British stars shine at Kartmasters
3 August 2010
Now in its 15th year the MSA Kartmasters Grand Prix at the PF International Circuit has long been one of the highlights of the British karting calendar and with the PFI circuit having hosted the first CIK-FIA European event in the UK in nearly 20 years in April there was an extra special buzz about the 2010 'GP Plate' event.
More than 220 drivers across ten classes were entered, all bidding to join a select list of drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Oliver Jarvis, Alex Sims, Will Stevens and Jack Harvey to have earned the right to run with the GP Plate in their respective class for the next 12 months.
With drivers from Italy, Dubai, Russia and China helping to create a cosmopolitan entry list, when the dust finally settled nine Englishman and a Welshman were left celebrating the most.
Some of the youngest drivers in the paddock were in Cadet WTP but despite their tender years their final was one of the best of the day as a train of seven karts was eventually whittled down to just two as Sam Priest tried to defend against Gaby Weyer.
On a tense final lap Priest managed to hold on to the lead to take the title with Weyer equalling Hannah Pym's runner-up finish in WTP last year, which still stands as the best ever Kartmasters result for a lady racer.
For much of the 18-lap race Priest, Thomas Day and Cory Stevens disputed the lead but both were delayed in the closing laps and finished more than two seconds behind the lead duo in third and fourth. First year karter Scott Snell completed the top five with Thomas Turner, who only turned nine on the day after the event, taking eighth.
The Cadet Comer class contained almost all the frontrunners in the MSA British Championship and the quality field didn't disappoint in their 18-lap final.
Connor Jupp started from pole position and finished in the same spot to take his first GP title but in between there were innumerable lead changes as a dozen karts pulled away at the start.
That figure was reduced to just five at half distance when a crash at the first hairpin delayed British Championship points leader Nathan Aston amongst others but the remaining five including Jupp, Tom Harvey, James Kellett, TJ Nelson and Max Vaughan continued to battle right to the flag.
Jupp took the lead with two laps to go and managed to hold off a last lap effort from Harvey to take the win by seven hundredths with Vaughan third and Nelson and Kellett completing the top five.
Charlie Barlow scored one of the best results of his career with a sixth place finish while Patrick Walsh drove from 30th on the grid to take 12th. Italian driver Andrea Russo made a fine British debut with 16th place although O Plate winner Lando Norris retired after moving from 29th on the grid into the top ten inside ten laps.
Kartmasters history was made in Mini Max as reigning British Cadet Champion George Russell became the first driver ever to win three GP plates in a row in different classes. The 2008 WTP and 2009 Cadet Comer GP plate winner added the Mini Max crown to his list of achievements despite a fraught start to the 20-lap final.
From pole position Russell took to the grass on the run to the first corner and lost nearly ten places in the ensuing melee, which eliminated potential winners Oliver Myers, Ryan Morgan and Lemuel Pay and held up many more.
However as Harry Webb led from Adam Mackay and Ashley England Russell clawed his way back to the front, finally taking the lead with two laps to go. After slowing the pace down at the front Russell waited until the chasing trio fell over themselves before sprinting clear on the last lap to take the win by a little over two seconds.
Webb slipped to fourth on the last lap but then inherited third at the line with Mackay and England collided, England being eliminated and Mackay excluded. Adam Glear snuck through the wreckage to grab third place with Josh White and George Line rounding out the top five.
Further back there were standout performances from Jordan Baines (33rd to 10th) Jay Goodwin (31st to 11th) while Chinese driver Guan Yu Zhou took a highly creditable 14th, two places ahead of Russian driver Nikita Sidorov.
The Junior Rotax final was dominated by Sean Babington, who won by more than seven seconds after second place combatants Andy King and defending GP Plate champion Ash Hand tore chunks out of each other in the closing laps and lost a great deal of time.
King initially took second but was demoted a place after the officials judged his late race defending to be a little too harsh. Behind King, George Williams and an embattled James Singleton completed the top five while Jack Barlow's bid for victory, which had already been delayed by a spectacular roll at the start of the first final, ended when a chain came off.
Current Super One points leader Matt Parry was also in contention until a collision dropped him back to 13th while Dubai based driver Shahaan Engineer also finished down the field after an off track excursion.
