The Cadet Karting Column: April 2012

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Within a few days of starting the New Year Mike Mills had already received 34 deposits from competitors wishing to register for the WTP Little Green Man Championships. Hopefully, this year’s Series will reproduce the same high standards of racing that we witnessed in 2011 when the following drivers emerged as top prize-winners.

Gaby Weyer_7977

4TH Place THOMAS TURNER Aged 10

He began his championship campaign hoping for a place in the top six. After the opening round at PF in April, however, Thomas Turner’s aspirations must have moved up a few notches. After a bad start, he recovered well to finish 3rd behind Alex Sedgwick and Gaby Weyer. Thomas looked capable of actually winning the title in subsequent rounds, although he had a difficult time at Rowrah during the “Double Header”.

“Rowrah was a setback for us,” admits his dad Jason. “We had problems with the carburettor on Sunday that kept him back in 5th spot. We managed to get it sorted the following day and Thomas looked quite quick in his Heats. For the final, though, we were late getting to the grid and I didn’t have time to adjust his tyre pressures. He still finished 3rd in this race but it allowed Alex to increase his championship lead at a time when we should have been turning up the pressure. Following on from his performance at Buckmore, I have to admit that this one was a bit disappointing. ”

The Buckmore event referred to by Jason had ended in victory for Thomas following an epic battle with Gaby Weyer. It made him the youngest driver to win a Little Green Man round. Unfortunately his luck ran out at Kimbolton just when it looked as though he might be picking up another win. “The final was originally scheduled to take place over 14 laps but then they added on a couple more,” says Jason. “There was nothing to separate Alex and Thomas right up until the very last lap when our crankshaft snapped forcing him to retire. Had the race run its original length, he’d have finished 1st or 2nd.”

Lewis Brown’s subsequent victory at PF meant that he and Thomas had tied for 3rd place with Lewis getting the verdict on count-back. “4th in the championships was a couple of places above our target but, had it not been for the Kimbolton result, I think Thomas would have been fighting with Gaby for the runner’s up slot,” declares Jason.

Apart from his Little Green Man success, Thomas won every round in the SYKC Championship at Wombwell and also earned pole position on each occasion. He was narrowly beaten by Gaby Weyer at Kartmasters after a tense battle for the lead. Thomas entered the sport in 2010 and made an immediate impact. In his first meeting on full plates he collected the Ace & King of Clubs prize at Whilton Mill.

Thomas has recently taken up Kick Boxing, but still describes himself as a dedicated karter who is out every weekend racing or practicing. His favourite venues are Shenington and Whilton Mill. For 2012 he’s switched from an Alonso to a Zip Lightning chassis. He’s also tried out several meetings racing in Comer Cadet using a borrowed motor. Provided that the grids are big enough, he’ll be competing once again in the Little Green Man Championships. He must surely start as a firm title favourite in 2012.

3rd Place LEWIS BROWN Aged 12

It was a visit to one of the Racing for Buttons sessions at PF that first got Lewis interested in karting almost four years ago. Coming from a motor racing orientated family, it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually find his way into the sport. His father, Michael, was heavily involved in motor bike events as a schoolboy and later went on to race Jet Skis. In between, Michael became a prominent rider on the Super Moto scene finishing 5th in the British championships for 450cc bikes. Included amongst his best memories was a win at Cadwell Park.

2011 will certainly be remembered as a good year for Lewis. After finishing 10th in the 2010 Championships he started the new season exuding quiet confidence. Things were looking good during the opening round at PF when he moved up to 3rd spot within striking distance of the two leaders. However, Lewis received a knock from another competitor that lost him valuable places and he eventually settled for 5th spot.

In the final round, again at PF, Lewis arguably produced his best ever performance. It was certainly a race that had everyone up on their toes. From pole position, he took an early lead, but soon came under severe pressure from Gaby Weyer and Herbie Grout. The lead had already changed hands several times before they began their final tour. Lewis started this lap holding a slender lead, but soon lost out to a determined challenge from Weyer. He then snatched 1st place only to lose it at the next bend before getting his wheels in front once more as they entered the final straight. He eventually won with less than 0’1 seconds to spare.

