Autosport International racing car show 2017Christian England announced at the annual Autosport International that he will be defending his European Le Mans Series title in 2017, and expanding into new horizons.
The reigning 2016 ELMS LMP3 sportscars Champion used the racing car show at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre to confirm he will remain with the United Autosports team for a second season, but sharing with two different teammates.
2016 had been such a ‘fairy-tale’ year for the Barnsley 35 year-old race ace in his un-planned return to the track following a long layoff.
“Last year was such a phenomenal season, and it will be tough to surpass it, but our aim has to be to try and win races”.
Having finished runner-up in the British Formula Ford Championship with Team JLR in 2002, his progression into the British Formula 3 Championship stopped mid-way through the 2003 season, as he struggled to get sufficient finances together, “the usual budget problems”, sighed England.
“Motorsport has always been my passion and I missed it hugely during my 13 year absence. It was difficult not being involved: having hung up my helmet, I couldn’t bear to even visit a race meeting. I didn’t do any trackdays, nor any karting, I didn’t even read any motor racing magazines. Instead I threw all my efforts into developing my successful family pub/restaurant and hotels businesses. These took my time – I chose that as my new route!”
Even though not involved in racing anymore, England continued to keep in touch with Team JLR boss, Richard Dean, and in November 2015 they met up for one up of their regular coffee and a chat sessions.
In passing, Dean mentioned to England, “Do you fancy doing some racing, as you still look lean and as fit and able as you did when you last stepped from a racing car?”
Thinking it over England messaged Dean to ask, ‘was his question serious?’ and got a firm ‘YES’ in reply.
Of course after 13 years his racing licence had lapsed, “there was no guarantee I’d get a race licence, but it worked out well”, with his experience he only had to do the Theory part of the ARDS test and got his new licence at the same level of experience as before.
Fortuitously able to find himself a budget from the Rotherham-based, Gala Tent company, he signed up with the team, and was on his way to doing the European Le Mans (ELMS) series at circuits across the continent, including the famous French circuit.
Now just 12 months later and amazingly he is a champion in the European Le Mans LMP3! – “what a dream”, England adds with a grin.
In what would have been deemed too far-fetched for even a Hollywood film script, “We won the initial three races, giving us a strong position for the year, then had two more podiums”, England explained with massive understatement, “We had the pace, so we could have won them all, but a 50% win rate isn’t too bad”.
Two of his highlights of the season were winning the season opener at Silverstone and racing partnered by ex-F1 driver/Sky TV F1 pundit Martin Brundle on the Le Mans circuit, in the Road to Le Mans Series race just hours before the 24 hour race started.
“It was one of the best seasons I had ever had”, England commented with pride – Perhaps everyone should take 13 years off!…”
“While I kept myself in shape, I only had a few weeks’ notice before the 2016 season, during which I had to learn not only the tracks, but also how to drive the cars”.
Knowing full-well he was competing again this season, he has stepped his fitness up and learned all the tracks, “so here we go again for 2017!”
This year as well as doing the ELMS Series, when possible he will also contest the new UK-based LMP3 Cup Championship in its debut season which has a £40,000 prize fund.
Having previously only done single-seaters, “sportscars were never on my radar, but LMP3 is so achievable on costs for the amount of racing: they look and sound the part with proper downforce too. While they are rewarding to drive they are vastly different to a Formula Ford single-seater racing car”.
These will be exciting times for me and the team as with the 2016 LMP3 Championship win, we – United Autosports – won a free entry to the 24 hours of Le Mans in an LMP2 car.
LMP3 prototypes are a low-cost sportscar formula designed to keep the costs down (that phrase is always said very much ‘tongue-in-cheek’ in motor racing where a man can make a small fortune…out of a very large one), using spec €206,000 Euro chassis, tyres and Nissan V8 engines all with the same gearbox, electronics and Pirelli tyres.
As the cars are all roughly the same, it is down to the skill of car set-up and driver performance, “just as it was in Formula Ford 13 years ago, but on another level”.
With 3 drivers per car – this year his team-mates are Wayne Boyd and Mark Patterson – it is best if they are all similar in size and ability, so that it does not compromise trying to accommodate them in the car.
“They are easy cars to drive, but not to get that last bit of performance, but achieving it is very rewarding”.
Drivers tend to do 1 hour stints and it can be stifling in the enclosed cockpit, but they do have drinks system. As a sign of his stature in the team, “All last year I was doing double – 2 hour – stints in the 4 hour races. It feels like I never stopped, but the only thing is I have never raced on the various circuits where they’ve changed the configuration”.
With a wistful sign of contemplation, England remarked, “I just wish I had been able to stick at Formula Ford as I was beating all the others who are now in top-level drives…”
“We just lost out on the 2002 Formula Ford Championship and this put Richard Dean’s Team JLR on the map and I like to think that we’ve put his latest team, United Autosports, on the map now too and now JLR can do the Le Mans 24 hour!”
“When Gala Tent stepped in and said they would sponsor me it felt like my racing career had started all over again. Motorsport is an obscenely expensive sport and without a sponsor such as Gala I know I would have never been able to race again”.
A mutual contact led me to my sponsor, Gala Performance based in Wath. It was perfect timing to go and see Richard Dean and Gala Performance as their products cover all the needs for a team in motorsport, so their involvement it is a perfect match for both companies. Plus, Gala showed an interest in ELMS.
With the team – United Autosports – being Leeds-based and the sponsor both pretty local so it is a perfect fit.
“To make it in motorsport you not only have to be extremely talented and have a near endless supply of money, but you also need luck too and the chances of making it are slim. I count myself very lucky to have this chance again, especially as Jason and Gala Tent were able to arrange becoming my main sponsor in such a short space of time.”
It is such a wonderful opportunity for me. This is something I never thought would happen and to call Formula 1 legend Martin Brundle a teammate for the second race of the gruelling endurance series I have to pinch myself every time I say it! I can’t thank Gala enough and I am profoundly thankful of the way they stood up and became my main sponsor in such a short space of time.”
Gamble brothers dominate Brands Hatch as Dorlin laps-up Clio opener
James Dorlin made a dramatic debut on the BTCC support-race package, while Steven Hunter was more than happy with JHR Developments’ performance as in the season’s opening rounds at Brands Hatch.
Barnsley 17 year-old Dorlin, won the 2016 Michelin Clio Cup series with nine wins, and has now moved up to the latest spec Renault Clio Cup race cars, and competing in front of much larger crowds than previously, “it’s quite a step up and on a totally different scale to what I’m used to!”.
In Brands Hatch’s round 1 of the Renault UK Clio Cup Dorlin qualified 16th on the grid, but soon showed the opposition of what he is capable in the race.
Making a storming start, in a wet race he overtook ten cars on the opening lap alone; Dorlin took 4th place at the flag, only 0.2 seconds shy of a podium finish and setting race fastest lap in his debut race!
In a frustrating round 2 he was unable to repeat the feat, finishing in 16th, but nevertheless he lies 2nd in the Graduates Cup for young, first-year drivers, and 9th in the overall table.
Steven Hunter left Brands Hatch beaming a contented smile of satisfaction with two championships being led by his JHR Developments team’s young drivers.
Uniquely, the Dronfield-based team has a pair of brothers competing in 2017.
Elder brother, George Gamble leads JHR’s challenge in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup championship and took pole-position with a 0.127 second advantage.
Totally, dominant in the opening round 1, Gamble held position at the head of the field, where he remained unchallenged taking a lights-to-flag victory, with the fastest lap, by 2.843 seconds at the end.
According to Hunter, Gamble should have taken the spoils in round 2 also, had he not been tapped into a spin, dropping him to the back of the field. Nevertheless, he managed to power himself through the pack, to salvage a 10th-placed finish.
Starting from 8th on the grid, it seemed unlikely that Gamble would see the podium in round 3, however Gamble made the most of a Safety Car intervention to climb up to 5th.
Now in the middle of a nine-car fight for the win, Gamble took no prisoners while in a real charge to soon pick off positions to be in 2nd place at half-distance.
