Having been soundly thrashed by the crack Crash.net
team at last year's Race of Champions karting event at Wembley, F3 racer Sam Bird returned in triumph to the hallowed stadium to clinch the inaugural 24-hour kart race on the same track.
Bird joined fellow drivers from the CJ Motorsport stable to take on the unique circuit and challenge, eventually coming out on top over some useful opposition to claim the title.
Joined by IndyCar driver Franck Perera, GP2/World Series and Superleague regular Borja Garcia and fast Frenchman Bruce Jouanny, the team also featured four far less competent drivers in CJ Motorsport directors Serge Celebidachi and James Olivier, CJ photographer Clément Marin and Garcia's father, Jesus, who competed at the grand age of 52. This self-imposed quadruple handicap, together with a number of extremely quick endurance specialist teams in opposition, meant that the CJ 'pros' were pushed all the way.
The campaign began on Saturday morning, when former world karting champion Perera qualified Team CJ Motorsport on pole position with a single flying lap, before, at midday, the race got underway with Garcia Jr chosen to open the hostilities. The Spaniard duly obliged by building a comfortable lead over the field before pitting after 90 minutes to refuel and hand over to Perera.
The Frenchman further increased the lead and, through the evening and into the night, the Wembley spectators were treated to a masterclass by all four CJ drivers, who successively jumped into the kart to overturn the losses accumulated by their slower team-mates. As the hours ticked away, the lap record was successively beaten by Garcia, Perera, Bird and Jouanny but, by Sunday morning, some less stellar pace from the non-pros - plus a ten-minute mechanical repair on the kart - meant that there was still plenty of work to do when Bird took the wheel for a final two-hour stint.
The young Brit, who has recently signed with Mucke Motorsport for next year's F3 Euroseries, was happy to take on the responsibility however, and drove superbly once again to take the chequered flag as the clock struck midday.
“This was a great opportunity to get the boys together to have some fun, to reflect on a long tough season, and to look forward to a successful 2009,” Celebidachi admitted, “Winning the race was a bit of a bonus really and the non-pros in our team made sure it would not be a foregone conclusion.
"Franck, Bruce, Borja and Sam were magnificent and, sure enough, they have won us yet another trophy for the CJ Motorsport trophy room. This one will hold a special place because they won it all together!”