TWELVE-year-old Bugbrooke Cadet kart driver Ronan McKenzie has won the 2010 Easykart UK Cadet Championship.
His success came after claiming yet another podium finish during the thrilling final round at the Forest Edge track in Andover.
McKenzie, a member of Italian Kart Manufacturing giant Birel’s International Easykart Driver Program for talented drivers, went into the last round tied on points with another driver and needed to finish in the top eight and ahead of his rival to secure the UK title.
Forest Edge is a new addition to the Easykart race calendar, and it was also a new track to McKenzie.
But he very quickly adapted to the track during testing and it was clear that McKenzie had the optimum set up as he was the quickest in the practice sessions.
Sunday’s qualifying saw McKenzie put in a time of 47.73, a tenth quicker than the second place driver, giving him pole position for the heat.
McKenzie’s championship rival did not have the pace of the front runners, and could only manage qualifying in eighth position. The heat saw a stunning drive from McKenzie, who led for the entire race finishing almost two and a half seconds in front of the second-place driver.
The pre-final saw McKenzie’s Championship rival break down on the rolling lap and consequently not start the race.
McKenzie had a great start and led the race until the last lap where he was overtaken, but McKenzie, not wanting to jeopardise his starting position for the final, did not offer much resistance and settled for second place, two tenths behind the winner. He also set the track lap record of 47.54 during the pre-final race.
The final saw McKenzie and his championship rival at opposite ends of the grid, with McKenzie starting front row in second place and his rival on the back row in 17th – which undoubtedly relieved some of the pressure.
McKenzie started the race in second and had dropped down to third in the first corner but he quickly regained his position. He then worked with the leader, staying in his slipstream and the two of them pulled away from the rest of the pack. It quickly became a two-kart race.
During the fifth lap the pair swapped positions a couple of times but McKenzie did not push too hard as the championship was at stake and the smallest mistake could cost him the title.
The two drivers had pulled an incredible 11 second lead on the rest of the field and were still nose to tail.
The atmosphere in the spectator stands was tense as the final lap board was displayed but McKenzie did not even attempt a pass, wisely opting to secure a safe second place. He crossed the finish line with his fist in the air, knowing he had clinched the championship title.
McKenzie said after the race: “I knew what I had to do to win the Championship. Once I knew that we were clear at the front, I wasn’t going to make a move unless the other driver made a mistake.
“He was just as quick as me and I couldn’t see an easy way past him – so I settled for second and the Championship!”
The Easykart UK Championship points are calculated by counting the best seven rounds out of eight and McKenzie was the only driver to have had podium finishes in all of the counted rounds.
Having set track lap records at third round Clay Pigeon in Dorset and at the final round at Forest Edge, McKenzie is also the youngest driver to win the UK title so far.
McKenzie will be presented with his Easykart UK Championship Winners’ trophy at an awards dinner at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry on Saturday, October 30, during the KartMania Event weekend.
McKenzie’s next event is to defend his 2009 E Plate Open Champion title at Lydd in Essex on October 3, where he will display the number one on his kart. He will then be jetting off to Italy on October 12 to compete in the Easykart World Finals, with his sights set firmly on the Easykart World Cadet Champion title.
Companies interested in marketing partnership opportunities can contact Jason McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.