The Cadet Karting Column: May 2011

Written By: Dave Bewley

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.