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Young’Uns: Karting Chain Guards

MSA British Cadet Championship and the FKS Championship for Mini Max and Junior Max.

After winning a Formula Kart Stars Heat at Rowrah recently, Cadet driver Alex Stott was excluded along with two other drivers because of non compliant chain-guards.
Championship rules require him to count a zero score for this race, effectively scuppering his title hopes.

Alex and his elder brother Nick had first started racing karts in Canada where the family lived for several years before returning to Britain.
Both brothers became prominent WTP contenders and last year Alex performed brilliantly to take 2nd place in the Little Green Man Championships behind Sam Priest. Were it not for his steering wheel coming off at Kimbolton, he might conceivably have taken the title.
He switched to Comers this year and was immediately recognised as a serious contender for the British Championships. During the opening round at Rowrah he overcame an earlier set-back in qualifying to capture 3rd place in Saturday’s final. On Sunday, he claimed his first Formula Kart stars race win before being excluded by the scrutineers.

The decisions were based on an MSA ruling that effective protection must be provided over the top and sides of chains and sprockets. Any guard must also extend to at least the lower plane of the rear axle.
According to Malcolm Fell, this is where the problem lay. Some drivers at Rowrah were running 99 tooth sprockets and needed modified chain-guards to accommodate them, he claims. Many modifications were quite legal but in three cases the guards failed to meet current requirements. These were reported to the Clerk of the Course who took action as he saw fit. I completely understand the frustrations of those involved, but there is no doubt that rules were contravened.

Alex had raced in eight earlier meetings, including a round of Super 1 at PF, without any challenge. At Rowrah the chain-guard passed through safety scrutineering and five further inspections, claimed his dad, Colin. They included meticulous checks after Alex took 3rd place in Saturdays final and again following his pole position on Sunday morning.” Normally it wouldnt be possible to demonstrate conclusively that the guard had remained unaltered throughout all these races and the previous eight meetings, but its such a prominent feature that photographs taken by Chris Walker have actually provided all the proof we need.”
Scrutineers are judges of fact and their decisions cant be challenged, but an appeal against the penalty imposed is allowed. Our team wanted to appeal but couldnt do so without consulting me and obtaining the fee, Colin points out. I was running Nick in Minimax as a privateer and by the time we came out of Parc Ferme it was too late to lodge an appeal. I thought the best course of action would be to write to the MSA but they dont seem interested. Either the most experienced officials have failed in their duty of care towards children in nine previous events (Blue Book section G7.1.5) or else one particular scrutineer at Rowrah is wrongly interpreting rules. That surely must be considered exceptional and worthy of further investigation.

Martin Luther-King once said that an injustice to anyone is a denial of justice to everyone Im not particularly concerned with arguments as to whether or not Alex Stotts chain-guard was illegal. The salient point is that it didnt affect his performance by one jot. His subsequent technical exclusion automatically triggered a penalty written into Formula Kart Stars regulations designed to discourage cheating. Theres an old biblical saying that the punishment ought to fit the crime. In this particular case, I dont believe that it does.

You dont see many people wearing pin-stripe suits at kart meetings these days, although their presence is being felt on an increasing number of occasions. Last months issue of Karting magazine carried an advertisement from Julian Young & Co, Solicitors and High Court Advocates. Apart from representing drivers and teams before MSA Tribunals, they also offer instant advice by telephone to those competitors lodging a protest or who face disciplinary penalties. This isnt exactly a new development. Other law firms have offered similar services for many years now but its not something that I particularly welcome. Before long we could see certain drivers actually being accompanied to race meetings by their legal advisors, if, indeed, such a situation hasnt arisen already.

Most competitors tend not to think about the possibility of being involved in judicial proceedings. Theyll arrive at a race meeting with numerous sprockets, wet tyres and all of the paraphernalia required for optimum performance. Its a fair bet, though, that the rule book will have been left lying in a drawer at home. Taking it out occasionally and having a good read might prove more beneficial than studying all of the various technical manuals. Id also recommend Samantha Tomlinsons informative guide to protests and appeals that appeared in the April issue of this magazine. It may not be quite as effective as hiring your own solicitor, but just think of the legal fees you could save.

