A young novice Indian driver could be one of the stars of the British karting scene in future years, according to the boss of leading Cadet squad Fusion Motorsport.
Ruhaan Alva, 8, began racing with the team 12 months ago despite not having any previous competitive experience. The Bangalore-based youngster is the first Indian driver to be selected by the Fusion outfit to race in the Little Green Man Championship.
“The first time he went out in a kart this time last year he was around 20-seconds off the pace,” team chief Dan Hazlewood said. “He was crawling along and completely out of his comfort zone as he had only driven around in circles in Indian pro karts with no facilities. It was an eye opener.
“Since then, he’s had sporadic testing but has effectively won all his novice races this year on the road as he was handed a penalty in one. He’s not afraid and has definitely has the potential to be a star. He’s keen to get stuck in on the racing side and is well ahead of where he should be at this stage.”
Wonder show by Wilson at Kimbolton for LGM round 6, 13th July
Perfect performances are best saved for occasions when there’s a VIP or two in the audience.
Anthony Hamilton turned up at Kimbolton and watched Teddy Wilson produce a faultless display that must have reminded him of Lewis during his early karting days. Also in attendance was Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson, there to oversee the progress of his own son, Zach. Add the current CIK European Junior Championship leader Enaam Ahmed and we had quite a VIP guest list. Enaam presented all 20 LGM cadet trophies.
229 drivers were competing in 12 different categories at Kimbolton and such numbers placed a strain on the programme. It meant that two of the five LGM cadet Heats had to be run on Saturday. In very warm conditions, Jonny Edgar drew first blood pulling off a narrow win over Ethan Hawkey and Fin Kenneally. Heat 2 was even tighter, with Kenneally eventually claiming victory by mere microseconds over Tom Wood and Albert Carter.
Heat 3 on Sunday morning got underway in equally warm conditions. After just one lap Wilson had gained an incredible 14 places and came round in 16th spot. He was assisted when Battenburg flags came out half way through this race bringing him 40 yards closer to the leading bunch headed by Lewis Thompson. Teddy seized this opportunity with both hands and won with 20 yards to spare from Thompson and Joe Turney.
By contrast, Heat 4 was a breeze as Wilson started off from pole position and cruised to victory some 50 yards ahead of Kiern Jewiss who had his hands full retaining 2nd place from Owen Byatt. Teddy made it a hat trick of Heat wins next time out, although both Zach Robertson and Dexter Patterson came within inches of stealing it from him over the finishing line.
It meant that Wilson would start the “A” Final off pole position with Kenneally alongside him. Next up were Patterson, Thompson and Wood, with Clayton Ravenscroft on grid 6, his best starting position in any Little Green Man Final. Fraser Fenwick, Matthew Latifi, Jessica Heppenstall and Alicia Barrett qualified from a well contested “B” Final. Kenneally managed to get his wheels ahead of Wilson at the start, but Teddy had a better line around turn 1. Early casualties on this corner included Lorcan Hanafin, Jonny Edgar, Luca Molinaro, Klaas Kooiker and Joseph Taylor. Patterson replaced Kenneally in 2nd place and immediately began to challenge Wilson, taking over the lead before lap 4. Wood followed Patterson through and Kenneally demoted Wilson into 4th soon afterwards. Wood went past Patterson into 1st place holding this position for a good few laps before Wilson hit the front once more. The pace was clearly getting hotter, Wood hit the front and Kenneally went with him. Less than half a second covered the top four drivers at this stage with Jewiss lagging some 20 yards behind in 5th. Patterson tried to improve on 4th but was forced wide, giving Jewiss, Robertson and Thompson their chance to make up lost ground. Carter found himself in the mix as a queue began to form up behind Wood. Wilson made a successful bid for the lead with just a couple of laps remaining while Patterson moved in the opposite direction as he dropped down to 7th behind Thompson.
There was a time when you could just about guarantee that the first lap of any race would be the slowest one. These days in cadets, though, it’s often the final lap that enjoys this dubious distinction. Wilson’s final tour was half a second slower than his opening lap. Wood took even longer to complete this lap, but he still retained 2nd place some 25 yards behind. Thompson took 3rd ahead of Carter, Patterson, Robertson, Kenneally and Jewiss. Joe Turney and Owen Byatt made up the top ten. Clayton Ravenscroft claimed the Privateer’s Cup by finishing 13th.
