James Singleton moves up into British top three with PF International podium

Singleton moves up into British top three with PF International podium

James Singleton had one principal objective in the penultimate meeting on the 2011 Super 1 Series calendar at PF International – to overhaul his team-mate and move up into the top three in the national title standings. It was an objective that he accomplished with commendable ease.

James headed to Lincolnshire circuit PF sitting fourth in the 63-strong Junior Rotax class points table – in a championship uniting the indisputable crème de la crème of young British driving talent at that level – and on a high off the back of clinching the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone-backed Formula Kart Stars (FKS) laurels at Whilton Mill. He was, he acknowledged, in optimistic mood.

“Winning in FKS had been a huge confidence boost and meant all the pressure was off,” explained the highly-rated North Wales karting star. “We had achieved the main thing we had been aiming for this year.

“The goal in Super 1 was to move ahead of my team-mate Levi Coombs, because we want to finish third in the championship. We were fairly confident we would be quick – in the final at Kartmasters at PF the previous month, we had been on the pace – so we knew what we had to do. Levi may be my team-mate, but that doesn’t make any difference, to be truthful; out on-track, you don’t have any friends – everyone is up against each other, and everyone wants to win.”

Following his crowning glory in FKS, James confessed that a top three overall placing in fellow national series Super 1 would be the cherry on top – and no mean feat, either. Qualifying a close second-fastest in his group was an excellent start, underlining the Conwy-based speed demon’s potential and – most crucially of all – hoisting him clear of the mid-grid ‘crash zone’ for the heats, a particular hazard at PF where opening laps can be ‘lively’ in the extreme.

Better still, Coombs could manage no better than seventh in his own qualifying session, and a peerless triumph for James in his first heat race – taking advantage of a sprightly getaway and ultra-consistent pace thereafter as his pursuers scrapped fiercely in his wake – further drove home his advantage. Heat two would yield a similarly impressive effort.

“It was raining and we had a set of brand new wet tyres on, which are not as good as ones that have been scrubbed-in,” recalled the Penmaenmawr hotshot. “We knew we were probably not going to be able to challenge the pole-sitter Jack Barlow due to that and I dropped down to fourth early on, but I fought my way through into second and we were really quick towards the end, setting fastest lap along the way.

“We caught Barlow, and although we didn’t quite have the edge we needed to be able to attack, it was still really encouraging to be as quick as him on the tyres we were on.

“We began the first final from second. We knew that might be a bit of an issue at the start, given what the outside line can be like at PF, but we were just aiming to get through the first corner ok and then targeting a top five finish. Levi hadn’t managed to get out of the ‘B’ final, which meant he wouldn’t score at all; that was a big boost for us in the championship, and after that, the important thing was to pick up a couple of good, consistent finishes.”

An intelligent start enabled James to slot immediately across to the inside, and in so doing cede just a single place. Subsequently running second for four laps, as his kart progressively fell from the pace, the 15-year-old ultimately slipped back to fifth, defending superbly along the way to collect a very solid haul of points. The second final would go rather better.

“We had set the kart up to come on early again so we could progress through the order quite quickly and get ourselves into a comfortable position,” he reflected. “I made a really good start to move up to third straightaway, and the driver ahead got a bad run off the second hairpin later around the opening lap, which allowed me to overtake him into the chicane. I then caught and passed Barlow, too, and led for quite a few laps.

“We were really quick for a while and pulled out a little bit of a gap, but later on, my kart began to fade and he got me back. Towards the end of the race, the pack behind caught me right up, and going into the Complex on the penultimate lap, Rob Holland attacked me. Fortunately, I just managed to fend him off, and when he then clipped the kerb, that gave me a little bit of breathing space. There was still a fair bit of pressure over the last lap, but I knew that if I could just keep it on the road and keep everything steady, we would be ok.”

Far more than merely ‘ok’, James’ brilliant performance to secure the runner-up spoils thoroughly justified his Coles Racing team’s decision to set the kart up the way they did, and the end result was well-deserved indeed. Having leapfrogged Coombs into third place in the points standings – and having been consistently the quicker of the pair of late, with the momentum palpably on his side – the Ysgol Aberconwy pupil will head to his local circuit of Three Sisters near Wigan for the season finale fired-up and ready to rock.

“We were over-the-moon to finish second,” he concluded. “Winning the race was always going to be a long shot given the pace Barlow had all weekend; we knew our kart would go off eventually, so it was a case really of when rather than if he would come back past. Second was what we had been aiming for, to be honest, and in that respect, it couldn’t have gone any better.

“We’ve always been fast around Three Sisters, so we’re confident of being able to maintain third place in the championship. Second position would be even nicer, of course, and there is still a small chance of snatching it, but we’d settle for third. To finish first in FKS and third in Super 1, yeah, that would be a pretty good year...”

James is seeking sponsors to help support his burgeoning career; if you are interested in backing him, please contact his father Mark on 07795 297350 or at: gwyneddforklifts@ukf.net