Bowyer 'on top of the world' with breakthrough triumph on rollercoaster weekend Callum Bowyer admitted that he was 'on top of the world' after finally banishing all of the bad luck that has dogged him throughout 2009 to flawlessly leave the ...
Bowyer 'on top of the world' with breakthrough triumph on rollercoaster weekend
Callum Bowyer admitted that he was 'on top of the world' after finally banishing all of the bad luck that has dogged him throughout 2009 to flawlessly leave the opposition trailing and storm to his breakthrough KF3 class victory at Fulbeck on the same weekend as countryman Jenson Button claimed Formula 1 title glory - and just a handful of days after it had looked as though his hugely promising karting career might be over for good.
In the build-up to the Super 1 Series finale at the challenging Lincolnshire circuit, the young Peterborough star and his family reluctantly came to the conclusion that with the funding having run out, he would likely not be racing at all.
Then, thankfully, a benefactor came forward at the eleventh hour to enable Callum to compete - and not only did he compete, but the 15-year-old quite literally wiped the floor with all of his rivals by consummately triumphing in both of his heat races and both finals. It was, by any standards, a real rollercoaster of emotions.
"Having to stop karting would just have destroyed me," he reflected, "especially before the last national meeting of the season too, when we were ready to put all the hard work everyone had done all year into getting a strong result. That would just have killed me. I was so surprised and really happy when I knew we would be able to go and do the business."
'Do the business' he most certainly did, and though he may only have raced at Fulbeck once before, Callum is clearly a fan of the track - a real drivers' circuit that separates the wheat from the chaff - and his smooth, almost effortless driving style ensured that he soon had it mastered.
Devastatingly quick throughout practice, he might have missed out on pole position by a scant hundredth of a second in qualifying - with the leading eight contenders in the 26-strong field all covered by a mere tenth, emphasising the closeness and fierce nature of the competition in KF3 this year - but second nonetheless placed him ahead of all of the drivers he was battling for fourth spot in the end-of-season championship standings. Equal seventh going into the weekend, the Gunthorpe ace lay just 12 points behind P4 - and that was his firm goal.
"It's a good circuit to drive," he enthused, "with some really fast and flowing sections and tight and twisty parts as well, where you really have to get the set-up right - and the chassis and engine were both spot-on pretty much all weekend. All of a sudden everything just clicked, and that really showed.
"In heat one I couldn't quite get in at the first corner and slipped back to seventh, but after that I just picked them off one-by-one. After I got into the lead I managed to pull out a bit of a gap too, so that was really good, especially as we were suffering a bit with a misfire which was causing the engine to splutter coming off the corners. That cost me time and was a bit worrying, but we managed to get it rectified for the rest of the weekend.
"In the second heat I managed to get across at the start a bit quicker than I had done in the first, and I soon got past both Jordan King and Roy Johnson and into the lead. There was then quite a big battle behind me over second, which again allowed me to open up a decent gap, and after that I was just able to cruise around really."
Two-out-of-two was an excellent start - with a winning margin of almost three seconds in the second encounter firing an ominous warning to his rivals - and even more importantly, the results earned Callum the coveted pole position for the pre-final, on the cleaner side of the starting grid. Having twice triumphed from the dirty side of the grid in the heats, things were looking good.
"I was really confident for the pre-final," recounted the Chris Rogers-run speed demon, "and starting on the inside was a real bonus too, because being on the outside is quite a disadvantage at Fulbeck and it's hard to get across. I managed to pull out a bit of a gap initially and then concentrated on saving the tyres for the grand final, but then because I was doing that (defending British Champion) Jake Dennis began closing on me.
"He was able to take advantage of my tow, whereas I was having to just push clear air. When he caught me I started pushing again and we both pulled away from the rest of the field, but I always felt I had him under control and was able to hold him off all the way to the end.
"In the grand final I got away in the lead again and pulled out a gap, before Jordan King closed me down and overtook me. I followed him round for a couple of laps to try to push us both away from the pack, and then re- passed him at the top of the circuit and was able to just pull away. Over the last couple of laps the guys behind me all started fighting amongst themselves, and that allowed me to win by more than three seconds in the end.
"It was just brilliant to take the chequered flag - everyone has put so much hard work in throughout the year, and it all came together as a complete package in the end. We've had a rough three-quarters of the year, but in the last couple of months it's all started to come right and now we've finally got the win. We saved the best 'til last and cleaned up in the final round of Super 1 - the British Championship and the toughest competition in the country."
A long time coming it might have been, but the peerless, dominant clean sweep in his last KF3 outing ensured that Callum finished his 2009 challenge on a real high - and successfully snatched fourth spot in the final drivers' standings to-boot. Having been bang on the leading pace all year - and having had victory cruelly stolen from his grasp by an electrical failure at Genk in Belgium in the Lewis Hamilton-backed Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship - one way or another bad luck has always contrived against him...until now.
Benefitting from only a fraction of the budget of many of his rivals, to conclude 2009 as the top KF3 'rookie' in both Super 1 and FKS - in which he was also crowned runner-up in the overall title chase - was a magnificent accomplishment, and a fairytale ending to an at times troubled campaign that proves dreams sometimes do come true. Requiring sponsorship if his next dream of graduating to the more powerful KF2 class in 2010 is to similarly materialise, it would be a crying shame if one of the most exciting young talents on the UK motorsport scene had to hang up his helmet now...
"I'm just so happy!" the Ken Stimpson School pupil enthused. "I'm on top of the world - over the moon - and just feeling a bit of everything at the moment! I don't think it's really sunk in yet..."