Heriot-Watt claimed the final place on the podium in Round 2 of the British University Karting Championship’s (BUKC) Rookie Championship at the Buckmore Park circuit in Kent, while Edinburgh endured a frustrating day on the way to a final 14th place.
In the overall championship standings Heriot-Watt placed well down the order, having missed the previous round, while Edinburgh inevitably fell to eighth from the impressive fourth they had achieved in Round 1.
Two race wins for Heriot-Watt out of four races – one apiece for Neil Halliwell and Tony Strachan – were backed up by the two 12th-place finished of David Jordan and Ian Sutherland and helped secure third place for the team on the day. By contrast, Edinburgh could only manage ninth, 10th, 11th and 19th in their races for Calum Hughes, Gary Brown, Felipe Pinzón and Sean Gibson respectively – results which failed to reflect their competitive pace.
Where the Heriot-Watt drivers brilliantly exploited their opportunities, a mixture of carelessness, misfortune and inexperience ultimately cost Edinburgh. Race 1 saw debutant Gibson epitomise everything that can possibly go wrong for a driver in the BUKC; slightly unlucky to have been spun around on lap 3 after a clean start, Gibson misread the marshals’ warnings and made an unnecessary pitstop. To compound this misery the Edinburgh man seemed unable to recover his rhythm and contrived to spin several more times before the end of the race while attempting to unlap himself. Similarly troubled was Heriot-Watt’s Ian Sutherland, who dropped as low as 22nd after a spin and a penalty. However, he staged a spectacular recovery to 12th with some notably slick overtakes on the final lap.
In Race 2, Heriot-Watt’s Jordan enjoyed a much more successful debut than Edinburgh’s Gibson. Having been punted off at the start he came storming back through from 27th and last to a final 12th place. Pinzón put in a similarly strong race to 11th for Edinburgh, himself recovering from a first-lap accident, but was fortunate not to be taken out midway through as two leading cars careered into the side of his kart while trying to lap him at the bottom hairpin.
Heriot-Watt’s Halliwell had taken the lead by turn 2 of the first lap of Race 3, taking full advantage of his fifth-place grid slot to delight his watching team and execute some smart manoeuvres on his rivals. Rebuffing the advances of second-placed Nottingham, Halliwell soon eased clear to secure a the victory and eventual winning margin of nearly 20 seconds. Just behind, Brown of Edinburgh also enjoyed a positive start and held fourth place for a number of laps. However the leading three broke clear and, under increasing pressure from a queue of karts behind, Brown spun heading through the fast downhill S-bend, recovering to a final 10th place.
A troublesome light shower of rain blew in as evening loomed, and in these conditions Race 4 got underway. Edinburgh’s most seasoned driver, Hughes, moved from third to second in the opening exchanges, but his run was at the front was to prove even shorter than that of his team-mate Brown. Only a few laps into the race he was spooked into a spin by an ambitious feint going through the tight right at the bottom of the hill. An enthralling race-long tussle with Swansea followed, as the pair cut swathes through the field. They were parted only on the final lap as Hughes, having been dropped the previous lap, failed with what Edinburgh team captain Brown called “an absolute bandit move” on an innocent backmarker into the first hairpin, which took them both out.
By contrast, Heriot-Watt’s Tony Strachan progressed from eighth on the grid to first in the opening three laps and proceeded to build a solid lead. A largely uneventful race got very tense very quickly in the final few minutes as the University of Fatteldon bore down on Strachan’s position. The Heriot-Watt man held his nerve, though, to win by just under a second and secure third place overall.
Edinburgh – 14th
Sean Gibson – 19th
Felipe Pinzón – 11th
Gary Brown – 10th
Calum Hughes – 9th
Heriot-Watt – 3rd
Ian Sutherland 12th
David Jordan 12th
Neil Halliwell 1st
Tony Strachan 1st