely determined and professional Bas explains why losing even 100th of a second at each corner is important, “that is why we have to find all the little things that make a difference, so that we can be faster than our rivals”.
With no time to bask in the glory of a great start to his Formula K career, Bas headed out to Dubai for his second race weekend. Invited there by Nomad Racing, the importer of Formula K products into Dubai, his involvement was important to help promote the products. Despite winning three heats and the final, arguably that was not the highlight of his race weekend. During the weekend Ferrari F1 driver Fernando Alonso visited the track and took time out to meet Bas and his team.
“It was a pleasure to meet Fernando,” Bas beamed, “He was really calm and a very normal guy, just like us. He was at the karting track in Dubai to practice and have some fun. I wished him well for this season, and he wished me well in return.”
After another quick turn around, Bas was jetting off to Malaysia to race for KRS Motorsports, the importer of Formula K products in Asia. As well as racing for the team, Bas also found time to give some hints and tips to their other race drivers. With qualification going very much to plan, Bas began the pre-final race in first place, but a small problem with the kart saw him drop to 7th, which meant he started the final race in that position.
“I started from P1 but after some laps I felt a problem in the engine. I lost several places, but was able to finish 7th,” Bas said. “After the race we checked the engine and we saw that the vacuum fuel line was broken.”
Taking a gamble in the final, the team set up his kart with a longer gear ratio, and whilst he was able to improve his position to finish in 4th spot, it was not quite enough to get on the podium. Commenting on the weekend Bas explained, “It is always hard when you have a problem while you are leading a race. If that happens you have to stay calm and try to manage the problem by driving differently, but you still fight for your position but without crashing out or damaging the kart, tyres or engine.”
A popular driver with spectators at each race weekend, Bas has supporters in all corners of the globe. “Having supporters all around the world means a great deal to me,” said Bas. “Without them I wouldn’t be here racing for one of the top teams. Thank you all for giving me your support!”
On the eve of Round One of the World Series of Karting Super Masters Series KZ which takes place in Sarno, Italy on the 21st March, Bas tells me that he remains upbeat and optimistic for the year. The three race weekends have allowed them to learn about the kart and the set-up needed for him to get the most out if it. Reluctant to make predictions, Bas and his team are simply determined to do the best they can
As for his deafness playing a part, “Absolutely not,” he said, “It is sometimes difficult with the languages in each country, but I have great people around me who help me to translate or explain some words or points.”
With race weekends in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the United States, it is going to be another busy year for Bas and his new Formula K team. You can see his race schedule by visiting his website at http://www.baslammers.com
As a deaf sportsman competing at the elite level of his sport, we wish him every success and hope to catch up with him for the European Championship in Belgium in June.
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Article by Simon Deacy OBE
posted in Deaf Sport / Sport
17th March 2014