George Russell once again proved himself to be the class of the field in the prestigious annual Kartmasters meeting at PF International, but the talented young Wisbech speed demon’s designs on glory were cruelly undone just as he had been on-track to seal a momentous triumph.
Having already achieved tremendous success in the blue riband event on the British karting calendar by prevailing in the WTP class in 2008, Comer Cadet in 2009 and Mini Max in 2010 – making history as the first driver ever to do so at three different levels – George returned to Lincolnshire circuit PF for the 2011 edition aiming to write himself into karting’s record books all over again by winning in KF3, and optimistic about his chances of doing just that. Unfortunately, this time around, fate had a different ending in-store.
“I was confident we could get the job done,” asserted the highly-rated Tydd St Giles ace, who only a fortnight earlier had stormed to victory in the fiercely-contested CIK-FIA European Championship at Zuera in Spain. “I didn’t feel any pressure having won three times before – I was just approaching it all with an open mind.”
A comfortable pole position in qualifying was followed by a solid performance through the heats to secure George the outside front row grid slot for the pre-final – rarely an advantageous place to start from at PF. The Millennium Motorsport hotshot, however, was in no mood to let that hold him back.
“Just like I had done in the European Championship, I hung back slightly in the run-up to the start-line, which allowed me to get my foot down earlier than the pole-sitter when the lights changed and we went over the line literally side-by-side,” he explained. “I had the greater speed and momentum and was able to go all the way around the outside through the first corner to take the lead.
“That was probably what won me the race, actually, because after that, we had a few problems with the brakes. I was losing a couple of tenths per lap, and it was particularly difficult trying to slow the kart down into the first hairpin. I was lucky I had established such a big gap initially, because with each lap that passed, I was getting increasingly concerned – I would slam on the brakes as hard as I could, but they were only coming on very slowly. I had to brake really early for the hairpins, and looking behind, I could see I was being caught.”
His adversaries might have been closing in on George, but fortunately, they would not get close enough to mount an attack, as the 13-year-old Wisbech Grammar School student clung grittily on to take the chequered flag in front to the tune of just half-a-second – and having won with a handicap in the pre-final, he was positive indeed about his prospects for the grand final.
“Throughout the heats and the pre-final, it had taken a few laps for the kart to properly come on,” he mused. “I got overtaken on lap three, but I wasn’t worried and I just planned to stay in the leader’s slipstream until my kart came to me and then get him back again and push as hard as I could to build up a gap.
“That’s exactly what I did, but then the silencer on my exhaust fell off, the result of earlier contact into the first hairpin when someone had driven into the back of me. I could hear it getting louder-and-louder by the lap, and suddenly it went. That was really disappointing, as I received a mechanical flag which meant I had to come into the pits and was unable to finish the race.”