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Steep learning curve: experienced driver Richard Walker-Talbot has found the going tough since switching to karting

The battle at the rear between three relative newcomers in the Tag Senior class has been one of the most intriguing storylines of the karting season.

Richard Walker-Talbot, Brian Monk and Bilal Binns have been relishing their “race within a race” during the Bermuda Karting Club series at Rubis Southside Raceway in St David’s.

The trio may have grown accustomed to watching from afar as Scott “Skitchy” Barnes, the BKC president, and Blake Horseman challenge for the chequered flag, but Monk says the gap is slowly closing.

“All three of us are battling each other every week,” Monk said. “It’s a very competitive class and we’re trying to get closer to the top. We’re getting there.”

Monk, who is racing in his second season, believes the fierce competition between himself, Walker-Talbot and Binns is accelerating their lap times as well as their development behind the wheel.

“We’re all new to karting in the past two of three seasons,” added Monk, who finished in the top three for the first time this season in the previous race weekend. “We’re probably the most exciting battle to watch [in the Tag Seniors].”

Monk says he has “always had the need for speed” but is surprised how long it has taken him to get to grips with the sport.

“I found out the club were increasing the number of classes and I figured that was my opportunity to get in. Last year was a learning experience and just about getting seat time. I’ve done much better this year.”

Monk added: “When you watch karting, it seems so easy, but it’s not easy at all. I thought you could just jump in this thing and that was it! I wish I’d started when I was younger and worked my way up the ranks.”

After ten years of racing touring and formula cars in the United States, Walker-Talbot has more experience than most under the helmet. However, transitioning “backwards” from touring cars to karting has been anything but a smooth ride for the 43-year-old.

“The learning curve is completely different in karting,” said Walker-Talbot, who is from New Jersey but has lived in Bermuda for ten years.

“There’s a lot more feel in the car as you’re only an inch off the ground. I guess I prefer karts because the competition is a lot steeper.

“In karting a guy can make mistakes and readjust before you’re able to take advantage. It’s only laps compared to the 30 I was doing in the US. If you don’t get it done in eight laps, that’s it.

“I got used to being at the front [in touring car] but that’s just not happening here; it’s humbled me a lot.”

Walker-Talbot agrees that racing wheel-to-wheel with Monk and Binns has further stirred his competitive juices.

“I relish the competition because the racing I’ve done before has never been as close,” said Walker-Talbot, who is racing in his third season.

“The realistic goal is to see who wins out of us three. The other guys are about two seconds ahead.”

Walker-Talbot admits that working on his own engine has taken some getting used to.

“When I built a car in the US, I raced it for years, whereas in karting you’ve got to put your money into it,” said Walker-Talbot, who is also on the BKC committee and was race director for the 2014 Hamilton Grand Prix.

“A two-dollar part can ruin your whole day! If you don’t have the [engine] knowledge it’s very difficult to catch up. It’s been positive, though. It’s a lot of fun and I just wish we raced more.”

Racing continues in St David’s tomorrow.

For more information on how to get involved and what the club offers, e-mail bermudakartingclub@yahoo.com or go to the club’s Facebook page. Alternatively, call club president Scott Barnes on 505-1611 or committee member Travis Lewis on 535-0558.