Over 60 drivers gathered on a frosty but beautiful morning at Whilton Mill on the 8th February for the 4th Annual Paul Lee-Davis (PLD) Memorial Kart Race, an event organised in memory of Paul, a motorsport-mad 37 year old from Staffordshire who lost an 18 month battle with a rare form of Leukaemia in 2011. Paul is remembered by all whom he met for being a fun-loving, larger than life character who was truly in his element when competing on track. Having rekindled his childhood passion for karting, Paul competed with the Club100 series between 2008 and 2010. Following previous successful runnings, the event returned with the same aim of having fun while raising money for the chosen charity – Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Each driver had 3x 7lap heats to qualify for the finals. These saw wins for Dan Underhill, Ian Blake, Jon Maycock, Ian Munro, Peter Cowan, James Leutchford, Jake Dennis, Rich Ward & Jonny Goddard.
Prior to the finals, there was a charity auction held in the clubhouse to give everyone a chance to warm-up and relieve themselves of some cash. The lots included VIP F1 factory tours, a replica race-suit, European F3 & Blancpain Series weekend passes & signed Formula One merchandise With the karts re-fuelled and checked-over, it was time to resume battle. The winner of each final winning a prize and a repecharge to the next final. C Final The C Final saw Dan Underhill bounce back from a black- flag and being taken out by Martin Owen, in the heats and take a dominant victory and free passage into the B Final. Behind him, there was some great racing with Chris Lewis- Evans & Stefan Child making progress from their mid-grid starting positions. B Final The B Final boasted some big names, all keen to make a mends for poor heats. They were to be denied as Rich Ward took an unchallenged early lead all the way to the flag. Stephanie Walters looked to be the only real challenger at the mid distance, but an unforced error on the still slippery surface at ‘The Boot’ put paid to her A Final aspirations. A Final Defending PLD champion, Jonny Goddard, had done all he could to retain the crown and lined up on Pole Position. He wouldn’t have it easy though, previous podium finishers Joe Richardson & Stevie Adams were breathing down his neck in 2nd & 3rd respectively.
The A final has traditionally been a rather fraught affair, but beyond some bumping and boaring in the opening laps, it settled down quite quickly at the front, with the main protagonists seemingly working together to get away from the rest of the field. Goddard held the lead for a few laps, but it soon became apparent that his kart was not the strongest and he was gradually picked off and sunk to 5th, where he would stay for the remainder. This le 2013 runner up, Joe Richardson, out in front with Jake Dennis keeping a watching brief in second. As the race got to half distance, Dennis made several bids for the lead but the canny Richardson was able to counter each aack and keep the Racing Steps Foundation driver behind. In the midfield, there was the usual ferocious baling as drivers all staked their claimed to have a go at catching the top 5. Hicks, Blake, Cowan & Crutchly all tried to bridge the gap but ultimately cost themselves time as the bales boiled over into out-and-out warfare, the order from 6th to 11th changing lap aer lap. With 2 laps to go, Dennis made the decisive move for the lead at the hairpin.
Richardson tried to hang on in vein around the outside but became acquainted with the grass on the exit. His momentum was killed and with his tyres now covered in mud, ran wide at the following corner to allow Freddie Gallagher & Jon Maycock to sneak through in one fell swoop. Richardson regained his composure and caught 3rd place Maycock, but ultimately ran out of laps and stayed 4th. It was Formula Three ace, Dennis, who kept the chasing pack at bay to take a commanding victory and the top prize, a full day of testing with kart team Jack Dex Racing. He was flanked on the podium by Club100 regulars, Gallagher & Maycock, who received the prizes of a Club100 test session (Coutresy of Whilton Mill) and an entry into a round of COVKARTSPORT.
The final figure raised by the event was £4500 (and counting). Special thanks to Dan Underhill & Whilton Mill for the organisation and smooth running of the event. It was one that will be remembered by everyone involved. Also a big thanks to the prize/auction contributors: Jack Dex Racing, Whilton Mill, COVKARTSPORT, Carlin Motorsport, Craig Dolby/JRM, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Club100 Racing, SWB Motorsport and also to JAM Motorsport Photography for capturing the event. Additional donations can be made to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research through the event’s page: hp://www.justgiving.com/ PLD2015 Jake Dennis claimed victory in the final