Russ Danzey battles bug to storm through pack in national finale

Russ Danzey battles bug to storm through pack in national finale

24.10.2009: Exciting young Sheffield karting ace Russ Danzey overcame both a nasty cold and an accident not of his own making to battle his way impressively from the back of the grid to a top ten finish in the final round of the national Super 1 Series at Fulbeck.

Exciting young Sheffield karting ace Russ Danzey overcame both a nasty cold and an accident not of his own making to battle his way impressively from the back of the grid to a top ten finish in the final round of the national Super 1 Series at Fulbeck.

The Lincolnshire circuit may be the oldest in the country, but Russ admits he is not its greatest fan, and he entered the weekend suffering from a cold that had left him physically less than 100 per cent and that was scarcely helped by the far from Mediterranean temperatures. Though his JM Racing team was also still on a learning curve and finding its way with the new RK (Robert Kubica) chassis it is running – in preparation for an all-out assault on glory in 2010 more than anything – hopes were high, at least until practice delivered an early setback.

“I thought we had taken a huge step forward if I’m honest,” revealed the Dore-based speed demon. “We had tested at Fulbeck not long beforehand and had been very quick – second-fastest overall despite running on old tyres, and the best time had been set on new rubber. That left me feeling confident going into the weekend, but unfortunately we had a poor first day with a lot of engine and electrical problems. That meant we missed a lot of the sessions and lost a lot of crucial set-up time.

“The team manager, Tom, had devised a plan for practice whereby I would work on the chassis side of things and my team-mate on the engine, and then we would put it all together for qualifying. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work on the chassis side much at all, which left us with twice as much work to do the following day. That meant we went into the rest of the weekend a bit behind everybody else in terms of preparation and the problems continued on the Saturday, but luckily we sorted it all out in time for qualifying.”

Be that as it may, the loss of track time did Russ no favours at all, and after struggling to identify the right tyre pressures for the conditions, the 15-year-old went on to qualify ninth in the 26-strong KF3 class field. That, however, masked the fact that he was barely a tenth of a second shy of the top spot, and ahead of both the defending British champion and double Formula Kart Stars (FKS) winner from a fortnight earlier.

Given the incredibly closely-fought nature of the competition – inarguably the toughest in the UK – and his lack of preparation due to his practice woes, it was an impressive effort indeed, and caused some to muse what might have been possible had all run according to plan.

Beginning both of his heat races ninth, a meteoric start in the first of them catapulted Russ immediately up to fourth, but whilst he would then go on to gutsily grab the lead, his tyre pressure issues came back to haunt him once more as he found himself under repeated attack from rivals who had visibly faster machinery underneath them. Still, fifth spot at the chequered flag – just 1.5 seconds adrift of the winner – was in the circumstances nothing to be sniffed at, and was accomplished by virtue of a flawless display of defensive driving.

A second consecutive top ten finish in heat two was achieved despite having lost a lot of ground early on when he had to take avoiding action due to a collision directly in front of him – and earned him sixth on the starting grid for the pre-final, when an opening lap mêlée unfortunately collected the Westbourne School pupil as one of its innocent victims.

With little to be gained by carrying on, he wisely elected to save his tyres for the 16-minute, 22-lap grand final, which he would start from all the way down in 23rd, albeit in bullish spirits following his improved pace as the day had progressed. Justifiable optimism, it would transpire – as an outstanding getaway when the lights went out saw him gain a staggering 15 places on the first lap alone.

“We had made a change that we thought would make us even quicker for the grand final,” he explained, “so I was still quite confident of getting a decent result. We were bogging down a little bit off the corners, though, which meant most of the manoeuvres I was making I was having to pull off from quite a long way back. We actually got as high as fifth at one point, but we found we had underestimated the pressures a little bit again which caused the tyres to grip up, and that caused us to start falling away from the pace over the last few laps. I had to defend quite a lot on the last lap...”

Indeed, in the closing stages Russ had to draw upon all of his skill to produce another masterclass in how to cleanly but effectively defend a position. With a whole string of pursuers quite literally bouncing off him in their attempts to find a way by – “You expect to get knocked around a little bit!” he quipped – the South Yorkshire star was peerless under pressure, and a 16-place improvement on his grid position at the flag as he crossed the line seventh was a magnificent effort. His fastest lap was only a hundredth of a second off that of the winner, too – again raising the question of just what might have been possible had he only been able to start higher up the order...

“The team told me I had driven well and deserved a top five finish,” he reflected at the end of the weekend, “but all I’m concentrating on now really is the move up to KF2 next year, which I’m really excited about! I’ve tested it a couple of times already and absolutely loved it – it seems that every time the kart gets faster, the more I enjoy driving it and the more competitive I become too!

“It will be a new experience, and I’m really looking forward to it. I think we’re going to be extremely quick, and to be honest, with the new RK kart I genuinely believe we’ve got quite a good chance of challenging for the title in our first year...”

Russ is seeking sponsorship to help him compete in 2010, so if you are interested in backing South Yorkshire’s brightest budding grand prix prospect, please contact his father Rob on 07779 995555 or at: robert.danzey@mac.com


- RA - photo Chris Walker kartpix.net

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/karting-russ-danzey-national-final-super-1-series-fulbeck-jm-racing---71914.html

24.10.2009 / MaP

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