The KF3 field may have been slightly smaller than previous years but the final was one of the best as Ben Barnicoat held off stiff challenges from Sennan Fielding and Daniel Vaughan to take the GP title. Fielding charged up from the back of the grid to take the lead only to get bundled back to third in a late exchange with Barnicoat at the second hairpin.
Vaughan grabbed second as Fielding recovered and got to within inches of Barnicoat through the final chicane but fell short by just seven hundredths. Fielding was a disconsolate third with Charlie Robertson fourth and Ricky Collard fifth.
Like Fielding, Callan O'Keefe made excellent progress from the rear of the field and got as high as fourth before his throttle stuck open coming onto the start/finish straight, resulting in a big accident from which O'Keefe was lucky to emerge unscathed.
Italian driver Christopher Zani took eighth on his second Kartmasters appearance although Dubai's Edward Jones endured a torrid weekend and retired with mechanical problems on the opening lap.
For the first time since 2005 the TKM classes were included in the main GP event instead of having their own stand-alone event in November and with some breathtaking racing in the Junior and Senior class they more than justified their inclusion.
Will Van Es timed his last lap move on Oliver Basey-Fisher for the Junior TKM lead to perfection to take the GP Plate after a thrilling final. Stephen Letts took third after leading in the early stages while polesitter Ash Robinson could only finish fifth behind Jack Partridge.
Cadet graduate Jake Walker ran strongly all weekend and was in a lead pack that comprised no less than eighth karts until he developed mechanical problems half a dozen laps from home and had to retire.
The Senior TKM Extreme final was almost a complete opposite of the Junior event with contender after contender falling by the wayside until just seven karts remained.
Through the attrition Rob Wallace emerged to win by less than a second from Jason Moore, who led earlier in the race until running wide coming out of the Mike Wilson complex and brushing the barriers. Just as Moore regained the track Phil Smith went through to take the lead only to retire metres later when his chain came off.
Elliott Burton and Randall Lynn also retired whilst in the lead group which left Ryan Cole ahead of Wallace with seemingly the race at his mercy. But then Cole's kart suddenly slowed and stopped, handing Wallace a large lead, which he defended despite the encroachment of the recovering Moore towards the end.
Sam Brown was third with Daniel Butcher-Lord, Josh Waring, Ash Crossey and Dean Golba the only other survivors.
There was a surprise winner in Senior Rotax for although Jack Hawksworth is one of Europe's top gearbox drivers, he hadn't driven a direct drive kart since Kartmasters in 2009. Coupled with the fact that his main competition was the most decorated driver in Kartmasters history, seven time GP plate winner and defending Super 1 Senior Max champion Michael Simpson, Hawksworth's lights to flag win was ultra impressive.
An opening lap crash put fluid down at the first hairpin but while Hawksworth avoided it Simpson, John Stewart and others all fell foul of it and lost valuable time on the second lap, which was all Hawksworth needed to create an advantage that he retained for the remaining 20-laps.
As Stewart and Simpson disputed second place Hawksworth came home the winner by more than two seconds with Steward barely holding off Simpson and Matthew Mason for third.
Lucas Orrock was a comfortable winner in Rotax 177 despite a few spots of rain in the closing laps causing some anxious moments as Tom Holland closed in. Orrock's lights to flag performance came as the expense of Justin Edgar, who started alongside Orrock but was spun into retirement at the second corner in an incident that also eliminated third place starter Danny Andrew.
Holland started sixth after snapping an axle in one of the heats and despite moving into second place in the early stages he was unable to trouble Orrock and had to make do with his second runner-up finish in as many years. Tom Pyttlik finished third after a scrap with Tim Penton and Bert Swartfigure.
The fastest karts on display were in KF2, a class that will be adopted as the MSA British Championship in 2011 and the final boiled down to a head to head duel between 2009 European KF2 Champion Jordan Chamberlain and PFI's works driver Mark Litchfield.
Welshman Chamberlain led initially as Litchfield saw off the advances of Callum Bowyer and once clear in second, the most experienced man in the field closed in on the leader tenth by tenth until, with five laps to go, he was sitting on his rear bumper.
Litchfield pounced with two laps to go at the first hairpin but Chamberlain fought straight back to retake the lead two corners later. On the final lap Litchfield tried again but fell short by two tenths as Chamberlain sealed the GP Plate.
Tom Grice finished third with Foster fourth although the latter would be demoted to ninth for contact driving, promoting Bowyer and Sam Snell into the top five.