Another Safety Car closed up the leaders for a quick dash to the flag as an invincible Gamble begin to close in on leader Jack Mitchell, and then mounted a successful surprise attack at Paddock Hill Bend with two laps to go.
“I don’t think I’ll forget that race, as it was a close thing and I didn’t think I’d be able to win from 8th on the grid. At Paddock I just got him – a late move, and good on the brakes at the last, last minute I just dashed down, I don’t think he expected it and I was through into the lead. I am over the moon to come away with two wins and leading the Championship!”
Gamble has a handy 6 points lead in the series with 7 more meetings to go.
His teammate, Chesterfield’s Seb Perez is 5th in the points table having graduated from the Ginetta Junior championship to the SuperCup, according to Hunter, the 27 year-old did an “exceptionally good job” controlling the Ginetta G55’s power and downforce complications finishing in 6th, 8th and 5th places.
Tom Gamble, the younger of the brothers, together with JHR’s 2016 super Rookie Seb Priaulx, locked-out the front row in qualifying for the two 2017 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship races.The pair dominated both races and round 1 would have been a JHR 1-2-3 as rookie Harry Dyson cleaned-up setting the fastest lap, closing on to the dicing Gamble and Priaulx in the final laps.
Unfortunately, both Gamble and Priaulx were on the limits of their tyre’s grip into the final corner and the pair collided as Dyson swept through for a maiden victory, Gamble in the gravel as Priaulx recovered to 4th at the flag.
“It was just one of those things: only a very slight touch (of bodywork)”, Hunter explained, “but it spun them both around so only a win for Harry Dyson”.It was a Rookie Cup JHR 1-2-3 in round 1 as Dyson was followed home by Adam Smalley and Matt Luff, complemented by a 1-2 in round 2.
This was a less eventful race, but still with Priaulx and Gamble leading the field, where Priaulx took both the win and fastest lap comfortably over 3 seconds ahead of Gamble.“A, pair of exceptionally good drives from Priaulx and Gamble”, a delighted Hunter remarked with race result being just what he expected, “after the outstanding speed they showed in our winter testing efforts in Spain, it is good to see it come to fruition on the track and I was pleasantly relieved at the pace they showed in the races”.
It is a JHR top-2 in the Ginetta Junior championship, headed by Priaulx, but only 5 points ahead of the 2017 super-rookie, Dyson who leads the Rookie Cup too.
Billy Monger gave JHR, “three steady solid races results” in F4, according to Hunter, competing in the limited rounds Challenge class of the category.
In the opening round, after starting 9th, Monger set the fastest lap working his way to a 6th-place finish.
A 3rd-place podium finish to round 2 together with 7th in round 3 gave Monger a clean sweep of Challenge class wins giving him the category lead.
His JHR teammate, Mexican youngster, Manuel Sulaiman impressed Hunter especially how much he has come on, scoring top-10 finishes in two out of the three races in a 17 car field.
Monger’s horror crash for JHR Developments at Donington Park
JHR Developments were racing under a dark cloud at Donington Park when a horrendous crash resulted in a teenage driver trapped in his car, then being air-lifted to hospital and his subsequent injuries having life-changing consequences.
Billy Monger, racing in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost (to give its full title) had been tagged by 5 leading cars spinning at the start of round 6 and dropped to the back of the field.
In his recovery drive the 17 year-old was setting fastest laps as he scythed his way back through the lower orders, and was lining up to move past one or even two cars battling on the run up to Schwantz curve.
Jinking to the right to pull out around the first car, the second one suddenly swerved to avoid Patrick Pasma’s almost stationary car on the right-hand side of the track – the car was totally unsighted, Pasma being hidden to Monger’s viewpoint.
Travelling at 120mph the rear of Pasma’s car suddenly appeared from nowhere and Monger had no time to react at all as he ploughed into it, launching Pasma into the air and the car giving a glancing-blow to Monger’s helmet.
As the two cars rolled to a halt, there followed a painstaking long rescue process as the emergency marshals carefully extricated a conscious Monger from the wreck of his car. After 90 minutes an air ambulance ferried Monger to Nottingham hospital where two days later it became clear that his injuries were life changing as the teenager had to lose both lower legs.Ironically, the weekend had started so well for Monger, who had made a storming opening lap to round 4 of the F4 British Championship which saw him climb four places giving him a 3rd-place podium finish, also winning – and taking over the lead in – the Ford F4 Challenge Cup category (for those competing in a limited number of seven rounds).
“I focused on bringing home the points”, explained Monger, desperate to gain publicity to aid sponsor-hunting to finance him competing in a full-season of F4 rounds, “I need more trophies!!!”.
A grid 4th start to the partial reverse grid round 5 was wasted when Monger’s car sounded very sick as it spluttered away at the lights. Pulling into the pits at the start of lap 2, his Dronfield-based JHR Developments team were horrified to discover that round 4’s post-race scrutineering technical checks had included disconnecting the turbo supply pipe. But they had not actually reconnected the pipework – or informed the team – so his car was robbed of all of its vital added turbo ‘oomph’ and was not ‘powered by Ford EcoBoost’, hence why he simply crawled off the line…
Also unhappy was his JHR teammate, the Mexican Manuel Sulaiman, who discovered the underhand tactics employed by some drivers of barging him out of their way at the chicane, hence his 12th and 13th finishes.
The fateful round 6 only lasted 3 laps, but Monger managed to set race fastest lap before the disaster occurred.Tom Gamble left Donington Park at the head of the 2017 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship following a strong weekend against the 20-strong grid of 14-to-17 year-old teenage racers.
Posting only five laps in qualifying, Gamble still managed to set a time worthy of 5th place and made the most of it in round 3.
Restraining himself for four laps under the safety car, while his JHR Developments teammate Jenson Dineen’s car was dragged out of the first corner gravel trap, at the restart Gamble hounded the leader.
‘Going for it’ on lap 4 Gamble snatched the lead at Redgate, and never looked back for the final 6 laps. “It was a mega win! It was a great race but not easy – I am still getting used to the car, but getting quicker. My new team (JHR) are really good”.
Behind, an awesome fight emerged for the final spots inside the top-ten with Dyson on a real charge, picking up three spots on lap 5, only to lose 4 on the next lap…
Seb Priaulx set race fastest lap fighting over his eventual 6th-place finish, “It was a tough race. I was a sitting duck on the road as the car was not 100%, as I could see other cars pulling away, I got the fastest lap because I got a good tow off the other cars…”.
One ahead was Adam Smalley, with Dyson in 8th-place from grid 13th the pair rounded out the Rookie rostrum.
A lengthy round 4 safety car period left only seven racing laps, with Gamble and Dyson part of a quintet running nose-to-tail for the race lead over the opening few laps.
The talented Gamble eventually finishing in 3rd, with a JHR Developments’ five-car train developing in the final laps from Dyson in 5th-place, followed by Luff (2nd and 3rd in the Rookie Cup), Priaulx, Smalley and Dineen in 9th.
Round 6 had Gamble starting 3rd with his teammate in a JHR Developments’ lock-out of rows 2 to 5.
A fumbled start by the pole position driver allowed Gamble, from his grid 3 slot, to grab the lead towards the chicane on lap 1 that he held until two-third of the laps, when the lead fluctuated between him and Daniel Harper, before Gamble reasserted his authority and took the lead to the flag.
The results demoted Priaulx down the points table, but gave Gamble a five points lead, while his teammate Dyson leads the Rookie class with Smalley in 3rd-place.
His elder brother George Gamble wisely set his hot lap early on in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup, multiple stoppages meant none of the other drivers managed to top his time giving him pole position, with JHR teammate, Seb Perez starting 10th.In the start to round 4, Gamble lost traction off the line so was nudged down the order into 3rd, with further forcefulness on lap 2, he pulled off at the Craner Curves with his left front wheel askew.
A midfield start to round 5, from last in class Gamble was making expert progress up the order and setting the fastest lap. Unfortunately, having recovered to 5th, he incurred a five second track limits penalty that dropped him to 7th on corrected times.
