Luke Whitworth travelled north of the border bidding to gain some valuable practice time at Larkhall ahead of the national hostilities there in July. He returned home again not only with another winner’s trophy in his baggage following a dominant performance – but also as a record-breaker.
It might have been only Luke’s third time around the demanding Scottish circuit – one that very much places an emphasis on both mental and physical endurance – but he had already impressed with an eye-catching fastest lap there as a ‘rookie’ in the British Super 1 Series the previous year, and he would maintain that kind of scintillating form ten months on.
“It’s a really enjoyable track to drive, with some fast-and-flowing corners and tight hairpins – a lot of variety,” revealed the talented young Rotherham karting star. “That makes it tricky to get the right set-up, and you never get much of a break around the lap. It’s quite grippy and you get a lot of feedback from the steering wheel, and it really tests your fitness.”
In a small but distinctly high-calibre Junior Rotax class field – composed of a mixture of British front-runners and local specialists – Luke began the opening heat race in eighth place and went on to scythe his way up the order before snatching the advantage with two laps remaining.
“I held position at the start and then just had to focus on keeping calm and working my way through the traffic,” reflected the highly-rated Wickersley-based hotshot. “Our engine was outstanding, which allowed me to pull off some great overtaking moves at the end of the straight and go on to win. It was just a perfect race.”
With his P1 Racing team having found itself plagued by a number of engine issues over the winter, it was, Luke admitted, particularly sweet for it to all come so good now, and his searing pace was enough to establish a new lap record around the South Lanarkshire circuit – one that would not subsequently be bettered.
Whilst the second heat was more of a fight from fifth on the grid – coming up against several particularly defensive rivals – the 17-year-old MSA Academy member once again showcased his flawless racecraft to battle his way through and make it two-from-two, grabbing the initiative on the very last lap.
Following that, a close third place in heat three – less than a second shy of making it a victory hat-trick – comfortably secured Luke pole position for the all-important final, and after briefly losing out at the start, he wasted no time at all in swiftly re-asserting his supremacy.
“We had been fast all weekend and I knew we had the pace to pull away at the front, so after I had reclaimed the lead at the end of the opening lap, it was then a case of getting my head down and keeping it all as consistent as possible,” he recalled. “Over the last couple of laps, I put in some really quick times just to make sure I wouldn’t be caught, and it was a great feeling when the chequered flag came out!”
Never under any real pressure throughout and visibly well in control of proceedings, the Wickersley School and Sports College student crossed the finish line with more than a second in-hand over his nearest pursuer, and a fourth fastest lap from as many races ensured him of a clean sweep – as well as leaving him with his tail up heading into the 2012 Super 1 curtain-raiser at Whilton Mill this weekend.
“Beating so many quick drivers at Larkhall proved how competitive we are and has given me a massive confidence boost going into Super 1,” Luke affirmed in conclusion. “I definitely feel ready for it now – so bring it on!”