As he builds up towards the resumption of national hostilities, Jay Goodwin could have done far worse than the stunning charge he produced to scythe his way dramatically through the field from virtually the back of the pack to a podium finish at PF International – leaving him bullish in the extreme about his prospects looking ahead.
Up against some 32 high-calibre Junior Max class rivals, Jay was treating his PF outing as predominantly a timely testing opportunity and form guide in preparation for the penultimate meeting on the 2011 Super 1 Series calendar around the same circuit.
The last time the talented young Sale-based karting star had competed at the Lincolnshire track, he had triumphed, and his superb recent record there meant he returned with his tail up. Right from the outset, he demonstrated that he meant very serious business indeed.
“I wasn’t too fussed about the end result, to be honest,” Jay confessed. “I just wanted to prove that we were fast enough ahead of Super 1. There were some very good drivers there – practically the whole Super 1 grid bar one or two – and that made for some tough racing. I can usually fight my way through the pack pretty easily, but this time I had to work a lot harder.”
On the leading pace throughout practice, the highly-rated Ashton-upon-Mersey hotshot went on to begin his opening heat race from all the way down in 24th position – right in the danger zone.
“There was carnage at the start,” he recalled, “which caused me to drop back a couple of spots initially, but I managed to work my way through. I think I passed about three people every lap. It wasn’t easy, but the speed we had allowed us to do it.
“I got up to eighth place, but then it started to rain and I thought, ‘just keep it on the track, Jay’. I backed off a bit and several karts came past me; at that point, I was questioning whether I should have kept on pushing, but then on the exit of the next corner, they all spun because they were going too fast, so I had definitely made the right decision. I actually got up to third, but then the red flags came out and they put the result back a lap, which meant I ended up fifth.”
A supremely mature performance – particularly given that driving on slick tyres on an increasingly damp track surface is treacherous in the extreme – the outcome represented excellent progress from where he had begun, and yielded a better fastest lap time than all four drivers ahead of him on the results sheet for good measure.
The Strawberry Racing speed demon was targeting a similar performance in heat two, but unfortunately, Lady Luck would not be on his side. Again, there was the habitual opening lap PF International mêlée – only this time, it claimed Jay as one of its victims. And so onto heat three.
“My start was really good, and I came round the first corner in third,” he reflected. “I had my two team-mates right ahead of me, so we were in a Strawberry one-two-three and I was thinking it could be a really good race for the team. Heading down to the first hairpin, the driver in fourth was quite a way behind, so I didn’t defend – but he locked his brakes up, couldn’t stop and just T-boned me.
“That dropped me down to last place, and I had made some positions back up when I got collected again! The second incident left me about half-a-lap behind the back of the pack, and although I couldn’t climb through the field at all, I did get fastest lap by more than two tenths of a second – and like I said, I wasn’t really all that bothered about the results. The important thing was that we were able to prove we had the pace.”
Lapping a staggering half-a-second quicker than the winner on this occasion, Jay’s grittily determined effort deserved far more than it ultimately yielded – and from 23rd on the starting grid for the all-important final, the 14-year-old had the top ten in his sights. He didn’t, he confessed, honestly think he had a prayer of finishing inside the top three – but he considerably underestimated himself.
“I found myself in 15th place after the first couple of corners,” he revealed, “and then I just seemed to settle into the race really quickly and was able to come through really well – it felt like everything was going my way at last! By the time I got up to fourth, the three leaders were all together about a second in front of me, and I thought, ‘I’m going to use my head – rather than fighting them now, I’ll just sit here behind them until the last lap when it all kicks off’.
“On the penultimate lap, I passed the driver in third and ran him out wide so he wouldn’t be able to attack me back; that meant I could focus on the top two, without having to worry about someone being directly behind me as well. I could have made a risky move for the lead on the last lap, but I didn’t want to ruin all the ground I had made up throughout the race, so I decided to settle for third.”
A magnificent turnaround from the torrid time of things he had suffered during the heats, to take the chequered flag less than a second shy of victory was superb – and what’s more, it means Jay can head into Super 1 with nothing and nobody to fear.
“It was a great result for the team, with two of us up on the podium, and I want to say ‘well done’ to Rob Holland for winning first time out with Strawberry,” concluded the J Davidson Scrap Metal Processors-backed ace. “I was very pleased with the speed we showed.
“Our team-mate Jack Barlow is leading the championship in Super 1, but I think we’ve proved we can feature at the sharp end now, too. The team manager said Jack will have to push a lot harder to beat us next time – because we’re going to be right up there with him!”