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The 2014 Henry Surtees Brooklands Team Karting Challenge
For the third year running, those involved in business, motorsport and media came together at Brooklands’ Mercedes-Benz World to raise money in honour of the late Henry Surtees
Five years have passed since motorsport lost one of its brightest talents in the form of Henry Surtees, who was taken from the world of racing at just eighteen years of age.
Having been tipped as a superstar of the future, the son of racing legend John Surtees OBE lost his life at Brands Hatch in 2009 during the FIA Formula 2 Championship race weekend.
However, Surtees’ memory lives on through the ongoing work of the Henry Surtees Foundation, which John himself set up to help those affected by severe trauma as a result of road traffic accidents, which includes blood transfusions being given at the scene.
The week of the British Grand Prix saw 140 drivers from the worlds of racing, business and media take part in the third running of the annual event. It saw 35 teams go head-to-head over a two-hour endurance race on the Mercedes AMG Handling circuit. Over the past three years, the event has grown in terms of the people taking part in the event, as well as the companies that have pledged their support.
The track itself would test everyone, with driver skill being the deciding factor along the combination of a very long back straight, slow and technical corners and fast sweepers. The 125cc two-stroke Rotax Max-powered BIREL chassis Daytona DMAX karts would ensure a level-playing field, which reach speeds around 75mph.
The driving talent from the racing world was there in abundance, as the likes of Oliver Gavin, Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi, Darren Turner, Rob Austin and Daniel Welch would still look to have fun, but would still race to win. Sky Sports F1’s Simon Lazenby and NBC Sports’ Will Buxton also got in on the action, with Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole swapping his dancing shoes for a pair of racing boots.
50 minutes of practice under the glorious Surrey sunshine saw all the drivers get the chance to know the limits of the track, as well as the karts. With any race meeting, be it professional or otherwise, Race Control had to inform the drivers of paying attention to the rules throughout the session.
This was apparent when one of the drivers overtook five others under yellow flag conditions before the 10-minute qualifying session got underway just after lunch. All of the teams could only select their fastest driver to get themselves in the best start position possible, unless that driver was black-flagged, which seemed to happen quite often.
The Racing Steps Foundation/Sky F1 team stormed to pole position for the event, setting a lap time of 42.534 seconds. Mercedes AMG Petronas and Team LNT Ginetta rounded out the top three qualifiers, with the top nineteen teams being split by just one second.
As part of the celebrations surrounding Surtees’ 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his Formula One championship, a historic parade featuring his 1964 Ferrari 158 that he won the title with along with cars built by Team Surtees made their way around the track.
The serious business of racing got underway shortly afterwards, as Surtees waved the karts on their way in a double-file rolling start formation. The action was heated and aggressive as was expected, but the early goings of the race saw two red flag situations due to a number of yellow flag and track limit infractions in the first 25 minutes alone.
After the second lengthy delay, the racing was back in full swing, as the first set of driver changes started to take place. Many of the professionals were animated in cheering their teammates on and strategies were coming into play. Titan Motorsport, who were in contention, were leading until the last few minutes, when their kart appeared to slow with a potential fuel problem, as Team LNT Ginetta took the lead and stormed away for the victory. Racing Steps Foundation/SKYF1 were also closing fast as the time ticked away, but the Titan entry managed to keep themselves going for their second podiunm spot in a row, having placed third last year.
Team LNT Ginetta’s winning line-up of Charlie Robertson, James Kellett, Jamie Chadwick and Esmee Hawkey were presented with their trophies from sportscar legend Derek Bell at the prize giving that evening, as Sam Bird picked up the trophy for securing the fastest lap of the race.
The event itself raised an estimate of around £60,000 in total, £27,000 of which was raised through an auction of motorsport memorabilia that had been donated from the racing world, compered by Bonham’s Malcolm Barber.
Surtees himself was stressing the importance of this type of event, which looks to have a great future at the Mercedes-Benz World facilities in the years to come: “From the atmosphere, and what I have been hearing, everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves and although we are here to primarily raise money for the Foundation, it is so important that people enjoy actually doing it!”
Even with the competitive nature that is in everyone that decides to take part, the fact that the money that is being raised by the Henry Surtees Foundation does great work and helps those in need. It is a great event that is just a part of the efforts that have helped to do so much and long may it continue.
Karting Magazine would like to thank the Henry Surtees Foundation and Emma Buxton for inviting us to attend the charity event at Brooklands.