Sam Brabham rose to the challenge of competing in his inaugural international kart meeting at Genk, in Belgium, with his best Formula Kart Stars result of ninth place securing his first top 10 finish in the Junior Max category.
The 16 year-old drew on experience gained throughout his debut Formula Kart Stars season to deliver his best performance to date. Despite an incident packed event that pushed his perseverance and determination to the limit, Sam kept bouncing back with the threat of making it through the fierce mid-field and into the hallowed top 10.
The Henley-on-Thames racer would have been forgiven for thinking it was Groundhog Day during the seventh and eighth rounds of the season. Time and time again he made storming race starts only to be pushed wide onto the grass or into a spin, and time after time he would respond with an inspired drive back through the field.
After recovering from a tough qualifying session for round seven on Saturday, Sam charged up to 13th place in Heat 1, but a tussle put him on the grass leaving him to rejoin at the back then come back up the field to 18th. With changeable weather conditions and rain showers throughout the day, Heat 2 was full of incident and red flags, proving another character building experience.
Re-focusing for the Final, Sam took 10 slots at the start only to be spun out once again. However, a stellar recovery march of eight places rewarded him with a 16th place finish.
Sam carried his form into round eight on Sunday, immediately impressing with seventh quickest in practice and his best qualifying performance despite spending the wet session scrubbing-in new tyres.
A lightening start for Heat 1 saw Sam up to 10th before the race was red flagged. With it all to do again at the restart, by lap three he was the fastest of the field for several laps and eventually finished 18th. The familiar story was repeated in Heat 2 with the Project One racer making it up to 13th place.
For the Final, Sam put into action his entire weekend experience to drive the wheels off his Junior Max machine, storming through from 17th to press for seventh place. With consistent pace on par with the leaders, after some fantastic racing Sam took the chequered flag in 9th.
Sam commented: “It’s great to score my first top 10 result in Formula Kart Stars. A mixture of things clicked into place to help build my confidence and the results showed.
“Genk is a technically challenging track which I enjoy so it’s probably my favourite circuit so far. I quickly learnt the layout and I had good pace all weekend, running in the top five in the wet and the top 10 in dry practice.
“My confidence dipped a bit in the heats on Saturday but I got my head together for the Final and then carried that mindset in to Sunday. I could have got in to the top six but a mistake in the last corner affected my momentum down the straight and I lost a few places. But I recovered to get my top 10 finish.
“The Project One team did a great job, I’m getting better directing the team with feedback with every race and together we are getting stronger. You need a great team behind you to do well so my thanks go to them and all my sponsors for their vital support.
“I’ve achieved every target I’ve set so far this season. I hit the top 15 at Glan Y Gors and the top 10 next time out. I’m really looking forward to the penultimate season rounds at Whilton Mill as I can go there with more confidence knowing what I can do on the track and what I need from my kart.
“This weekend is proof of the hard work I’ve put in, building on the experience I’ve earned with every race. I am confident I can carry this form forward to the final rounds. It should make for an exciting end to my first Stars season.”