It had been an eventful weekend, at the end of which Teddy Wilson took a two point lead in the championship table. Wood occupied 2nd place followed by Robertson, Patterson, Thompson and Jewiss. More will be revealed after Round 7 has been completed at Shenington on September 21st.
The inclusion of the inner loop section of the Little Rissington circuit was one of the key reasons why the circuit returned to the Super One calendar for the first time in 11 years last month, according to its club chairman.
The Gloucestershire track, which is restricted to just seven club meetings per year, was reinstated to the national racing calendar this season by Super One chief John Hoyle. It last hosted a Super One round in 2003.
Rissington Kart Club chairman Mick Chalmers said hosting a Northern Kart Federation meeting at the circuit two years ago made track bosses aware of the potential for closer racing, particularly for gearbox karts.
ìThe NKF wanted more of a challenge and so instead of just using the outer track section which is reasonably flowing, we included the direct drive inner loop section. We received good feedback that instead of dropping down one gear, gearbox drivers were having to drop two gears. It made the racing more exciting. I believe that has been one of the key reasons why Super One is returning.î
Chalmers said club members have been extremely supportive of the initial submission to Super One and wants to get the circuit back on the map of Britainís top circuits if the track is going to have a long-term future.
“We held a survey of club members at the start of this year as to whether we should try for a Super One round, as it would have meant losing a club round,” Chalmers said. “But members were 90 per cent in favour. Because of the circuitís running restrictions we previously didnít feel it was fair to the members.
“Rissington has been a lost circuit over the past few years. Ten years ago it was running C Finals and full gearbox grids. The established Super One circuits get more advertising nowadays and are recognised as being more mainstream. With the MSA KZ Championship as the British Senior crown, grid numbers are increasing, and so Super One needs more circuits which can cater for those karts and we hope Rissington is here to stay on the national calendar.”
Little Green Man Series, Round 1, PF International, 6th April 2014
Nearly 70 drivers competed at PFi, with one of the finest Cadet battles in recent times taking place for the A Final victory.
The first round of the country’s most popular Cadet championship was closely fought between drivers from several different teams. The LGM series visits clubs across the country as part of regular club meetings and is pretty much full to capacity.
Jonny Edgar, Kiern Jewiss, Lewis Thompson and Dexter Patterson won the earlier heats which needed to start on Saturday to accommodate everyone. Patterson, with two wins and a 2nd was on pole alongside Edgar. The second row was made up of Tom Wood and Joe Turney with good top three results. Teddy Wilson, with 5th, 9th and 3rd was joined on the third row by Albert Carter.
The grandstand was bursting with spectators for the final, a 15 -lap race with ever changing leaders where no-one could have predicted who would win.
One of the championship favourites, Jewiss had his dreams dashed at the opening round with a rare engine seizure. After two wins then losing his rear bumper in the third heat, Jewiss had to climb from his 15th place on the grid, which he did, only to pull clear and lead the race with two laps remaining. Whilst in the lead, his engine sized at the end of the straight putting the Next- Gen driver on the sideline.
Turney made an excellent start but soon lost the lead to Wood. In the early stages the battle at the front was led by Wood and Edgar, switching between them before Thompson, Wilson and Jewiss came to the fore. When Jewiss dropped out with two laps left, Wilson was just behind and ready to take over but with Wood constantly on his bumper. They finished just 0.06s apart with Fusion’s Wilson claiming victory and Patterson almost a second behind his AIM team-mate Wood. Patterson had fallen away at the start, but being ‘on form’ came back to a strong third place.
Fusion’s Zac Robertson was fourth and the fastest man on track, recording a 67.49s lap. Next-Gen’s Thompson was fifth, relatively disappointing considering he had been leading, but a very good result from 14th on the grid. Turney, also Next-Gen, took sixth ahead of Fusion’s Edgar.
Top privateer Clayton Ravenscroft gained nine places to come in 24th overall after winning the B Final with Toby Stevenson 29th, also from the B.
The top ten drivers who took on the best British and overseas competition and raced to success.
The 2013 season was another success for British drivers both at home and abroad. Our talented overseas racers brought back a vast array of silverware including European championship honours. We also had a British world champion and runner-up. Back home, the MSA British Cadet Championship was powered by a new IAME engine and was supported by healthy grids and close action, with a thrilling finale at Shenington between team-mates Alex Quinn and Oliver York. The Little Green Man Series, also powered by the same new powerplant, had even higher grid numbers.
