A Record-Breaking Start To The 2023 Motorsport UK ROTAX British Kart Championship

Columns: Races
Kimbolton hosted the first round of the 2023 Motorsport UK ROTAX British Kart Championship with a record-breaking 175 entries (Elliot Cunnington)

DHR teammates Cole Denholm and Jacob Ashcroft started on row 1 for the final Rotax Final of the 2023 season with Albert Friend (Strawberry Racing) & Finlay Lines (DHR) just behind.  After finishing 2nd in the pre-final Charlie Woolfitt (Synergy Factory Team) was hoping for a good end to the weekend but unfortunately, his weekend would go no further.  A front fairing penalty in the pre-final dropped him to 5th place and then on the formation lap of the final his kart broke down and devastatingly was unable to start the race. Ashcroft took an early race lead into turn 1 with Denholm and Lines behind.  Friend however wasted no time in retaking 3rd place as they completed the lap.  Friend and Lines continued to swap positions with Friend coming out on top in the early part of the race.  Meanwhile, Denholm closed the gap to Ashcroft as he began setting multiple fastest laps and with 12 minutes of race time remaining re-took the lead of the race. The two teammates worked well together with Ashcroft now setting the fastest lap as the race continued to try and increase the gap to third place Friend behind. With just under 8 minutes to racing to go, Lines finally made the move for third place stick on Friend and to avoid any more switch-back moves from Friend Noah Barham (DHR) also followed through pushing Friend back into 5th place with Charles Kiteley (KR-Sport) still in 6th. Just as Lines thought he’d seen the back of Friend a move into turn one from teammate Barham forced them both wide and allowing the Strawberry Racing kart of Friend to take a tighter line and regain 3rd place once more.  He was followed by Kiteley who took third place back off of Friend just a couple of corners later but as ever Friend was very keen to hold on to 3rd and he attempted to repass Kiteley into Kimbolton Corner. This left both drivers racing wheel to wheel down the main straight separated by just 0.05 seconds as they crossed the line. Kiteley with the inside line held onto 3rd place as both DHR drivers also took the inside line pushing Friend back into 6th.  Now Kiteley was in a DHR sandwich as Denholm and Ashcroft still led the way and now Barham and Lines were just behind. As the battle for 3rd continued to rage on this was not only allowing the top two to increase their lead but also it allowed the rest of the grid to close up.  With 6 minutes of racing remaining the gap between 3rd and 10th was just 3 seconds. As the two leaders of Denholm and Ashcroft started the penultimate lap of the race, Denholm hoping to score his 6th British Championships race win and Ashcroft trying to score his first podium.  The two drivers had now opened up over 5 seconds to third place allowing them to fight to the flag.  Into Kimbolton corner, Ashcroft began his campaign to win this race.  He tried to go around the outside of his teammate going wheel to wheel on the exit of the corner and just managed to get in front of Denholm as they crossed the line to start the final lap bringing Denholm’s 17-lap lead to an end.  But Denholm was not done yet and he wanted to give Ashcroft a taste of his own medicine as he now tried a move around the outside of Derek’s Corner and somehow managed to retake the lead of the race.  With both drivers pushing 100%, Denholm went defensive into the final corner, but would Ashcroft be able to repeat his move from 1 lap earlier? He tried to switch back on Denholm, but it was not enough.  Cole Denholm (DHR) took the first Minimax win of the season from Jacob Ashcroft (DHR) and Finlay Lines (DHR) in 3rd
Emerson MacAndrew-Uren (DHR) started the final in pole position with Oliver Spencer (Synergy) and Edward Haynes (RCE) starting in 3rd position.  Spencer straight away dived across the track to the inside pushing MacAndrew-Uren wide as the 20 drivers all headed for turn 1. Spencer led the first lap from Haynes, MacAndrew-Uren, and Jenson Chalk (MLC Motorsport) who had a great first lap gaining 4 places. Lap 3 saw Haynes make his move for the lead into turn 1 which also allowed MacAndrew-Uren through into 2nd. MacAndrew-Uren however was not satisfied with 2nd place and set about taking back the lead.  He swooped up the inside of Haynes and set about creating a gap to 2nd place.  Haynes and Spencer now needed to work as one to close the gap back to the race lead. Haynes and Spencer started to fight for second place with the two drivers swapping positions and also allowing Maximilian Abrahart (RCE) to join in the battle for 2nd place.  Spencer managed to close down the gap to MacAndrew-Uren and took the lead with just under 10 minutes remaining. The top two started to pull out a slight advantage over 3rd place Haynes as MacAndrew-Uren re-took the lead from Spencer.  MacAndrew-Uren would lead the next few laps as the battels behind continued but Spencer with just under 5 minutes remaining would yet again take the lead of this MicroMAX final while the battle for third was also changing as the two RCE teammates of Haynes and Abrahart swapped positions into turn 1. Just a couple of laps later Abrahart & Haynes swapped positions again as did the leaders this time with MacAndrew-Uren taking the lead.  With two laps remaining into Kimbolton corner Spencer re-took the lead as the clock strikes 0. 
Spencer led the final lap of the race as the two leaders tussled for the position. At the last possible opportunity, MacAndrew-Uren dummied Spencer and went down the inside to take the race win for DHR.  Oliver Spencer can home just 0.11 seconds behind in 2nd and Edward Haynes managed to fend off his teammate to take 3rd place. 

