Kart champ McKenzie in class of his own

BUGBROOKE’S reigning Easykart UK Cadet Champion Ronan McKenzie proved unbeatable in his debut race in the Easykart UK 100cc Junior class last weekend.

He was racing against drivers up to the age of 16 and became the youngest driver to win a junior round to date.

Dragon2000, who produce software for the Motor Trade, are sponsoring McKenzie’s bid for the UK Junior Championship in 2011 and the new livery with McKenzie’s new number 65 was unveiled at the Ellough Park Raceway at the first round of the Championship.

Jason McKenzie, Ronan’s father and race mechanic, said: “We are delighted that a local company is prepared to help Ronan with his fledgling career in Motorsport and we couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the season with the support of Dragon2000.”

Twelve-year-old McKenzie, is in his second year of an option contract with Italian Kart Manufacturing giant Birel on their International Easykart Driver Program for talented drivers.

He dominated the first race of the season in the bigger, faster junior kart – qualifying in pole position before going on to win the heat, the pre-final and eventually the final, in a nail-biting finish, crossing the line alongside last year’s 15-year-old junior champion.

McKenzie, last year awarded Daventry District Council’s Junior Sportsman of the Year 2010 award, has been testing over the winter and this has undoubtedly paid off.

After starting the junior heat in pole position, McKenzie had a clean getaway from the pack at the start and made the most of it. He extended his lead and, despite catching four back markers three laps from the end, the slower drivers yielded when shown the blue overtaking flag and McKenzie passed without incident.

McKenzie received the chequered flag 2.8 seconds ahead of the second place driver, winning the heat and securing pole position again, this time for the pre-final race.

In the pre-final McKenzie again had a brilliant start emerging from the first corner in the lead and went on to win the Pre-Final, meaning he would start his first Junior Final in Pole Position.

McKenzie had the perfect getaway in the twenty-lap final pulling five kart lengths ahead of the chasing pack after the first corner.

He maintained his lead for fifteen laps when the back markers came into play. As the final entered the closing stages, McKenzie came under pressure from the number 1 kart and as they took the final lap board. McKenzie was defending his lead going into the last few corners, the Junior Champion dived to the inside at the hairpin, leaving both drivers side by side on the exit – to the excitement of the crowd both drivers were refusing to yield as they came down the back straight with tyres and bodywork rubbing together.

McKenzie carried the advantage into the penultimate corner leaving his rival on the outside with just a short run to the final corner, where the number one kart staged one last attempt to pass, by launching his kart over the kerb to the inside of McKenzie.

But again McKenzie would not yield and this left the two drivers side by side on the exit onto the final straight.

The thrilling first round battle between the reigning 12-year-old Cadet Champion and the defending 15-year-old Junior Champion was decided as they took the chequered flag together, separated by only five hundredths of a second with McKenzie taking a well-earned victory.

McKenzie was also named Karting Magazine’s Driver of the Day for his stunning performance in his debut Junior race and was also interviewed by motorsport press.

McKenzie said: “The kart felt great all day, it’s hard work because the junior is bigger than the cadet, but after all the testing we’ve done I’ve got used to it. We’ve got the set-up just right, and obviously I’m really happy to have won all three races today from pole in my first round of junior racing.”

McKenzie’s next event is the first round of the Easykart European Championship in Jesolo, Italy on March 20.

Companies interested in marketing partnership opportunities for the international events can contact Jason McKenzie at jason@mckenzieracing.co.uk