Watching The Pennies – A look at the WTP Cadet scene

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Martin Fox’s collection of WTP B1 engines

With only two rounds remaining, Sam Priest has replaced Cory Stevens as the Little Green Man Championship leader. He seems to be on something of a roll right now and extended his championship lead with a well taken win at Buckmore Park. Sam’s performance has certainly confounded those critics who claimed earlier this year that no-one could possibly get near Cory Stevens and Sean Gee who race together in the John Mills team. In actual fact we’ve seen a very open championship race, with various drivers all capable of producing quick times. Apart from Priest, Stevens and Gee, Alex Stott has found winning form and was just about untouchable at Three Sisters back in May. We’ve seen good performances, too, from Gaby Weyer, Max Stilp, Lewis Brown, Thomas Day and Alex Sedgwick.  The real surprise package, though, has turned out to be 10 year old Shayne Harrison who is producing incredible lap times from his B1 motor. Four years ago, Mike Mills introduced a weight limit of 92 kilograms for B1 users, hoping to “give them a chance” against the faster B5 runners. Now, as he studies Shayne’s times, Mike is feeling somewhat bemused. “Shayne’s speed has taken us all a bit by surprise,” is Mike’s rather understated comment.

The answer might lie in a Middlesex garage not far from Heathrow Airport where ex car mechanic Martin Fox lives with his partner Rachel and three children Casey (5), Kerry (7) and Shayne. It’s there that Martin spends many patient hours testing a batch of B1 motors on his Dynamometer. “We’ve managed to pick up quite a few B1s from different sources and they’re all pretty quick,” says Martin. “Earlier in the year I was able to buy them for £100 each, but they’re now fetching £250 or more on e-bay. I like to think that the sudden increase in price has got something to do with Shayne’s success. When he first expressed an interest in karting, I looked at all the different options and chose WTP because the idea of a thoroughbred race engine, as opposed to industrial motors, appealed to me.  No-one had really tried to compete against the B5s by using a B1 and I found the challenge quite interesting. Shayne is still very light and he can take full advantage of the weight differential, otherwise it wouldn’t work, of course. The B1 is very robust and will happily rev to 15,000 rpm. It means that, at many circuits, we’re running with a 97 tooth sprocket when B5 contenders are relying on 93s.”

Martin is no stranger to karting, having raced successfully in Junior Britain during the early eighties. “I won the Roy Mortara Trophy at Blackbushe but my main claim to fame was having a punch up with Dario Franchitti during a meeting at Clay Pigeon,” he recalls somewhat sheepishly. “My father Peter competed in stock cars for many years and I’ve a brother, Lee, who raced in sidecar events most notably at Cadwell Park. You could say that Shayne has motor-racing in his blood, although we both recognise that he’s at the wrong end of a steep learning curve and has a long way to go right now. All the circuits we’ve visited in the Little Green Man Championships have been completely new to Shayne, apart from Fulbeck where we did a couple of club meetings. He’s also raced once at PF and we will, of course, be returning there for the final round. He was going well at Three Sisters but we later discovered that the throttle wasn’t fully opening. Shayne’s performance in the championships encouraged our youngest daughter Casey to try her hand in a kart but unfortunately she crashed and hasn’t shown a lot of interest since then. Maybe if the Bambinos start picking up we’ll persuade her to have another go.”

Shayne first started racing last year and made sufficient early progress to win the Rye House Club Championships. Whilst attending Kartmania last November Martin visited the BKC stand where his attention was drawn to a BRM kart done out in Brawn GP livery. He promptly bought it as a Christmas present for Shayne. This kart helped him establish a new lap record at Blackbushe in April 2010 and he lowered the quickest time at Tattersall by more than a second. Another lap record came his way during the Little Green Man round at Ellough Park. In a very short period of time he has amassed around 40 trophies and now requires another cabinet to display them all. He attends St Andrews School in Uxbridge and the teachers there are very supportive of his karting activities, encouraging him to talk about the sport in front of his classmates. He doesn’t participate in any other sport apart from karting but enjoys watching F1 races on TV. His favourite driver is Jenson Button and the McLaren factory in Wokingham is just a few miles from his home. Should he ever need to get involved in a tribunal, Motor Sports House is also handily placed, virtually round the corner.

shane blackbush
Shayne Harrison, whose speed has surprised everyone

Ever since an astonishing opening round at Fulbeck, Shayne’s lap times have been the subject of much paddock gossip. “There’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about our B1 engines,” Martin insists. “I have them checked and sealed by John Davies who can verify that they are strictly legal. For someone like myself, with a strong interest in motors, having to get them sealed is rather a nuisance. That’s why I’d like Shayne to move into Junior TKM after cadets as there’s no sealing required. For the time being, though, he’s very happy racing WTPs and we both hope that the class can continue for another year at least.”