Gamble made three places at the start of round 6 but then steadily fell back again to a 9th-place finish – he lies 2nd in the championship.Chesterfield’s Seb Perez finished behind Gamble in the three races in 9th, 10th and 11th places respectfully, commented that the car was “fast and grippy, but I’m still getting used to racing with the effects of aerodynamics” from the wings and other appendages on his and the other cars. Barnsley’s James Dorlin was part of the Renault UK Clio Cup 25-car grid – the biggest in almost four years.
Qualifying for round 3 in 12th place, he was helped by 6 cars out on opening lap to make a 7th-place finish overall in a shortened race when a car barrel-rolled, and 2nd-place in the Graduates Cup (for young, first-year drivers).
Four Safety Car laps – another rolling car – shortened round 4, where Dorlin moved from 11th to finish 8th and 3rd in the Graduates Cup, where he has now taken over at the top of the standings.
England demonstrates his sportscar talent at Donington Park
Christian England gave a masterclass in sports-prototypes racing and showed his talent had not diminished in the 14 years since his last raced at Donington Park.
The 2016 European Le Mans Series LMP3 champion, was racing with United Autosports in the brand-new UK-based Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship opening rounds at the Derbyshire circuit.
In the pair of one hour-long races England was partnered by American 19 year-old Andrew Evans. A weird anomaly of the FIA – world motorsport’s governing body – driver grading system makes England a ‘bronze’ driver due to being over 30 years of age, and with only one year’s recent motor racing history, even though he is vastly-more experienced and a crowned champion, the reigning Euro LMP 3 title-holder. Whereas, Evans – the younger driver at 19 year-old – being under 30 years of age, is graded a silver driver regardless of having much less experience…
The bronze driver is required to start the race and do the first 30 minutes in this case.
England set the early pace in qualifying the United Autosports Ligier JS P3 but was pipped for pole-position in both races, however he felt, “P2 isn’t a bad place to start – hopefully we can get out front in the race and get our heads down!”.
Good to his word, as starting driver, England hounded the race-leader for 9 laps before he steered his Ligier JS P3 into the lead.
Steadily pulling out an advantage, all the opposition could see of his car was it disappearing into the distance.
On lap 27 the Barnsley 35 year-old handed over the driving to Evans, the American never having raced at the Donington Park circuit, and making his LMP3 debut.
And the anomaly showed when Evans re-joined the track as England’s hard won lead advantage was steadily eroded and Evans dropped slowly down the timing screen.
By the time the chequered flag fell on lap 54, the England/Evans car crossed the line in 6th place.
Hoping for better luck in round 2, England again started on the front row, and was on the outside of a trio running three abreast down to the first corner, Redgate, England holding his nerve, braking the latest, to emerge in the lead.
Using his talent again, England steadily built up a 2.9 seconds comfort zone advantage, only for a spinning car to bring out the safety car on lap 4.
Six laps later, the race re-started with 52 minutes to run and England again asserted his advantage soon pulling out a 1.9 seconds gap from the chasing pack, to create a very useful lead margin.
After ten laps, England’s lead had grown to 5.1 seconds, he led the pack until the pit window opened for the driver change-overs firing off a sequence of fastest laps, as his opponents pitted his lead effectively grew to a commanding 26 seconds.
Then England lost his 3.5 seconds margin when another stricken car called for the safety car to take to the track again, when the race resumed, impressively England again pulled away at the restart, and built up another healthy gap to the rest of the field.
Waiting until the final minutes of the driver change-over window, England pitted for Evans to take over the lead United Autosports machine.
But again he was quickly reeled-in by the car running second, which easily took over the lead, as Evans steadily went backwards down the order – within 13 laps he had dropped to 4th.
Then, in the closing stages of the race, to confound his sins, Evans ran wide at the Old Hairpin, his car’s regulation flat-bottom running along the kerbs raised the car’s wheels off the track and it spun the car across the grass, slamming it into the wall.
With insufficient time remaining to recover the stricken England/Evans car under a safety car intervention, the red flags were shown, bringing the race to an end four minutes early.
Post-race England was happy about his performance, “I’ve really enjoyed the first races in the Henderson Insurance LMP3 Cup Championship. I was pleased with my own performance this weekend, and being out in front having a couple of good stints. I think I’m getting better in my own pace. It can only be a good thing to get more practice for the European series”.
If he had a criticism, “I kept building a gap only for the safety car to keep ruining it”, he joked, but then with a grimace England remarked, “In both races took I the lead, pulled out a margin and then you notice who lost it…”.
The week before, England had been defending his ELMS LMP 3 series title crown in the opening round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series.
On home turf, in the 4 Hour of Silverstone race, where the United Autosports car number 3 of Wayne Boyd/Christian England/Mark Patterson lined-up on the grid 3rd in class.
Boyd started, running at the head of the field until their pit-stop, with a little over one hour gone, England took over from Boyd, and was back at the head of the field almost immediately.
England switched after his one hour stint to Patterson and he resumed in 3rd.
With an hour to go Patterson had slipped to 5th when he handing over to Boyd who sliced his way back up to in 4th at the chequered flag – less than three-seconds from scoring a podium.
However, late on Saturday evening England found his number 3 Ligier had been promoted to 3rd in the final results after a breach of regulations by another car.
Dorlin’s tight maiden Clio Cup winner at Thruxton
James Dorlin has taken just three meetings to grab his maiden victory in the Renault UK Clio Cup Championship at Thruxton circuit, and he’s a rookie too.
The Barnsley 18 year-old is a ‘BRDC Rising Star 2017’, recognised by the prestigious British Racing Driver’s Club as ‘having the potential to succeed throughout 2017 and beyond’.
He is narrowly leading the Graduates Cup class for young, first-year drivers – lined up a career-best 4th on the grid for both races, reflected, “My third UK Clio Cup event and two 4ths on the grid – I have to be happy with that considering I didn’t qualifying inside the top-6 at either Brands Hatch or Donington.”
Dorlin made a demon start to round 5 slotting into 2nd, before swapping places after a couple of laps with James Colburn at the right-hand Campbell bend.
Holding that position to the end, it was a first podium outright for Dorlin finishing close behind in 3rd.
Explained Dorlin, “I could see James was a bit quicker than me in the early stages so didn’t fight when he went for the move (for the lead) and hoped he might start fighting with (leader) Mike which would bring me back into it. This feels like a real breakthrough result for me in only my fifth UK Clio Cup race”.
In round 6, Dorlin started from 4th on the grid but was immediately up to 2nd at the start and pressuring the leader, and former Champion, Mike Bushell’s car.
Putting Bushell under huge pressure he stayed there all the way until the exit of the very last bend, the Club Chicane, when, with slightly greater momentum he jinked right, gently tapping Bushell’s rear bumper, to be able to get alongside the championship-leader with the finish line approaching.
Then it was a straight drag race to the line and as they approached it, teenager Dorlin nosed ahead to pip Bushell, edging him out by 0.067 seconds and grab his debut win in only his sixth Renault UK Clio Cup race.
An ecstatic Dorlin commented, “That was just amazing – I thought I would have to settle for 2nd then coming into the last chicane I was closer than I had been before, we made just a bit of contact, I seemed to get better momentum than Mike exiting the chicane and he seemed to run a bit wide. That allowed me to get up alongside him but those final 200 yards where the longest 200 yards of my life! Had I, hadn’t I? I am absolutely over the moon. To do this at my third ever event in this championship, I am really, really happy!”
All around the circuit Dorlin had been flashing his lights at Bushell, he explained, “I was doing anything I could do to slow Mike down, ‘cos he is rapid round here – but it was brilliant”.
The Clerk of the Course later demoted Dorlin for the manoeuvre on Bushell, only for a successful appeal to reinstate him in the results, that gave him 4th in the Championship, overall, and extending his Graduates Cup lead by 12 points.
There were more race wins for Dronfield’s JHR Developments team in the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship at Thruxton.
From Round 6 pole position Seb Priaulx led away, with teammates Tom Gamble close behind and Harry Dyson in a six car fight for 4th.
Gamble took the lead for 2 laps, but running wide at Church dropped him to 9th.
At mid-race, Priaulx reclaimed the lead for one lap, but then dropped back and with two laps to go, he was hit with a track limits penalty, dropping him to 5th on corrected times.
