In 2016 Josh (Coskun) Irfan was the new kid on the block in British Cadet Karting and caused one or two upsets as he quickly rose from being a novice to a race winner with impressive performances in the British championships too.
At just 8 years old and small in stature, to many Josh may not have looked a threat, but in my LGM Series ’The Dark Horses’ feature back in April I had him down as the dark horse in the fiercely competitive IAME Cadet class. The feature read…
“Despite being fairly new to the sport, Coskun had shown some seriously impressive pace over the winter months and has put himself on podiums at Whilton Mill with grids of 30+. He may lack the experience when it comes to national level racing but as the year goes on I think Coskun could start to creep into the top 10 and if luck were to be on his side he may even be on for a top 5 finish towards the end of the season. He should be looked at more than just a name on a sheet!”
Now he’s taken wins at club level and had a 4th in Super One at Fulbeck in Honda Cadet. Competing in both Cadet classes Josh says he looks up to Harry Thompson who won both British Championships this year subsequently becoming the 2016 Karting magazine Driver of the Year.
Josh himself was labelled ‘Highly Commended’ in the Rookie of the Year category and before Christmas I caught up with him to find out his thoughts on the 2017 season.
Last year Josh’s Dad, Tony, told me he will be competing in Super One and LGM in both the IAME & Honda Cadet classes. Josh remains with Global Karting in Honda, but has made a switch in the IAME class from AIM to Fusion.
“We decided to give the Fusion Team a go, they have been so successful for so many years and Josh fitted into the team straight away. He’s really enjoying being around the drivers in the team and he’s hit the ground running taking some podiums at PFI and Whilton Mill.”
How did he get so quick so fast?
One thing I was keen to find out is how Josh has been able to compete with 12 year olds at just 8 so quickly. I know he had done Bambino’s for a while, but it still is seriously impressive! His Dad said:
“Josh does a lot of training away from the circuit and works very hard. I always find him wanting to do more sim work and more fitness work too. He’s also a very good listener. I think karting is good at teaching kids social skills and Josh is very comfortable speaking to adults. He always listens to mechanics and coaches and applies their suggestions on track and that’s what he’s done. It really impresses me.”
I was feeling exactly the same way as Tony when I put the same question to Josh. He said:
“I found myself always getting tired during long races so I asked my Dad if I could do some fitness work. We had some equipment at home so I started using it and really enjoyed it. I try to train t least three times a week and it’s really helped me over a race weekend. It’s also helped my driving position which has made me faster.”
For an 8 year old Josh really does have a fantastic attitude and he was very good and responding to questions I was answering him and I couldn’t help think of how similar he was to Harry Thompson. I asked Josh had he ever thought about achieving what Harry did in 2016?
“This year I just want to get two seeded numbers, if I can do that I will be happy.”
So clearly Josh isn’t thinking too far ahead, but asking the same question his Dad he said:
“He’s still only 8 years old so he’s got a few years until he’ll be the same age as Harry. It’s hard to say where he’ll be by then, but if he keeps working hard then he should be fine. I always tell Josh not to worry about his age, other drivers may be older but once your out on track that doesn’t matter. He should treat all of his competitors the same.”
One challenge Josh will be facing this year is the new tyre is the Cadet classes. Josh didn’t seem too worried about it so I asked his Dad Tony what he thought about it:
“I think the new tyre being brought in is a good idea. It’s being brought in to try and keep cost down and I think that’s a good thing. We’ve tested it and the only problem with it is there seems to be a drop off after two days which isn’t ideal and it does take a while to come on which may suit some drivers more than others, but we’ll see how it goes.”
It was great to speak to Josh and it’s hard not to admire his passion and desire to be successful at just 8 years old. I thought he would have been around 12 when speaking to him on the phone, he really does seem like a hard worker and a real talent. His Dad said to me “He’s not just talented, he’s also hard working. When he started he was one of the slowest on track.” When I first watched him I thought he was just a great talent, but to hear that is great.
It’s great to also find out one driver he looks up to along with Nico Rosberg is Harry Thompson. Any time I ask that question to drivers you usually find they reply with professional racing drivers, but to hear a Cadet mentioned was great. The driver Josh most looks up to, however, is Harrison Scott. Harrison, who race in F3 and Formula Renault last year, has done lots of work with Josh and his since become his favourite driver.
Harry Thompson should be someone Cadets look up to he’s been the most successful in history last year being more successful than the afore mentioned F1 drivers. Karting is a sport of it’s own and Josh seems to be treating it that way, could that describe his rapid rise up the order?
I think two seeded numbers is a good target for Josh next year, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he takes a win or two along the way.
Still 8 years old, I see a big future for Josh. He may just match that record of Harry’s one day and for British karting it would be fantastic if he did!
Look out for the name in 2017…
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Stu Stretton & Chris Walker, Kartpix
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