Once again Britain took a high calibre set of drivers to the Rotax Grand Finals at New Orleans in the USA, and came back with a worthy world champion in Oliver Hodgson. The Formula KGP Championship benefitted from the loss of the KF engine to host good grid numbers and exciting racing with the popular veteran Mark Litchfield claiming the Super One title and runner-up Bobby Game becoming the World KGP champion. Gearbox racing made a return to the British championship with the KZ1 class becoming the MSA Senior Championship with Daniel Borton claiming the title.
With many drivers scoring successful seasons, narrowing down our list to ten drivers was tough, but here are Karting magazine’s ten best British karters of the past 12 months.
1. Lando Norris
Lando’s achievements in claiming both the KF Junior titles in the CIK-FIA European and WSK Euro Series championships puts him to the top of our list. Despite being in his maiden year of continental racing, Lando’s consistency in remaining at the sharp end of the grid throughout a race weekend was mightily impressive. He was quick to learn circuits he had never previously raced on and immediately ran quicker than his more experienced rivals. He was quick to put disappointments behind him and six final wins from 12 races will hopefully provide momentum for a challenge on what he craves the most this season: the KF world title.
2. Tom Joyner
In any other season, claiming a major world title would elevate you to the top position. But Norris’s overall achievements this season pipped him to the spot. After a disappointing opening round of the CIK-FIA World KF Championship at PF International, Tom headed to Bahrain mathematically able to take the crown, but even he admitted it was a long shot. After two of his main rivals clashed, it enabled Tom to drive away and claim a comfortable victory, although he only realised he was world champion as he arrived back to wild celebrations in the pit lane.
3. Oliver Hodgson
After finishing third at the Rotax Grand Finals in 2012, Hodgson had a fantastic 2013 season. Missing out on the Super One Senior Max title at the final weekend of the season, Oliver claimed the Kartmasters British Grand Prix class title. After a successful domestic season, Hodgson claimed his invite to New Orleans and an impressive performance in the final helped him to be crowned world Rotax champion.
4. Oliver York
The 2013 season was a hugely successful final year in cadets for Oliver York. He claimed both the inaugural MSA British IAME Cadet title alongside its Comer equivalent, as well as taking the runner-up position in both the O Plate and Little Green Man Series, both to team-mate and arch-rival Alex Quinn.
5. Connor Hall
After claiming the pre-season Rotax Winter Cup crown at Campillos in Spain, Hall clinched last season’s Super One MiniMax title at Larkhall and provided the sternest of opposition to Strawberry Racing team-mate Guan Yu Zhou for the European Junior Max title. He was unlucky to miss out on the championship by the narrowest of margins, with only a tie-break able to separate the two.
6. Bobby Game
For the second successive year, it was a Brit who claimed the World KGP title at Castelletto in Italy. Game’s experience in making the transition from dry to wet racing played heavily in his favour as he drove a professional race to follow Phil Smith in ensuring that the world crown returned to the UK. A second place finish in the Super One KGP points behind Mark Litchfield in an impressive field ensured another excellent season for Game.
7. Alex Quinn
Quinn was understandably distraught when he missed out on the MSA British Cadet title to team-mate Oliver York, particularly after leading the standings for such a long period of the season. But the rivalry nevertheless spurred him on to claim three titles: the impressively competitive Little Green Man Series crown by two points, along with the cadet O Plate and illustrious Kartmasters GP Plate.
8. Ben Hanley
As ART GP’s works driver, the former GP2 single-seater racer missed out on the WSK Euro Series KZ1 title to champion Max Verstappen but came even closer to the CIK-FIA World KF title. After a third place finish at the opening round at PF International, a fourth place in Bahrain put him level on points with fellow Brit Tom Joyner. But Joyner’s victory in the Gulf state kept the coveted trophy away from Hanley’s grasp once again. It was still another impressive season for the Lancastrian.
9. Sean Babington
Babington once again had another excellent season, securing an impressive second consecutive Senior Max title in the Super One Series last season ahead of Oliver Hodgson. The former Dan Holland Racing driver, who has now switched to Strawberry Racing, backed it up by finishing runner-up to Ben Cooper in the Rotax Euro Challenge DD2 class by only a single point at the final round at Salbris in France.
10. Mark Litchfield
Another season for Mark and another British title. Last year, with the collapse of the KF class, he switched to the popular Formula KGP format and completed another championship victory at the final round at Shenington ahead of Bobby Game. A challenge for the GP Plate at Kartmasters faltered after he was excluded for a clash, despite finishing first over the line.