On the road, Gamble re-claiming places mounted a last minute charge past the two rivals to move into 2nd. As the flag came out however, the leader was given a track limits time penalty, dropping him to 4th and handed the win to an unsuspecting Gamble, “A very difficult, the race, that just went on forever – but I really enjoyed it!”
Rookie racer Dyson joined him on the rostrum: in the rookie category Dyson had JHR Developments teammate Adam Smalley complete the rookie podium.
Post-race both Priaulx and Dyson were excluded from the results with ‘technical infringements’.
Reduced in length by one lap following a lengthy red flag earlier, round 7 had Priaulx was in the lead with Harry King passing Gamble for second.
As King challenged Priaulx, Gamble seized an opportunity and dived into the lead as Dyson took 3rd, with Smalley in 4th.
JHR teammates Gamble and Priaulx running nose-to-tail, 0.144 seconds apart worked together to build a comfortable gap before they started to fight for the lead. –
Having built a 6.9 seconds lead over the 3rd-placed car, with two laps to go Priaulx passed Gamble for the lead on the pit straight, but Gamble refused to let go and chased Priaulx to the drop of the flag.
Smalley, in a nine car fight for 3rd, took the lead of the rookies category until too much speed into Church sent him off-line and down the order, losing what was an almost certain rookie podium.
Priaulx was delighted at his second win of the season, “I can’t believe I just got it at the end, I did really well to pull away, just so happy to win. We planned the team tactics to pull out a gap, , but just not who was going to win it…It was amazing – felt really good!”
Leading the Championship by 16 points Gamble was happy too, “A mega race, really fun, me and Seb worked in qualifying and we planned it as we are both getting good starts – we got a really good gap and it worked for him – he pushed me all the way. Got to thank everyone at JHR for giving me such a good car this weekend”.
Wombwell kart track’s annual Brian Wilson Memorial W-Plate meeting turned out to be a straight fight between a local kart racer and a racer from a local karting team over the Brian Wilson Driver of the Day trophy.
In a hotly-contested Honda Cadet race, Mexborough’s Mark Baines Motorsport had their driver, Archie Carter in pole position with Worksop’s Thomas Colton alongside on the front row.
At the start, Colton got the jump on Carter and led the opening lap but soon Carter grabbed the race lead.Not that Colton let the lead go easily, and at lap speeds averaging nearly 50 mph he chased after Carter with a vengeance.
Having an advantage through the twisting sections of Wombwell’s circuit, Colton would close right up to Carter’s rear bumper at the end of each lap.With Colton tucked into Carter’s slip-stream, it sometimes looked as if their two karts were joined together, but Carter had the advantage on Wombwell’s two long straights pulling out the smallest comfort margin to keep him in the lead.
Over 20 action-packed laps it was a clean but determined tussle between the pair of quite mature 10 year-olds, both eager to have the ‘W’ number plate on their karts for the rest of the season.On the penultimate lap it seemed as if the glory would go to Colton, but a final lap last-ditch effort by Carter grabbed the lead and put his hand on the Driver of the Day trophy – even if it was almost as tall as him and too heavy to hold!
Joe Harrison from Worksop and Rotherham’s Jack Hobson had a grandstand view of the leadership battle as the pair were locked in their own tussle over runners-up spot.
Harrison held 3rd-place until lap 10, when the pair were pushed wide, losing a couple of places.
Falling back to 6th, Hobson recovered to 3rd-place until two laps from the end Harrison managed to gain places back up to 3rd on lap 14 and he held it to the flag.
When he took the lead of the Junior X30 race on the second lap it looked as if Doncaster’s Cameron Coombes would get the W-plate, but at half distance he dropped a place to finish runner-up, plus suffered a 10 second bodywork penalty.
Next it was the turn of Barnsley’s Jayjay Cook to take over the lead for a couple of laps before being deposed, eventually finishing in 3rd-place.
Adam Colton from Worksop had a six lap early retirement from 5th-place.
Barnsley’s Jack Younger put in a determined drive in the IAME Cadet final, having fallen to 8th mid-race, he managed to gain places back up the field to 6th, that became 5th when the leader was excluded from the results.
Alfie Collins, from Hoyland finished 8th, having dropped to 11th place, a late recovery drive moved him back up the field.
In contrast, Brandon Lloyd, from Wath on Dearne, moved up the field from grid 10th, only to plummet five places after mid-race, ending up in 12th spot.
Barnsley’s Kenzi Wilkins race progress was steadily upwards from 11th on the grid, to 7th on the results sheet.
After an initial dip, James Robertson from Rotherham also improved from a 12th place start to finish 10th.
From 2nd on the grid in a MBM-run kart, Jenson Parker, from Bolsover, did his utmost to try to keep up with the Minimax final race leader and unstoppable winner, Jake Boydell.
Having a lonely race in 3rd-place, Doncaster’s James Winter had to contend with watching the pair disappear into the distance in a race of only four karts, where no overtaking took place.
In the Senior X30 final, Maciej Hodura, from Doncaster, spent his race in a constant battle over 6th place that he seemed to have got the upper hand, only to lose it on the last lap, to take the flag in 7th. One place behind was fellow Donny karter, Craig Baker, running 8th from lights to flag.
JHR’s lead Juniors while Priaulx takes double at Oulton Park
Seb Priaulx had a near perfect winning weekend with his results in the two races at Oulton Park in the 2017 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship, with his teammate extending his series lead.
But he needed it, as arriving at the circuit he found that all points had been forfeited from the previous meeting as punishment for him and two teammate’s cars having engine technical infringements.
Along with fellow JHR Developments drivers Matt Luff and Harry Dyson, the trio were adjudged to have contravened Championship Regulation in post-event scrutineering checks, and excluded from all Thruxton results, and points equivalent to two race wins: the Dronfield-based team are appealing the penalty.
Armed with a new engine, Priaulx planted his Ginetta G40 on pole-position, at the lights Priaulx lead off the line and just disappeared, setting the race fastest lap to be nearly 4.5 seconds ahead at the flag.
“We got everything right – I got the gap off the start, I could not do any more, so I just relaxed, I wasn’t under pressure, it was easy for me”. With a grin, Priaulx beamed, “I want to thank Ginetta for the engine they gave me – it was awesome and I’m over the moon”.
Adam Smalley and Dyson went off together, re-joining towards the back of the field, where Dyson remained but Smalley did get up to 13th-place.
Ginetta Junior Championship-leader Tom Gamble steadily moved from grid 7th to finish 5th reinforcing his lead advantage, “I Just keep working my way up to the front as I’m looking for consistent podium results for the Championship”.
Another front-row start for Priaulx had him take the round 9 lead on the opening lap and a re-run of the earlier race, setting the fastest lap on his way to another win.
“I love the undulations of this circuit: It is a real driver’s circuit, with the barriers so close. You have to go fast, such a great circuit – one of the best on the calendar!”
Dyson, from 3rd, dropped to 4th and held that position to the flag, with Smalley doing similar, starting 5th finishing 6th.
Gamble had an eventful race from grid 7th, moving to 5th on the opening lap, staying there for three laps, until a clash caused him to tumble down ten places.
Clawing his way back two places on one lap, and then a further two places on the next gave him an 11th-place finish that nearly doubled his points lead to 31 points.
The elder Gamble brother, George and teammate Seb Perez had a couple of incident-interrupted Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup races.
Round 7 began with Gamble starting 10th, and soon into 8th, a couple of laps had him in 5th and chasing 4th-place.
Before he could get any further, a rather heavy crash midfield brought the race to an early end, “There’s always a bit of drama at this circuit”.Perez started from 13th and got into 10th place by lap 3, holding position until lap 13, he took 9th just two laps before the premature race end.
The Safety Car brought a mid-race lull to Round 8, where Gamble started in 5th, and was running 6th until the interlude.
Back at race speed he was in 5th until the chequered flag.
