The 2013 season once again demonstrated the quality of British drivers both domestically and internationally. Our talented overseas racers brought back a vast array of silverware including European championship honours. We also had a British world champion and runner-up. Back home, the MSA British Cadet Championship was powered by a new IAME engine and was supported by healthy grids and close action, with a thrilling finale at Shenington between team-mates Alex Quinn and Oliver York. The Little Green Man Series, also powered by the same new powerplant, had even higher grid numbers.
Once again Britain took a high calibre set of drivers to the Rotax Grand Finals at New Orleans in the USA, and came back with a worthy world champion in Oliver Hodgson. The Formula KGP Championship benefitted from the loss of the KF engine to host good grid numbers and exciting racing with the popular veteran Mark Litchfield claiming the Super One title and runner-up Bobby Game becoming the World KGP champion. Gearbox racing made a return to the British championship with the KZ1 class becoming the MSA Senior Championship with Daniel Borton claiming the title.
With many drivers scoring successful seasons, narrowing down our list to ten drivers was tough, but here are Karting Magazine’s ten best British karters of the past 12 months.
10. Mark Litchfield
Another season for Mark and another British title. Last year, with the collapse of the KF class, he switched to the popular Formula KGP format and completed another championship victory at the final round at Shenington ahead of Bobby Game. A challenge for the GP Plate at Kartmasters faltered after he was excluded for a clash, despite finishing first over the line.
9. Sean Babington
Babington once again had another excellent season, securing an impressive second consecutive Senior Max title in the Super One Series last season ahead of Oliver Hodgson. The Dan Holland Racing driver backed it up by finishing runner-up to Ben Cooper in the Rotax Euro Challenge DD2 class by only a single point at the final round at Salbris in France.
8. Ben Hanley
As ART GP’s works driver, the former GP2 single-seater racer missed out on the WSK Euro Series KZ1 title to champion Max Verstappen but came even closer to the CIK-FIA World KF title. After a third place finish at the opening round at PF International, a fourth place in Bahrain put him level on points with fellow Brit Tom Joyner. But Joyner’s victory in the Gulf state kept the coveted trophy away from Hanley’s grasp once again. It was still another impressive season for the Lancastrian.
7. Alex Quinn
Quinn was understandably distraught when he missed out on the MSA British Cadet title to team-mate Oliver York, particularly after leading the standings for such a long period of the season. But the rivalry nevertheless spurred him on to claim three titles: the impressively competitive Little Green Man Series crown by two points, along with the cadet O Plate and illustrious Kartmasters GP Plate.
6. Bobby Game
For the second successive year, it was a Brit who claimed the World KGP title at Castelletto in Italy. Game’s experience in making the transition from dry to wet racing played heavily in his favour as he drove a professional race to follow Phil Smith in ensuring that the world crown returned to the UK. A second place finish in the Super One KGP points behind Mark Litchfield in an impressive field ensured another excellent season for Game.
5. Connor Hall
After claiming the pre-season Rotax Winter Cup crown at Campillos in Spain, Hall clinched last season’s Super One MiniMax title at Larkhall and provided the sternest of opposition to Strawberry Racing team-mate Guan Yu Zhou for the European Junior Max title. He was unlucky to miss out on the championship by the narrowest of margins, with only a tie-break able to separate the two.
4. Oliver York
The 2013 season was a hugely successful final year in cadets for Oliver York. He claimed both the inaugural MSA British IAME Cadet title alongside its Comer equivalent, as well as taking the runner-up position in both the O Plate and Little Green Man Series, both to team-mate and arch-rival Alex Quinn.
3. Oliver Hodgson
After finishing third at the Rotax Grand Finals in 2012, Hodgson had a fantastic 2013 season. Missing out on the Super One Senior Max title at the final weekend of the season, Oliver claimed the Kartmasters British Grand Prix class title. After a successful domestic season, Hodgson claimed his invite to New Orleans and an impressive performance in the final helped him to be crowned world Rotax champion.
2. Tom Joyner
In any other season, claiming a major world title would elevate you to the top position. But Norris’s overall achievements this season pipped him to the spot. After a disappointing opening round of the CIK-FIA World KF Championship at PF International, Tom headed to Bahrain mathematically able to take the crown, but even he admitted it was a long shot. After two of his main rivals clashed, it enabled Tom to drive away and claim a comfortable victory, although he only realised he was world champion as he arrived back to wild celebrations in the pit lane.
1. Lando Norris
Lando’s achievements in claiming both the KF Junior titles in the CIK-FIA European and WSK Euro Series championships puts him to the top of our list. Despite being in his maiden year of continental racing, Lando’s consistency in remaining at the sharp end of the grid throughout a race weekend was mightily impressive. He was quick to learn circuits he had never previously raced on and immediately ran quicker than his more experienced rivals. He was quick to put disappointments behind him and six final wins from 12 races will hopefully provide momentum for a challenge on what he craves the most this season: the KF world title.