Ever since Lou Borelli was called in to carry out some modifications on Art Ingels’ West Bend motor in August 1956, engine tuners have laboured long hours to extract that elusive bit of extra power. I hear that Mike Mills has also been burning the candle at both ends in recent months. Perversely though, Mike’s efforts have been spent making the new WTP motors actually go slower! There’s a simple explanation. It’s all to do with an MSA directive that the WTP mustn’t be quicker than a Comer. After fitting various restrictors and even reducing the compression ratio, speeds were reduced until they began to match Comer times. Rigorous back to back tests were carried out and the MSA gave consent for the new motor to begin racing on March 1st. This consent was then rescinded after a practice session at Shenington had apparently shown the WTP to be superior once again. Testing, as any kart competitor will confirm, often produces inaccurate results. The moment of truth always occurs on race day when suddenly everything’s for real. At the time of writing we’ve had just one race meeting, on March 5th, where Comers and WTPs could be accurately compared.
During Saturday’s practice sessions the rumour mill was working overtime. All the WTPs, it was alleged, had been posting times at least a full second per lap quicker than any Comer and the MSA observer expressed concerns about driver safety associated with such high speeds. Sunday’s racing produced a slightly different picture. Only one hundredth of a second separated the two classes in heat 1 followed by 0.09s next time out. Sam Clarence stretched this a bit further in the Final as his quickest lap was 0.17s faster than Max McGuire’s best. Had they been competing together in the same race however, Sam would have actually beaten Max by just 33cm. Instead of settling the argument, this parity of performance has given rise to further debate. There was an allegation that Comer drivers are naturally around half a second per lap quicker than their WTP counterparts and this disguised the real difference in performance. Frankly, this demonstrates a total ignorance of the WTP scene and is an insult to contenders such as Brad Fairhurst, Sam Clarence and Adam Hughes, all of whom were in action at P.F. Last season Max Goff was always on the pace in S1 and Stars events for Comers.
If such a big ability gap really does exist, then Max should have destroyed his WTP opponents. However, he raced in all seven rounds of the Little Green Man championships without once setting fastest time. The reality is that drivers such as Fairhurst, Clarence and Hughes would be at the front of any Cadet class given equal machinery. If their times are virtually identical to Comers, it’s because the motors must be broadly equal. It may well be that, despite all Mike’s efforts, the WTP is very marginally quicker, but why should this really matter when, at most circuits, they’re competing for separate awards anyway? After all, the MSA and ABkC have been perfectly willing to tolerate a much larger power advantage which Comers enjoyed for more than two years. If it’s become so important for Comers to be the quicker class then I have a simple solution. Stick a few more kilos on the minimum weight limit for WTP and let’s have an end to such nonsense. All this uncertainty may well have affected quantity but the Little Green Man series still promises to produce a high quality field. Nine year old Lloyd Huggins is one contender hoping to make a big impression. Based in Hemel Hempstead, he first started showing an interest in karts as a four year old. He had to wait until the age of 7 before his parents Neil and Sarah actually bought him one but he soon showed an aptitude for racing. He took his ARKS test on a WTP in November 2004 and is now the club champion at Rye House in this class.
Not everything went smoothly last year though. Just before Christmas he was involved in a high speed collision on the Hoddesdon circuit that totally destroyed his kart. Fortunately computer supplier Integrated Technology Co Ltd. and GoldArts fine jewellery makers stepped in with sufficient sponsorship to fund the purchase of a brand new Zip chassis. Their faith in Lloyd was rewarded when he took a fine win at Rye House in February this year. Earlier problems in the heats meant he had to fight his way through from the back. It was a performance that showed lots of grit and determination and ought to prepare him well for the championship season ahead. He’s certainly looking forward to taking part in the Little Green Man Championships, especially as the final round takes place at his favourite circuit, Whilton Mill. “I like this track because it’s nice and twisty,” he proclaims. “I get very nervous before a race and always have to put on my clothes in the same order beforehand. I prepare for each race by watching the one before mine. Amongst all my rivals, the one I most respect is a girl called Jasleen Bhogal who is very quick. Apart from karting, I also like ice skating and bowling but motor racing is what I really want to do. I’d like to be driving a T-Car in five years time and then be racing in F3 by the time I’m 20. As we look ahead to the opening Little Green Man round at Warden Law it will be interesting to see what sort of impact young Mr. Huggins can make on this competition.