A standing start got the KZ2 final underway led by Ella Stevens (Jade Racing Team) and Tom Adams (Rush Performance). Off the line, Adams got a great start and launched into the lead followed by Stevens and last year’s British Champion, Charlie Turner (Rush Performance). Turner with a great run out of the final corner took 2nd place leaving Stevens on the outside to start lap 2 which led to her losing places to both Josh Price (Moore Racing) and Joe Charlton (Privateer) A couple of laps later Turner took the lead of this race for the first time while scoring the fastest lap.  Still Rush Performance with a 1 – 2 on track being chased down by Price, Charlton, Stevens and Derek Morgan (Privateer) as the top 6 all separated by less than 1 second.  With 12 minutes remaining Price took 2nd place from Adams and set about closing down Turner. For the next few minutes, the top three remained unchanged however the gap between them remained at less than half a second. Meanwhile, Stevens was trying to make a comeback from 6th position & with 6 minutes remaining took 4th place from Charlton as she set about closing the 1-second gap to the podium positions. Stevens began setting fastest laps and made light work of closing the gap down to Adams in 3rd place.  With just 4 minutes remaining Stevens had caught up to the back of the podium positions and a few laps later made her move on Adams to move into 3rd place at Kimbolton Corner. Now Stevens on the back of Price went down the inside of Price into turn 1 but after such a comeback she now wanted to go one better and take the race lead.  But in order to do that she’d need to get past the current British Champion. Into turn 1 Turner went defensive but Stevens still managed to get up the inside and take the lead of this KZ2 final. Meanwhile, James Glenister (Rush Performance) from the back of the grid worked his way up to third place.  Ella Stevens took the race win to become the first female to win a KZ2 race at the Motorsport UK British Kart Championship. Charlie Turner came home in 2nd place with teammate James Glenister in 3rd. 
Macauley Bishop (DHR) started from pole position with Ewan Charman (Argenti Motorsport) alongside him.  Joshua Graham (Argenti Motorsport) and Gustavs Usakovs (Strawberry Racing) started from row two with another full grid of 30 other drives behind. Bishop retained his lead off the line followed closely by the Argenti teammates of Charman, Thomas-Minh Spearing (Argenti Motorsport) & Graham. As the top three started to break away Charman & Spearing started to battle for second place and rubbed wheels into Derek’s Corner which allowed Bishop to break away but also this allowed Usakovs & Armand Hamilton (Strawberry Racing) to close the gap to the back of them. A couple of laps later Usakovs moved up into 3rd place by overtaking Charman down the inside of Kimbolton corner and 1 lap later on a mistake from Charman would allow Hamilton up the inside now pushing him down to 5th place. While the battles continued up and down the field the top 3 remained unchanged for several laps but with just over 4 minutes to go a race that was looking like it was all but decided, would change as an incident further back bought out the Battenburg flag.  This neutralised the race and cancelled Bishop's 1-second lead to Spearing.  As the whole field followed on behind Bishop when the green flags reappeared there would be just two and a half minutes remaining.  Bishop with a great restart, caught Spearing out who immediately came under pressure from Usakovs.  In that battle, Charman managed to regain 3rd place from Usakovs now followed by teammates Hamilton and Ethan Jeff-Hall (Strawberry Racing) who started down in 11th place on the grid.  Jeff-Hall made light work of Hamilton and now had his focus on the podium positions just ahead. It was not long before Jeff-Hall got past Usakovs and started to chase down the two Argenti karts. Just as Spearing had finally caught up to Bishop and was getting close to being able to make a move to challenge for the lead his teammate, Charman sent a move down the inside which did not work out for him but this did allow Bishop to once again benefit from the Argenti Motorsport drivers fighting and break away.  