Losing out in the opening laps, from 7th on the grid, Chesterfield 17 year-old Perez was 13th on lap 3. “It is a very big learning curve with these cars coming from Juniors – with all this power and the aerodynamics – but I’m getting there steadily”, he revealed. “Although it is a nightmare trying to overtake in these cars as they are so wide and some tracks like Oulton Park are really quite narrow so is not too easy to make places”. Nevertheless, he managed to get to 11th by the end – “It will come together soon…”
The 7th round of the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup did not have the best start for Barnsley’s James Dorlin who started the race from the back of the grid, rather than from 9th, after not making it to the assembly area in time. His team had waited a bit too late to make a call on which tyres to use in the changeable conditions.
However, being a rather talented 17 year-old, Dorlin did an amazing job making up 7 places on the opening lap.
Within five laps Dorlin had recovered sufficiently to be where he should have been originally – right in the heat of the action in 9th position, where he took the flag.
Sheffield’s Sam Osborne similarly started where he finished in 13th, but endured some torrid early laps where he fell back to 17th.
A bit of determination mid-race had Osborne recover places to take the flag in 13th-place.
Both local drivers would rather forget round 8.
Even though Dorlin qualified in 5th-place and made a great start down the inside alongside the pit wall.
But he was then squeezed off the track and propelled into the crash barriers, sufficiently hard to bring out the safety car for 3 laps.
Osborne qualified in 16th place, although after the first lap he had to pit for a new tyre during the safety car period.
At the restart Osborne got up to 13th by the end of the lap, then a Renault Clio rolled on its roof, which brought out the red flags on lap 3 and as the barrier repairs were taking too long, the race was not restarted.
Osborne was classified 10th and given the race fastest lap.
MBM shine at PFi Club June meeting
The Paul Fletcher international circuit’s round 3 club meeting was a good day for Mexborough’s Mark Baines Motorsport team, and almost one for local karter, Phil Rawson.
MBM’s young karter Daniel Holdsworth was on pole-position for the Honda Cadet race, but had to fight off three challengers for the race win.
Under constant pressure and never having the chance to relax, Holdsworth was fighting right up to the chequered flag eventually taking the win by a very slim 0.01 seconds margin.Phil Rawson from Worksop looked to be on the way to making it X30 Senior three race wins in a day, having won the two preceding heats. Starting from 3rd, Rawson spent his race in a superb battle over the lead with a podium at least on the cards. But with three laps to go Rawson’s clashed with a challenger and his race came to an early end. Freddie Spindlow put in a great performance for MBM in the IAME Cadet race from 6th place. Moving into 5th at the start, Spindlow battled over 4th-place for the entire race until the final lap.
In a decisive move on the last lap, Spindlow grabbed 2nd-place and in the process reinforced his championship lead.In the X30 Junior race MBM’s Fraz Fenwick, from 3rd on the grid, took 2nd at the start, but fell back to 10th mid-race, then he managed to regain places to be 6th at the flag. Barnsley’s Matthew Hudson starting in 6th made a place at the start then into 4th by lap 2, unfortunately fell back through the field to be 14th at the flag.
Skye Siddall from Chesterfield came home the 1st Rookie for MBM putting in a memorable climb through the field from 36th up to 20th-place.Barnsley karter Cole Kilner, started 15th doing a brilliant job fighting his way up to 5th with 3 laps to go, setting the race fastest lap in the process. Although he dropped back to 7th at the flag, but unfortunately post-race he suffered the bane of modern karting, being penalised for having a loose front bumper (designed to stop the tactic of barging the opposition out of the way, but they also work lose if a corner kerbing is clouted) this plummeted him down the results to 22nd-place…
Turner down on power but a trophy for Dodds at Fulbeck Super One
The Fulbeck circuit’s round 6 of the SuperOne Karting Series Championship was not a happy hunting ground for local karters and teams.
Of all Handsworth-based Strawberry Racing’s entrants, it was one of their youngest karters, Maxwell Dodds, who had the headline finish of the meeting.
Racing in the IAME Cadet category, Dodds lined up 15th on the grid and began making places from the start.
Within three laps he was up to 9th-place, but had to bide his time for 7 laps before he was running in 8th-place.
In a late charge, Dodds fought his way up to a 3rd-place podium-finish with a lap to go, but things went a bit awry on the final lap.
In the words of his dad, Oliver – an ex-racer – “It’s a shame we were not higher, Max was punted from behind then pushed sideways”.
This lost Dodds three places, so he came home in 6th-place and a minor podium place, but sadly, not in the top-3.
However, the nine place improvement was Strawberry Racing’s best result of the meeting and makes Dodds equal-7th in the Championship points table.
Thomas Turner arrived at the Lincolnshire circuit holding 2nd-place in the Senior X30 category points table, the Rotherham lad placing his kart 4th on the grid.
But the Mexborough-based MBM team were having problems with his engine and Turner fell back to 6th at the start.
Try as he might Turner, at 15 years-old the youngest driver on the grid, just could not get enough impetus to climb any further up the field, staying in 6th-place until to the flag.
Nevertheless, that finishing position still allowed him to accrue a decent haul of points maintaining his 2nd-place in the championship with a 4-point gap.
Further back, Sheffield’s Euan Wilson run by the Steel city’s S8 Racing team was 6th on the grid for the final.
He lost out at the start too, dropping to 10th, Wilson managed to get up to 9th with 5 laps to go, but could not improve any more.
In the Junior X30 category, Strawberry’s Nelson King started in 8th, only to fall back to 9th, running in 8th mid-race, he then regained 6th by the flag.
Barnsley rookie Cole Kilner, gained three places from his grid slot of 11th, before dropping back slowly to take the flag in 13th-place.
Barnicoat’s successful international OK shake-down at PFi Club July roundBen Barnicoat used the Paul Fletcher international circuit Club Meeting round 4 as a successful shake-down for the annual Kartmasters British Grand Prix event.
The 20 year-old Chesterfield sportscar racer was re-acclimatising himself with kart racing in preparation for his attempt to grab his 6th PFi Kartmasters title.
Starting the X30 Senior race from pole position, Barnicoat held the lead from lights-to-flag, apart from momentarily falling back to 2nd on lap 3, he was otherwise untroubled and totally in control.
Rotherham’s David Sutton, boss of Team Avago, started an uncharacteristic 12th, and managed to move forward to 8th-place at the flag.
Finishing one place behind Sutton, Philip Rawson from Worksop, also started further back than normal in 13th.
MBM’s Benjamin Cook was the X30 Senior best-rookie, having started 15th, unfortunately through the race he fell back to finish 17th on the road, but became 13th when others received dropped-bumper penalties.
There was strong local interest in the IAME Cadet race, providing a good battle, although they did tend to trip up on the final laps…Sheffield’s Brandon Carr – the protégé of Ben Barnicoat, used his advice to grab the pole position. Holding the lead on the first lap, Carr fell back to 4th mid-race, but regained 3rd-place at the flag, but was hammered down to 13th with a dropped-bumper penalty.
12 year-old Max Dodds, karting with Handsworth’s Strawberry Racing, started in 7th, and took 4th at the start.
By lap 2, Dodds was into 2nd-place and then traded places with the leader for the whole race, ultimately made the lead his own on the last lap to the flag.
Mexborough’s Mark Baines Motorsport-run Freddie Spindlow started alongside Carr in 2nd, he dropped a couple of places down for the entire race, only then to lose further places on the final to take the flag in 6th-place, but this became 5th with Carr’s penalty.
MBM’s Max Barrow started 9th, taking 5th on the first lap, falling back to 6th on lap 4, then on the last two laps he took 5th, followed by 4th at the flag, but Carr’s penalty gave him a podium finish in 3rd.
Making a 5 place start from 13th, Harvey Riby racing with Sheffield’s S8 racing, grabbed 8th on the first lap, but then he slowly fell back through the field to be 14th at the flag, but was 12th after others bumper-penalities.
Barnsley 15 year-old Cole Kilner started in 5th for the X30 Junior race, grabbing 4th on the first lap, only to then fall back to 8th mid-race. In a recovery drive, Kilner set the race fastest lap climbing to 4th-place but was prevented from any further improvement when an accident brought the race to an early end.
However, a raft of post-race dropped front bumper penalties meant that he took 3rd-place, a lad of little words, Kilner revealed, “It went alright – quite good actually”.