“Nothing became him in this life so much as the leaving of it!” I can’t remember who first uttered these words, or at whom they were actually aimed, but they could easily apply to the WTP class which, by all accounts, is currently in its death throes. Attending this year’s Little Green Man rounds, you’d never guess that the patient is terminally ill. Despite a slightly reduced entry list, the quality of racing has been very high indeed, reminiscent of those earlier days when over 60 drivers were registered and quite a few others had to be turned away. Six years ago, it looked as though WTP was about to take off big time, but the anticipated lift off never quite happened. It’s unfortunate because a healthy WTP class with reasonably priced motors and low maintenance costs would have brought tremendous benefits to karting in general and cadet racing in particular. Many former participants have come forward to express their dismay that the engines are no longer being produced. Everyone, it seems, has fond memories of this class and it’s rather like attending a funeral service where no-one wants to speak ill of the dead. It’s nice to be remembered with affection, although personally I’d prefer being intensely disliked but still very much alive.
With three rounds completed four likely candidates for the Little Green Man title have now emerged. Fate dealt a very unkind blow to Alex Stott in Round 2 when his track rod sheared, but he bounced back at Wigan to record an excellent victory. Provided that he doesn’t suffer any further misfortunes Alex should be in with a strong shout at the end. In pole position at this moment is Cory Stevens, but his margin over Sam Priest, the 2nd place contender, can literally be measured in thousandths of a second. At each round, two bonus points are awarded to whoever sets the fastest lap time. At Wigan, Cory’s fastest lap was recorded as 47.862 seconds. Sean Gee, another strongly fancied title contender, set a time of 47.865 seconds. That differential of 0.003 seconds was sufficient for Cory to collect the two extra points and he now leads the championships by just one point. If there’s a closer championship battle anywhere else in karting, I’ve yet to be made aware of it.
Pippa Coleman, Louise Richardson and Hannah Pym are young ladies who have all done very well in previous Little Green Man Championships. Of particular note was Pym’s achievement last year in finishing as the runner up to Matthew Graham. This year another young female has been impressing onlookers with her obvious speed. Less than 12 months after first entering the sport, Gaby Weyer turned quite a few heads at Kimbolton where she finished amongst the top six prize-winners. She comes from a motor racing family and her dad, Mark, used to compete regularly in Radical Sports-car events. However, Liverpool fan Gaby confesses that she used to be more interested in football than motor sport.
“I play soccer for the White Woman Lane U12 team in Norwich,” she says. “I’m also involved in running and particularly like taking part in Cross Country races. My best subject at school is obviously PE. I like watching F1 on television and my favourite driver is Jenson Button. I would never have thought about karting until my younger brother Tom entered the sport. After Tom started, I wanted to have a go myself and we bought an ARC/Comer kart. I swapped it for a Tonykart before my first race. Tom initially ran on a Zip but he’s now on a Tonykart, too. Apart from the Little Green Man, we both run in the Formula Kart Stars Championships. I prefer racing in WTP because it’s less intense and a lot more fun. There’s a lot less contact out on the circuit and I think that people are generally friendlier.”
Up until very recently Gaby ran with RL Racing whereas Tom could be found in Neil Berryman’s Energy Corse team. Last month, however, Mark Weyer decided to set up his own team which, apart from Tom and Gaby, now includes Thomas Day. “Fortunately Jamie Croxford is still acting as my mechanic. He’s very good at setting up my kart and has got lots of karting knowledge,” Gaby points out. “Although we are now racing in the same team I think there’ll still be rivalry between Tom and myself. We raced together in Round 2 of the Formula Kart stars Championships at Whilton Mill where Tom actually beat me. It’s the first time he’s finished ahead of me in a race and I wasn’t very happy about it. I think beating me has improved his confidence but I’ll still be working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again for a long time.”
Whilst racing himself, Jamie Croxford established an enviable reputation both at home and abroad, frequently outshining Europe’s top drivers. “I wouldn’t say that working on karts is quite as good as actually racing them,” he concedes. “Nevertheless, it’s very satisfying to watch Gaby and Tom improving their skills, knowing that I’ve played some part.” Mark also claims that he’s deriving a lot of satisfaction from running his own outfit. Gaby’s mother Andrea confesses that she doesn’t quite share the family passion for motor racing. “If they decided to pack it all in right now, I wouldn’t be at all unhappy, but it doesn’t look as though that’s likely to happen,” she admits. “With a firm shake of the head, Gaby insists “I’m going to be around for quite a while yet!.”.
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