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21/09/12

Willshire takes title to the wire!


 

It seems only a short while ago that RG Racing were busy preparing ahead of the 2012 BSA National Superkart Championship, but we have already reached the end of another exciting season with Ben Willshire and Gary James competing in their 125cc Superkarts around Great Britain.

The championship finale had been building up nicely and going into the last round at Cadwell Park, Ben Willshire was still in contention to retain his title and become only the second back-to-back winner of the championship in the history of the 125cc Open class. Meanwhile, Gary James had been posting some strong results and was heading to Cadwell Park for two solid points finishes and a target of beating his personal best lap time around the challenging circuit.

Testing on Friday went well, both drivers finding the optimum kart set-up ahead of the main event two days later. Qualifying on Sunday morning proved to be slightly more frantic. Within 5 laps, the qualifying session had to be red flagged due to an incident involving 5 karts. Fortunately, Willshire narrowly missed the incident, escaping unscathed after a diversion to the grass, and had already set a time of 1min35s to secure 5th position on the grid.

Meanwhile, James struggled for grip on new tyres during the first few laps and posted his quickest time just as the red flags came out. When qualifying resumed after the red flags, Willshire had to retire from the session with a heavily slipping clutch, leaving his best time as that posted earlier and a frustrating 5th. His championship rival Dan Edwards had qualified in 3rd position but Willshire knew he had more time up his sleeve going into Race 1. James improved on his previous best to post a time of 1m40.827s to secure 11th place on the grid.

Race 1 saw a good start from Willshire, finding himself in 3rd position after lap 1 and hot on the heels of Dan Edwards. Meanwhile Danny Butler made an escape into the lead to pull a gap of around 5 seconds from Willshire and Edwards during the race. Meanwhile, the two championship rivals put on a great race for the crowd fighting for second position, with Willshire constantly looking for a way past his rival. On the final lap at the last corner, Willshire was able to cut back on the inside of Edwards who was driving defensively and it would be a straight race to the finish line between the two 125cc machines. At the line, it was Edwards who was ahead by 0.0015seconds, much to the disappointment of Ben Willshire.

James lost a couple of places on the opening lap but was holding a solid 13th and having a great scrap with Avrill and Rushforth. Approaching Park Corner just after half distance Avrill pulled alongside and James had to give up the place as they came across a kart in the middle of the circuit. James continued to chase Avrill for the remainder of the race while also holding off the close attentions of Rushforth. On the final lap James set his personal best lap time to finish 9th with only 1.43s covering the three drivers.

Willshire would line up P3 for race 2, needing to take victory to clinch the title. He made a good start and comfortably slotted in behind Butler and Edwards and all three pulled away from the rest of the field. Willshire fought hard to try and pass and then create a gap over Edwards, but the rivals were too closely matched and all the time Butler slowly pulled away into the lead. This time the fight between Edwards and Willshire was closer than ever, the pair crossing the start/finish line ‘side by side' on 6 occasions over a 10-lap race distance! Willshire even attempted a brave overtaking move at the Hairpin, which cost him a few seconds but he was able to quickly get back onto the tail of Dan Edwards. On the penultimate lap, Willshire made his move coming onto the start finish straight. He was able to stay ahead of Edwards into the first corner, and pulled a gap of 0.7seconds over the course of the final lap to beat Edwards and take 2nd place at the flag.

James resumed his battle with Avrill and Rushforth in race 2. Avrill was able to open a gap of 5.6s by three quarter distance as James struggled slightly with engine performance. However, over the closing laps James reduced the deficit as the engine was running better and took huge amounts of time out of Avrill with Rushforth not far behind. Rushforth showed his nose during the final lap but James defended his position into the Hairpin to finish 9th only 1.5s behind Avrill and set another personal best lap time on his final lap.

Despite his excellent form all season, Willshire didn't quite take the championship title, with only a 3 point deficit (or 0.0015 seconds from Race 1!) deciding the championship in favour of Dan Edwards. The RG Racing team are extremely proud of the results again this season and of their efforts in taking the championship defence ‘down to the wire' in 2012. James was also happy with his results after a late start to his championship season.

We would all like to thank everyone involved for their support again this season and look forward to some hard work and testing over the winter ahead of 2013. Ben and RG Racing will be looking for new partners in 2013 to raise a full season budget of £5,000to help their cause in regaining the national championship and winning the Superkart Grand Prix.