Podium quartet for Oram-Jones at Whilton Mill
6 September 2011
Samuel Oram-Jones enjoyed another strong run and took four more podiums during rounds nine and ten of the 2011 British Formula Kart Stars (FKS) series at Whilton Mill 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, came into the event on a real high, having claimed a victory last time out in Belgium, as well as having secured the Lewis Hamilton 'True grit' award again - an accolade given to one MiniMax competitor at each round for making up the most places.
The Milton Keynes-based teenager began very strongly, and after going second in first qualifying in his RL Racing Department Ltd-run machine, he maintained that position throughout the opening heat. He also claimed P2 again in the second heat. However, unfortunately he was excluded, through no fault of his own, as the clutch drum had split open during the race. That failure left his kart in contravention of the regulations and earned him an automatic disqualification.
Sammy remained focused though, and despite having to start the round nine final of the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone Formula One Management-backed series right at the back, he gained nine places on the opening lap alone, jumping from 21st to 12th. He then proceeded to battle his way up to second, and while an incident with one of his rivals dropped him back to seventh with four laps to go, he still came through and crossed the line to finish in a superb fifth place.
“We qualified well today and I was pleased with second in the first heat. We also got the same position again in the other heat, but we were unlucky with the equipment,” Sammy explained. “The clutch had a crack in it at the end of the second heat - we are not sure what happened. A few other people had the same problem, but they stopped before the end of the race. It was disappointing to lose that position and it is frustrating to have to carry that no score now.
“However the final still went well. The start was really good - we made up loads of places and then picked our way through and got up to second. Then though right near the end one of my rivals drove over the top of me and that cost me a few places. A shame but fifth was still good.”
The following day Sammy took P5 in the second FKS MinMax qualifying session, his best lap spoilt when one of his competitors stopped in front of him. However he took second in the first heat on Sunday, setting the fastest lap in the process in that race, before claiming third in heat two after again running right at the front of the pack.
In the round ten final, the Pro Performance-affiliated youngster ended the weekend with yet another rostrum - his fourth from six races at 'the Mill - and despite the pain of that exclusion on Saturday, he remains fifth in the FKS standings, now with 1330 points on the board, just five points off fourth.
“We were really quick in the two heats today, especially the first one,” Sammy continued. “I was then pushing the whole way in the final. It was quite a difficult race and while I made a little mistake on the penultimate lap, which cost me second, other than that I thought it was very good.
“Overall I have been really quick this weekend and consistently up in the top three. Also, while in terms of the championship we haven't moved anywhere, in terms of pace and confidence, in comparison to the other drivers, we have definitely made a step up. A big thanks to my dad, my team, manager Steve [Armstrong] and my mechanic, Jamie [Smith] for all their help.”
Sammy will now take in the final round of the 2011 Formula Kart Series (FKS) later this month, when the series heads to Ellough Park on September 24-25 for the concluding two rounds. Prior to that though, he will be back in action in Super One and he heads to PF International in Lincolnshire the weekend before (September 17-18) for the sixth and penultimate round in that series: “PFI may not be one of my best tracks, but we can be quick there. I feel confident going into it,” Sammy added.
RL Racing Department Ltd team owner Steve Armstrong meanwhile believes that Sammy is now right up there with the best of them in the highly competitive MiniMax class.
“Sammy had a good weekend. After the Genk win I said he wouldn't look back and he has moved forward massively since then. He has really found his feet and is a fully-fledged front-runner now. He is a podium finisher at least every time now,” Steve said. “Today he was really consistent and got to the front and was probably one of the fastest on the track. There was just a small error in the round ten final that cost him second. But still it was very positive.
“I think he can definitely take fourth in the standings and without that exclusion we were looking at a fairly definite third position. It is unfortunate. But it wasn't Sammy's fault or our own. For whatever reason the clutch drum broke open and the rules are the rules. We proved today though, when the kart was completely legal, we were still just as fast.
“Sammy was always in the top-three all weekend and was worthy really of another win. It is just so competitive though. The top five kids in the country are all very close and Sammy is now one of them. He has entered that group and has come good at the right time.”
“What happened yesterday did set us back. Given it was a mechanical failure I thought the organisers were a bit harsh,” added Sammy's father and manager, Emil. “But Sammy still drove really well. I think we are strong in terms of performance and for me that is the key. If points are taken away from you there is nothing you can do. But if you continue to drive well and perform that is what matters at the end of the day.”