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Abigail Ross from Mulbuie (A small village in the highlands of Scotland, 3 and a half hours drive North of Glasgow) after starting the final in 3rd position at PFi Super One 2016 is back and has decided to enter Super One this year for the full championship, where she will have to travel approximately 7000 miles to compete across the UK throughout 2017. We caught up with her to talk about her history in karting and how the traveling will affect her this year.
How and when did you get in to karting?
“When I was 11 years old I went along to a ‘Let’s Go Karting’ event run by volunteers at the North of Scotland kart club (NSKC). Despite being extremely slow and tentative I had lots of fun and couldn’t wait to go back out in a kart again. We bought an old second hand cadet kart for me to practice at the track and even though I was lapped in my first few novice races by faster, more experienced karters, I was really keen to improve and become competitive.”
What classes/championships did you race in up until now? & For how long?
“I moved up to minimax when I was 12 and began competing in MSA club championships at NSKC (Golspie) and Grampian kart club (Aberdeenshire). I won both Club Championships but lack of numbers in Mini Max forced me to move up to Junior Rotax the following year where I was again successful in the local club championships.
In 2015 I became Junior Rotax Vice Champion in both the ASKC (Association of Scottish Kart Clubs) Scottish Championship and the ASKC Scottish Super Series. I was awarded and presented the ‘Scottish Junior Driver of the Year Award’ by Dave Newsham.
Last year (2016) was my first year competing at British National level. At the start of the year I was faced with the dilemma of whether to race in the very competitive but dwindling grids of Junior Rotax or change to Junior X30. I decided to race both!! I competed in the NKF (Northern Karting Federation) with Junior Rotax and LGM (Little Green Man Series) in Junior X30 to gain experience, confidence and race craft in the larger grids. ”
What made you decide to enter Super One this year?
“Last year was extremely tough. My confidence (and my kart!) took a massive battering, as I had very little experience in larger grids or in the X30 class and I had never driven at the majority of the tracks before LGM or NKF championship race weekends.
I volunteered to help out in the paddock at last years’ Larkhall Super One Round. It was good to get an insight into the structure of Super One Race weekends without the pressure of Racing.
In September I entered the final round of Super One at PFI as a guest driver in Junior X30. I had a great weekend and qualified in P3 for the Final.
I have learnt so much in the last two years and feel that I now have the confidence to be competitive in amongst one of the largest Super One grids this year.”
Are you planning on running with a team or privateer?
“I joined AMT Racing in 2015 under the mentoring and team leadership of Ashley Todd. This was a turning point for me as for the first time I was given guidance, driver coaching and technical support whilst learning and testing at different tracks in much larger grids than I had experienced before. I love being with the team at weekends, the continuity means that Ash and my mechanic, Kurtis Gregory, know me really well as a person and as a driver. This year I’m planning to continue with Ash and AMT Racing.”
“She works hard off the track at home training and keeping fit. She also spends time looking at onboard footage which helps her improve” – Kurits, Abigails Mechanic
What are your expectations for this year?
“Over the last few years, I have learned to expect the unexpected in karting!
I know that I have the pace to be at the front of the grid but a certain amount of luck is involved on race days some of which is totally out of my control. I will certainly be putting 100% into every race weekend.”
How far is it to your nearest kart circuit?
“My nearest MSA track is in Golspie run by North of Scotland kart club. It is approx. 1hr drive North from where I stay. My team keep/prep and transport my kart so I am unable to do any testing locally.
The nearest Super One track this year is Rowrah which is a 6 hour drive.”
What is the longest you will have to travel for Super One this year? & Where will that be to?
“Buckmore Park will be the furthest away track for me in Super One this year. It is over 600 miles and will take at least 10.5 hours to drive there. Flying from Inverness Airport is an option but flight times (one flight a day) means that we would not be able to fly back until Monday which would mean another day absent from school. For a race weekend, we travel on a Thursday/Friday and travel home on a Sunday night sometimes not getting home until 3 or 4am but it means that I am at school on Monday.”
Abigails Buckmore Super One weekend schedule
Wednesday evening – Pack cases/equipment
Thursday 8am – Leave home
Thursday 8pm (depending on weather/traffic/lunch/roadworks etc.) – Arrive at hotel
Friday – Sunday – At track
Sunday 4pm-7pm – Leave track
Monday 2am-4am – Arrive home
Monday 8am – Leave for school (after just 4 hours sleep)
Do you ever feel more pressure to do well after you’ve travelled for a long time?
“I wouldn’t say I feel any more pressure to do well as I always try to do my best but I would say it is slightly harder for me to be at my ‘best’ after travelling for a whole day before a race weekend.”
Do you ever feel like you miss out on testing because of the amount of travelling?
“Definitely. I have to travel on a Friday so that I can be at the track on Saturday morning. To make the journey worthwhile, I usually test the Saturday and Sunday and we travel home on Sunday night. This not only means that I have to have the Friday off school to travel but also that the expense of travelling, accommodation etc. increases.”
Will you have to miss much school to compete this year?
“I have to limit the days I have absent from school, especially this year, as I will be sitting Nat5 (Scottish GCSE) exams. I catch up with school work during the week and try to do as much as possible when travelling. Testing on a Friday for Super One means I need 2 days off school, as I have to travel on the Thursday.”
“We were very hesitant at the start of last year as we did not know how Abigail would cope with the travelling, busy race weekend’s and missing days at school. Abigail coped really well with everything and has managed to keep up to date with her schoolwork and proved this by getting good results in her mock exams. The travelling is tedious and costly but well worth it when we see how well she has improved and how enthusiastic she is towards the sport. If any helicopter company would like to sponsor Abigail for this year please contact us asap haha” – Abigails Mum – Karin
Abigail Ross was our special mention in the Female Driver of the Year class in our 2016 awards, which I believe she very much deserved. In response to this, Abigail said “I am delighted to have got a special mention as one to watch next year. Glad my efforts in amongst larger grids have not gone unnoticed”. Chris McCarthy said: “For my Special Mention I have picked a driver I see as a one to watch next year. When I watched Abigail race at PFI for the last Super One round I was hugely impressed. She was battling with the likes of Oliver Clarke, Angus Fender and Gordon Mutch and she looked comfortable. That performance combined with her NKF results deserved recognition and I strongly believe she’ll do well in whatever she competes in next year.”
In my opinion, Abigails commitment to the sport is insane! Obviously the travelling could be a worry and will she be too tired to perform her best? However she seems very confident and believes she can do it which is very important. I feel as though she has the experience and that 2017 could very much be her year! She has experience on most if not all the tracks on the 2017 Super One calendar which is a great start to the season and her performance at PFi super one 2016 was incredible. Could we be looking at a female winner in the Junior X30 Class this year?
5 words to describe yourself?
4 of your favourite tracks?
- Whilton Mill
3 drivers that have inspired you?
- Sir Jackie Stewart
- Ayrton Senna
- Max Verstappen
2 memorable moments in your career?
- Entering Super One for the first ever time as a guest driver, at the last round at PFI and starting P3 for the main final.
- Being awarded and presented ASKC Scottish Junior driver of the year 2015
1 goal for the future?
- To learn and progress every time I go out on track
Written by Bethanie Lawson
Images courtesy of Bethanie Lawson Photography & Chris Walker, Kartpix
Videos courtesy of TDi Media
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