Oram-Jones triumphant in Belgium
17 August 2011
Samuel Oram-Jones put in a cracking performance and took a brilliant victory during rounds seven and eight of the 2011 British Formula Kart Stars (FKS) series at Genk in Belgium last weekend.
Sammy, who competes in the MiniMax class for 11-16 year-olds and who also contests the same class in the British Super One Rotax Series, was convinced he was going to be quick and he didn't disappoint. Indeed he took a strong haul of points and now moves up from joint seventh in the standings to fifth with 1011 notched up, leaving him only four points off fourth, 18 off third and 49 off second.
The Milton Keynes-based teenager had a tough start to the weekend and unfortunately had to sit out first qualifying - just missing getting onto the grid in time after a change in the weather conditions demanded a last minute switch from a wet to dry set-up. He soon bounced back though and undeterred by his quali misfortune he fought his way all the way up from 19th to eighth in the first heat and then went from 16th to fourth on the opening lap in the second, before eventually taking P2 overall.
Buoyed by that runners-up spot, Sammy went one better in the round seven final of the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone Formula One Management-backed series and despite losing a few places at the start, the 13-year-old managed his tyres in the drying conditions to perfection, climbing back to third on lap 2, second on lap 7 and then setting out after the leader. Heading into the final lap he was right behind and on the final straight he moved in front and claimed the win by just 0.02 seconds.
“That was a great result for us, especially as we didn't get out for qualifying,” Sammy said. “We had a bit of a tangle at the start of the final and it was hard to get through the first corner. But we caught up in the end and took the win on the line. I'm really happy.”
The next day Sammy was eighth in the second FKS MiniMax qualifying session and while he lost time in the first heat, having to stop to get a new rear bumper fitted, which left him 16th at the 'flag, he took sixth in the second.
He then looked poised to take his third podium of the weekend in the round eight FKS final, however, a mistake near the end dropped him back and he had to settle for sixth on the road, later promoted to fifth after one of his rivals was disqualified.
“We would have been fifth in the first heat today, but we got hit hard from behind and it bent the rear bumper,” Sammy recalled. “It was nearly scrubbing on the wheel and so we had no choice but to pull into the pits and change it. I was also running as high as second in the final, but lost a few places when I got caught out on a damp part of the track near the end.
“I am still really delighted with my weekend though. We were joint seventh in the championship after Glan Y Gors and now we move up to fifth and really close up on the top four. All weekend the equipment has been brilliant and Steve [Armstrong] and my mechanic have done a great job. It was a great to get my first win of the year. Hopefully we can get a few more now in both Stars and Super One.”
Sammy's next chance to try and do just that will come in a few weeks time, when the 2011 Formula Kart Series (FKS) heads to Whilton Mill on September 3-4 for rounds nine and ten. The Pro Performance-affiliated youngster took the Lewis Hamilton 'true grit' award there last time FKS ventured to the Northamptonshire circuit and he is looking forward to going back.
“I like the track. I know it well and want to win,” Sammy added. “My form at Genk has upped my confidence levels. I have got to continue at this level now.”
RL Racing Department Ltd team owner Steve Armstrong meanwhile reckons Sammy's Genk win could be just the start: “Sammy's drive on Saturday in the final was really, really good,” said Steve. “He got knocked back at the start but then he just picked his way back through, caught the leader and won. It was the best I have ever seen him perform. He was consistent, kept calm and it all came to him.
“He looked a lot more relaxed and confident today and while Sunday was tougher, he still got good points. It is all coming together for him isn't it? He seems to be getting a lot stronger. We now look forward to the next one where I will expect more of the same.”
“All-in-all quite an amazing weekend for us,” added Sammy's father and manager, Emil. “Sammy was on form, very focused and put in some very determined drives and significantly we moved up the points table. It was really amazing to watch him in the final on Saturday. He just got faster and faster and faster. He was absolutely on fire.”