The MSA has now launched its tendering process for the new Cadet engine that will run from January 2013 onwards. I dont expect there to be any shortage of applications. For manufacturers, suppliers and engine preparation experts alike, the stakes are pretty high. The competitors interests shouldnt be forgotten, either. In order to thrive, karting needs an entry level class where costs can be kept relatively low. This applies especially to maintenance costs.

The MSA statement talked about a new Formula Cadet engine. I dont believe that too much should be read into this. Im sure that all those associated with the Comer W60 motor will present a strong case for the status quo to be maintained. Lets hope that the process will be completely open with all relevant factors properly considered. I, along with many others, eagerly await the result.

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Young’Uns

MSA British Cadet Championship and the FKS Championship for Mini Max and Junior Max.

After winning a Formula Kart Stars Heat at Rowrah recently, Cadet driver Alex Stott was excluded along with two other drivers because of non compliant chain-guards.

Championship rules require him to count a zero score for this race, effectively scuppering his title hopes. This isn’t exactly a new development. Other law firms have offered similar services for many years now but it’s not something that I particularly welcome. Before long we could see certain drivers actually being accompanied to race meetings by their legal advisors, if, indeed, such a situation hasn’t arisen already.

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The Cadet Karting Column: July 2011

After winning a Formula Kart Stars Heat at Rowrah recently, Cadet driver Alex Stott was excluded along with two
other drivers because of non compliant chain-guards.

By Dave Bewley
comments@kartingmagazine.com

Was Alex Stott’s penalty justified? Chris Walker
Was Alex Stott’s penalty justified?
Chris Walker

hampionship rules require him to count a zero score for this race, effectively scuppering his title hopes. Alex and his elder brother Nick had first started racing karts in Canada where the family lived for several years before returning to Britain.

Both brothers became prominent WTP contenders and last year Alex performed brilliantly to take 2nd place in the Little Green Man Championships behind Sam Priest. Were it not for his steering wheel coming off at Kimbolton, he might conceivably have taken the title.

He switched to Comers this year and was immediately recognised as a serious contender for the British Championships. During the opening round at Rowrah he overcame an earlier set-back in Qualifying to capture 3rd place in Saturday’s Final. On Sunday, he claimed his first Formula Kart stars race win before being excluded by the scrutineers.

The decisions were based on an MSA ruling that effective protection must be provided over the top and sides of chains and sprockets. Any guard must also extend to at least the lower plane of the rear axle. According to Malcolm Fell, this is where the problem lay. “Some drivers at Rowrah were running 99 tooth sprockets and needed modified chain-guards to accommodate them,” he claims. “Many modifications were quite legal but in three cases the guards failed to meet current requirements. These were reported to the Clerk of the Course who took action as he saw fit. I completely understand the frustrations of those involved, but there is no doubt that rules were contravened.”

Alex had raced in eight earlier meetings, including a round of Super 1 at PF, without any challenge. “At Rowrah the chain-guard passed through safety scrutineering and five further inspections,” claimed his dad, Colin. “They included meticulous checks after Alex took 3rd place in Saturday’s Final and again following his pole position on Sunday morning.” Normally it wouldn’t be possible to demonstrate conclusively that the guard had remained unaltered throughout all these races and the previous eight meetings, but it’s such a prominent feature that photographs taken by Chris Walker have actually provided all the proof we need.”

Scrutineers are judges of fact and their decisions can’t be challenged, but an appeal against the penalty imposed is allowed. “Our team wanted to appeal but couldn’t do so without consulting me and obtaining the fee,” Colin points out. “I was running Nick in Minimax as a privateer and by the time we came out of Parc Ferme it was too late to lodge an appeal. I thought the best course of action would be to write to the MSA but they don’t seem interested. Either the most experienced officials have failed in their duty of care towards children in nine previous events (Blue Book section G7.1.5) or else one particular scrutineer at Rowrah is wrongly interpreting rules. That surely must be considered exceptional and worthy of further investigation.”

I’m not particularly concerned with arguments as to whether or not Alex Stott’s chain-guard was illegal. The salient point is that it didn’t affect his performance by one jot. His subsequent technical exclusion automatically triggered a penalty written into Formula Kart Stars regulations designed to discourage cheating. There’s an old biblical saying that the punishment ought to fit the crime. In this particular case, I don’t believe that it does.

