One day after the 2019 Motorsport UK British Kart Championships for the IAME classes burst into life at a warm and sunny PF International in Grantham, the second half of this historic double header gave each one of the near 150 competitors and their teams, families and friends in attendance a stark reminder that winter is only just behind us.
Instead of blue skies, the 1382-metre circuit sat under a grey and chilly canopy throughout the day but fortunately everyone in attendance could enjoy plenty of typically close and highly dramatic racing.
With everyone fighting to establish their Championship credentials in the second round of this year’s 12 round title slate, the day ended with two drivers completing a weekend double, two more enjoying their first taste of victory on a national level and one left rueing what could have been after having a win taken away courtesy of a nosecone penalty.
Despite being the smallest grid numerically with 18 entries, the Mini X30 drivers began the run of finals with an absolute corker of a race. Poleman and heat one winner Oliver Greenall led the way initially before round one winner Alfie Rigby, who also claimed the heat two victory, took control on lap two.
Whereas Greenall led the majority of the way in Saturday’s final, Sunday’s race had no such pattern with the lead constantly changing between a lead pack comprising up to nine drivers. At one stage Rigby looked to have secured a break but he was soon overhauled only to retake the lead with a superb three wide move on the banking only to see Luke Watts emulate him by going from third to first in one move at the second hairpin.
Several contenders eventually fell by the wayside including fastest man in qualifying Olivier Algieri who spun at the Fullerton Esses and Theo Micouris and Jessica Edgar who both suffered brief off course excursions. As Watts, Rigby, Greenall and the highly impressive Ian Aguilera and Marcus Luzio continued to dispute top spot, into the picture crept Daniel Bolton for the Jade Racing Team.
From 11th on the grid Bolton quietly picked off his rivals one at a time to move up from ninth at the half way point of the 16 lap race to run third behind Watts and Luzio at the start of the final lap. Watts, who claimed the lead with a superb three wide effort around the outside of turn four just as the leaders entered the Litchfield Bridge, looked set to claim his first BKC win for the Kato Motorsport outfit when he repelled a last lap lunge from Luzio that resulted in the Dan Holland Racing driver running wide at the second hairpin. However after Bolton capitalised on a slowing Luzio to grab second, Watts’ celebrations were cut short when he was handed a post-race penalty from a dropped nosecone, to leave Bolton a delighted and somewhat surprised victor.
Behind Bolton, Ed Pearson, who enjoyed a similar rise up the order in the closing laps, took second place for Coles Racing with Rigby, Aguilera, Luzio and Greenall completing the top six and Watts a heartbroken tenth.
The 50 strong Junior X30 entry had a tough act to follow as the next race up after their Mini counterparts but with four different winners from four heat races the field looked wide open.
Round One winner Georgi Dimitrov would start from top spot alongside fellow heat winner Oliver Bearman with Caden McQueen, who won the second heat of the day tucked in just behind the front row starters alongside Joshua McLean. Will Murdoch, the fastest driver in qualifying, was next with several others out of position including heat winner Reggie Duhy down in ninth and Alessandro Ceronetti at the back after being forced to qualify for the main event through the Repechage.
Dimitrov made a great start and led the way by over a full second at the end of lap one with Bearman, Josh Rowledge and McQueen leading the chase. As Dimitrov established himself with a cushion and with Bearman seemingly unable to match the Fusion Motorsport driver for pace McQueen made his move for second spot on the banking on lap four and began a long chase up to the leader.
By lap 10 the Croc Promotions driver had completed part one of his mission and was sitting right on Dimitrov’s rear bumper with the chasing pack, led by Rowledge and Tom Edgar, several second adrift. But McQueen bided his time and waited until the very last lap before pouncing, sweeping to Dimitrov’s inside to grab the lead heading into the Mike Wilson Complex. However McQueen’s lead lasted mere metres before Dimitrov cut back to the inside through the middle portion of the complex to retake top spot and the eventual victory.
As Dimitrov celebrated a double victory to start the campaign, a slightly aggrieved McQueen was left to consider what might have been from the second step of the podium with Rowledge completing the podium after holding off a group comprising Edgar, Duhy, McLean and Murdoch. Bearman fell to eighth while Ceronetti charged through the field from 29th on the grid to take 9th.
The Senior X30 final was a race of two distinct halves and although when the chequered flag fell it was Clayton Ravenscroft raising his arms aloft in victory for the second day in succession, the story of the race was far different to that of the previous day.
Ravenscroft started the final from the outside of the second row of the grid behind Louie Westover and Gus Lawrence, who had gone through their two heats undefeated but after making a great start to overhaul Lawrence and third place starter Mark Kimber on the opening tour, the KR Sport driver briefly took the lead on lap two before conceding to Westover shortly before the Battenberg flags came out to retrieve the crashed kart of Luke Whitehead.
With the field bunched up again Lawrence, Ravenscroft, Westover and Kimber once again disputed the lead just metres ahead of the chasing pack until the pivotal tenth lap when the pattern of the race changed dramatically.
Kimber led at the start of the lap only for Westover to grab top spot on the banking. Ravenscroft then ducked underneath the Dan Holland Racing driver at the first hairpin with Lawrence taking the opportunity to sneak into second at the same time. Just as he did so the fifth place battle, led at the time by Derek Morgan, caught the leaders and by the time the field got to the Fullerton Esses Westover and Kimber found themselves embroiled in a snarling pack of nearly a dozen other contenders as Ravenscroft and Lawrence edged away.
Within a lap the two leaders had an advantage of nearly three seconds and as the scrap for third raged on behind them it was down to a straight head to head between Ravenscroft and Lawrence for the win.
Working together to establish an eight second cushion, Lawrence passed Ravenscroft on lap 12 of 16 and led until they entered the Mike Wilson Complex for the penultimate time when Ravenscroft made his move. Lawrence fought back but despite running side by side through the Fullerton Esses on the final lap Ravenscroft was able to hang on for his second win in as many days.
Westover initially completed the podium but was demoted to eighth with a nosecone penalty to leave Morgan Porter in third, Kimber fourth and Axel Laflamme and excellent fifth from 28th on the grid.
The Cadet IAME contenders rounded off the weekend with a typically spirited display the boiled down to a head to head battle between Kean Nakamura Berta and Harley Keeble, who shared the earlier heat wins between them.
Aiden Neate led the early stages of the final before slipping down the order in a frantic first few laps which left Keeble at the head of a three kart breakaway, chased by Berta and Sonny Smith. The pace eventually proved too strong for Smith who fell back and was gradually overhauled by Harry Burgoyne Jr and Vinnie Phillips.
Berta waited until lap 13 of 14 before making his first move on Keeble for the lead at the Fullerton Esses but as they started their final tour Keeble fought back to take top spot on the banking. Undeterred, Berta forced Keeble to defend deeply into the first hairpin and executed the perfect cut back move to take the lead on the exit of the corner and despite Keeble trying to reverse the move on the exit of Hairpin 2, Berta managed to hold on to take his maiden British Championship victory by less than two tenths of a second.
Burgoyne Jr completed the podium ahead of Phillips and Smith with Fionn McLaughlin in sixth. Saturday’s final winner Brandon Carr could only manage tenth this time around while early race leader Neate fell back to 12th.