Last month’s E Plate (19 February) saw four drivers give advanced notice of their title intentions with well taken victories in the first Easykart race of the season. The championship proper kicks off this Sunday, and it will be fascinating to see if Sam Faulkner, Ronan McKenzie, Jake Hughes and Will Smith can maintain their early advantage.
The thrilling Teesside Autodrome hosts the opening round and it can be reasonably expected to create excitement, drama and terrific racing in each of the four categories.
Sam Faulkner won both finals at Whilton Mill to claim the Cadet E Plate, but was chased from first to last by the ever-improving Jenson Murchison. Arguably, they will be the key protagonists slugging it out for overall supremacy this year, but don’t discount a raft of hard-charging youngsters, including; Ethan Hawkey, Adam Sparrow and Andrew Dutton.
In spite of these straitened times in the national economy, another strong Junior grid highlights the continued value-for-money appeal of Easykart. Unable to take up Birel’s offer of a factory KF3 berth due to a lack of funds, Ronan McKenzie showed his mettle by winning the E Plate at Whilton. On that occasion Zack Nickson and James Lay were left scrapping to see who would be crowned runner-up. The new aggregate scoring system for the two finals and a sliding scale of extra points for the fastest laps saw Zack ultimately pip James.
Thanassi Barnicoat’s debut season in Easykart enjoyed an excellent first experience as he too narrowly beat Will Stowell after tussles in both finals.
The largest field of the day should also be the most exciting. The reigning national, world and E Plate Light champions will all go head to head on Sunday. If that wasn’t enough, Barnaby Pittingale – the 2011 UK and World Heavy Champion – was also a contender for the E crown.
Look out for Ian Williams, a revitalized Steve Youle and former Junior front-runner Alexander ‘AJ’ Morris. Sam Dimelow had a shocker at Whilton and will be fired-up for Middlesbrough. World Finals vice-champion Patrick Lay returns to action, making the prospect of Sunday as mouthwatering as smearing Christina Hendricks in Bovril and then pretending you’re a werewolf.
Nobody could match Will Smith’s blistering pace and consistency in Heavy last month and he has to be considered the favourite this Sunday. However, if they can find the two to three tenths Smith had over them, then his rivals will believe they can carry the fight to him. Michael Roots, Mark Lawrence, Joe Paterson and Carl Churchill will almost certainly figure strongly.
Other series regulars, Tim Hill, Neil Fisher, Andrew Gould and Jack Bruce weren’t quite on the boil at Whilton, but can be expected to show their bouncebackability when they get down to the serious business of the finals on Sunday.
The action starts from 10:00am on Sunday 11 March at Teesside Autodrome, South Tees Motorsport Park, Middlebrough