MBM’s Fraz Fenwick, from 8th lost out at the start falling to 11th at the lights, then managed to get back up to 7th, which became 4th with others bumper-penalties.
Ross Woodford, with S8 racing, also had a bad start going from 10th to 16th at the lights, but managed to get back up to 8th, bumper-penalties making him 5th.
Teammate, Steven Dixon from Doncaster, improved to 11th from 18th by mid-race, but then lost out and fell back to 29th.
Doncaster’s James Winter qualified in 5th for the Junior Max race, only to lose a place at the start, running around 6th/7th position for the entire race, who took the flag in 6th-place.
In the Mini Max race, Josh Wilby from Conisborough qualified his Team Avago-run kart in grid slot 11, managing to gain places an 8th-place finish.
S8 Racing’s Douglas Bolger started 15th in the X30 Mini race where he could not improve on his grid position and took the flag in 16th-place.
MBM win and lose at Wombwell Club July
A frantic IAME Cadet race was the highlight of round 5 of South Yorkshire Kart Club’s Championship at Wombwell kart track.
Mexborough-based Mark Baines Motorsport’s Max Barrow together with Rotherham’s Danyal Hussain made for a very entertaining race as they diced for the lead.
Barrow, the IAME W-plate holder, from pole position held the lead in the opening laps, while Hussain, starting 5th, moved into 3rd.When Barrow’s lead came under attack, it allowed Hussain to move into 2nd spot, and then mount a challenge of his own.
Very soon Hussain was secure in the lead for 13 laps and in line for the race win, after which Barrow took over the challenge and successfully re-took the lead a lap later. With 3 laps to go, MBM’s Max Barrow [W] looked settled in the IAME Cadet lead, as Danyal Hussain  fell back slightly, to eventually finish in 4th.
Then it was mayhem into the final corners with the top-3 karts all vying for the lead and a drag race for the finishing line that saw a victorious race-winner raising a triumphant finger in the air, as Barrow, squeezed down to 3rd-place, holding his hands out in disbelief as if to say ‘how did it all go so wrong…?’
Further back, Barnsley’s Kenzi Wilkins having started in 6th, fell back to 8th by mid-race, but managed to regain 6th by the flag.
Karting novice, Brandon Lloyd from Wath-upon-Dearne lost out at the start from 9th, but steadily worked his way back to finish 9th, and highest-placed novice.
Sheffield’s Ben Jenkins used his pole position in the Mini X30 race to good effect with a lights-to-flag win that was untroubled after the opening laps.
Joshua Wilby from Conisbrough – the protégé of David Sutton’s Team Avago – started the Mini Max race from pole position.
Holding the lead for 4 laps Wilby then fell back to 3rd-place, which he held to the flag.
MBM had a lights-to-flag victory from pole position with Archie Carter in the Honda Cadet race, but it was not quite as simple as that.
In the opening laps there was a tight 4-kart train behind Carter, with Worksop’s Thomas Colton looking to better his 2nd-place in the previous round, but in successive laps he fell back to finish in 4th-place.
Rotherham’s Jack Hobson had been alongside Carter on the front row, but fell back to 6th mid-race before steadily mounting a fightback, trading places with Colton, to a 3rd-place podium finish.
Harry Woodhams, from Sheffield, starting in 8th, stayed in the middle of the field until mid-race when he was able to take a solid 5th-place.
There was heartache for Doncaster’s Cameron Coombes who had pole position for the Junior X30 race when he was unable to start the race…
Barnsley’s JayJay Cook started in 4th and grabbed 2nd on the opening lap but then dropped to 5th within 3 laps.
Biding his time, Cook with 3 laps to go took 4th-place and made 3rd-place his on the next lap.
Adam Colton from Worksop had the opposite experience from his 5th spot start, by lap 5 he was into 4th. Moving into 3rd he held station until 3 laps to go, when he dropped to a 5th-place finish.
Darfield’s Garry Butchers was unable to capitalise on his Senior X30 grid 3rd start as he only managed 2 laps before his kart failed.
Maciej Hodura from Doncaster had a bad start dropping from 5th to 9th, but soon reclaimed 6th after 4 laps and held the place to the flag.
Barnicoat makes it 6 wins at Kartmasters British Kart GP
Ben Barnicoat won his sixth karting Grand Prix title in slightly controversial circumstances at the Paul Fletcher international circuit’s 2017 Kartmasters MSA British Kart Grand Prix.
Now a McLaren works sportscar driver, the 20 year-old Chesterfield racer was looking to add the X30 Senior title to his tally of GP wins from previous years.
But Barnicoat had not made things easy for himself by qualifying in an uncharacteristic 18th-place on the grid.
However, in Barnicoat’s words, “I tend to race better than I qualify” and proving this correct, by the end of the first lap he had worked his way up to 10th-place.
Constantly trading fastest laps with Rotherham’s Thomas Turner, the pair were steadily working their way up through the field until Barnicoat was running in 4th-place.It looked as if he would miss out on a X30 Senior GP podium, let alone a sixth title at Kartmasters 2017, that was until an action-packed final few corners of the last lap.
In the final tight complex of corners Barnicoat saw his chance to dive through into the lead, in the close confines contact was made, and with a lunge Barnicoat was through, emerging on the Start/Finish straight in 1st-place, holding position for another GP-plate.
Struggling to contain his delight at the feat, on the slowing down lap, Barnicoat actually stood up in his kart, punching the air with elation.However, he was brought down to earth post-race when called to the Race Stewards room for a long, drawn-out session of protests and appeals involving the top-15 drivers.
Eventually, Barnicoat emerged as the X30 Senior Grand Prix winner and on the British Kart GP podium for the sixth time.
“That race was a bit hectic but really good! I knew I had a lot of work to do, but on the first lap there were a few incidents and I made the most of those first two laps, soon getting up to 6th-place”. Barnicoat recalled.
“It wasn’t my plan to start the pre-final in 13th-place, but I had to after suffering engine failure – I want to thank Ogden Racing Engines for the timely repair”.
“Although I started 18th, I really wanted my 6th GP-plate – I did not want to be 2nd and proved that on the last lap…”
“Not having the ultimate speed, nevertheless with two laps to go I tried for the lead”.
“I came out of the chicane on the inside of (Oliver) Hodgson, he touched me then I overtook Danny (Kierle) out of the dogleg. I wanted a 6th Kartmasters title, so I did all I could and came out on top”.
“I was really nervous in the Steward’s room – but they decided it was just a ‘racing incident’”, but one of the runners-up did not agree, and refused to take part in the podium ceremony, “It’s a shame people have to fall out over it – but everyone wants to win. You have to do clean passes and that is what I did”.
Only recently having turned 16 years-old, and competing in the category for less than a year, Rotherham’s Thomas Turner did an amazing job qualifying in 6th-place for the X30 Senior GP.
Especially considering the quality of the field he was up against: the race had the best field of drivers ever, with previous GP-plate winners together with European and World Karting Champions.
Plus he was being engineered by 17 year-old Jordan Baines of Mark Baines Motorsport Team, rather than a seasoned and long-established team.
In the early laps, Turner fell back to 11th, but soon started to climb forward, latching on the rear bumper of Barnicoat shadowing his manoeuvres and setting fastest laps in his hot pursuit of the leaders.
Running in 5th-place, Turner was in the thick of the front-runners’ last lap melee, and while taking avoiding action missing a spinning kart, his front bumper suffered a glancing blow – this was to prove decisive post-race.
As Barnicoat led towards the chequered flag, Turner exited the corner in 3rd-place to make his own the final step of the podium, in an amazing achievement against some very experienced opponents, some almost twice his age.
As he climbed out of the kart in parc ferme, Turner noticed that his front bumper had ‘dropped’ (a mechanism designed to prevent maliciously barging the kart in front out of the way) being caused by the spinning kart. Knowing this would incur a 10 seconds penalty and loss of his 3rd-place podium, Turner vented his anger by kicking the bumper, inadvertently hooking it back in place. Unfortunately, this was considered to be an even greater ‘sin’, and Turner was disqualified due to “intentionally reattaching the front fairing after the chequered flag”.
