South West Karting Championships

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 00:14 16 June 2010

The August Bank Holiday weekend saw the year's biggest celebration of karting in the West Country with the South West Championships being hosted by Dunkeswell Kart Racing Club at the awesome Mansell Raceway circuit, near Honiton Devon.

The August Bank Holiday weekend saw the year's biggest celebration of karting in the West Country with the South West Championships being hosted by Dunkeswell Kart Racing Club at the awesome Mansell Raceway circuit, near Honiton Devon. This annual karting extravaganza attracts drivers from all over the country and always boasts massive grids in the classes being contested. This year was no different with 140 drivers vying for the coveted title of South West Champion.

23 Cadets, 15 Minimax, 30 Junior Rotax, 22 Senior Rotax, 22 Rotax 177's and 23 250 National gearbox drivers descended on the East Devon's premier circuit on the Friday night in order to make the most of Saturday practice. The event was broken down into a morning of free practice followed by 3 sessions of timed practice with the results of each session scoring points and the fasted time overall deciding the drivers grid position for the first heat on Sunday. From there it would be two randomly generated grids with the results of all three heats deciding the grid for the final. The plan was that the true South West Champion would be the driver to accrue the most points over the weekend and not just the first driver passed the post in the final.

However despite all the careful planning, the timing system decided to have an off day and after everyone had managed one timed practice packed up! Despite the best efforts of the committee to get it back up, it was decided to open the rest of the afternoon as a free practice and use the times from the first sessions to generate the grids for the heats. This caused a major change in the outcome of the event. Instead of it being on points, the South West Champion would be the first driver to cross the line in each final, a decision that appeared to be welcomed across the board in the paddock.

After an eventful Saturday and the grids sorted for the following days racing the attention in the paddock turned to more important things! The Hog Roast and the infamous Mechanics Race! Whilst the hog was being cooked to a turn the 8 teams who had entered battled for supremacy using the Mansell Raceway corporate karts as the weapon of choice. As usual the rules were completely ignored with several teams entered illegal drivers and blatantly got away with it! After a hundred laps of wheel to wheel racing and some frankly poor driving standards all the teams managed to cross the line in some sort of order! The Dunkeswell Ladies were awarded a medal for commendable effort despite coming in last and down by several laps! With trophies awarded and the hog roast reduced to almost nothing, resident Senior Rotax Driver, DJ and Karaoke superstar, Daz Alway, kicked off the entertainment for the rest of the evening.

As morning broke, it was clear that despite being summer, the weather going to play a part in the days proceedings. Dull and overcast it remained dry for most of the day until halfway through the finals. During the quiet hour the grand raffle was drawn with £435 being raised for the club's chosen charities, Help for Heroes and the Devon Air Ambulance. Prizes included a Mansell Raceway jacket kindly donated by the circuit owners; Red Bull racing framed and signed postcards, a Rubens Barrichello Fireproof Vest. Michael Cheek won the top prize, a trip for 2 around the Williams F1 facility and private museum.

In the cadet heats, Jordan Gilbertson made his intentions clear from an early stage by taking heats one and three and coming second in heat 2. Bradley Browne took the win in heat two and followed it up with a second place in heat 3. Izaac Channing took a second and third place to secure a front row place for the final. The Minimax heats had 3 different winners with Will Maslin, Mac Austin and Sam Morgan all claiming one win each. However, Austin took a second and third place to secure pole for the final with Maslin claiming a third and fourth to lock out the front row. The Juniors, with a full grid, displayed some outstanding race craft with 3 drivers all taking a win each. Craig Mooney, Callum Drew and Cody Tree all took the flag in the heats. Leo Mansell was unable to defend his title due to racing commitments and instead the spoils went to Adam Murphy who took two heat wins with Jacques Jensen taking the third in the Senior Rotax. In the 177 class, Nigel Hughes took the win in heats two and three with Colin Davis taking the first heat. Last up and with an excellent number of drivers contesting the class, were the 250 National boys. Louis Wall took the win in heat one and three whilst local driver, Trevor Tappin, took the win in heat two.