The race was now for 2nd place and four drivers all had a chance of scoring it.  Spearing, Charman, Jeff-Hall and Usakovs. Into turn 1 Spearing went defensive and was followed by Charman and Jeff-Hall.  Usakovs took the normal racing line which allowed him to go right around the outside of Charman and Jeff-Hall promoting himself to 3rd place while Jeff-Hall also got past Charman to take 4th place.  Macauley Bishop took the win for DHR followed by Thomas-Minh Spearning (Argenti Motorsport) & Gustavs Usakovs (Strawberry Racing).
Sean Butcher (KR-Sport) started on pole position with Kai Hunter (DHR) alongside in 2nd place. Archie Walker (KR-Sport) and Teddy Pritchard-Williams (MLC Motorsport) locked out the front row.  Hunter with a great start from 2nd place managed to take the race lead in turn 1 followed by Butcher, Pritchard-Williams & Walker A few laps into the race Walker moved up into 3rd but Pritchard-Williams was having none of it and re-took 3rd place again at the same corner a lap later.  Walker however put an end to the battle later in the lap at Kimbolton Corner which also allowed Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing), Matthew Higgins (Strawberry Racing) & Lewis Gilbert (Kraft Motorsport) to close up behind.  As Butcher set the fastest lap of the race and was hot on the heels of Hunter, Walker had also closed up to the top two and now sent a move on his teammate to take 2nd place.  Just one lap later Butcher re-took 2nd place with Walker now in 3rd and Kimber in 4th. Hunter going defensive allowed the top 5 to all close up behind and it wasn’t long before Butcher made a move for the lead with Hunter taking to the escape road, cutting across the chicane and regaining the lead.  All of this now allowed the top 8 to close up behind Hunter as he continued to drive defensively with 3 minutes of race time remaining. Higgins then dived down the inside and up the kerb to take the race lead with teammate Kimber now in 2nd  and Walker now in 3rd.  For the second time, Hunter cutting across the corner at Willows meant he was now in 4th, Butcher in 5th, Guy Cunnington (Guy Cunnington Racing) from 14th on the grid was now in 6th, Gilbert in 7th and Pritchard-Williams in 8th. Jamie Perilly (Strawberry Racing) & Morgan Porter had also now closed up to the lead pack in 9th & 10th. Then more drama this lap as Kimber span out of 2nd place in the braking zone of Kestrel Corner promoting everyone up one place. While all of this was happening, race control issued Hunter a 5-second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage. 
Butcher regained 3rd place from Hunter and now had to close down Walker and Higgins. Higgins went defensive into turn 1 but still Walker attended a move through Stow Corner.  Higgins though kept his foot in and this allowed Butcher to attack and take back 2nd place from Walker. This left Walker vulnerable as Hunter was able to get past along with Gilbert, Cunnington & Pritchard-Williams. Now Butcher was in the lead of this race followed by Higgins and Hunter who needed to try and build out as big of a gap in the final 3 laps as possible to avoid falling back too far once the 5-second penalty had been applied. Cunnington went down the inside of Gilbert to take 4th place on the road which would be a podium finished if he stayed within 5 seconds of Hunter in front.  With two laps to go the top 6 looked like they would not change anymore and finally, after 23 manic laps it was Sean Butcher who won for KR-Sport from Matthew Higgins (Strawberry Racing) in second and Guy Cunnington (Guy Cunnington Racing) the biggest mover in the race making up 11 places to finish in third. 

Full Results here: https://www.apex-timing.com/goracing/results.php?path=/sports-timing-uk/2023/20230514&group=14

Media Credit: KartPix & Traction Media
Next Race:  Round 2 of the 2023 Motorsport UK British Kart Championship at Glan Y Gors. 23rd - 25th June 2023.   

Created by: fmarangon2 - 16/05/23

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