Sheepishly, Turner admitted afterwards, “I did rather boot it…”
Worksop’s Phil Rawson had no testing at all due to work commitments, yet qualified 19th after a crash, “someone drove over the side of me” in the pre-final, working his way up to 15th on the first lap and battled well throughout the race to finish in 8th. However, once penalties were applied to other drivers this promoted him to 6th-place on the results sheet and on the podium, IAME International Final.
“I did not expect to be 6th, after starting the final in 19th”, Rawson admitted, “So I am happy with my weekend, being in the top-6”.“With the class of driver on the grid – quite a few champions – this was a good result for us, I got there clean, fair and square, and I want to thank the team, MLC Motorsport, Joe Bullen of Ogden Engines, Mum, Dad and Grandparents for their support and Richard Flanaghan on spanners!”.
Rotherham racer, David Sutton qualified 10th, but despite getting up to 4th early on in the race, having to use his ‘spare’ engine caused him to fall back to 10th at the flag. However other driver’s penalties promoted him to 8th on the results sheet.
Matthew Hirst, from Doncaster, failed to qualify for his last-ever Kartmasters when his engine blew up in a vital Senior X30 GP heat, with a wry smile Hirst remarked, “you could say my final kart race went with a bang!”.
Luke Knott qualified 4th in the OK Senior GP for Handsworth’s Strawberry Racing, losing a place at the start, nevertheless he was soon back to 4th to be locked in a dog-fight with the leaders for the entire race.
Setting the race fastest lap he got his hands on 2nd-place with two laps to go, and a place on the podium.
While his teammate Mark Kimber had qualified in 2nd-place, he fell back, but stayed in touch with the leaders, finishing in 4th-place.
Qualifying in 9th, Sheffield’s S8 Racing’s Euan Wilson made a good start into 6th, dropping to 7th mid-race, not able to improve any further.
Teammate Jake Douglas had qualified 14th, but suffered a pre-race drama discovering a brake problem in the assembly area, frantic work by his mechanics saved the day.
Able to join the race at the back of the field of the rolling start, undaunted Douglas climbed to 15th during the first lap and by good driving and others misfortunes he managed to take the flag in 12th-place.
For the Rotax Mini Max GP, Conisbrough’s Joshua Wilby qualified in 6th-place and despite falling back to 7th for all of the race, spinners in the leading pack gifted 6th back to Wilby just before the flag and gave him a spot on the podium for Swinton’s Team Avago.
Barnsley’s Cole Kilner qualified in 9th-place for the X30 Junior GP, losing a place at the start.But he was soon battling hard towards the leading group, Kilner getting up to 4th towards the end of the race, only then to be overtaken and finished one place off the podium in 7th: however, he did win an entry to the X30 World Finals at Le Mans, in France.
Matthew Hudson also from Barnsley, qualified 28th and put in a superhuman effort to finished in 13th – making up an amazing 15 places through the race!
Doncaster’s Steven Dixon qualified 16th and finished 15th.
Strawberry Racing’s Gus Lawrence qualified in 15th and ended the race in 7th-place, just off the podium.
Strawberry’s IAME Cadet racer, Josh Rowledge qualified 10th finishing the GP in 5th place and on the podium.
Freddie Spindlow qualified his MBM run kart 11th, and unfortunately finished 17th. His teammate, Max Barrow qualified 14th but dropped to 25th by the flag.
Putting in superb overtaking festival, Strawberry’s Max Dodds qualified 24th and came through the field to finish in 12th-place.
Turner season ends championship 3rd-place, at the PFi circuit’s Super finals
Teenage karting ace, Thomas Turner has ended his first, full major UK Championship season in 3rd-place, at the PFi circuit’s Super 1 Series karting finals.
The Rotherham 16 year-old was engineered by 18 year-old Jordan Baines (son of MBM team boss, Mark), the pair’s combined ages almost equal to that of some of the more experienced competitors he has beaten during the season.
Only having been eligible to race in the Senior X30 category since late-summer 2016, Turner made a very successful ‘toe-in-the-water’ debut at the end of last year, with a podium finish in the final round.
Competing in the whole series during 2017, Turner has raised more than a few eyebrows with his speed and also how he has ‘kept his nose clean’, never having been penalised for infringing a dropped front bumper penalty at all in the Championship.
Such being fate, at PFi the end of season race was not an easy one with Turner having to endure a catalogue of problems to make it to the final.
In the B Final he started 17th and came through to 5th, but then his engine seized so he had to start the A Final from the back of the grid.So starting the season-ending race from 32nd, he was 24th by the end of the first lap, then overtaking one or two karts every lap he was 8th at the flag, and set race fastest lap in the process.
S8 Racing’s Euan Wilson qualified in 12th-place and worked his way through the field to take the flag in 4th, but, “I’ve been penalised for a dropped front bumper”, making him finish 13th on the results sheet.
In the earlier race he had come through from 29th to 12th and won the B final.
S8 teammate Oliver Greetham qualified in 22nd and was coming through the field setting 2nd fastest lap on the way, before a mechanical problem meant he was unable to finish the race.
A brief rain shower before the OK Senior race did not slow Chesterfield’s Ben Barnicoat who had qualified 3rd on the grid.
He took the lead easily on the opening lap, and began setting race fastest laps as he pulled out a massive lead. By lap 5 he created a two second lead, growing it to three seconds by lap 10, and at the flag he had pulled it out to 3.8 seconds.
“The race was pretty tame, with me having a four second lead at the flag”, Barnicoat said. “I took the lead at the first hairpin, it was a late move, but I did it. My fastest laps were set early on, as I had to win the in the slowest time possible due to the rain and the track being so slippery.
“Although it was wet I knew it would dry out, and when it did I struggled as the tyres were getting warm. The drizzle at the end cooled the tyres and I pulled the gap out.
“What we learned this weekend will help us with the upcoming CIK-FIA OK World Finals”
Further down the order, Strawberry Racing clinched the 2017 MSA British Senior Kart Championship (to give the OK Senior Championship its full title) with Mark Kimber who had qualified a place higher than Barnicoat in 2nd-place.
Up against added opposition from visiting foreign and other drivers – like Barnicoat – preparing for the CIK-FIA OK World Championships Kimber immediately fell back through the field to be 12th on the first lap. He sensibly avoided trouble in the tricky conditions, slowly making his way through the field to score a safe 8th at the flag, but clocked up enough points to be crowned MSA British Senior Kart Champion.
As part of the raft of prizes he received from the Super One Series, Kimber was delighted to receive the prize of a full factory-works drive with the TonyKart Racing team at the forthcoming, OK World Championships, to be held at the PFi circuit.
Strawberry teammate, Dean MacDonald qualified in 18th-place and did well to get up to 4th by the middle of the race, unfortunately he fell back to 13th at the flag.
The team had the IAME Cadet final pole position care of Max Dodds, but the 11 year-old was overtaken by Taylor Barnard at the start.
Despite taking the lead on lap 4, Dodds had the lead grabbed from him by Barnard on lap 5 and subsequently slipped down to 4th place by the flag drop.
“At the start I received a shove and by the time I recovered the front three had broken away, so I could only finish 4th”
Dodds smiled, “Although I was 4th in the race, I have finished the season 3rd in the Championship”.
His dad and ex-racer, Oliver, was pleased with Max’s year considering the team – Strawberry Racing – that in 2017 they were competing in a category new to them, and in 2018 he is considering staying with them in the Cadet category for another season, “after all, he is still only 11 years-old.
His Strawberry teammate, Josh Rowledge, qualified in 3rd-place but also fell back through the field to finish 8th.
Having qualified in 26th-place, Barnsley’s Jack Younger managed to gain places, improving to take the flag in 20th.
For the Junior X30 final, Barnsley’s Matthew Hudson, qualified in 11th-place, benefitted from karts spinning ahead of him, he was in 3rd-place by the end of the first lap.
Setting two fastest laps during the race, and took the flag in 3rd, finishing the season 3rd in the Championship, and highest-placed rookie.
