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It’s the week of the Super One Series opener and on the build-up to the weekend we will be going through our ones to watch in three parts. We’ll be starting in part one with the IAME Cadet and TKM classes, before moving to the Max classes on Tuesday and concluding with the X30 classes on Wednesday.
IAME Cadet has pulled in another huge entry for this year and with the top six seeds all moving up classes the door has opened to drivers outside of the seeds being able to challenge for the title. Matthew Rees is the number nine seed and should be quick and Maxwell Dodds (10) has moved the Strawberry Racing in his bid to go for the title.
My first one to watch is Chris Draper. Chris has also moved to Strawberry Racing and it’ll be the first time the team has appeared in the Cadet classes since 2014. There’s no doubt they’ll be down on experience, but I struggle to see the team taking much time to get up to speed. Chris has a great teammate in Max Dodds and I think he will be a top ten challenger this season.
Alex has looked very quick in the winter season, he finished 3rd in the TVKC Winter Series and has had some impressive results at Whilton Mill too. Running with Fusion, there’s no doubt he’ll be well prepared for Rowrah and I strongly believe Alex will go for the title this season.
There’s a number of Rookie drivers entered into the series with many people tipping Freddie Slater to take that spot and why shouldn’t they? He was Karting magazine Rookie of the Year 2016 and has had great results during the winter. He’s certainly the favourite, but I think he could be heavily challenged by Alfie Hodges. Alfie has filled the shoes of Jonny Wilkinson at KMS and recently had a podium at Whilton Mill beating the afore mentioned Slater.
My pick for the title has to be Taylor Barnard. He’s hardly been challenged so far this year and seems to win every race he takes part in at the moment. Those results would have given him a huge amount of confidence and I’m struggling to back anyone to go and beat him in the championship this year.
There’s been a rise in the grids in Junior TKM despite a number of the seeded drivers moving on to other classes. As well as Abbi Pulling (2), staying in the class is Ian Sisson (7), James Pashley (9) and Ross Deal (10). All should take podiums or wins along the way, but can they challenge Pulling over a season? Joe Fowler came under criticism for moving on, but personally I think he’s done the right thing in going to Junior X30.
My first one to watch is Archie Strong. He appeared at the last round of Super One last year and had a strong weekend particularly in timed qualifying and the heats where he was challenging for top five finishes. He’s also taken wins in strong grids at Shenington and Rowrah over the winter and I see no reason why he won’t be able to repeat that result when the cameras are on.
Rob Welham has made the interesting decision to move away from the Junior X30 class to Junior TKM in the bid to challenge for a title. He won plenty of races in the X30 class at Shenington last year and appeared at the TKM Festival for a play where he fell just shy of the podium. Running with the Precision Racing Team Rob is in good hands and will be determined to run Pulling all the way to the end of the season.
When it comes to the Rookie’s my money goes on Theo Edgerton. He’s looked quick at Kimbolton over the winter taking podiums and beating his big rookie rivals. He also had a top ten finish at the Super One shakedown meeting two weeks ago, which should give him lots of confidence heading into round one.
When it comes to the title it is very hard to go with anyone other than Abbi Pulling. She almost clinched the title last year in a last lap decider, but Bradley White picked up places on the last lap after an incident which won him the title. Coming in as Vice Champion she’ll want nothing less than a win and will have a lot of people routing for her.
In terms of seeded the drivers, the most competitive class by far is TKM Extreme. The grid has remained one of the strongest in Super One and with only two of last year’s top ten absent (Phil Smith and Matt England) picking a winner is going to be almost impossible, but I’ve given it a go.
The return of Stephen Letts has drawn lots of interest and if he is in for a full campaign he will certainly be one to watch. Stephen is a former Vice Champion in the Junior TKM class back in 2013 when Matt Davies picked up the title. He’s already taken a commanding win at PFI this year beating some of the favourites, but I’m not sure how well prepared he’ll be elsewhere.
The Junior TKM Champion of last year has taken no time in adapting to the senior class and has already looked quick in the off season. At the Super One Series shakedown he was 2nd to Kyle Sproat proving that he is quick and can also race very well in the senior class. My only fear for Brad is that he may find himself getting bullied on track slightly, similar to some of the Junior graduates last year, but you can never count a champion out!
In terms of the rookie’s I’m putting my money on Joe Scorey. Joe runs his own race team (Team Marmalade) and raced in F100 is recent years. As everyone knows they are not easy karts to drive, but Joe was hugely successful in his class. To some he may be a new name, but he has as much experience as anyone on the grid and will be strong as the season goes on.
My championship pick is Matthew Taylor. He was 4th last year and was the best of the Junior graduates and with that in mind I think he’ll go three better this year. Of course the favourites will Harry Moore and Kyle Sproat who led the championship for most of last season. But Matthew has a very cool head on his shoulders, similar to Moore, and I think he’ll be good at staying out of trouble in what is a packed grid. His biggest challenge may come from the number 5 seed, Chris Whitton who was just four points behind him in the championship last year.
Join us tomorrow where we will look at the ones to watch in the Mini Max, Junior Max and Rotax Max classes.
Written Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Bethanie Lawson, Stu Stretton & Chris Walker, Kartpix