Awesome Singleton signs off 2009 in style with his ‘best race ever’

Awesome Singleton signs off 2009 in style with his ‘best race ever’

12.12.2009: North Wales’ leading young motor racing star James Singleton ended 2009 with a stunning performance at PF International in Lincolnshire to storm his way through the field from virtually the back of the grid to very nearly triumph

North Wales’ leading young motor racing star James Singleton ended 2009 with a stunning performance at PF International in Lincolnshire to storm his way through the field from virtually the back of the grid to very nearly triumph – in a drive that he rated as probably his ‘best ever’, and one that marks him out as a serious contender indeed for British title glory in 2010.

Only a handful of meetings into his Junior Max career – having placed a superb third in Britain in Mini Max this year, in both the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone-backed Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship and fellow national series Super 1 – James has displayed excellent pace but suffered some bad luck and the inevitable new class ‘growing pains’ since stepping things up a notch.

 

An errant chain and bent axle in his opening two heats at Whilton Mill had left the Conwy ace on the back foot, but he rebounded superbly with a comfortable heat three victory and searing effort in the final to charge from 18th to fourth, barely two seconds shy of the winner; at PF in October, he had again had to battle through from the back; and at Shenington he overcame being battered from pillar to post and even driven over the top of during the heats as his ‘initiation’ continued apace, to set the second-fastest lap time and come within less than a second of the podium in the final from 16th on the grid.

Returning to PF this month, James had a top ten finish in his sights, but despite being up against a bumper, 32-strong grid of national-standard competitors – many of whom had far more experience at Junior Max level than he did – he would do rather better than that.

“The kart itself isn’t really all that different to Mini Max,” explained the recently-turned 14-year-old. “It’s just got a little bit more power. The driving is a lot more aggressive, though, and a lot more physical – it’s harder on the arms and fitness really plays a part. There’s usually quite a lot of argy-bargy at the starts, and you need a bit of luck to get through cleanly – but I was already starting to get used to all that after just the first time out.

“We were fastest during practice, and that gave us a lot of confidence for race day, but on the Sunday morning the rain was hammering down and the wind was battering the awnings. I thought the meeting would be called off, but the track actually dried out surprisingly quickly. In morning practice we were really fast again and I knew the kart was working well, so I was feeling positive. I’m getting more-and-more used to racing in the wet at PF, and am finding different lines to take all the time – driving in the rain is probably one of my stronger points.”

Indeed, James had pulled off an entirely unexpected rostrum finish from well down on the grid in FKS after the heavens opened over the same circuit back in the summer, and he invariably performs well at PF, come rain or shine. What’s more, he is now learning to dish it out as well as he takes it when racing wheel-to-wheel with his Junior Max rivals, and following a seamless performance he had the entire length of the straight as an advantage in his opening heat – before a tiny error proved disproportionately costly with just two laps remaining, and piled on the pressure for heat two.

“In the first heat we were leading and gone,” recounted the Coles Racing speed demon, “but then on the penultimate lap I just went too far over the kerb and the chain came off. In a way it was actually probably a good job it happened, because when we got the kart back to the awning afterwards we found the throttle had jammed on, which meant it could have spat me off the circuit at any moment and left me buried in the tyre barriers.

“In the second heat I thought if we could just drive around the outside of some people on the first lap, then we could hopefully work our way through, but starting mid-pack with such a full grid was a killer and I got loaded up into the first corner and sent off into the gravel. That left me down at the back, but because I kept my focus and the kart was set up so well, I didn’t actually find it that difficult to come through the pack. Fighting my way through the order is one of my favourite parts of racing.”

Despite the frustrating results – a failure to finish and a delayed 14th place – on both occasions James’ outright speed had been immensely encouraging, setting the fastest lap in the first encounter and with only four drivers managing to better his quickest effort in heat two, as he found himself constantly working his way through traffic. He might have been down in a lowly 25th on the grid for the all-important final, but the Penmaenmawr pace-setter was far from out of the reckoning.

“We knew we had the pace,” he underlined, “and we thought that if we could survive the first lap we could probably still achieve our top ten goal. I saw a gap going into the first corner and just went for it; I did the same into the first hairpin, avoided getting hit by anyone and it worked a treat. At the end of lap one I was already up to 11th, and then I just continued to work my way through from there.

“I overtook Harry Crawley, but unfortunately I didn’t defend the position well enough and he was able to come straight back past me again. I think if I could have kept him behind me, I would probably have been able to run off and leave him to deal with the chasing pack. In the closing stages I began to take chunks of time out of him again, but then Ash Hand came up behind me on the last lap and I had to defend against him instead; he was coming up really quickly, and I knew I had to keep him behind me at all costs.

“He pulled out of my slipstream heading down to the first hairpin, which meant I had to heavily defend the inside line; there was a slight bit of contact between us, but I was able to stay ahead. I certainly felt the pressure, but after I had done all that hard work to fight my way up to second, I wasn’t in any mood to give the position up again! I was over the moon when the chequered flag came down – finishing second from 25th was probably the best race I’ve ever driven.”

That much is hard to dispute, for it was truly an awesome effort – and one that may very well have resulted in James’ breakthrough Junior Max victory at only his fifth attempt had it not been for Hand’s late attentions. Still, as the Ysgol Aberconwy pupil now plans to go off and indulge his second love of fishing over a well-earned Christmas break, there will doubtless be plenty more opportunities to stand atop the podium next year.

“It’s going really well,” he concluded of the start to his Junior Max career. “Now I just need to keep improving my racecraft, and if we can find that extra little bit we will be sorted. I really think we’ve got the pace to win in 2010!”

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-best-race-ever-pf-internationational-lincolnshire---73867.html

12.12.2009 / MaP

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