You don’t see many people wearing pin-stripe suits at kart meetings these days, although their presence is being felt on an increasing number of occasions. Last month’s issue of Karting magazine carried an advertisement from Julian Young & Co, Solicitors and High Court Advocates. Apart from representing drivers and teams before MSA Tribunals, they also offer instant advice by telephone to those competitors lodging a protest or who face disciplinary penalties. This isn’t exactly a new development. Other law firms have offered similar services for many years now but it’s not something that I particularly welcome. Before long we could see certain drivers actually being accompanied to race meetings by their legal advisors, if, indeed, such a situation hasn’t arisen already.

Most competitors tend not to think about the possibility of being involved in judicial proceedings. They’ll arrive at a race meeting with numerous sprockets, wet tyres and all of the paraphernalia required for optimum performance. It’s a fair bet, though, that the rule book will have been left lying in a drawer at home. Taking it out occasionally and having a good read might prove more beneficial than studying all of the various technical manuals. I’d also recommend Samantha Tomlinson’s informative guide to protests and appeals that appeared in the April issue of this magazine. It may not be quite as effective as hiring your own solicitor, but just think of the legal fees you could save.

The MSA has now launched its tendering process for the new Cadet engine that will run from January 2013 onwards. I don’t expect there to be any shortage of applications. For manufacturers, suppliers and engine preparation experts alike, the stakes are pretty high. The competitors’ interests shouldn’t be forgotten, either. In order to thrive, karting needs an entry level class where costs can be kept relatively low. This applies especially to maintenance costs.

The MSA statement talked about “a new Formula Cadet engine”. I don’t believe that too much should be read into this. I’m sure that all those associated with the Comer W60 motor will present a strong case for the status quo to be maintained. Let’s hope that the process will be completely open with all relevant factors properly considered. I, along with many others, eagerly await the result.

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YOUNG ‘UNS

Little Green Man WTP Karting ChampionshipLast month I had a flutter on the Grand National. It wasn’t much to write home about, just a couple of quid in the annual sweepstake at work. If the local bookmaker was relying on my custom, he’d have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

 Unfortunately, I drew a rank outsider and lost my £2 but, in karting today, you can find many parents who are staking obscene amounts of cash on what will remain, for the vast majority, nothing more than a pipedream. It isn’t just money that they stand to lose, either. In some cases they’re gambling with their children’s self confidence and future happiness. Just as the aristocracy once purchased parliamentary seats for favoured sons, these people are attempting to buy their way into F1.

40 years ago, after winning his first British title at senior level, Terry Fullerton let it slip that his ultimate aim was to become the world champion. We believed it to be a rather precocious ambition, but Terry proved us wrong, Now we have many kids as young as six or seven expressing the same desire, except that they aren’t referring to karting’s world crown, but rather Formula One’s top prize.

Whereas Fullerton achieved his stated goal within two years, today’s Bambinos with exceptional talent, enormous amounts of cash and extraordinary good fortune must wait ten times as long before they’ll be setting the Formula One world alight. It’s entirely natural that young drivers want to emulate the top stars in motor racing, but they shouldn’t be taught by over ambitious parents that F1 success is of supreme importance. Ex F1 driver and current TV presenter Tiff Needell advises, “If you’re racing a kart, enjoy it, because you may never get any further.”

Operating under such intense pressure, it’s difficult to see how anyone can actually be enjoying the experience.

Because Button, Hamilton, Di Resta and almost every other top F1 star were cadet champions, making an immediate impact upon the karting scene has assumed paramount importance. There’s no time to learn the sport properly by doing a couple of seasons in club racing. Everything must be done at record breaking pace and the absolute priority is to get into a top team that can produce race winning performances almost straight away. Operating under such intense pressure, it’s difficult to see how anyone can actually be enjoying the experience and that applies especially to mum and dad.

 

Carolynn Hoy suggests that Formula Kart Stars entrants should have experienced racing at club level for one or two seasons. That’s sound advice from someone who has enjoyed a very successful association with motor racing for almost 35 years. Recently I attended the opening FKS rounds at Rowrah where there was no shortage of ambition or money. The huge transporters, luxurious motor-homes and expansive awnings have now become integral parts of every major championship event. They certainly make an impressive picture, although whether potential new starters are encouraged or positively deterred by such opulence is a matter for debate.

