Singleton begins next stage of career as he ended the last – on the podium

Singleton begins next stage of career as he ended the last – on the podium

25.10.2009: James Singleton has begun the next phase of his increasingly promising karting career in much the same way as he ended the previous one – bang on the leading pace and impressively up on the podium.

James Singleton has begun the next phase of his increasingly promising karting career in much the same way as he ended the previous one – bang on the leading pace and impressively up on the podium.

Having belied his comparative lack of experience – 2009 being only his second year in the sport full stop – to finish a superb third in the Mini Max class of the Lewis Hamilton-backed Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship and fourth in fellow UK-wide series Super 1, the young North Walian has now shifted things up a gear by graduating to the more powerful Junior Max class.



Heading to Clay Pigeon in Dorset for his first outing at his new level just a week on from the FKS decider, despite being thrown in straight at the deep end with no chance to get any prior testing under his belt, James performed brilliantly throughout the heats to line up an excellent third on the grid out of the 18 competitors for the final. Unfortunately, he never got to start due to carburettor issues on the rolling-up lap, but still he had proved a point and given himself a timely confidence boost ahead of his next meeting at Shenington a week later again.

“I’d say we learned the basics of it and got used to it all pretty quickly,” he reflected. “I think I had expected it to be a lot faster and harder to adapt to than it actually was. It was a bit scary to begin with on the first day at Clay, but the team got me accustomed to the increase in power gradually, so that by the time I was flat-out I pretty much knew what I was doing.

“We knew we had been fast at Clay, so we went to Shenington hoping to get a good result and possibly a top five finish. It’s one of my three favourite circuits in Britain; you have to get the chicanes absolutely right to get the speed you need down the straights – if you get the corners wrong, you will lose out big time on the straights.

“The problem was, we hadn’t been able to practice there on the Saturday, so whereas the other drivers all knew the gearing and so forth, when we turned up on the Sunday we only had three laps to try to work it all out. That made things a bit tricky, and it was a tough grid too, with 32 drivers and quite a few of them from Super 1.”

A stirring charge up through the order from 25th to tenth in heat one – setting fastest lap along the way for good measure – was undone when it emerged that James and his father had erroneously forgotten to fit the transponder onto his kart, leading to him being excluded from the results. That also served to pile on the pressure for the remaining two heats, with the Conwy star knowing he needed two strong results if he was still to achieve a decent starting spot for the all-important final.

A superb last corner pass in the first of them secured victory from fifth on the grid – “It was brilliant to get my first heat win in Junior Max so soon; this is what we’re looking for to be able to make progress,” he explained – whilst James’ progress from tenth on the grid in heat three was stymied early on through no fault of his own.

“Someone spun in front of me at the start,” related the Penmaenmawr speed demon, “and I had to swerve out of the way to miss him. By the time I got going again, the whole pack had gone and I had to try to catch up fast. It was good fun fighting my way through, though – the challenge is all in coming through the field, and I think that’s when I push my hardest and put my most consistent lap times in.”

Snatching eighth place on the very last lap – “better than I’d expected after what had happened at the start,” he confessed – was enough to earn himself 13th on the grid for the all-important final, and happily on this occasion, the number would prove to be far from unlucky. He may have been suffering from minor engine woes, but the 13-year-old – one of the youngest drivers in Junior Max – admitted that the chassis prepared by his Coles Racing team more than helped to compensate.

“The others would just pull away from me down the straights,” he rued, “but luckily I was still able to out-brake people into the hairpins – if the chassis hadn’t been handling as well as it was, I really don’t think we would have been that fast. At the start I saw a gap to the inside and went for it, and with the outside line all getting pushed out wide, that immediately put me up to seventh.

“Three laps into the race the kart really came on, and we just went from there. When I saw I was massively closing the two leaders down I thought I might have a chance of winning, but unfortunately I hit a kerb going into the last corner on the penultimate lap and that cost me time. With just one more lap we could probably have done it, but still we were pretty happy with what we had achieved.”

Justifiably so, as third place – a scant three tenths of a second shy of victory as the leading trio sped away into a race of their own, and with comfortably another fastest lap to his name in an otherwise closely-fought field – was a praiseworthy result indeed. Leaving a whole host of more experienced competitors quite literally trailing in his wheeltracks, James’ bravery and late-braking finesse was truly a sight to behold, and after pulling off his first podium in his first real final, the Ysgol Aberconwy pupil is in fighting mood ahead of his next outing at Whilton Mill in Northamptonshire – as he boldly aims to go two spots better still.

“This is just what we wanted,” he enthused. “If we can keep finishing up there I really think we can get the hang of Junior Max. I genuinely reckon we can win at Whilton.”

James is seeking sponsors to support him in 2010, and if you are interested in backing North Wales’ brightest young F1 hope, please contact his father Mark on 07795 297350 or at: gwyneddforklifts@ukf.net


- RA -  photo Chris Walker kartpix.net

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/karting-james-singleton-podium-formula-kart-stars-fks-junior-max-class---72014.html

25.10.2009 / MaP

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