End-of-season flourish gives Roy Johnson title hope for 2010

End-of-season flourish gives Roy Johnson title hope for 2010

03.01.2010: A season of two halves 2009 might have been for young West Midlands karting star Roy Johnson, but it was also one that ended with so much promise and potential that his rivals already fear him as one of the hot favourites

A season of two halves 2009 might have been for young West Midlands karting star Roy Johnson, but it was also one that ended with so much promise and potential that his rivals already fear him as one of the hot favourites for British Championship glory in 2010.

Roy achieved the unprecedented feat of a clean sweep of national titles at Cadet level in 2008, triumphing in BRDC Stars of Tomorrow – now called Formula Kart Stars, and the same series that had first set a certain Lewis Hamilton, no less, on the fast track to future Formula 1 superstardom – Super 1 and the prestigious annual Kartmasters and ‘O’ Plate meetings. That was something no driver in history – Hamilton and Jenson Button included – had ever previously accomplished.

After stepping up to the more powerful KF3 class last year, though, things went far from as smoothly to begin with – as he barely even succeeded in scraping into the top 20. At Whilton Mill in early July, indeed, Roy failed to make it into the ‘A’ final at all – the unquestionable nadir of a painful few months.

However, a late-season switch to a Tony Kart chassis and GFR engines proved to be the catalyst for an extraordinary turnaround in form, and the difference was immediate – and palpable. Suddenly, the Walsall ace was transformed into a bona fide front-runner – and one capable of challenging for the very top step of the podium.

Fourth on the grid at Kartmasters preceded the runner-up spot in Super 1 at Larkhall, a starring appearance in FKS back at Whilton – finishing fourth on the Saturday and fairly scything his way through the field following an early knock the next day – and pole position in the Super 1 finale at Fulbeck. As comebacks go, it was right up there with Lazarus.

“I’m enjoying KF3 a lot,” enthused the Pelsall-based speed demon. “It took us a little bit of time to get used to the difference in power and grip levels at first – we knew that going in straight from Cadets would be a big jump – but equally we didn’t find it quite as daunting as some people had suggested it would be. Changing over to the Tony Kart made a huge difference; it’s a lot easier to drive and set-up, and just has a bit more all-round grip. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident straightaway – I just wish we had done it sooner.

“We had been expecting to do quite well at Larkhall, because in the previous meeting at Kartmasters we had been pretty much as quick as anyone else – but still we hadn’t expected to do quite that well. I’m pretty sure I could even have caught the leader with just a few more laps. We’d had some bad luck in the heats which had left us down in seventh on the grid, but it felt good to be able to come through – and I was just so happy to be back at the front, to be honest!”

Indeed, Roy’s cross-border outing was arguably the moment he truly arrived in KF3 and made his adversaries sit up and take note. The fastest driver on the track, he had reduced the deficit separating him from the race-winner – and British Champion – to less than a second at the chequered flag. It was a tremendous performance, and one that underlined the fact that the initial lack of results had been nothing at all to do with the little man in the cockpit.

His raw pace, indeed, is little short of scintillating, and if he got battered around to a certain extent at both Whilton and Fulbeck, he knows he has the winter-time to toughen up a bit and prepare for the renewal of hostilities in 2010. Physically disadvantaged he might be in relation to some of his fellow KF3 competitors, but Roy never once looked intimidated by them – and at just 14, time is incontrovertibly still on his side.

Now with the Stuart Wright Racing Team (SWRT), the Great Wyrley Performing Arts College pupil is eagerly anticipating the challenge ahead, making a point of thanking Wright, GFR and Tony Kart for all of their support...and eyeing trophies aplenty in 2010 in Super 1, Kartmasters, the ‘O’ Plate, FKS – funding permitting – and the European qualifiers at PF International, a shop window par excellence.

“I think since the beginning of last year I’ve improved most in terms of being more aggressive at the start of races,” he concluded. “I know I still need to work on that aspect of my driving a bit – but that’s what I plan to do over the winter. It’s good to be with a team now after pretty much running on our own for most of 2009, and Stu has a lot of experience in karting, especially in KF3. I’m really excited about the European qualifiers, too, because if we do well there it’s the perfect opportunity to get spotted.”

That, undoubtedly, has already happened. As Roy Johnson bids to reclaim his British Championship crown in 2010, it would be a brave man who would bet against him.

To keep up-to-date with all Roy’s latest news and results, please visit: http://www.royjohnsonracing.co.uk/


- RA - photo Chris Walker, kartpix.net

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/karting-roy-johnson-west-midlands-british-championship-2010-fks-gfr-engines---74334.html

03.01.2010 / MaP

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