There was certainly no sign of any FKS competitors turning up at Rowrah with their karts on roof-racks, although I remember Aidan Charity competing in Little Green Man rounds with all his equipment jammed inside a tiny Ford Fiesta. Since moving into TKM, Aidan sold his WTP motors to Walker Racing and they’ve now been acquired by Daniel Milner, a twelve year old novice driver who astounded everyone at the PFI Little Green Man meeting by taking 6th spot. It perhaps shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that Daniel and his dad Dave arrived with their kart in a Peugeot 405 estate car.

“It’s a bit inconvenient because, even though she’d love to come with us, we haven’t got room for Mandy, Daniel’s mum,” admitted Dave. “Daniel has been obsessed with karting and 18 months ago we bought him an old 1996 Kosmic chassis with a Comer S60 motor. We switched to a second-hand BRM/W60 shortly afterwards and did some non MSA races at Tattershall. Daniel was attracted to the idea of competing in a national championship but I quickly realised that Super 1 and Stars would be beyond our budget and we decided upon the Little Green Man instead”.

 

To maximise Daniel’s chances of success, a new Arrow chassis was purchased from Neil Walker, along withy the ex Aidan Charity motors. “The opening Little Green Man round at PFI was Daniel’s first race at an MSA meeting,” Dave revealed. “I’ll be the first to admit that he was lucky to finish 6th after a few top drivers dropped out. Even so, I was surprised at how well he performed and we were both delighted with the result.”

Dave has an engineering background and currently restores classic cars. He’s been quick to pick up on the nuances of karting and intends to continue running Daniel by himself. “No doubt Daniel will single out certain drivers as role models, but the person I’d like to emulate is Dave Charity,” he insists. “He didn’t have large amounts of cash to throw around but devoted lots of time and patience instead. Aidan eventually became one of the top drivers in WTP and I’d love to see Daniel achieve the same success.”

Neil Walker remains very optimistic about Daniel’s prospects. “I wasn’t able to attend the PFI meeting but gave Dave some basic settings for the Arrow. He’s very methodical in preparing the kart and his efforts were repaid by a very impressive result. I’m very pleased for both father and son. Daniel is a capable young driver who will quickly develop the necessary race-craft to succeed.”

The Milner household isn’t getting carried away by this result. “I know that 2011 will be very much a learning year for him, but our target is a top 15 spot which might just be achievable” Dave speculates. “His friend Harry Whittaker achieved 15th place in last year’s championships and so Daniel has his eyes fixed firmly on that particular target. I’m hoping that the WTP class can survive for another year afterwards and we’ll set our sights on a few podium finishes in 2012.”

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The Cadet Karting Column: June 2011

Last month I had a flutter on the Grand National. It wasn’t much to write home about, just a couple of quid in the annual sweepstake at work. If the local bookmaker was relying on my custom, he’d have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

Written By: Dave Bewley
comments@kartingmagazine.com

Little Green Man WTP Karting Championship

Unfortunately, I drew a rank outsider and lost my £2 but, in karting today, you can find many parents who are staking obscene amounts of cash on what will remain, for the vast majority, nothing more than a pipedream. It isn’t just money that they stand to lose, either. In some cases they’re gambling with their children’s self confidence and future happiness. Just as the aristocracy once purchased parliamentary seats for favoured sons, these people are attempting to buy their way into F1.

40 years ago, after winning his first British title at senior level, Terry Fullerton let it slip that his ultimate aim was to become the world champion. We believed it to be a rather precocious ambition, but Terry proved us wrong, Now we have many kids as young as six or seven expressing the same desire, except that they aren’t referring to karting’s world crown, but rather Formula One’s top prize.

Whereas Fullerton achieved his stated goal within two years, today’s Bambinos with exceptional talent, enormous amounts of cash and extraordinary good fortune must wait ten times as long before they’ll be setting the Formula One world alight. It’s entirely natural that young drivers want to emulate the top stars in motor racing, but they shouldn’t be taught by over ambitious parents that F1 success is of supreme importance. Ex F1 driver and current TV presenter Tiff Needell advises, “If you’re racing a kart, enjoy it, because you may never get any further.”

Operating under such intense pressure, it’s difficult to see how anyone can actually be enjoying the experience.

