Willshire wins from back of grid!
RG Racing drivers Ben Willshire and Gary James competed in the penultimate round of the BSA 125cc National Superkart Championship at Mallory Park this weekend.
The high temperatures combined with the high speed circuit, meant it was an eventful weekend for most of the competitors.
Both Willshire and James struggled to get a clear lap in qualifying with lots of incidents bringing out yellow flags throughout the session, leaving Willshire in 4th position after setting a 49.5 second lap and James in 15th position with a time of 55.8s. Both drivers knew they had more to give in the races, particularly James who was also suffering with a lack of engine revs.
Race 1 saw a good charge for Willshire as he made his way into the lead by lap 5. On lap 6, Ben's first mechanical problem for 2 seasons struck as the carburettor came loose, causing Willshire to retire from the lead of the race. Gary James also had his share of misfortunes, as he was held up at the start and the suffered a severe misfire causing him to loose 2000rpm on the straights and eventually forcing a retirement.
A difficult first race would see the team duo of James and Willshire starting 15th and 17th respectively for Race 2. Sadly for James, his engine misfire became worse and an electrical failure meant he retired before the start of the race.
Willshire however was on a charge. After the RG racing team of Rob Willshire and Phil Featherstone of PFP worked to make set up improvements on the kart, Ben spent time with Gavin Gough on some invaluable mental preparation ahead of a tough race.
After lap 1 Willshire was in 9th position and by lap 2, Willshire had worked his way into 6th spot, picking his competition off one by one. He continued to lap quickly and was soon chasing down Louise Colin for 5th place, which came to him after 2 additional laps.
By Lap 11, Willshire had made his way up to 3rd and then overtook Val Fernandez for 2nd place and set about closing the 2 second gap to race leader and championship rival, Dan Edwards. With 2 laps remaining Willshire, exited the 100mph Gerrards corner and shot past Edwards to take the lead.
Edwards fought back and the duo swapped places a few times on the closing laps. Willshire had the edge, though, and again took the lead on the exit of Gerrards and went on to take an amazing and emotional victory by 0.88 seconds from Edwards. Willshire also set fastest lap of the race with an average speed of 100.03mph!
Ben Willshire and Danny Edwards are now the two men in contention for the national championship, with only 3 points between them (with 60 points still on offer) and one race meeting remaining at Cadwell Park on September 8th / 9th.
Willshire will be fighting hard and hoping for some good fortune to become the first driver since Paul Platt to successfully defend a national championship in the 125 class.