Field thrown wide open for SGMW 2019 karting grand prix thriller

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Betting odds – were they allowed – would be all over the place for the Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ 2019 Karting Grand Prix on Thursday, April 4 because the favourite has been scratched from the race.

Team members at Ford, having notched a hat-trick of wins in recent years, need to be elsewhere for this sixth GP, leaving the field wide open for a different winner and fresh faces on the podium.

Mission Motorsport representative Cliff Hall receives the charity cheque from SGMW secretary and event organiser Chris Rees, left, and chairman Ian Robertson last year. Picture: Chris Manning

Staged especially for motor industry PR teams and associated agencies and organisations, the SGMW Karting GP was first held as a one-off in 2014 but continued by popular demand to become a well-supported and contested annual battle that has raised more than £20,000 overall for worthy charities including air ambulances and Help For Heroes’ Mission Motorsport arm.

This year’s beneficiary is the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes, the charity whose volunteers make some 70,000 potentially life-saving rides and drives every year, delivering donated blood and blood products to hospitals and air ambulances.

For 2019, the Karting GP will again use the exciting and challenging three-tier track at TeamSport, Canada House, Gatwick Road, Crawley RH10 9RE. It is a 150-minute endurance race and follows a practice session and safety briefing.

There is already a strong grid including FCA, Citroen, Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki, Performance Communications, Volkswagen, Volvo and no fewer than three Toyota group teams – the namesake brand, Lexus and recently-launched Gazoo Racing motorsport arm.

On the podium: the 2018 winning teams. Picture: Chris Manning

Remaining places are going fast so, if you fancy having your team’s name engraved on the coveted Karting GP steering wheel trophy and have yet to book, please contact grid supremo Massimo Pini at massimo.pini@newcarnet.co.uk or phone 07957 460042.

Looking at past runners and riders, event organiser and SGMW secretary Chris Rees said: “Fiat won the inaugural GP in 2014 and has been Ford’s nemesis ever since. Others with good form include Porsche, Audi and Peugeot, but there are equally brilliant teams who race every year for the craic and finish grinning from ear to ear – whatever their placing.

“It helps that we have also levelled the playing field – or racetrack – lately by introducing the ‘Novice Drivers’ feature to attract less-experienced entrants and protect them from those who would happily climb all over them on the track – the marshals will be watching.”

If you need further urging to join the grid, listen to what some team principals and members said about last year’s SGMW Karting GP:

“A brilliant time”: Volkswagen PR principal Mike Orford, second left, with his team Michelle Betty, Adam Bartram, second right, and Grant McPherson.Picture: Chris Manning

“We all had a fantastic time at the Grand Prix, and it was great to support such a good cause as Mission Motorsport.” Volvo PR chief Mike Gale

“It’s absolutely great fun – I love it. Everyone gets competitive and really into it.” Citroën PR manager Katie Read

“We may not have troubled the podium at the end of the night, but the team and I had a brilliant time regardless. As well as lots of pizza, of course.” Volkswagen PR chief Mike Orford

SGMW chairman Ian Robertson said: “Karting GP is a big fun day out for our PR colleagues – our chance to give something back to them for all their help and hospitality.

“Its success has also inspired the creation of a packed SGMW calendar including the New Year Honours List PR and car awards, the summer’s Heritage Day – a chance to drive interesting vehicles, old and new – and our regular Sunday Breakfast Boosts, all aimed at fostering even better relations with our valued industry PR contacts.”

Karting GP 2018 podium places:

1 Ford.

2 Performance Communications.

3 Lexus.

Fastest lap winners:

1  Chris Clubley (Fiat).

2 Jake Cassetta (Ford). 

3 Joe Clifford (Lexus).

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