Samuel Oram-Jones upped the ante and proved his pace last weekend in the second round of the 2013 WSK Euro Series at Zuera in Spain.
The 15-year-old was taking in only his third event in the KF class - the highest level of karting in the world - and while he had never been to the track before, he soon settled in and was near the top end of the times in practice. He then aced qualifying on the Saturday in his Piers Sexton Racing-run kart, posting a 59.979 second lap - just 0.024 seconds off the top time - to put him second overall and ensure he progressed to the Superpole for the very first time.
While the Superpole session didn't go quite so well and Sammy had to settle for eleventh, had he repeated his time from the first qualifying session then he would again have been 'best of the rest'.
Heading into the heats the Milton Keynes-based teenager was determined to capitalise on his form shown in qualifying and even though he was hit in two of them, still came away with a second place in the first heat and a fifth place in the third, as well as 13th and 14th place finishes in the two heats where his rivals got a bit too familiar. In the end he was impressively ranked 16th overall out of the 56 competitors.
Next up was the pre-final, however, unfortunately Sammy was again the victim of some overzealous driving, and after being punted into a 360 degree spin in the first corner at the start, he was taken out for good a few laps later, when one of his rivals ran into him and ripped off his rear bumper.
Sammy though, re-grouped for the final, and with nothing to lose, set about hauling himself up the order, rising from 30th to ninth at one point, before technical problems slowed him down and he slipped back to 13th. Still he was pleased with his weekend and he scored three valuable points, his first in the 2013 WSK Euro Series.
“We were confident coming into the weekend and I am ever more confident now going out of it,” Sammy said. “I think I performed well and proved to the people around me that I am capable of being right at the front. We have definitely got the pace.
“It was very encouraging to go so quick in qualifying. We got the set-up just right and the tyres were perfect - we just went really well. Superpole wasn't so good. The track was constantly changing and that meant we couldn't repeat what we did in the other session. Also I have never been in the Superpole before and that didn't help. But to be eleventh overall after the qualifying sessions was still very good and it set me up well for the races.”
“The heats were a bit mixed, but to get the runners-up spot in the first one was really good,” Sammy continued.
“At the start in the pre-final it was all a bit manic. I got hit over the start line and did a 360 through the first corner. There were about ten other people as well that went off. I got back on though, only to be hit by a different driver a few laps later. That took my rear bumper off and I had to stop.
“Starting 30th in the final meant there was no pressure and so I just went for it and tried to do my best. I definitely did that and came through the field well. I got up to ninth, but due to a kart problem, which was power related, I then fell back a bit. It was a shame - but it was out of my control. Ninth in the final would have been better than 13th, but we still got some points. Overall I am happy with my performance.”
Sammy will now resume his WSK Euro Series campaign next month, when he heads to Sarno in Italy for the penultimate round in the championship from April 18-21: “I'm looking forward to the next event in about four week's time. We were good at that track last year and so I feel very confident going there. I want to continue to improve and try and get some more good results,” he concluded.