Samuel Oram-Jones began his 2013 season in style last weekend, and immediately showed strong pace in the Winter Cup event at the South Garda circuit in Lonato, Italy - his first outing in the KF class, the highest level of karting in the world.

The 15-year-old has made the step up from KF3 to KF this year and will compete with Piers Sexton Racing.

Despite being the youngest in the class, Sammy went well in practice, finishing three out of the four Thursday practice sessions in the top-four. Hopes were high heading into qualifying on Friday, but unfortunately a problem with the carburettor left him out of position.

Despite this, the Milton-Keynes based youngster fought back in the heats, ran over Friday and Saturday, and while he was taken out in heats 1 and 5, and failed to finish, he climbed up from 15th to fourth in the second heat and was on for a similar result in the third heat, but had to settle for 12th overall after he was again nudged off track.

One of the highlights of the weekend for him however, came in the fourth heat, when he drove through to third to claim the final rostrum spot and set the fastest lap.

Sammy's speed was evident in the repachage too and despite a bad start, he came back from last to finish 15th, again setting a fastest lap.

"I'm happy with the weekend," said Sammy. "Obviously I wanted to get through to the finals, but I definitely showed everyone I can come through the pack and get right to the front.

"I have also shown with my fastest laps that I have pace over quite a few drivers who have been doing it for a long time. In the repachage I was up against some really good drivers. There was Diego Bertonelli, who started on pole, he had won a heat, as well as Armand Convers, who won the repachage, he started next to me and finished second overall, and Luca Corberi, who owns the track.

"Overall, I am pleased with where I put myself and I enjoyed my first race weekend with Piers Sexton Racing. I want to thank them for doing such a good job and I want to thank my dad for all his support too."

Sammy will now be back in action at La Conca in Italy next week, when he takes in the opening WSK Euro Series event (February 28-March 3): "I feel I have set myself up well for the WSK Euro Series and will be hoping to get a top-five there," Sammy added.

Meanwhile, away from the track, Sammy has been boosted by news he has been accepted on to the newly launched McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) Performance Academy, which will be hosted at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, home of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team, with the programme commencing this week (February 21-22). In addition to the two-day practical course, Sammy will also receive a further follow-on session and a monthly feedback programme throughout the year.

"It is great to get this chance with McLaren," Sammy continued. "It is good to be accepted onto it and finally get some work in with them.

"I will get one-on-one help from their trainers and you know you are getting advice from people that have worked with some very good drivers - like F1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. I am very happy and feel privilege to be a part of this newly launched scheme."

"Sammy has made a good start to the year," added his manager and father, Emil. "It is great he has got onto the McLaren Performance Academy and in his first race in KF last weekend he was up against a lot of older and more experienced drivers. There is no age limit in KF and some are as old as 32. Yet Sammy didn't disgrace himself - far from it. True, he made some errors and the results were not perfect. But two fastest laps and a third place in one of the heats, is very encouraging. We are now really looking forward to the next race at La Conca."



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