All good things must come to an end right? Sadly that includes the 2016 British Universities Karting Championship. After a season of racing at some of the best kart tracks in the country, after countless laps, countless emotions; it all comes down to the final weekend.
What a weekend it was. Three epic days of racing, two huge championship battles, and the legendary BUKC Driver’s Championship. Oh, and don’t forget the infamous end of season party!
Clay Pigeon was the chosen venue for this year’s titanic end to the season. A fast, flowing circuit set down in the West Country in Dorset, it’s one of the most popular circuits on the BUKC calendar and the perfect venue for three days of epic racing. Plus – how good is their new club house!
Friday – Round 7
The finals kicked off on Friday with the big one; the culmination of the Main Championship – Rounds 7 & 8. Coming into this round mathematically there were still five teams in with a shout of clinching the title – Coventry, the current championship leaders, Oxford Brookes, Oxford, Nottingham and Leeds Beckett.
Going into Round 7 it was advantage Coventry. Sitting at the top of the table with a comfortable points margin, even 2nd placed Oxford Brookes had their work cut out in order to rob the midlands team of their second title in three years. If Coventry won Round 7, the title was as good as theirs.
It started off well. Picking up a 4th and a 6th place in the first two races, they were a step ahead of nearest championship rivals Oxford Brookes who could only manage two 7th places in the same races.
It was Brunel A that excelled though. A win in Sprint 1 and a third place in Sprint 2 (UWS A’s Fabio Minchella picking up the win ahead of Birmingham A’s Rhianna Purcocks) got their round off to the perfect start. The Brunel boys had been testing at the circuit since Wednesday in their own kart, and clearly all that practice had begun to pay off!
Races 3 and 4 saw Nottingham and Cardiff picking up wins, and with Nottingham still in contention for a top three finish at the very least it was exactly the result they needed. This was followed by a 3rd in Race 5 (after finishing 10th in Race 4) to secure then 2nd place overall in the Round 7 standings.
Where were Oxford Brookes amongst all this, you ask? After their two 7th places, Sprint 5 saw them finish in 11th, and the round was looking like a write-off for them until Sprint 6 when they managed to convert their high starting grid (6th) into a hard fought 2nd place, behind Cambridge A’s Richard Morris who managed to finish a full 7 seconds ahead at the chequered flag.
Even though Coventry didn’t manage to win a single race in Round 7 (the closest they came was 4th in Race 1 after finishing 6th in Race 2, 20th in Race 5 and 5th in Race 6) their consistently higher finishing positions meant that they finished the round crucially 1 point ahead in 4th place, with Oxford Brookes A finishing directly behind in 5th. That 1 point advantage would prove to be utterly invaluable later on.
After 6 sprint races were complete it was the Brunel A team that stood on the top step after some fantastic results (1st, 3rd, and 4th), standing 6 points clear of 2nd placed Nottingham A (1st, 10th and 3rd), with Cardiff A finishing in 3rd (1st, 6th and 7th).
In the Intermediate class, coming into Round 7 Heriot-Watt were firm favourites to win the class, but suffered an absolute disaster of a round – finishing 11th in class and 29th overall after some awful luck left them with a 5th and two 25th place finishes.
It was Oxford Brookes C, their main championship rivals, that took advantage, winning the round narrowly by a point (9th overall) over 2nd placed Coventry B (10th overall); but most impressive were the Brighton A team (13th overall) — having fallen down into the Rookies last season after many of their top drivers graduated the year before. After a year of rebuilding they were back with a strong team and looking good for next season, taking a solid 3rd place in the Inters class for Round 7.
With Coventry and Oxford Brookes finishing just one point apart in Round 7 (but crucially, neither team finishing in the top three) the 2016 BUKC Championship would once again go down to the final round of the season. It was down to just two teams, and Coventry A simply needed to finish ahead of Oxford Brookes to all but secure the title – no pressure!
Once again it was Brunel A spoiling the party in Endurance race 1, finishing an incredible 27.5 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Oxford Brookes A in an utterly dominant performance. Coupled with a 2nd place in Race 2 (Newcastle A putting in a superb drive to beat them to the top step), it was enough to clinch their second round win of the day. But all eyes were on the top two.