 Because Button, Hamilton, Di Resta and almost every other top F1 star were cadet champions, making an immediate impact upon the karting scene has assumed paramount importance. There’s no time to learn the sport properly by doing a couple of seasons in club racing. Everything must be done at record breaking pace and the absolute priority is to get into a top team that can produce race winning performances almost straight away. Operating under such intense pressure, it’s difficult to see how anyone can actually be enjoying the experience and that applies especially to mum and dad.

Carolynn Hoy suggests that Formula Kart Stars entrants should have experienced racing at club level for one or two seasons. That’s sound advice from someone who has enjoyed a very successful association with motor racing for almost 35 years. Recently I attended the opening FKS rounds at Rowrah where there was no shortage of ambition or money. The huge transporters, luxurious motor-homes and expansive awnings have now become integral parts of every major championship event. They certainly make an impressive picture, although whether potential new starters are encouraged or positively deterred by such opulence is a matter for debate.

There was certainly no sign of any FKS competitors turning up at Rowrah with their karts on roof-racks, although I remember Aidan Charity competing in Little Green Man rounds with all his equipment jammed inside a tiny Ford Fiesta. Since moving into TKM, Aidan sold his WTP motors to Walker Racing and they’ve now been acquired by Daniel Milner, a twelve year old novice driver who astounded everyone at the PFI Little Green Man meeting by taking 6th spot. It perhaps shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that Daniel and his dad Dave arrived with their kart in a Peugeot 405 estate car.

“It’s a bit inconvenient because, even though she’d love to come with us, we haven’t got room for Mandy, Daniel’s mum,” admitted Dave. “Daniel has been obsessed with karting and 18 months ago we bought him an old 1996 Kosmic chassis with a Comer S60 motor. We switched to a second-hand BRM/W60 shortly afterwards and did some non MSA races at Tattershall. Daniel was attracted to the idea of competing in a national championship but I quickly realised that Super 1 and Stars would be beyond our budget and we decided upon the Little Green Man instead”.

To maximise Daniel’s chances of success, a new Arrow chassis was purchased from Neil Walker, along withy the ex Aidan Charity motors. “The opening Little Green Man round at PFI was Daniel’s first race at an MSA meeting,” Dave revealed. “I’ll be the first to admit that he was lucky to finish 6th after a few top drivers dropped out. Even so, I was surprised at how well he performed and we were both delighted with the result.”

Dave has an engineering background and currently restores classic cars. He’s been quick to pick up on the nuances of karting and intends to continue running Daniel by himself. “No doubt Daniel will single out certain drivers as role models, but the person I’d like to emulate is Dave Charity,” he insists. “He didn’t have large amounts of cash to throw around but devoted lots of time and patience instead. Aidan eventually became one of the top drivers in WTP and I’d love to see Daniel achieve the same success.”

Neil Walker remains very optimistic about Daniel’s prospects. “I wasn’t able to attend the PFI meeting but gave Dave some basic settings for the Arrow. He’s very methodical in preparing the kart and his efforts were repaid by a very impressive result. I’m very pleased for both father and son. Daniel is a capable young driver who will quickly develop the necessary race-craft to succeed.”

The Milner household isn’t getting carried away by this result. “I know that 2011 will be very much a learning year for him, but our target is a top 15 spot which might just be achievable” Dave speculates. “His friend Harry Whittaker achieved 15th place in last year’s championships and so Daniel has his eyes fixed firmly on that particular target. I’m hoping that the WTP class can survive for another year afterwards and we’ll set our sights on a few podium finishes in 2012.”

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The Cadet Karting Column: May 2011

Written By: Dave Bewley
comments@kartingmagazine.com

Frontrunner Alex Sedgwick Chris Walker
Frontrunner Alex Sedgwick
Chris Walker

Later this year, the tenth WTP Little Green Man champion will be crowned.

No one has ever won the title more than once and it’s already certain that there will be a completely new
champion in 2011.

Luke Stapleford started the ball rolling back in 2002 to be followed by Jack Harvey, Jordon Lennox-Lamb, Max Goff, Andy King, Sennan Fielding, Ben Barnicoat, Matthew Graham and last year’s winner Sam Priest. It’s not inconceivable that three or four of these drivers could eventually make their way into F1. WTP engine production ceased back in 2009 and so it’s difficult to see the class surviving for very much longer. It’s quite possible that this year’s winner will turn out to be the last in a long line of champions.

