Watching The Pennies

Anyone who has shivered and struggled through soaking wet race meetings might draw some comfort from the words of Sir Ranulph Fiennes. “There’s no such thing as bad weather,” the intrepid explorer insisted, “only inappropriate clothing.” As a Rowrah regular who has been occasionally caught out wearing a tee shirt in pouring rain, I can see his point. Three months ago, when news of the WTP factory closure first broke, it seemed as if we’d been battered by force 9 gales.

Since first introducing the motor to these shores back in 2001, Mike Mills has weathered quite a few storms and always keeps his oilskins within easy reach. However, he remains optimistic that, on this occasion at least, there’s a rainbow just ahead. He predicts that entries in the 2010 Little Green Man Championships will at least equal last year’s figure and could even exceed it by a comfortable margin.

“It’s true that we aren’t able to get our hands on any new motors, but there’s still a good supply of spares that will see us through 2010 and beyond,” he points out. “Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though many people have been deterred from entering the class and that’s very encouraging. We’ve had a healthy number of enquiries about the forthcoming Little Green Man series and there is actually more interest than at this point last year. I’m certainly very upbeat about the season ahead.” Well, of course, Mike would say that, wouldn’t he? On this occasion, though, there may be good reason to remain optimistic. The Little Green Man has never pretended to be Britain’s most prestigious cadet competition. So long as it awards an official British title each year, Formula Kart Stars will continue to attract our most ambitious young drivers. For the average individual, though, the cost of competing in such a series, even as an also ran, can be prohibitive. Previous Little Green Man winners have also possessed bucketsful of ambition and I have to confess that their talent has usually been accompanied by matching financial resources, allowing them to test or race virtually every weekend.

Time in the seat has always been an important factor and so the playing field is therefore tilted in favour of drivers who can afford to compete in all three major championships. Pretending otherwise would be both foolish and dishonest. However, it’s still possible to achieve good results without spending a small fortune as many WTP contenders have proved already. Equipment costs pale into insignificance compared to the money competitors will spend when running from teams. It would be hard to imagine any Stars or Super One cadet champion emerging without the benefit of team support. Six of the eight Little Green Man champions, though, have won their titles whilst running independently. That’s an important consideration for any prospective contender whose parents have yet to make their first million.

Right now there’s plenty of inexpensive but extremely competitive second hand WTP motors available. I’d like to think that lots of Comer drivers currently running at club level will seize the opportunity and join the Little Green Man ranks. As a further incentive, this column will be awarding £1500 in prizes and my initial plan is to aim them mainly at newcomers. It may not be the most prestigious national championships for cadets but I’d argue that it’s still by far the best one. Last month I wrote about four out of the top six WTP contenders in 2009. Elsewhere in this issue you can read a profile of the current champion, Matthew Graham. Matthew’s mother assures me