After their 2nd place finish in Race 1 it was over to Coventry for Race 2 – but they could only manage to finish down in 9th place after being black flagged. Advantage Oxford Brookes going into the final race of the season!
With Coventry starting much higher up the grid in 12th place (Oxford Brookes started in 25th) they had it all to do, and after two lighting pit stops and some incredible driving they were up to 4th place. However, Coventry were in 3rd. Advantage, Coventry.
Until the black flag.
Everyone thought captain Joe Charlton was double stinting – he pitted for what looking like their final stop and then reemerged back in the kart, only to pit again a few minutes later. What happened? Disaster. That first adventure into the pits had turned out to be for a black flag stop-go penalty, after getting tied up in a back marker. With them out of contention for the top three of the race, it was entirely down to Oxford Brookes. They had to gain another position and the fastest lap to finish 2nd overall on count back , and clinch the title. But with a 9 second gap to the teams ahead, it was looking like a long shot.
That was until UCLan B overtook Huddersfield A for 2nd place, with just 4 minutes of the race remaining. That overtake lost Huddersfield A a single point, handing the overall Round 2nd place to Oxford Brookes and provisionally making them champions. All UCLan had to do was hold onto that position for four more laps and they’d gift Oxford Brookes the title!
Ironically, Huddersfield’s driver was Ollie Greenwood, who was involved in the last minute shenanigans at the end of last year’s title deciding race. Without knowing that the entire championship battle rested entirely on his shoulders as they approached the final two laps of the season, Ollie was pushing hard to retake that place. He knew it was for position, he knew they were looking good for a podium. What he didn’t know was that, with just one lap to go, the overtake for 2nd place he managed to pull off round the first corner sent the entire Coventry team into jubilation, as he crossed the line ahead of UCLan B, cementing their Round 8 2nd place, and leaving Oxford Brookes A just ONE point short of clinching the title.
Coventry A are Champions!
The overall results told the whole story. Just a point separated both the winners of the Premier and Intermediate Classes from their respective second placed teams. After another disaster in Round 8, Heriot Watt A finished in 20th overall and had no idea if they’d just blown their title chances, after Oxford Brookes C won the class yet again after finishing 8th overall.
Fortunately for the Scots, their earlier rounds were just enough. By 1 point! Congratulations to Heriot-Watt A – Intermediate Class 2016 Champions!
Thus, your BUKC 2016 Top three were as follows:
1st: Heriot-Watt A, 347 points (12th overall)
2nd: Oxford Brookes C, 346 points (13th overall)
3rd: Cambridge A, 338 points (17th overall)
Champions: Coventry A, 409 points
2nd: Oxford Brookes A, 408 points
3rd: Nottingham A, 396 points
A huge congratulations to Coventry A. The entire season went down to the final lap, of the final race, of the final round. Does it get much better?
You can find full results from the entire season (see how your university did!) on the BUKC Results site, including the breakdown of results per race for the entire 2016 season.
Rookies Championship Round 4
After their Round 3 victory, Surrey A found themselves firmly at the top of the Rookies Championship and just needed a top three result to all but guarantee them the championship. But as things go in the BUKC, once the racing begins it never, ever goes to plan.
Sitting in 2nd place, Plymouth A, as the local team, used that fully to their advantage, taking two race wins in Race 2 and 5, and a 2nd place in Race 3 and with that the Round 4 victory. This meant that for the second time in two days, the championship would go down to the final race of the day.
Surrey A started 23rd in Race 6 after a poor qualifying, and needed to finish 4th or higher in order to clinch the title. However, after a disaster at the start left them down in 33rd place, they could not recover – finishing in 25th place and handing the title to Plymouth by just two points!
Congratulations to the BUKC 2016 Rookies Champions – Plymouth A!
You can find full results from the entire Rookies Championship (see how your university did!) on the BUKC Results site, including the breakdown of results per race for the entire 2016 season.
That’s it for the 2016 season. It goes so quickly, but fear not – it ‘aint over yet folks. Save the dates, because the 18-19th June 2016 marks return of the infamous, the demanding, the incredible…BUKC 24 Hour.
We’ll see you then!
Images courtesy of Stu Stretton