Barnsley’s Cole Kilner qualified well in 5th-place, and through the heats he looked to be on for a better start position in the final until a ‘racing incident’.
Hit and then run over by Reggie Duhy (Duhy was not penalised for this action), Kilner suffered an injury to his right shoulder that needed to be strapped up for the final. Intent of getting at least one in revenge, Kilner announced, “We are faster and we are going to beat him…”
Kilner’s race was livened-up by the intervention of heavy drizzle falling, there being no time for any of the field to change to wet weather tyres.
The slippery track caught many out, along with Kilner, who spun on the first lap, and then had to wait for the field to pass, before re-joining in 30th. Undaunted he fought his way through the pack making places to be 14th at the flag, ending his Junior X30 season 3rd-highest rookie in the Championship.
Local karters lose out at PFi CIK-FIA International World OK finals
The Paul Fletcher international circuit was not a happy hunting ground for local karters and teams at the CIK-FIA OK and OK Junior Kart World Championship.
Attracting 187 competitors from around the world – including 12 current or former international karting champions – the single-event shoot-out would result in an over-15 year-old karter being crowed OK World Champion and an under-15 year-old the OK Junior Champion.
Various qualifying sessions and five heats whittled the competitors down to 34 starters for the final, taking place in front of the largest UK kart meeting crowd since the 1970s.
With prior knowledge of the PFi circuit, British competitors should have benefitted from home advantage and it certainly helped Danny Keirle win the OK title, and Dexter Pattison the OK Junior crown.
However, things did not run so smoothly for local karters and our local team.
Ben Barnicoat, the Chesterfield sportscar ace, who in preparation for the event, had returned to karting, winning the OK category race in the Super 1 Series finals a few weeks prior.
“Things were not going well from the beginning of the weekend. We struggled with set-up during Thursday testing and were unable to unlock the potential. It was going to be a hard weekend. I would have to get into the top 10 in each heat to make it to the final,” bemoaned Barnicoat.
“I had two bad heats on Saturday, in the first one of the tyre valves failed, then in the second one I suffered a nose-cone penalty”, Barnicoat continued the tales of woe. “As we were already struggling, this compounded the problems, so we decided not to bother with the Sunday heats”.
“I am gutted as I beat the winners at Kartmasters, so I have the pace, but you have to be on right equipment and the team chose the wrong engine supplier: it is a lost opportunity, but we could not predict how it would go, the only difference was the engine. Barnicoat concluded expressing his disappointment, “I want to be successful in all I do”.
Having been a rookie in the 2017 X30 Junior Super 1 series, 15 year-old Cole Kilner, from Barnsley, made a brave decision to try his hand at the OK category races, taking advantage of the international OK Senior series being open to karters a year earlier than in the UK.
“Practice was good, but qualifying was shocking, I was only 18th fastest”, remarked Kilner
“In the heats I had two non-finishes, a chain snapped in one, and in another I suffered a racing incident in colliding with another kart. “We changed the set up on the kart I then managed a 15th place and a 19th to 10th-place.” but it was too late”, Kilner had accrued more than the maximum points required to get him through to the final.
“It has been an experience, it has been tough but I have enjoyed it”, Kilner summed-up his weekend with a smile, in the Rookie of the Year ranking he was classified 40th best out of 51 rookies.
Guy Cunnington, normally a ‘Dad and lad’ competitor in Junior Rotax Championships, the 15 year-old had impressed in the Super 1 Series OK Junior races and won one of five ‘Golden Ticket’ entries to the OK World Championship with the use of a Tonykart chassis, Vortex motor, being run by the top-flight, Handsworth-based Strawberry Racing.
Despite being unfamiliar with the class, Cunnington gave a terrific account of himself: faring the best of the Golden Ticket five.
Qualifying for the final alongside former World Champion, Flavio Camponeschi, in 22nd place, Cunnington had problems before the off, “On the grid, it would not start, then we got it going, and I moved through the field to be 16th by the end of the first lap, then on the second the engine failed”.Cunnington, who finished 27th out 51 in the Rookie of the Year ranking, explained, “I got within a 10th of the ‘big boys’, while it was disappointing, as I am normally a junior club racer, we had a 7th, 5th, two 14ths, and 9th plus fastest lap, so I am happy with my performance – it has been a great experience”.
Strawberry Racing Team Manager, Paul Spencer praised his efforts too, saying, “He did really well. Particularly when you consider that they were ‘lad-and-dad’ privateers taking on works drivers, or youngsters competing with established teams that have won World titles before. They enjoyed a great experience and we certainly enjoyed sharing it with them”.
Also making the transition from domestic racing to the world stage was Strawberry Racing’s newly-crowned MSA British Senior Karting Champion, Mark Kimber. He too stepped up to the challenge admirably.
Kimber qualified on the 7th row of the grid for the final, incident-packed race – nine drivers were given time penalties for ‘dropped bumpers’.
By lap 8 Kimber was far from happy to be suffering from a lack of power and had fallen back to 23rd-place, nevertheless he fought his way past seven karts to take the chequered flag in 17th position.
Taylor sews up Ginetta Junior Scholarship 2018 win
Rotherham’s James Taylor has won the biggest and one of the most sought-after prizes in UK motorsport; the 2018 Ginetta Junior Scholarship providing a fully-funded season in the 2018 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship.
The 15 year-old schoolboy kart racer has secured an all-inclusive drive in the British Touring Car Championship–supporting series for 14-to-17 year-olds that arguably provides the most entertaining races of the weekend.
He will get the use of a Ginetta G40 race car, with his series entry paid for the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship along with insurance, consumables, tyres and fuel plus professional car preparation from an experienced team for the duration of the season.
So as to be race-ready for the 2018 season start, his bespoke package includes a day of driver-training by top motorsport driving mentors on iZone’s state-of-the-art simulators worth £800 and media training with renowned television presenter, Louise Goodman.
Launched in 2009, the Scholarship is awarded to the one driver who impresses across the board demonstrating not just speed, but also the professionalism needed to succeed in Leeds-based Ginetta’s sponsorship-backed, 100bhp, G40 racing car.
In a three day shoot-out event – featuring two qualification days – that took place at Ginetta’s own Blyton Park circuit, sixty-six teenage hopefuls aged 13-to-15 years-old – with no previous race car experience – gave it their all.
Thirty-three youngsters on each of the initial two days, were subjected to assessment of their driving, fitness and media-handling abilities, so that on the third day, the 24 most promising drivers were invited back for the grand finale.
This group was then whittled down to twelve before the top-six – Taylor and five others – battled it out to impress Ginetta factory racing driver, Mike Simpson sitting alongside them in the passenger seat, in two further 3-lap runs with limited instruction.
Before they joined the track they were given a mock media interview in the car, and another ‘how was it?’ media interview as soon as they re-entered the pit area.
Following their hot laps, the hopeful six waited nervously, while the Ginetta judges conducted long deliberations over a combination of the lap times and how they conducted themselves in the interviews before finally, a shocked Taylor emerged victorious as the 2018 Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner.
“I can’t believe it!”, announced an awestruck Taylor.
“I’ve been karting for seven years and always admired the Ginetta Junior Championship. I entered the competition for the experience and I’ve learned a lot. Ginetta have given me a great opportunity so I’m going to work really hard and make a success of this!”
“He has raw talent”, commented Ginetta judge, Mike Simpson who was full of praise for Taylor’s performance, “Just a ‘dad and lad’ rolling up for a challenge. James did everything perfectly: his fitness was mega, his media skills were not so good, at first. But when he went out in the final six, I saw he had raw talent, great potential. He was half a second up on his last lap – the potential is there, but there is a lot of work to do”.
Taylor’s karting career begin under the guidance of Mark Baines at the F1 Indoor karting race school.
Progressing to outdoor karting, Taylor finished 2nd in the NKF Comer Cadet Championship.
Once Baines had established his MBM karting team, Taylor joined the team racing in Comer Cadet before progressing to IAME Cadet races.
Moving to the Kato Motorsport team in 2016, Taylor won Wombwell circuit’s Cock of the North trophy in X30 Junior. While this year he finished X30 Junior Rookie runner-up in the main Super 1 series category.