Lap Record at Silverstone
Pole, Podium and Lap Record at Silverstone
RG Racing drivers Ben Willshire (Basingstoke) and Gary James (Ware) started their 2011 British Superkart campaign with promise at Silverstone on the 2nd and 3rd of April.Ben Willshire was looking to continue his winning form from the final round of the 2010 championship at Snetterton and with James's experience and circuit knowledge, having competed in the last Silverstone Superkart Grand Prix on the national circuit in 1997, the team were positive on arrival.
Qualifying took place on Saturday afternoon in dry, but windy, conditions making the aerodynamic and engine gearing set up crucial for a good lap time. James was soon on the pace, having resolved his earlier grip problems from the mornings free practice sessions with nose cone and tyre pressure adjustments and secured a solid 5th place grid position for Race 1 ahead of contenders Simon Rushforth, Lee Smith and Gary Avril. Meanwhile, Willshire had found some clear space on the circuit during the session and secured fastest time and therefore pole position with a time of 1min:03.6 seconds but only 0.06 seconds ahead of last year's champion Danny Butler. Louise Colin was a further 0.4 seconds behind in 3rd position.With the pace proving to be quick in qualifying and the times close between the top 3 drivers, the races on Sunday morning were always going to be exciting.
Conditions on the Sunday remained dry and windy again, but with the wind constantly changing direction it certainly gave the teams something to think about going into the days racing.James made a good get away from the line in race 1, keeping Avril and Smith at bay and holding onto the lead pack for the opening laps. Rushforth had made a better start however, demoting James to 6th position on the exit of Copse Corner on lap 1. Dan Edwards also spun out of 3rd position on lap 1, moving James back into 5th place. Willshire hadn't made such a good start from the front and found himself having to fight back from 3rd place behind Louise Colin and Danny Butler. Willshire soon found himself back in contention and in 2nd place behind leader Danny Butler but could only hang onto the back of the number one driver, and having to settle for 2nd place and 25 points at the flag. Despite her fast pace at the start of the race, Colin had suffered a broken front upright and had to 'nurse the kart home' to a well deserved 6th place finish. Edwards also made a great recovery drive from the back of the field and got back past James in the closing laps, leaving James to secure 18 points and 5th place. A solid start to both drivers championship campaign.
Race 2 saw Willshire line up on the front row alongside Butler with James starting again from 5th position. Both of the RG Racing drivers made a good get away from the line and it was soon to turn into a very close battle for the lead with some classic 125cc 'slipstream' racing. James exited Copse position in 6th position and settled into his race on the tail of the lead pack. Willshire, meanwhile, was involved in a 3 way fight for the lead with Butler and Colin. The three lead drivers were now all lapping faster than their qualifying times at an average speed of 93mph, pulling a healthy gap from 4th place man Dan Edwards. Willshire had snuck into second position on a few occasions at the Brooklands Corner during and was confident he had the pace to take the lead and win, carefully planning to make his move towards the end of the race. However, on lap 7 his luck turned sour as Butler span his kart on the entry to the 112mph Brooklands corners, forcing Willshire to take evasive action. Butlers kart collected the rear wheel of Willshire's RG Racing superkart and punctured the rear tyre, forcing Willshire to retire from the race. A disappointment and extremely bad luck but RG Racing can be proud of both drivers performance and speed throughout the weekend, with James also finishing 5th in race 2.
During Race 2, Willshire showed his true pace by smashing the 125cc Superkart lap record for the Silverstone National Circuit with a time of 1min:02.976 secs. The former record of 1min03.254seconds was set 9 years ago by Nathan Freke, who went onto win the British Formula Ford Championship and the Ginetta G50 Championship.The team leave Silverstone with James in 5th position on 36 points and Willshire in 7th position on 25points but with plenty more to be gained at Mallory Park in Leicestershire on 1st May 2011.