The Motorsport UK Wera Tools British Kart Championships got its much-awaited 2021 season underway at Clay Pigeon Raceway in Dorset last weekend (21 – 23 May) as over 180 competitors battled both the elements and each other for glory at the opening meeting of the year.
The short but tricky Dorset track produced plenty of on-track action for the Rotax, Honda and Bambino categories, but the addition of torrential rain and gales during the finals on Sunday brought the curtain down on the meeting prematurely, with only three of the five finals undertaken.
With almost 500 drivers signed up for 2021, once again this year’s BKC promises to offer a tantalising mix of close competition and photo finish results throughout the season and the 815-metre circuit which was the scene of career building races for the likes of Jensen Button and Lando Norris, opened the term in fine style.
Friday provided the top-quality field with a chance to bed into their surroundings with practice, as Saturday hosting qualifying and the first of the heats. Both days provided a tricky mix of heavy showers and strong winds and the occasional drying track leaving tyre choice as a lottery, with many heading out onto the circuit with less-than-ideal rubber bolted on.
Sunday’s final encounters would offer a little more consistent weather, before the rain and wind strengthened during the afternoon, cancelling the Finals with just the Mini Max, Honda Cadet and Bambino contenders getting their race underway.
Strawberry Racing’s Ethan Jeff-Hall got 2021 off to the perfect start with the top step of the podium for the opening finals counter of the season after an almost dominant weekend, being fastest for much of practice and the opening heats. Leighton Cooper was rarely outside of the top five spots throughout Friday and Saturday before taking the DHR machine to second, whilst Harrison Crowther rounded out the podium for Coles Racing, albeit some 7 seconds behind the front two protagonists.
Due to the meeting being called off, the Junior Rotax contenders were not able to go head-to-head for the Finals, meaning the results would be called on the Prefinal leader board. Daniel Guinchard enjoyed a buoyant run during the weekend to claim the Junior win for Argenti Motorsport with rookie Leon Henderson adding to his Heat one win with second spot for Strawberry. Neo Clarke crept closer towards the podium places during the weekend’s finals, eventually making it to third spot in the Sam Pollitt Racing kart.
A bumper field ensured close racing throughout the weekend, but the Seniors were another class to have to take the Prefinal results. Oakley Pryer came out on top for Team Clay Racing, with the tyre lottery playing into the hands of those on wets, the grid almost reversing from its starting form. DHR’s Rory Hudson and Coles Racing’s Spencer Shinner also benefited from the wet tyre choice, taking second and third, respectively.
Profiting from being able to complete their Final, the Rotax 177 brigade enjoyed another tussle throughout the weekend with Strawberry’s Dan Tate putting in a dominate performance, winning the second Heat, Prefinal and Final in fine fashion. Privateer Phillip Haworth did his best to live with Tate but took second in the rain soaked final with Coles Racing’s Louis Large dropping from second to the final podium spot.
A busy Honda Cadet grid was another to have to manage their Final in the rain with Synergy Race Team’s Noah Wolfe leaping from fourth on the grid to take the narrowest of victories from Timo Jungling in the SFR Motorsport kart by just 0.17sec. Owen Neave was victorious in his second heat and took an impressive third place in the final, his first ever BKC podium and his first for the CHDD team.
The Bambino class for 6–8-year-olds were one of the first to take on the torrential rain in the Finals and coped admirably with the conditions, knuckling down to see Austin Newstead take the spoils in dreadful conditions with a clear gap over the chasing Jack Baker. Greyson Wortley took the final podium spot by a narrow margin, climbing seven places from his grid spot.
Motorsport UK Karting Manager Dan Parker said “It was fantastic to finally get the 2021 Wera Tools British Kart Championships underway last weekend and great to see such a large entry start their season at Clay Pigeon Raceway. The elements certainly did their best to challenge us all over the three days but the action on-track was as superb as ever. I’d like to thank all the marshals, and volunteers for braving the horrendous weather, to Clay Pigeon for hosting us and of course JAG Rotax, Honda and Zip for their support. We now look ahead to next weekend at Shenington for another exciting season opener.”
Contenders in the IAME, TKM and KZ2 categories will contest their opening round at Shenington, Warwickshire on 28-30 May with a list of entries available shortly.
Registrations are still open for the 2021 Wera Tools British Kart Championships, to register, visit: https://kartinguk.alphatiming.co.uk/register/series