• Great Eccleston driver snatches last corner victory.• Seventh in Britain a fine reward for career best season.
Great Eccleston’s William Taylforth finally earned the outright victory that he had been threatening all year when he scored a sensational maiden British Championship success in the final round of the Formula Kart Stars MSA Cadet Championship at Ellough Park.
Not only did the 13-year old Lancastrian climb to the top step of a national level podium for the first time he did it in the most dramatic fashion imaginable as the Bernie Ecclestone supported FKS Championship came to a conclusion at the sinuous Suffolk venue.
Taylforth’s success came at the end of a weekend of drastically differing fortunes for the Fusion Motorsport driver after some uncharacteristic struggles in Friday testing resulted in him changing engines far earlier than planned.
“In the first session I was pretty quick but as the day progressed I got slower,” admitted the Year 9 Hodgson Academy student, who came into the weekend sitting ninth in MSA National points table. “We put my race engine on for the final practice session so we knew it was fast and I was back at the top of the leaderboard.”
With the autumnal sun shining brightly and his lingering engine worries now behind him Taylforth was looking forward to Saturday’s penultimate round of the championship that launched the careers of current Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton and Paul Di Resta.
Despite only qualifying tenth for his two heats races Taylforth soon signalled a clear warning to his rivals that he would be one of the drivers to beat, racing his way up to second in his opening heat and then taking a hard fought sixth place in his second heat despite dropping to 16th on the opening lap.
“I thought that the engine had improved and it gave me confidence for the second race,” commented Taylforth of his race one performance before conceding that; “after the start I had so sixth was the best I could hope for.”
Taylforth’s heat points qualified him fourth on the grid for the final and with his kart consistently one of the fastest on track Taylforth was confident that he had the speed to contend for outright victory. However when several other karts crashed in the first corner Taylforth was forced into the tyres and while his kart didn’t sustain any damage, he returned to the race in last position.
“I was 30th but the kart was OK,” recounted Taylforth, who set about passing as many rivals as possible in the 23-lap race. “I had a bit of understeer for the first few laps as I got the marbles off the tyres but then I started to work on the pack in front, picking them off one by one.”
Taylforth’s progress was electric, passing kart after kart until he was running 15th. Despite setting the fastest lap of the race at 49.96-seconds Taylforth couldn’t close the gap to the group of karts in front of him and had to settle for a wholly unrepresentative final result
“I was a bit disappointed as things hadn’t gone as planned but I was happy with the way I got through. It gave me a bit of confidence that I was fast and that the kart handled well.”
Taylforth had one more chance to stand on the top step of the podium in Sunday’s final round and he capitalised on his pace from the previous day by qualifying third fastest for his heat races and then maintaining those positions in the races themselves to earn a spot on the inside of the second row of the grid for the main final, directly behind polesitter and Saturday winner Dean Macdonald.
“Before the race my dad said it was my last chance to do it so I just went for it,” stated Taylforth, who gained a place at the start and set about chasing down the leader.
“I looked back at the end of lap one and we had a two second lead,” recalled Taylforth, who soon started studying the behaviour of Macdonald’s kart to see where he could exploit a weakness. “My first thought was to push and get away but with three laps to go I was thinking about where he was slower than me. Luckily he was slower into the last corner.”
Biding his time Taylforth remained on the leaders rear bumper until the very last corner of the very last lap of the season before he pounced, later revealing that his teammate Daniel Ticktum, who had been crowned champion at the end of the heats and therefore sat out the final, spurred him on from the sidelines.
“On the last lap I let him lead and feel confident but then out of the corner of my eye I could see Ticktum giving me the signal to pass so I put it straight over the kerb and got ahead. My first thought was that as I had a slow exit to the corner not to let me re-pass me but I held on.”
With just metres to spare Taylforth was through and flashed across the finish line to score his maiden Formula Kart Stars win by six hundredths of a second, admitting that his achievement didn’t start to sink in until he saw another of his teammates, Ryan Anderton, who had been eliminated from the race in the first corner crash at the start, celebrating for him.
“It didn’t really sink in until I cam into turn one on the slow down lap where Ryan was standing after his crash. I saw him saying well done and giving me a cheeky grin.”
Not only did the win sign off his FKS Cadet career on a high it also elevated him up two spots in the points table to seventh, meaning that he can use the number 7 for the rest of the year.
“It felt really good to get a national win under my belt,” concluded Taylforth. “I finished seventh in points which I’m definitely pleased with as at the start of the year I was only 20th.”
William’s final major Cadet event of the year comes in the final round of the fiercely competitive Super One Championship at Whilton Mill in Daventry later this month.