Following a last corner battle that led to a nail-biting finale, the results of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ 3rd annual Karting Grand Prix have been revealed.
The event – which yielded a group record £4,445 donation to charity – comprised a 150-minute endurance race, with a practice session and safety briefing beforehand.
The event – held at the three-tier circuit at TeamSport, Crawley – turned into a close-fought contest between Ford and FIAT – the latter fighting to repeat its success in the 2014 inaugural contest.
SGMW onlookers also nearly forgot their neutrality as FIAT, with a team member missing, had co-opted Southern Group scribe Tyler Heatley as a fourth driver.
Group chairman Chris Rees said: “The SGMW doesn’t enter a team itself, because the GP aims to give industry PR colleagues a good time out – a small ‘thank you’ for all the events they stage for us.
“But SGMW members are available to top up if any team falls short on team numbers, so a winner’s trophy for Tyler would have been a first for our volunteers.”
However in the final yards Ford came through to win, putting FIAT in second and third placed Kia a lap behind.
The winners were:
1st Ford: Jake Cassetta, John Palmer, Paul Baynes, Kevin Welsh and Charlotte Ward – they received the SGMW GP trophy based on a splendid Moto-Lita leather-covered sports steering wheel, to be engraved and held for the next year
2nd FIAT: Conor Twomey, Darren James, Chris Clubley and Tyler Heatley
3rd Kia: Carly Escritt, Dan Sayles, Neil Kent and Richard Slowgrove
SGMW member Massimo Pini – who co-created the GP event with colleague Kevin Haggarthy – also announced the Fastest Lap winners:
1st: Jake Cassetta (Ford) 48.007 seconds
2nd: Chris Clubley (FIAT) 48.873
3rd: Darren James (FIAT) 49.065
However the biggest winner at the event on Thursday 14 April, and most loudly applauded, was its charity beneficiary, the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT), a cause close to the hearts of all attending with around half the trust’s lifesaving calls being to road accidents, missions typically costing £2,700, and with £200/hour fuel costs needed to keep a trust helicopter in the air.
Tony Stone, a trust paramedic and a racer on the night, said he and his teammates had been amazed by the event and thanked everyone involved for the generous donation – the trust receives no Government funding.
SGMW chairman, and one of the event organisers, Chris Rees said afterwards: “It was easily our best GP yet, vindicating our switch from February to April, so that the venue’s vent walls could be opened without everyone catching cold.
“And I would like to thank all the teams for respecting our wish not to recruit pro and semi-pro drivers specially for the race – it definitely made it fairer for those racing and a greater spectacle for those trackside.
“Best of all, the money raised beat last year’s £4,350 – itself an improvement on the £3,325 yielded by 2014’s inaugural event. That means we’ve raised over £12,000 for charity in successive Grands Prix.
“In all, more than 80 drivers competed, including several volunteers from our own ranks and there was a full grid of 20 teams.
“How do we top this? Well, it was never intended to be an annual event and yet, by popular consent, has become a star of the PR and media calendar. So, we will carry out our usual review, sift the feedback and recommend tweaks, before aiming to take the GP even higher next year. Thank you to all those who contributed to the racing and funding.”
This year’s grid (in alphabetical order): DS Automobiles, EHAAT, FIAT, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Newspress, Performance Comms, Peugeot, PFPR, Porsche, Renault, Skoda, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.