Five alive for inspired Whitworth with best-ever British finish

Luke Whitworth produced an outstanding performance to storm through the field to his best-ever result in the British Super 1 Series at Larkhall in Scotland, and now he has cracked the top five in the toughest championship in the country, he has vowed to maintain that form through to seasons end.

Having sensationally broken the lap record around Larkhall in a club meeting earlier this year, Luke returned north of the border in optimistic mood and determined to banish the memory of a luckless three Super 1 outings in 2012 to-date.

The forecast for the weekend was fairly mixed, so we knew the key would be to be quick whatever the weather, reflected the talented young Rotherham speed demon. I really enjoy the circuitits short and fast and pretty breathless, with barely any break around the lapand I was feeling confident. Weve not had the best year in Super 1 so far, but I set myself the goal before Larkhall of finishing regularly inside the top ten in the finals between now and the end of the season to try and drag myself up the championship table.

In a wet qualifying session, Luke found himself on-track when conditions were at their worst, leaving him 14th out of the 40 Junior Rotax contenders on the timesheets, just under half-a-second shy of the benchmark. Albeit palpably not what he had been targeting, the highly-rated Wickersley-based hotshot knew he could still score some very respectable results from there and began his opening heat race in tenth place, on a wet-but-drying track.

I didnt get the best of starts and got hung out to dry a bit around the first corner, which is always a risk with being on the outside line, he rued. That cost me some ground, and then at the double right-hander at the bottom of the circuit, there was a lot of loading-up and I got spun round and down to the rear of the pack.

Following that, I just focussed on fighting my way back through as far as I could. It was tough to make up positions with so many people driving really defensively, but I managed to regain 15 places by the end, so I had to be pleased with that in the circumstances.

After administering his rivals a lesson in overtaking prowess, Luke went on to begin heat two from ninth, and evinced a laudably mature approach to take the chequered flag a competitive seventh, just over a second adrift of the runner-up in a frenetic eight-kart train.

It had dried out almost completely by then, with only a few wet patches here-and-there, he recounted. I made up a couple of places at the start and then got involved in a fairly big battle; I could probably have got as high as fourth, I reckon, but after what had happened in the first heat, I was wary of making sure I progressed safely through to the finals, so I wasnt willing to risk it all on a move I didnt need to make.

In a difficult pre-final, the MSA Academy member was restricted to a distant 15th place in his P1 Racing kart, but the third-fastest lap timequicker even than the winnerably underlined Lukes potential.

Beginning the all-important grand final from the same position, he made short work of battling immediately into the top ten and then closed inexorably in on the leading pack, lapping the quickest on the circuit for the majority of the race as he grittily hunted his adversaries down and only finding himself narrowly pipped to the fastest lap by a scant hundredth of a second on the very last tour. The result has elevated the 17-year-old Wickersley School and Sports College student into the top 20 in the title standingsbut he is far from satisfied yet.

We didnt have anything to lose, really, Luke confessed. I simply wanted to make up as many places as I could. Our speed in the pre-final had left me feeling confident, and we had rectified the issues with the kart that had held us back then, too. I just tried to maximise everything we had, and every chance I got, I took it.

I got a really good start, drove more aggressively than in the pre-final and worked my way through until I latched onto the back of the lead group. With quite a comfortable gap behind me, the pressure was off and I was able to focus 100 per cent on chasing the guys in front, which was a nice situation to be in. I just had to maintain my consistency and keep chipping away each lap, half-a-tenth here and half-a-tenth thereand when they then started scrapping amongst themselves, I was right there.

They were tough nuts to crack, though, and with everybody defending so well, we were forced to settle for fifth in the end, but we were still extremely happy with that as it was the best finish Ive ever had in Super 1. Nearly getting fastest lap was a boost as well, especially after the first three meetings of 2012. I proved to myself that I can do it, so now I need to carry that form over, push myself as hard as I can every time I take to the trackand repeat this kind of performance in every remaining round.


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