Strawberry wins 4th Super One title in style
Fresh from clinching 3rd in the Euro Max Challenge at Angerville in France just days earlier, Ed and his Strawberry Racing colleagues returned home seeking to wrap up the Ginetta Super One Rotax Championship at PFi (17/18 September).
With the incoming talents of Ash Hand and Andy King, plus a collection of title rivals – including his other team-mate Jack Marshall - Ed was far from assured of taking the title easily, but responded in the style of a true champion.
He won both his qualifying heats to take pole position for Sunday’s first final, with King and Hand completing row two and Marshall sitting on P5.
When he crossed the finishing line well clear of the field, he had already done enough to put the Championship to bed, whilst Andy, Jack and and Ash finished in 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.
With little time to savour the moment, and heavy rain forcing the teams to hurriedly change the karts’ set-ups from dry to wet settings, Brand faced a tough decision. Should he end the year on a high and go for the win, or stay out of trouble and gather the best points finish possible? He told passing journalists that he’d go for the latter - but just moments into the race this was evidently not the case. He was delivering a rain masterclass.
Andy King finished a worthy 2nd to Ed with Ash 7th and Jack a frustrated 19th after a contact-filled 16 laps.
With Ed and Strawberry Racing declared champions – the team’s 4th senior Super One Rotax crown – the focus fell on advancing Jack Barlow to overall success in Junior Max.
Like Ed, Jack was spurred on by the incoming Rob Holland, and similarly stepped up. Both drivers topped their groups after timed qualifying, but it was Jack who claimed pole position for the first final thanks to a 1st and 2nd in the heats. Jay Goodwin enjoyed a terrific day to put his kart down on P3 - his best performance of the year – whilst Alessandro Latif qualified on row seven, with Holland further back in 28th place after having to come through the repercharge.
Jack drove a perfectly judged race to win comfortably, with Jay an excellent 4th, Rob a gritty 9th and Alessandro completing the top 20.
Barlow saved his best for last and went on to dominate the main final. He crossed the finishing line over two seconds clear of the next driver and taking a maximum score of 100 points. Holland completed his day in 4th with Latif a creditable 5th and a heart-broken Goodwin watching from the sidelines after a collision just two laps from the chequered flag.
In Mini Max qualifying, Chinese star Zhou Guan Yu - or ‘Joe’ as the team have christened him - astonished the Championship regulars when he recorded the 6th-fastest lap. Title protagonist Harry Webb experienced a tougher time against the stopwatch, but a good run in his heats saw him take P4 of the pre-final grid with Joe on row five.
They went on to claim 5th and 8th in the race, with Zhou completing his best weekend in the Championship so far with an eventual 10th place in the final.
Strawberry team manager Warwick Ringham was full of praise for Brand and Barlow: “Ed knew he could put the title beyond reach if he won. That sort of knowledge normally puts a lot of pressure on a driver, but not him. He was cool throughout and after clinching it in the pre-final, his mastery of the conditions and desire to win was a treat to watch.”
On a number of occasions Ringham was spotted giving a ‘perfect’ hand signal to Jack Barlow. “Jack seemed a little bit uptight before both finals, but once the races were underway he relaxed - and yes, he did a perfect job. He’s extended his points lead in the Junior table and if he can maintain the form he showed at PFI and Buckmore Park before that, I think he’ll be in the box seat. “
Strawberry Racing uses the Tony Kart Racer EVRR chassis and Cream Racing Engines. For more information about OTK products and Cream’s preparation services go to strawberryracing.co.uk. Or call 0114 269 6215 / 0114 288 9933