Ben Barnicoat won his sixth karting Grand Prix title in slightly controversial circumstances at the Paul Fletcher international circuit’s 2017 Kartmasters MSA British Kart Grand Prix.
Now a McLaren works sportscar driver, the 20 year-old Chesterfield racer was looking to add the X30 Senior title to his tally of GP wins from previous years.
But Barnicoat had not made things easy for himself by qualifying in an uncharacteristic 18th-place on the grid.
However, in Barnicoat’s words, “I tend to race better than I qualify” and proving this correct, by the end of the first lap he had worked his way up to 10th-place.
Constantly trading fastest laps with Rotherham’s Thomas Turner, the pair were steadily working their way up through the field until Barnicoat was running in 4th-place.
It looked as if he would miss out on a X30 Senior GP podium, let alone a sixth title at Kartmasters 2017, that was until an action-packed final few corners of the last lap.
In the final tight complex of corners Barnicoat saw his chance to dive through into the lead, in the close confines contact was made, and with a lunge Barnicoat was through, emerging on the Start/Finish straight in 1st-place, holding position for another GP-plate.
Struggling to contain his delight at the feat, on the slowing down lap, Barnicoat actually stood up in his kart, punching the air with elation.
However, he was brought down to earth post-race when called to the Race Stewards room for a long, drawn-out session of protests and appeals involving the top-15 drivers.
Eventually, Barnicoat emerged as the X30 Senior Grand Prix winner and on the British Kart GP podium for the sixth time.
“That race was a bit hectic but really good! I knew I had a lot of work to do, but on the first lap there were a few incidents and I made the most of those first two laps, soon getting up to 6th-place”. Barnicoat recalled.
“It wasn’t my plan to start the pre-final in 13th-place, but I had to after suffering engine failure – I want to thank Ogden Racing Engines for the timely repair”.
“Although I started 18th, I really wanted my 6th GP-plate - I did not want to be 2nd and proved that on the last lap…”
“Not having the ultimate speed, nevertheless with two laps to go I tried for the lead”.
“I came out of the chicane on the inside of (Oliver) Hodgson, he touched me then I overtook Danny (Kierle) out of the dogleg. I wanted a 6th Kartmasters title, so I did all I could and came out on top”.
“I was really nervous in the Steward’s room – but they decided it was just a ‘racing incident’”, but one of the runners-up did not agree, and refused to take part in the podium ceremony, “It’s a shame people have to fall out over it – but everyone wants to win. You have to do clean passes and that is what I did”.
Only recently having turned 16 years-old, and competing in the category for less than a year, Rotherham’s Thomas Turner did an amazing job qualifying in 6th-place for the X30 Senior GP.
Especially considering the quality of the field he was up against: the race had the best field of drivers ever, with previous GP-plate winners together with European and World Karting Champions.
Plus he was being engineered by 17 year-old Jordan Baines of Mark Baines Motorsport Team, rather than a seasoned and long-established team.
In the early laps, Turner fell back to 11th, but soon started to climb forward, latching on the rear bumper of Barnicoat shadowing his manoeuvres and setting fastest laps in his hot pursuit of the leaders.
Running in 5th-place, Turner was in the thick of the front-runners’ last lap melee, and while taking avoiding action missing a spinning kart, his front bumper suffered a glancing blow – this was to prove decisive post-race.
As Barnicoat led towards the chequered flag, Turner exited the corner in 3rd-place to make his own the final step of the podium, in an amazing achievement against some very experienced opponents, some almost twice his age.
As he climbed out of the kart in parc ferme, Turner noticed that his front bumper had ‘dropped’ (a mechanism designed to prevent maliciously barging the kart in front out of the way) being caused by the spinning kart. Knowing this would incur a 10 seconds penalty and loss of his 3rd-place podium, Turner vented his anger by kicking the bumper, inadvertently hooking it back in place. Unfortunately, this was considered to be an even greater ‘sin’, and Turner was disqualified due to “intentionally reattaching the front fairing after the chequered flag”.
Sheepishly, Turner admitted afterwards, “I did rather boot it…”
Worksop’s Phil Rawson had no testing at all due to work commitments, yet qualified 19th after a crash, “someone drove over the side of me” in the pre-final, working his way up to 15th on the first lap and battled well throughout the race to finish in 8th. However, once penalties were applied to other drivers this promoted him to 6th-place on the results sheet and on the podium, IAME International Final.
“I did not expect to be 6th, after starting the final in 19th”, Rawson admitted, “So I am happy with my weekend, being in the top-6”.
“With the class of driver on the grid – quite a few champions – this was a good result for us, I got there clean, fair and square, and I want to thank the team, MLC Motorsport, Joe Bullen of Ogden Engines, Mum, Dad and Grandparents for their support and Richard Flanaghan on spanners!”.
Rotherham racer, David Sutton qualified 10th, but despite getting up to 4th early on in the race, having to use his ‘spare’ engine caused him to fall back to 10th at the flag. However other driver’s penalties promoted him to 8th on the results sheet.
Matthew Hirst, from Doncaster, failed to qualify for his last-ever Kartmasters when his engine blew up in a vital Senior X30 GP heat, with a wry smile Hirst remarked, “you could say my final kart race went with a bang!”.
Luke Knott qualified 4th in the OK Senior GP for Handsworth’s Strawberry Racing, losing a place at the start, nevertheless he was soon back to 4th to be locked in a dog-fight with the leaders for the entire race, setting the race fastest lap he got his hands on 2nd-place with two laps to go, and a place on the podium.
While his teammate Mark Kimber had qualified in 2nd-place, he fell back, but stayed in touch with the leaders, finishing in 4th-place.
Qualifying in 9th, Sheffield’s S8 Racing’s Euan Wilson made a good start into 6th, dropping to 7th mid-race, not able to improve any further.
Teammate Jake Douglas had qualified 14th, but suffered a pre-race drama discovering a brake problem in the assembly area, frantic work by his mechanics saved the day.
Able to join the race at the back of the field of the rolling start, undaunted Douglas climbed to 15th during the first lap and by good driving and others misfortunes he managed to take the flag in 12th-place.
For the Rotax Mini Max GP, Conisbrough’s Joshua Wilby qualified in 6th-place and despite falling back to 7th for all of the race, spinners in the leading pack gifted 6th back to Wilby just before the flag and gave him a spot on the podium for Swinton’s Team Avago.
Barnsley’s Cole Kilner qualified in 9th-place for the X30 Junior GP, losing a place at the start. But he was soon battling hard towards the leading group, Kilner getting up to 4th towards the end of the race, only then to be overtaken and finished one place off the podium in 7th: however, he did win an entry to the X30 World Finals at Le Mans, in France.
Matthew Hudson also from Barnsley, qualified 28th and put in a superhuman effort to finished in 13th – making up an amazing 15 places through the race!
Doncaster’s Steven Dixon qualified 16th and finished 15th.
Strawberry Racing’s Gus Lawrence qualified in 15th and ended the race in 7th-place, just off the podium.
Strawberry’s IAME Cadet racer, Josh Rowledge qualified 10th finishing the GP in 5th place and on the podium.
Freddie Spindlow qualified his MBM run kart 11th, and unfortunately finished 17th. His teammate, Max Barrow qualified 14th but dropped to 25th by the flag.
Putting in superb overtaking festival, Strawberry’s Max Dodds qualified 24th and came through the field to finish in 12th-place.