Written By Mike Hayden
“From the age of four years when I used to get pushed around by the marshals, at my Dads and Grandad’s local Indoor Kart Circuit (Anglia Indoor Karting), I have always found a love for motorsport.”
Jack Partridge dug deep in 2012, and undoubtedly found a new love for the sport, when he was crowned as a junior British kart champion. For Jack he started though he started a little later than some, not having his first race until 2007 when he was 9 years of age. As he summarised his career it soon became evident he was a quick learner.
“I started racing competitively in Honda Cadets at Red Lodge,” he recalled when asked to outline his career build-up towards his latest title. “I took fastest laps and race wins all year and ended up finishing the championship in 3rd place. During the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 I got my MSA license and competed in Super 1 throughout 2008. I took wins and fastest laps at club level during the season and had fastest laps at Super One. I finished the championship in 8th.”
One of the highlights for Jack in 2008 was a strong performance in the O Plate. He remembers his heats were not what he had been aiming for, with a set of results that had left him on a lowly grid 24 for the Final, but after that? “I worked my way through the field and ended up 6th at the end of the race with the second fastest lap.”
At the start of 2009 though the young racer chose to remain in Honda Cadets, but after two bad rounds in the opening races of the Super One championship, a new plan was formulated that encouraged him to make an earlier than anticipated graduation into Junior TKM. It was to be a big learning year for him in preparation for the following season.
“2010 turned out to be quite a successful first full year in TKM. I started off racing for Snakebite Racing, but then changed from a Tal-Ko chassis to a Jade chassis with Jade Karts. I missed the first round of Super One so I didn’t manage to get seeded, but I took my first podium in Super One and had fastest laps in the championship throughout the season! “
Away from the Super One Series, Partridge continued to develop his skills and won the Kimbolton Club Championship, taking “plenty of wins and fastest laps throughout the year. I had a 4th at the Kartmasters, and then 3rd at the TKM Festival. 2011 then brought me more podiums in the Super One season, before I took my first Final win in Super One, with two back to back pole positions, as well as fastest laps throughout the Series,” proving Jack was quickly learning his craft as he prepared for 2012. Before then though he recalled how he had again taken more “wins and fastest laps at club level, and 4th at Kartmasters. I finished Super One in 4th place.”
What he remembers most about 2012 though was a much better season than he could ever have imagined. “I started the season strong with two wins at PFI, the first Super One round. Throughout the season there were 14 rounds and I competed in 13 of them. In ten of the finals I was on the podium. I was also 4th in another round due to a time penalty (after finishing on the podium).” It was a minor set-back for him, however, as he still ended the year as British champion. “I won the Super One championship a round early – that is why I did not compete in one of the finals.
“The TKM Festival is the race that all the TKM’s in the country come together and race in. I missed Friday’s practice due to other commitments, but I went straight into Saturday and qualified 2nd overall. I ended up winning the final and collecting the Bernie Turney Memorial Trophy. I also had my first single seater test in a Formula BMW Talent Cup test, in the summer of 2012 at Brands Hatch, which went very well. I have won plenty of club races, had plenty of fastest laps, and a pole position by over 0.2s at Super One.”
Having the equipment for the job is the most important part of any decision making process, and with Jade karts Partridge feels they made the right choice. “I race with Jade Karts as I think it was the best chassis on the grid this year, and they have done a great job with drivers in previous years. I was struggling on the weight limit this year, so the team worked hard to lighten the kart, and to ensure I always had the best equipment.”
Winning though at this level is not the work of a few minutes on track, and Jack is willing to give credit to his main rivals. “Winning the Junior TKM championship,” he admits, “was not an easy journey! I was pushed hard throughout the season and got consistent results, and I believe that is why I am champion. My main rivals this year were probably Daniel Baybutt and Jake Campbell-Mills. Other drivers such as Sam Randon and Stephen Letts were competitors for the championship in the early stages of the year as well. Jake Walker did not do Super One, but was a main rival at other races such as the O Plate and TKM Festival.”
Most wise drivers will say that it is not always what you know, but who you know. And advise from the hallowed heights of Formula One cannot be overlooked. “The ex-Formula 1 boss Alex Hawkridge has been a huge influence on my racing career so far! He has mentored me for roughly four years now and I don’t believe I could have achieved what I have to date without Alex’s help! Alex has a lot of knowledge and I am very grateful of him sharing experience with me. I have also had lots of sponsors help me in 2012, to ensure I had a competitive budget, and I would like to thank them all.”
His thanks also went to iZone Driver Performance who he said “have been a huge help to me in 2012. They have backed me throughout the last season providing state of the art simulator coaching. We had a very small budget in comparison to some of my competitors and so I did not get the chance to do much testing before the season started. Using the iZone facilities helped me to hone my driving skills! Before the season started I focused on developing the skills needed to maintain and defend a lead position. The iZone training really paid off in round 1 and I pulled away at the front of the field in both Finals! Arden Motorsport have recently started to back me and guide me in the decisions I make in my future career. And Anglia Indoor Kart racing, where I started racing, have also backed me in the form of sponsorship. I cannot forget to mention my parents as well!” he said with a laugh
Jack mentioned how he was prompted to take part in the Super One championship, as he knew people who have competed in the Series in previous years. His team recognised that the Junior TKM class was a lot less expensive to compete in, than in another classes such as Junior Rotax and KF3. “I believe the class is very competitive as well, which means there is some great racing!”
Now with a British karting title to his name, what about 2013 and beyond? “I do not have any plans to stay on in TKM in 2013. I believe I have achieved nearly all I can in this class and it is time to move on! My main ambition in motorsport though is to become a multiple Formula One World Champion. I am motivated by the thought of winning and reaching that goal! If I wasn’t to make it to Formula One I would be grateful to have a professional, successful career in motorsport and get paid to race, whether that be cars or karts!
“Advice from me to newcomers in the sport would be to keep believing in your self! Do the best job you can and work the hardest you can away from the track, to try and ensure that you have a bright future. If you do this then no-one can say ‘You didn’t try hard enough’. Also I’d advise young drivers to be cheeky (ask for sponsorship), and leap on every opportunity as it comes!”
Jack Partridge is a courteous young racer and wanted to finish by giving thanks for the support he has received, with “a big thank you to everyone who has believed in me and helped me over the past few years. I couldn’t have got where I have today without the support I have received from Alex Hawkridge, iZone Driver Performance, my parents and my sister, Jade Karts, Alex Burrows (a top mechanic!), my friends, Terence and Alan Dove, Graham Taffs, Paul Scothern/MRM Performance engineering, and anyone else that I might have forgotten. (Sorry if I did)! I hope I can carry on to do you all proud in the future, (because) I am now 15 years old and seeking support for future years.”
Jack has recently announced that he will be competing in the Formula KGP Super One in 2013 with the Jade Karts team as team-mate to Danny Keirle.