In between these two events there were quite a few ups and downs. A deflated rear tyre at Whilton Mill cost him a possible victory, but he still managed to limp home in 3rd spot. 6th place at Ellough was mildly disappointing, while the Buckmore round rewarded him with 4th position. His worst result came during the double header at Rowrah. He finished 6th on Sunday but Monday’s final saw him down in 15th place. Then came a fighting performance at Kimbolton that netted 3rd spot and set him up for the final round.

Apart from his Little Green Man success, Lewis was the 2011 Trent Valley Kart Club Champion and he also took 2nd place behind Gaby Weyer in Kartmasters. The Winter Series provided him with another runner’s up slot, this time behind Alex Sedgwick. He is very enthusiastic about karting as, indeed, are the rest of his family. “The sport has definitely been more time consuming than we originally expected and it takes up most of our weekends,” Michael confesses. “However, it’s something that the entire family enjoys and so no-one feels left out. Our six year old daughter Freya has now started in Bambinos and she looks forward to all the Buttons sessions.”
Lewis spends quite a lot of time in the gym and shares the same personal trainer (Paul Cook) as Jack Harvey. This year he intends to join the Super Cadet Class for Super in S1 whilst racing Mini-Max at Club level. He is certainly one to keep an eye out for in future.

CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNER UP GABY WEYER Aged 13

Comparisons with Hannah Pym are easy to make. Two years earlier, Hannah claimed 2nd place in the Championships behind Matthew Graham and got herself into the record books by winning a round at Kimbolton. Gaby, too, set a record last August when she became the first female winner of Kart-masters in any class. On several occasions she came close to achieving a victory in the Little Green Man also, only to have it snatched away whether through bad luck or otherwise.

We were given a taste of things to come in April when the 2011 Championships got underway at PF. Alex Sedgwick managed to win this one by a kart’s length, but Gaby made him fight all the way and even got her wheels in front on the last lap. 5th place at Whilton Mill wasn’t quite so impressive but she bounced back to take 2nd place at Ellough. Buckmore Park was the scene of yet another epic battle. This time it was Thomas Turner who narrowly beat her by just a couple of feet.

The Double Header at Rowrah provided another brace of 2nd place finishes, yet Gaby went home knowing that it could have been even better. On Sunday she’d fought off a determined challenge from Scott Snell to take the runner’s up prize behind Sedgwick. The following day she was positively flying and won all three Heats. An early mistake in the final dropped her down to 4th place some 50 yards or more behind the leader Sedgwick. By the end of this race, however, Alex’s winning margin could be measured in inches rather than yards.

Carburettor problems at Kimbolton meant that she had to retire from 4th spot and Sedgwick’s 6th victory of the Series was sufficient to make him the new Little Green Man Champion. However, Gaby still had everything to play for when they arrived at PF for the final round. Once again she was on top form and participated in that memorable last lap battle with Lewis Brown that resulted in her finishing 2nd for the fifth time.

It had been her younger brother Tom’s involvement that initially aroused Gaby’s interest in the sport two years ago. Her first kart was an ARC/Comer which she soon exchanged for a Tony chassis. For some months, though, karting took a back seat to her first sporting love of football. An enthusiastic Liverpool fan, Gaby played for the White Woman Lane team in Norwich and also showed her prowess in Cross Country running events. Today, however, Gaby admits that she can’t keep away from karting.

It’s a big step from WTP into KF3 but Gaby will be giving 100% effort. She recently flew out to Spain for five days of hard testing. “She was completing over 300 laps every day and returned home completely exhausted,” says her dad, Mark. “Her lap times were within two tenths of George Russell’s best so we were very satisfied. We’ve now reached the stage where Gaby is out every weekend either testing or racing and she’s also working very hard at improving her fitness levels. She’d like to finish as the top female in Europe this year, but with Jessica Hawkins, Alana Taylor and Hannah Pym also taking part, we know it won’t be easy.”

Gaby’s ultimate aim is to become the first successful female in F1, but she recognises that there’s plenty to achieve in karting before then. Helping her along the way is former international star Jamie Croxford who acts as Gaby’s coach and occasional mechanic. Dad Mark has always been a motorsports enthusiast and once raced in the Radical Sportscar Series. Mum Andrea confesses that she doesn’t really share her daughter’s love of karting, though.

“I’m obviously very proud of all that Gaby has achieved so far, but if she retired from the sport tomorrow I wouldn’t be upset about it,” Andrea confesses. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen for a long time yet. She has recently signed to RL Racing Department where she started her career to ace in KF3 in the UK and abroad.