Southampton fight bad luck to keep championship lead with just two more days of racing remaining.
After Southampton’s best ever start to the British Universities Karting Championship, the team headed to the Welsh circuit of Llandow for Rounds Three and Four. Bill Bye and James Robinson got the team off to a great start with a second and first place respectively in their 25 minute sprint races. However, last year’s captain Dave Willacy was shunted off track twice during his race leaving it all up to Scott Michaels in the final race of the round. Starting 24th on the grid, he gained 14 places on an extremely eventful first lap which saw him ploughing underneath B Team driver Matthew Conroy. By the end of the race, he’d secured third place and Southampton A won their second round in a row.
After such a dominant morning, the team were confident of a good result in the afternoon’s endurance round. Bill began the first race from 34th and had climbed 22 places before his pitstop six laps into the race. From here, James continued their dash through the field, gaining first place at the end of his 30 minute stint. After an excellent final pitstop, Bill emerged sixth and he managed to fight his way back up to second place; less than two seconds behind the winner. This put Southampton in a mighty position, as they would start second in their next race. With Scott Michaels taking the first stint, he quickly gained first place and began putting time between himself and the rest of the field. Fate struck immediately after the first pitstop, however, as Dave experienced a chain failure halfway around the circuit. He was forced to wait for his kart to be recovered and repaired; putting the team six laps down without any chance of recovery.
After the disappointment of what looked like a promising afternoon in Wales, the team headed to Buckmore Park for Rounds Five and Six. Snow had caused this round to be cancelled in December and ironically snow made the rearranged event treacherously slippery in places. Once again, James got the team off to a fantastic start by winning from seventh on the grid. However, bad luck struck again as the front five drivers in Race Two, including Dave, hit ice and immediately careered into the barriers. This dropped Dave ten places and put the pressure on Stuart Wells and Scott in the final two races of the morning. However, they didn’t disappoint with Stuart gaining 20 places and Scott gaining 26; both finishing their races third and earning Southampton A second place in Round Five.
Round Six was another set of hard fought endurance races. The team worked well together to recover from a crash in Race Two to finish eleventh, whilst James and Dave climbed five places to finish third in Race Three. All of these results mean that, with three rounds remaining, Southampton lead the championship by three points. Rounds Seven & Eight take place on Saturday 23rd March at Clay Pigeon Raceway, with the final round at Whilton Mill on Monday 24th June.
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For more information on the British Universities Karting Championship, visit their website.