With the weather threatening to break and moisture in the air, the finals commenced with the cadet's first out. With 3 classes contesting titles the racing was close. Gilbertson, on a Comer, took the win from pole, holding off a concerted effort by Drowne and Harrison Newey, who started 6th on the grid. Connor Hall took the honours in the WTP class and Alex Waterhouse was the first Honda to cross the line in 7th place. In the Minimax final, Mac Austin took the honours and was barely troubled by the drivers behind with Hicken and Morgan taking second and third respectively. The Junior final, saw Cody Tree cut throught the pack to take the win convincingly from 12th on the grid. Callum Drew took second with Nick Arthur claiming the third step on the podium.

The Senior Rotax final was dominated by a massive accident that red flagged the race as Mark Alway suffered a catastrophic brake disc failure going into pit bend. The paramedics were immediately in attendance and extricated Mark from the remains of his kart. The Devon Air Ambulance, highlighting why the club supports them, was soon on the scene and flew Mark to hospital. He was later released with no injuries apart from severe bruising, which is more than can be said for his kart. When the race was restarted, Adam Murphy dominated to take the win. Matt Parker beat off a determined Jensen to take second with Jensen close behind in third on a track that was fast approaching full wet conditions. As the 177 class sat on the grid it all turned a bit dramatic as the weather decided that now was a good time to deposit a sizable amount of water on the track. With the rain now persistent, it was a mad scramble to change tyres and it was good to see mechanics and drivers from across the classes diving in to help out. As the conditions deteriorated Stewart Baker put on a fantastic display of kart control to take the win from Colin Davis and Nigel Saunders. Last up and with the wet weather showing no signs of abating, the 250 National boys took to the circuit to contest their final. Lee Plain took the honours breaking through from third on the grid, with Louis Wall taking second having started from pole. Nick Willcox battled through from 10th place to take third.

Once again it was an excellent weekend of racing that demonstrated why karting is such a popular sport. However, it could not have been run without the hard work behind the scenes by the committee, the running of the event by the Race Control, Timing Team and the MSA representatives, the marshals who bore the brunt of the weather, the paramedics, who demonstrated a high degree of professionalism under intense pressure and of course, the competitors, who helped make event a huge success. Thanks must also go to Mansell Raceway for use of the circuit, karts and facilities and Nigel Hughes running the Mechanics Race.

Final results and standings

Libre Cadet Comer Class: 1, 17 Jordan Gilbertson, BRM, SWC; 2, 48, Bradley Drowne, BRM; 3, 98, Harrison Newey, Wright.

Honda Class: 1, 51, Alex Waterhouse, Intrepid, SWC; 2, 37, James Chubb, Intrepid; 3, 18, Ari White, Project one.

WTP Class: 1, 44 , Connor Hall, Zip SWC; 2, 16 (N), Jonny Knight, Mari; 3, 25(N), Chloe Hall Zip.

Rotax MiniMax: 1, 36, Mac Austin, Maranello, SWC; 2, 69, Peirs Hicken, Kosmic; 3, 22, Sam Morgan, Alonso.

Junior Rotax: 1, 71, Cody Tree, Tony, SWC; 2. 92, Callum Drew, Tony; 3, 17, Nick Arthur, Kosmic.

Senior Rotax: 1, 23, Adam Murphy, Kosmic , SWC; 2, 67, Matt Parker, Alonso; 3, 52, Jacques Jensen, Redspeed.

Rotax 177: 1, 95, Stewart Baker, Redspeed, SWC; 2, 71, Colin Davis, Redspeed; 3, 75, Nigel Saunders, Redspeed. 250 National Gearbox: 1, 46, Lee Plain , Jade, SWC; 2, 14, Louis Wall, Jade; 3, 64, Nick Willcox, Jade.

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