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Earlier in the month, a pupil in the youngest year at St John’s won a national go-karting competition involving a total of over 75 competitors, mostly all adults. The recent TW Steel competition at Sandown Park in Esher involved 40-minute races using the new Sodi RT8 go-karts, developed less than a year ago.
After qualifying, Will Thomas (North House, Fourth Form) set pole position and then came first in his initial heat by a considerable margin. The grand final, involving a total of 15 competitors (the top five from each of three heats), presented several challenges. Will again regained pole position and once the race had been under way for 20 minutes, the marshalls gradually started to reduce the number of competitors one by one, as the driver trailing at the end of each lap was eliminated. The sprint culminated in a battle between the last three remaining racers to see who could finish first.
Then, with five minutes left to go, rain hit the track. Will felt under pressure but, fully aware of the risks, his sound judgment and knowledge of the track paid off, as a driver attempting to catch him lost stability and went into a spin. Will extended the lead and managed to retain it until the finish to win by over 30 seconds and setting the fastest lap, consigning the driver who had challenged him to second place. Shortly afterwards Will was collecting first prize, a prize TW Steel watch signed by the professional racing drivers Sergio Pérez and Niko Hülkenberg.
Will has been racing go-karts since the age of eight and now takes part once a month in the In-Kart championships held at Sandown Park. Competing in the “Junior Light” section (as sections are organised by weight category), he took second place in one championship last year. Will’s next target is to qualify for the eight-hour team-endurance test at Buckmore Park in April. His main focus this year, however, will be to race DMAX karts for the first time. It is rare for any racer under the age of 16 to be granted special dispensation to take part in a DMAX competition. If Will demonstrates sufficient skill to be selected, this will be the second time in 18 months that a pupil at St John’s under the age of 16 has been selected to take part in a DMAX race at national level.
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