Luke Wright’s developing reputation received further plaudits after he took the fight to his Spanish Open Championship rivals and left Zuera with the title of Vice-Champion yesterday (26 October).
Fresh from finishing 3rd in the final round of the Industrial Trophy at Parma last week, Luke knew that he would need to deliver another gritty performance if he was to improve his points position in the Spanish series.
In qualifying, he guided his Maranello/Maxter to the 10th fastest time - but felt that he could’ve been quicker, “I had a few set-up problems and was unlucky on my quick laps, as I got caught up in traffic.”
Starting from the 5th row of the grid for the first heat, the JRP driver had started well - but a tap from behind meant that it “all went a bit Paris-Dakar” and, once he’d rejoined the circuit, Luke found himself down in last place. A characteristic charge saw him finish in the mid-pack, showing that he’d got the necessary race pace to mount a challenge in the following races.
He finished 3rd in the following race to give him P7 on the grid for the first final.
“I worked my way up (the order) and after four or five laps, I was in 4th. Ahead of me, the three leaders were battling one another and this allowed me to catch them. Three corners from the end, the driver in 3rd lunged down the inside of the guys in 1st and 2nd. I followed him and got alongside (Luis Miguel) Villalba (in 2nd). We ran side-by-side into the next corner and he held me wide. I ran over the ‘marbles’ but as we entered the last bend, a stone lodged itself in my sprocket and threw the chain. I rolled across the line in 12th”.
Despite his obvious disappointment, Luke was given hope when it emerged that Championship leader, Jose Cautela had seized and therefore dropped vital points. If he failed to finish the following race and Luke beat Dani Simon, then Wright had a mathematical chance of snatching the title in the second race.
“I got an average start, but it was good enough as a base from which to work my way through. Despite having old tyres on, I still had a lot of speed and so chased down and caught (Dani) Simon within four laps. By the time I was on his tail, we just had two laps to go. I made a good, clean pass down his inside at the hairpin and held him on the wider line. From there, I just brought the kart home safe and sound.”
Behind them, Cautela finished in 12th, to deny Luke the title by just a handful of points.
“It was a bit of a blow” Luke said. “But I’m very pleased to finish the year as runner-up and the team is happy too. It’s been an exciting Championship and the standards have been very high. I think I’ve also shown a more mature side to my racing and the results are there to see. Experience helps a lot. It’s all pointing in the right direction for next season.”