Race 4 '09 - British Grand Prix
July 18th and 19th, Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire.
The undulating circuit of Cadwell Park again played host to the biggest karting event of the season, the British Superkart Grand Prix. The motorsport vision paddock was full with drivers from around the world competing in several gearbox classes including the 125 open category which RG Racing drivers Ben Willshire and Gary James would compete.
The format would see Saturday as 2 rounds of the British Championship, with the Sunday races dedicated to the Grand Prix, the winner of which has the honour of carrying the GP number plate on their kart until next years event.
Willshire qualified a disappointing 8th on the grid after he was only able to complete half of the session due to a snapped chain after 6 laps. James would line up close behind in 10th, both with work to do in race 1.
Race 1 saw a good start from Willshire and a good first few laps saw him up into 6th position, battling with Isle of Man driver Jason Kitchen for 5th position. A consistent drive saw Willshire bring home his Anderson SGM outfit across the line in 6th position closely behind Kitchen. Willshire lined up for race 2 in 8th positions again and had to ensure he moved forwards to protect his 4th place in the championship. Another solid start and first laps saw Willshire again up with the front of the field battling for 4th, 5th and 6th position. Willshire eventually took 6th place at the line, with an overall 5th position from the Saturday event. Willshire now lies 5 points ahead of Daniel Butler and maintains his 4th position in the British Championship.
The Sunday morning saw mixed weather for what promised to be an eventful Grand Prix. Danny Edwards had been quick all weekend in the 125 Open category, taking both wins on the Saturday. The drivers lined up for Race 1, the pre-final, which the grid position would be defined by Saturday's results so Willshire would start 5th.
As the pace car lead the superkart pack onto the Cadwell park circuit the skies turned grey and the rain started to fall. This had been happening all weekend but the wind has been quickly blowing the bad weather across the site and away.....but it wasn't to be this time around. With all of the drivers on slick tyres, the race was started and the drivers tip toed up towards coppice, which is usually a flat out 6th gear corner. After lap 1 Willshire was on the tail of the lead pack in 4th position, feeling confident of moving forwards with several competitors unable to stay on the circuit. However, Clerk of the course Terry Bateman made the right call in calling out the Red Flags and stopping the race for safety reasons. The teams were given 5minutes to change onto wet tyres before a re-start took place but Willshire's luck changed and his kart was unable to re-start the race due to water burning out his electrical ignition. A disaster for the team but they worked hard to repair the problem and prepare the kart for the Grand Prix final.
With a non-start in the pre-final, Willshire started at the rear of the grid for the final and could only go forwards. After lap 1 Willshire had overtaken the rear of the field and found himself back in the mix with two consistently quick drivers, Lee Smith and Jason Kitchen. Willshire sat back and watched the scrap unfold in front of him, slowly reeling in the two drivers in front of him. Willshire made his move on Kitchen, getting a clean run out of Charlies and taking a tow on Kitchen along Park straight to take 9th position. Lee Smith was next and Willshire did exactly the same move on the last lap to take 8th, only for Smith to regain the position on a later part of the lap!
Willshire had driven a clean and consistent race from the rear of the field to take 9th position overall in the British Kart Grand Prix.
Ben now looks forward to racing in the next round of the British Championship at Castle Combe, Wiltshire on August 8th.
A special thanks to Wendy Barker who arranged the Saturday evening drivers and team function.