Whether or not this is to be the last Little Green Man Championships it certainly looks like being amongst the most open for many years. At the time of writing, 38 drivers have signed up with a few more expressing interest. For once, rookie drivers actually outnumber their more experienced counterparts and there will no doubt be quite a few shocks before the final round takes place at PF in October. Last year Alex Stott looked very impressive as he claimed the runners-up place behind Sam Priest. Alex was an early entry on the 2011 registration list along with his younger brother Andrew and will be an obvious favourite should he actually take part in all of the rounds.

Cory Stevens made an impressive start to last year’s campaign and for several months he was the frontrunner. But for a missed round, he’d almost certainly have finished as runner-up. Although Cory has registered for the 2011 Series, there’s still some doubt over whether or not he’ll actually take part. “We’re still undecided,” his dad Andy conceded before we went to press. “Cory enjoyed the racing last year and would like one last challenge at the title”.

Winter Cup winner Alex Sedgwick has looked exceptionally quick and is undefeated in competition this year. He is certainly expected to be a regular visitor to the championship podium. In what will be his 5th year as a Little Green Man competitor, Thomas Day starts this season in a confident frame of mind. One thing beyond doubt is that the kart will be immaculately prepared, as ever, by his dad Murray who runs a garage in Nottingham. Watch out, also, for Thomas Day’s team- mates in the Prima camp, Gaby and Tom Weyer, who will certainly be difficult to beat.

Thomas Turner and Lewis Brown both emerged from last season’s competition looking very strong and they’ll be fighting hard for places in the top six. Of the newcomers, Scott Snell has made an excellent start and looks quick enough to worry the old hands. Whether or not Scott has developed sufficient race-craft in the short time available is a question that will soon be answered, no doubt. Mario Mills is continuing a family tradition that goes back almost 52 years when his grandfather John first built a kart. He’ll certainly have a strong team supporting him.

In 2011, this column and its predecessor “Watching the Pennies” are sponsoring a Little Green Man competitor. This is being done in conjunction with the Racing for Buttons scheme at PF. Earlier this year, Gary Walker and his team selected a young driver who they thought would derive the most benefit from a helping hand.
“We chose 10-year-old Jessica Heppenstall from Rotherham,” says Gary. “She started coming to Buttons sessions last November and has shown rapid improvement. Jessica appears to be completely fearless in a kart and I believe that she has what it takes to become a top contender eventually.”

Jessica first heard about karting through Thomas Turner, who attends the same school. Her dad, Darren, made further enquiries and was told about the Racing for Buttons sessions at PF. Darren is a former car mechanic who now runs his own construction business. “Once it became clear how much Jessica enjoyed these sessions, the next step was to buy a kart of her own,” says Darren. “We bought a Tonykart that was going cheap. It had probably seen better days but certainly did the job for us. Jessica continued to show improvement and was soon wanting to race. After that, Gary Walker started talking about entering the Little Green Man Championships. It’s a big step to take and I doubt whether we’d be considering it but for the scholarship offered by Karting magazine.”

Jessica recently passed her ARKS test but has chosen the Little Green Man opener at PF as her first race. She’s swapped the Tony for a Zip Storm and her lap times showed an immediate improvement. Although Darren is doing the spannering for her, Oliver Walker will be on hand to offer advice on set-up. Oliver is also looking after Alex Sedgwick and expects to be kept pretty busy ensuring that the championship favourite justifies his newfound status. “Darren’s already picked up quite a bit of knowledge himself and will no doubt have learned a lot more before the year is over,” Oliver maintains.

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Young’Uns

Little Green Man WTP Karting ChampionshipLater this year, the tenth WTP Little Green Man champion will be crowned. No-one has ever won the title more than once and its already certain that there will be a completely new champion in 2011.

Luke Stapleford started the ball rolling back in 2002 to be followed by Jack Harvey, Jordon Lennox-Lamb, Max Goff, Andy King, Sennan Fielding, Ben Barnicoat, Matthew Graham and last years winner Sam Priest. Its not inconceivable that three or four of these drivers could eventually make their way into F1. WTP engine production ceased back in 2009 and so its difficult to see the class surviving for very much longer. Its quite possible that this years winner will turn out to be the last in a long line of champions.

