Gaby Weyer made history in the 2011 edition of Kartmasters at PF International – by storming to victory for Prima Racing, and in so doing becoming the first female competitor ever to triumph in the prestigious meeting.
After narrowly missing out on the WTP Cadet class pole position in qualifying, Gaby bounced back from a disappointing opening heat to prevail in a tight three-way tussle in heat two. A close and competitive third place in the pre-final subsequently left the 12-year-old in good shape for the all-important grand final, and she duly delivered, speeding to glory by a scant four hundredths of a second following a race-long scrap.
A truly landmark achievement for the talented young Norfolk-based lady racer, it earned her not only the coveted ‘GP’ plate, but also the Kartmasters ‘True Grit’ award into the bargain. Prima team manager Jamie Croxford was palpably impressed.
“Gaby drove brilliantly all weekend,” enthused the former European factory Birel star. “This kind of result has been on the cards for her for a little while; she has been right up at the front in the Little Green Man (LGM) Championship and should have won there already but for a touch of inexperience, but she managed to string it all together at Kartmasters for her breakthrough major victory.
“After coming so close, to finally get that in the bag is an absolutely massive result for Gaby. We’ve known she’s had it in her all year – and for it to all come good at Kartmasters was just perfect. She’s maturing quickly, and her attitude towards racing is impeccable. Hopefully, this will now increase her confidence and open the floodgates. She’s still very much in the battle for the championship in LGM, and this result can only help.”
Gaby was joined in the Prima WTP ranks at Kartmasters by her brother Tommy Weyer and Herbie Grout, who endured mixed fortunes during the event. Tommy took a highest finish of ninth place in the heats, whilst Herbie was the best-positioned of the pair in the grand final in eighth at the chequered flag.
“Tommy and Herbie both struggled a little bit throughout the weekend and were steady and solid,” affirmed Croxford. “Tommy perhaps put a bit too much pressure upon himself to perform given the prestige of the occasion, and unfortunately, that didn’t pay off.”
Prima’s Kartmasters silverware, however, was not restricted merely to WTP, with Dan Zelos producing a tremendous performance in the Comer Cadet class as he put a brace of distinctly troubled heats behind him to duel tooth-and-nail for the top step of the rostrum with Daniel Ticktum in the grand final. At the end of 18 breathless laps, the pair flashed across the finish line in a literal dead-heat – with identical fastest laps to each other for good measure – but the timing screens just gave Ticktum the nod.
Nonetheless, Croxford is quick to praise the Dereham-based speed demon’s sublime effort in what is by common consent the blue riband outing on the British karting calendar – as well as the role played in Dan’s success by team-mate Billy Monger, the undisputed pace-setter in Super Cadet in 2011 but making his Comer Cadet debut at PF.
“Dan and Billy worked together well all throughout practice, and neither of them was ever outside the top five,” he explained. “For most of the time, they were the outright pace-setters, and the speed they had in the wet on Thursday was just outrageous – less than a second slower than the more powerful Mini Max class!
“I think having someone of Billy’s calibre to work with really benefitted Dan and brought him on in leaps-and-bounds, and the pace they both had all weekend was absolutely amazing. They were actually lying first and second in qualifying until right at the end, when some other drivers got into their slipstream and took advantage of the tow to vault ahead.
“For Dan, coming through from 18th on the grid in the pre-final after two rough heats to cross the line first in the grand final – even though the timing screens gave it to Ticktum by a whisker – was absolutely outstanding. He made a brilliant start in the grand final to immediately move from ninth to fifth, and then used his head to work together with Ticktum to pull each other away from the field.
“Dan led onto the last lap, but Ticktum made a good move into the second hairpin and it was a real photo-finish across the line. A lot of people told me they thought Dan was ahead, but unfortunately, the timekeeper disagreed. Still, it was a great race from both of them, and either way round, it would have been a thoroughly well-deserved result. “Billy is clearly very naturally talented, and in his first-ever Comer meeting, he adapted to the class brilliantly. After the heats, he was fourth on the grid for the pre-final, but the driver ahead of him in second was slow away and Billy was unable to get in, which meant he came out of the first hairpin only 12th.
“He fought his way back through to third, but his engine temperature then went through the roof and he lost a lot of power over the last five laps, which caused him to drop down to sixth at the end. That was a shame, because he deserved to be up on the podium with Dan. It was a really, really strong performance from all of our Cadet drivers over the weekend, and I’m very proud of them.”
Also in attendance for Prima at PF were team newcomers Will Stowell and Sam Priest in KF3, both of whom overcame a lack of experience and recent running to make eye-catching progress, with Croxford acknowledging that the pair ‘learned a lot, and every time they took to the track they got closer-and-closer to the pace’. In Mini Max, meanwhile, Jack Lang stunned with a brace of excellent top 15 finishes in the finals after inking an 11th-hour deal to compete for the team on Saturday morning.
So, with a number of trophy hauls already in 2011 in the WSK Master Series, the national Super 1 Series at both Comer Cadet and Super Cadet level and the Little Green Man Championship, how does Kartmasters rate?
“This definitely ranks right up there amongst Prima’s finest achievements this year,” Croxford concluded. “It’s one of, if not the greatest of them all. It was certainly one of the strongest team showings we’ve had across the board, and the most competitive we have been.
“I was very proud to be managing Prima over the weekend. Everyone did a fantastic job, we’ve got all the people and facilities in the right place and that is shining through in our results. We’re continuing to go from strength-to-strength. The sky is the limit now in terms of what we can achieve.”