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06/09/09

Race 6 '09 - Mallory Park


Ben in season finale thriller at Mallory Park
The final rounds of the 2009 British Superkart Championship took place at Mallory Park on September 6th. RG Racing drivers Ben Willshire and Gary James were ready for their season finale in this year's 125cc Open class and looking to seal their championship positions. Willshire would need a top 6 finish in one of the two races to secure 4th place in the championship with James looking to round off his season inside the top 10.

 

Free practice saw both drivers on the pace with Willshire and James 5th and 8th quickest in class. James, making his first visit to the track for several years, made the most of his track time, completing 13 laps of the Mallory Park circuit in free practice and preparing for what would inevitably be a close qualifying session. With qualifying underway Willshire and James proved to be quicker, taking 0.7 seconds each off of their free practice lap times. However, it seemed that the competition had also done the same so Willshire would line up 5th, with James in 6th for Race 1.

 

As the Superkarts were called to the grid for Race 1, James' luck was about to change - a failed ignition system meant that his engine wouldn't start and he was left to watch from the side lines for the remaining two races. A big disappointment for what was looking to be a promising weekend. Willshire took to the grid and as Race 1 started made a clean getaway round the 120mph Gerard's corner in 5th place. Willshire moved ahead of Louise Colin on lap 5 and these two had a good scrap for 4th place over the next few laps. This became a battle for third place when championship contender Lee Morgan retired a few laps later and then for second after Daniel Butler dropped out. At the flag Dan Edwards took the win with Louise Colin securing second place and Willshire in third place which would provide a second row grid position for the second race.

 

Race 2 was the final race of the day and with most of the championship positions now looking settled (but not 100 per cent) the drivers were not going to give an inch in what would prove to be one of the most eventful Superkart races of the season. Pole man Edwards made a strong start and Willshire followed in tow, leaving Louise Colin to fall back amongst the grid. As Edwards and Willshire pulled a gap on lap 1, Danny Butler, Lee Morgan and James Irvine fought through from the back of the field and were soon on Willshire's bumper. As the 4 karts exited the hairpin onto the main start finish straight, Willshire momentarily lost drive and Butler, squeezed past into 2nd place. This was only to last another lap before he retired with a flat tyre and Willshire was back into 2nd place. The pack remained tight and at half distance Morgan had taken the lead from Edwards, managing to use the long straights and slipstreaming effect to his advantage. But two laps later Morgan retired when his engine became another victim of the Mallory Park circuit and seized on the exit of Gerard's. Edwards slowed through Edwina's and up to the hairpin on the next lap allowing Willshire to make a move into the lead of the race. Willshire managed to open up a slight gap but with 3 laps remaining Edwards regained the lead. The final laps were closely fought, with Edwards and Willshire battling for the lead and changing positions 4 times in 2 laps, Willshire making some good out braking moves into Edwina's with Edwards regaining the lead position on the exit of the hairpin. At the flag it was Edwards who took the win followed by Irvine, who had regained ground following an earlier spin. He made a last lap manoeuvre on Willshire, who came home a very pleased 3rd with only 1.35 seconds covering the top three.

 

Willshire took 3rd place overall at the Mallory Park meeting and safely consolidated his 4th Place in the 2009 British Superkart 125 Open Championship. It has been a fantastic season for RG Racing and Ben Willshire, taking 4 podium finishes from the 12 rounds and scoring no DNF's. James, despite having to miss a couple of the earlier rounds was able to consolidate his 10th place in the championship.