This month comes from Oulton Park and the opening round of this season’s MSA British Superkart Championship. Ken witnessed a new outright lap record set on the circuit’s International layout and reflects on his time with the Rotax Euro Challenge
After some recent long-haul globetrotting in pursuit of kart racing, it was good to have a really great day out only an hour and a half’s drive from my Derbyshire home. In fact it was just a skip across into Cheshire for my visit to one of the most beautiful motor sport venues in this country – Oulton Park.
The place is magnificent. I love commentating on kart racing in any pretty parkland setting with an undulating track. Here at Oulton Park we have everything you could wish for. Even the names from around the circuit are evocative in their own right: Knicker Brook, Deer Leap, Lodge, Cascades, Clay Hill, Druids Corner, etc
This meeting witnessed the opening rounds of the 2014 MSA British Superkart Championship. The local hero was Paul Platt, not only defending his 2013 MSA British title but now pretty much elevated into ‘all-time-great’ status with 3 consecutive MSA British titles to add to his 3 National championships in the 125 Open class.
There is always a good crowd that turns out for even a run-of-the-mill club car/superkart meeting and the fact that the champion hails from Cheshire serves only to light up the knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans who are always ready to show appreciation of the finer arts of motor sport race driving.
Well the Superkarts served up plenty of highlights for them to savour. To start with, local hero Paul Platt delivered 2 stunning class victories in a highly impressive opening defence of his MSA British Superkart title.
Of the 3 classes racing, we witnessed new lap records in them all. Paul Platt lowered the 250 National record to a mean speed of 97mph, and Stephen Clark set a new 450 National record with an average speed over the 2.69 miles lap of 96.14mph.
Although ‘only’ a guest driver, Liam Morley headed up the Division 1 Superkarts starting at the back of the grid and went from the back to 2nd place in race 1, but then took outright victory in race 2 whilst breaking the class lap record 3 times.
Liam’s best time was a new outright lap record (of any class of cars or Superkarts) for this, the longest, configuration at Oulton Park. It was also the first time ever that a lap record was set with an average lap speed in excess of 100mph – an outstanding performance.
It would be fair to say that the 450cc 4-strokes were not universally heralded when they made their long circuit debuts a few seasons back. But here we had a very healthy entry.
This is in some ways a transitional year for British Superkarts with new engines homologated. Some drivers took the plunge early on. Don Kennedy and Julian Davies were both powered by the THR unit, but scrutiny of the results at the end of the day suggested that the existing motors were the most reliable and still competitive.
Triple European champion Gavin Bennett took delivery of a new DEA but with virtually no time for testing, perhaps not surprisingly he was not the force we anticipate he will be as the season unfolds.
On my short drive home, I had time to reflect that, ordinarily, I would be setting off in mid-week for the first round of the 2014 Rotax Euro Challenge at Genk in Belgium. But earlier this year I decided to step aside from that series after being the commentator for its first ten years.
I shall miss my many Euro Challenge friends enormously. But it feels the right time to move on while I am still lucky enough to have other international karting commitments..