Whitworth moves into championship top three with consistent Welsh weekend

Luke Whitworth has moved up into the top three in the Junior Rotax class title standings in the hotly-contested, Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone-backed Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship, following an ultra-consistent performance at Glan Y Gors that saw him never once finish outside the top six.

Luke entered the meeting lying fourth in the points table and targeting a solid haul to keep himself in the hunt. Notwithstanding a torrid time of things at Glan Y Gors in fellow national series Super 1 earlier this yeara weekend that the talented young Rotherham speed demon described as one of the worst of his fledgling careerhe remained laudably positive upon his return to the challenging and undulating North Wales circuit, reasoning that every single point counts when the championship is this close.

In a wet qualifying session on Saturday, he swiftly demonstrated just how much progress he has made in that aspect in 2012, and all the hard work he and his P1 Racing team had put in during practice paid off handsomely. Sitting on pole position for much of the session, Luke ultimately found himself pipped to the top spot by a scant four hundredths of a second as he wound up a season-best P2, matching his outstanding effort from the Super 1 curtain-raiser at Whilton Mill back in March.

After that, we knew we had the pace and therefore a good chance in the heat races, although starting on the outside line was not ideal, the highly-rated Wickersley-based hotshot went on. In the first one, the track was drying out but we were all on wet rubber, which meant tyre-management played a massive partand I was wary of taking too much life out of mine in case it rained again over the weekend.

We were quite quick in the race, but we were unable to stay with the two leaders and a couple of small mistakes towards the end cost me two positions. We finished fifth, but that was still good points towards the championship.

For heat two, we were all on slick tyres, but then it started raining as we were sat on the grid! I felt quite confident, because we had done a fair bit of testing in those kinds of conditions, and I tried to be as aggressive as I could whilst keeping my tyres in decent shape. The track was actually surprisingly grippy considering we were on slicks, and although the top two initially got away again, I was really coming back at them towards the end. If only the race had been a lap or two longer...

Winding up a mere half-a-second shy of glory and blitzing the fastest lapwith none of his rivals able to get even close to Lukes lightning-quick benchmarkthe MSA Academy member proceeded to begin the final from fifth position, and it would be an extremely keenly-disputed encounter.

The leader got away, but a group of us behind were all battling over second place, he recalled. I had to be really assertive in the moves I made whilst being careful to defend at the same time, but my racecraft was perhaps not quite as sharp as it could have been and I slipped to sixth in the end, which was disappointing. Still, we were in the fightand scoring points consistently like that is what its all about.

Placing himself right in the ballpark once more by qualifying a competitive fourth the following day, Luke entered Sundays heats optimistic about his prospects. The first of them yielded third position, with a better fastest lap to his credit than that of the race-winner, whilst a tense five-way tussle over the runner-up spoils in heat two ultimately resulted in fifth, leaving him to start the final from the same spot.

It was another really close battle, and I tried to stay with the front two but made some small mistakes which cost me time and positions, related the 17-year-old Wickersley School and Sports College student. That dropped me into the pack, but I fought my way back through into fourth. I then staved off some late pressure from three drivers behind, and by retaining my focus and sticking to my lines, they were unable to get past. I was satisfied with thatespecially as it has lifted us to third in the championship now.

Next up on the 2012 FKS agenda is Nutts Corner in Ireland, which will represent uncharted territory for Luke. The Yorkshire ace is already planning, however, to steal an early march on his adversaries.

Ive not been there before so it will be a new experience and a new track to learn, but Im looking forward to it, he affirmed. Ill watch some videos on the internet before I go to try to get a basic feel for the layout and perhaps gain an edge over my rivalsand the key then will be to stay that one step ahead all the way through.


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