Ollie Millroy has emerged as one of the most respected young drivers over the past couple of seasons, culminating in his Super One ICA Championship this year which he wrapped up at the last round at Rowrah after a season-long battle with Lee Bell and Jonathan Walker.
In Europe he hasn’t been quite so successful but there’s no question that he was stymied by some inopportune weather conditions at the European Championship at Ampfing and the World Cup at Angerville.
This is all the more notable when you consider that Ollie is one of the few world class drivers to run out of a privateer team. Ricky Flynn is one of the hottest properties in karting at the moment, a queue of drivers said to be waiting for an opportunity to drive there in 2007.
Despite this Ollie is tight-lipped about what he will be driving in 2007. “All I know is that it will be made of metal and plastic and have four wheels.”
He is clearly happy with the Birel though despite its lacklustre performance in the hands of many other drivers. “I don’t know what other people have achieved by chopping and changing,” said Ollie.
Ricky Flynn concurred: “Maybe we would have done better on something else, I don’t know. We’ve just worked hard with what we’ve got.”
Along with Jamie Croxford in Formula A, Ollie could be seen to have put the factory Birel drivers to shame with his 2006 results.
He clearly gets on well with the team, and Ricky and mechanic Micky “Moose” Higham work smoothly with him too. Ricky pays tribute to the entire team when asked to explain their giant-killing successes: “Ollie performs brilliantly on the track, and Moose works extremely hard to get the kart right. And there’s his dad who works to pay for it all!”
The weekend started well at Angerville for the World Champs/World Cup “After four top threes from four races and with the performance we’d had since we arrived, I was really looking forward to another strong finish,” said Ollie. “The kart has been fantastic all weekend and the team did a great job once again.”
“At the start of the pre-final, entering the first corner, I got shoved off wide and dropped right down the order. I managed to get back up again to 16th, which is where I had to start the final.”
He was still confident for the World Cup final but at the start he was pushed back down to 28th, needing to restart his kart. The 26 laps of the race were used to first catch up with the back of the field then carve through to finish 15th.
Despite his caginess about 2007, Ollie has announced his arrival in Formula A, soon to be renamed KF1, by competing in the “Industrials” at Parma in Italy a couple of weeks after the World Cup, still in 100cc, and was impressed with the increased level of competition. He was running in 4th in the final until the penultimate lap when his conrod went through the front of his engine. “The racing is very fast and furious and due to the much grippier tyres, it’s very physically demanding too but I’m pleased that all my fitness training has paid off and I had no problem lasting the pace.”
He isn’t concerned about the switch to 125cc engines either. “I don’t think it will make a big difference for us in terms of driving style, it will just be slightly different for the mechanics,” said Ollie.
Ricky is one of the few business men in karting who is positive about the new engine rules. “I think it’s something that needs to be done. The engines are now so expensive and unreliable to run that it’s time to make a change.”
He agrees with many though that it could be chaos next year though. “We’ve been told that a TM will be available to test in December, whether that will be in the UK or if we’ll have to go to Italy I don’t know. Apparently it’s on the dyno at the moment. I think Super One made the right choice not to change, these engines could easily be four months late, that’s the Italians for you.”
This is one area where being unaffiliated to a factory is an advantage. Ollie and Ricky agree that it may have been a mistake for some drivers to sign deals with manufacturers for a year when so much will be in flux. Different engines are likely to be fast at each race and there could easily be 1.5 seconds between lap times at the start of the year and at the end.