Matthew Hirst and Thomas Turner were the stars in the Super 1 Series karting Final rounds at the Paul Fletcher international circuit where 286 entries made it the largest meeting of the series.
For PFi’s final round of the Senior X30 International Qualifier Turner – racing with Mexborough’s Mark Baines Motorsport –who recently turned 15 years-old, the Rotherham lad now able to move up to the Senior categories, with this only his third race in Senior X30.
Not that this held him back, as against the more experienced opposition he topped the timed qualifying and went on to win both the heats, and started the final from pole-position with Hirst alongside making it an all-South Yorkshire front row.
Turner was able to hold onto the lead for only two laps before falling back to 2nd-place. Occupying this place for the rest of the race, as he pursued the leader, Turner just could not quite catch up to him, but did set race fastest lap in the chase and took the flag in 2nd place. This being his only S1 outing, Turner finished in Championship 17th, and was the highest scoring driver in the category!
Losing out as seems customary for the grid-2nd starter at PFi, Hirst fell back to 5th at the off, but by lap 2 had set a fastest lap time as he worked his way back up into 4th-place. Retaining 4th spot until lap 5, he then deftly grabbed the last podium place in 3rd. Hirst thought he “could give chase to Turner, but the race stagnated and the gap stayed the same for the remaining laps”, so the 19 year-old from Doncaster held 3rd to the flag and was happy with the result, for only his second time on the S1 podium.
Previously, Hirst had raced karts in the Senior Rotax category but moved up to the Senior X30 category in 2016.
Finishing the year in Championship 4th-place, his Senior X30 debut year had been difficult, especially having to miss a round while taking his university exams and suffering drop scores at Larkhall, due to a broken throttle cable.
But, even though he missed out – by just one Championship place – on a free entry to International Final in Portugal, he was, “Happy overall with my season”, wanting to thank the contribution of his mum and dad, and efforts of his hard-working mechanic, Henry Charlton.
The MSA British Cadet Kart Championship (IAME) had Sheffield’s Joshua Rattican starting from 2nd spot and take the lead on lap 3, only then for the 12 year-old to fall back through the field to finish the final in 5th, cementing his 5th-place in the British Cadet Kart Championship.
Sheffield team, S8 Racing running Euan Wilson saw him from grid 9th slot take 7th by the end of the first lap. Three laps later, setting a fastest lap, this became 5th on lap 5. Setting two more fastest laps Wilson made 4th his on lap 10 that he held to the flag, and secured championship 6th-place.
In the Junior X30 International Qualifier, S8 had Oliver Greetham climb from 9th-place to finish 5th, giving him Junior X30 championship 7th spot, and Jake Douglas finishing in 10th for Championship 8th.
Handsworth-based Strawberry racing as always had young karters in the thick of the action, especially 16 year-old Jack McCarthy.
Competing in the ABkC Senior Max National Championship, McCarthy topped the timed qualifying, with the chance to make history as one of the few drivers to, not just win back-to-back titles in different classes but, also be one of the youngest too.
Starting the final from grid 2nd, he fell back to 4th but recovered to be battling with Josh White over 2nd-place.
Setting two race fastest laps in the process, McCarthy managed to grab the runners-up place by the flag, with the result leaving him and White tying on points.
But a brace of previous runner-up finishes were enough to give the Strawberry driver a better total score over the seven rounds, meaning the Senior Max title went to McCarthy.
Dean Macdonald looked on course to give Strawberry the inaugural MSA British Kart Championship (OK) title in the new category’s very first British Senior OK championship.
Fate decided otherwise when his motor mysteriously refused to fire-up and he was a non-starter for timed qualifying and for the rest of the meeting he was racing from the back of the grid.
Even though he did manage to work his way through to the front of the field in the various heats, MacDonald started the final from 11th due to an illegal dropped nose cone penalty. Ever the fighter, he was into 4th by the end of lap 2, then taking 3rd one lap later.
In pursuit of the leaders, the flying Scotsman set fastest laps mid-race, attempting to close on Jacob Stilp. On the last lap he tried to pass Stilp on every corner of the circuit, he was so close, but Stilp held him off resolutely.
So MacDonald finished 3rd-place at the flag, and had to settle for being Championship runner-up, as a slight consolation his efforts were rewarded with the race fastest lap.
MacDonald’s team-mates also experienced varied fortunes: Luke Knott had been second-quickest in qualifying, but despite his obvious pace, chalked up a 7th-place finish in the final.
Newly-crowned Euro Max champion, Nicholas Schoell started in 14th after an earlier non-finish, but was 10th by end of lap 5. Running in 8th from lap 8, Schoell held it until the last lap when he put in a last gasp effort to finish in 5th-place and give him Championship 14th-place.
Jenson Butterfield had already given Strawberry Racing the ABkC MiniMax National Championship so was relaxed about the weekend, but still put in a dominant performance to put the title beyond the reach of his rivals.
Initially, from pole-position Butterfield broke away at the front until a short rain shower on lap 5, saw him drop a wheel on the grass and fall back to 2nd for three laps, only to re-take the lead with ease and hold it to the flag.
Strawberry teammate, Lorcan Hanafin took 2nd-place by the end of lap 1, and briefly inherited Butterfield’s lead before falling back to run in 2nd behind Butterfield to the flag, making it a Strawberry Racing 1-2 on the podium and in the MiniMax Championship.
Mark Kimber kept Strawberry busy at PFi, by competing in both the ABkC Junior Max National and MSA Junior British Kart Championship (Junior OK).
Finishing the Junior OK final in 2nd-place, Kimber gave Strawberry 3rd-place in the brand-new MSA Junior British Kart Championship (Junior OK).
Kimber managed to get up to 3rd in the Junior Max final by lap 3, setting fastest lap at that point, then dropped to 4th at the flag, to give him Championship-6th spot.