Whether or not this is to be the last Little Green Man Championships it certainly looks like being amongst the most open for many years. At the time of writing, 38 drivers have signed up with a few more expressing interest. For once, rookie drivers actually outnumber their more experienced counterparts and there will no doubt be quite a few shocks before the final round takes place at PF in October. Last year Alex Stott looked very impressive as he claimed the runners up place behind Sam Priest. Alex was an early entry on the 2011 registration list along with his younger brother Andrew and will be an obvious favourite should he actually take part in all of the rounds.

Cory Stevens made an impressive start to last years campaign and for several months he was the frontrunner. But for a missed round, hed almost certainly have finished as runner up. Although Cory has registered for the 2011 Series, theres still some doubt over whether or not hell actually take part. Were still undecided, his dad Andy conceded before we went to Press. Cory enjoyed the racing last year and would like one last challenge at the title.

Winter Cup winner Alex Sedgwick has looked exceptionally quick and is undefeated in competition this year. He is certainly expected to be a regular visitor to the championship podium. In what will be his 5th year as a Little Green Man competitor, Thomas Day starts this season in a confident frame of mind. One thing beyond doubt is that the kart will be immaculately prepared, as ever, by his dad Murray who runs a garage in Nottingham. Watch out, also, for Thomas Days team-mates in the Prima camp Gaby and Tom Weyer who will certainly be difficult to beat.

Thomas Turner and Lewis Brown both emerged from last seasons competition looking very strong and theyll be fighting hard for places in the top six. Of the newcomers, Scott Snell has made an excellent start and looks quick enough to worry the old hands. Whether or not Scott has developed sufficient race-craft in the short time available is a question that will soon be answered, no doubt. Mario Mills is continuing a family tradition that goes back almost 52 years when his grandfather John first built a kart. Hell certainly have a strong team supporting him.

In 2011, this column and its predecessor Watching the Pennies are sponsoring a Little Green Man competitor. This is being done in conjunction with the Racing for Buttons scheme at PF. Earlier this year, Gary Walker and his team selected a young driver who they thought would derive the most benefit from a helping hand. We chose 10 year old Jessica Heppenstall from Rotherham, says Gary. She started coming to Buttons sessions last November and has shown rapid improvement. Jessica appears to be completely fearless in a kart and I believe that she has what it takes to become a top contender eventually.

Jessica first heard about karting through Thomas Turner who attends the same school. Her dad, Darren, made further enquiries and was told about the Racing for Buttons sessions at PF. Darren is a former car mechanic who now runs his own construction business. Once it became clear how much Jessica enjoyed these sessions, the next step was to buy a kart of her own, says Darren. We bought a Tonykart that was going cheap. It had probably seen better days but certainly did the job for us. Jessica continued to show improvement and was soon wanting to race. After that, Gary Walker started talking about entering the Little Green Man Championships. Its a big step to take and I doubt whether wed be considering it but for the scholarship offered by Karting magazine.

Jessica recently passed her ARKS test but has chosen the Little Green Man opener at PF as her first race. Shes swapped the Tony for a Zip Storm and her lap times showed an immediate improvement. Although Darren is doing the spannering for her, Oliver Walker will be on hand to offer advice on set-up. Oliver is also looking after Alex Sedgwick and expects to be kept pretty busy ensuring that the championship favourite justifies his newfound status. Darrens already picked up quite a bit of knowledge himself and will no doubt have learned a lot more before the year is over, Oliver maintains.

The 2011 championship line-up is as follows;

Alex Stott, Cory Stevens, Thomas Day, Gaby Weyer, Alex Sedgwick , Lewis Brown, Thomas Turner, Sam Palmer, Harry Whittaker (all seeded drivers), Harry Howes, Daniel Howarth, Mario Mills, Louis Keenan, Ryan Smith-Devenish, Thomas Powles, Herbie Grout, Thomas Newton, David Scott, Connor Briggs, Will Gale, Ben Jacklin, George Dray, David Manford, Chris Whitton, Jack Thompson, Andrew Stott, Jenson Woodruff, Daniel Milner, Thomas Weyer, Scott Snell, Jake Bellerby, Lucas Nannetti, Lorcan Hanafin, Ben Tilley, Dylan Lee, Jack Darton, Sam Holgate, Jessica Heppenstall.