Crawley 'chuffed' with top five in Super 1 - and aiming for FKS glory Exciting Dartford karting star Harry Crawley has his eyes on the prize in the finale of the 2009 Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship, after firmly establishing himself as...
Crawley 'chuffed' with top five in Super 1 - and aiming for FKS glory
Exciting Dartford karting star Harry Crawley has his eyes on the prize in the finale of the 2009 Formula Kart Stars (FKS) Championship, after firmly establishing himself as one of the top five drivers in the country in fellow national series Super 1.
Harry headed to PF International for the last meeting on the Super 1 calendar with designs on title glory, but trailing in the points standings as he was, he always knew it was going to be a long shot. Still, a rostrum finish in the preparatory club meeting a fortnight earlier and strong practice pace left him in optimistic mood at the outset of the weekend.
However, in a field as closely-fought as is this year's 33-strong Mini Max grid - composed of the very creme de la creme of young British talent at that level - a tiny error in qualifying that cost the Hawley-based speed demon less than two tenths of a second also arguably cost him pole position, as he ended the session down in seventh.
"I was just really pushing myself to try and get as many points as I could to try to win the championship," he explained. "I was going to do everything I could to get it. We had a new chassis for the weekend, and the kart felt a lot more stable through the quick corners.
"We had found a lot of pace since the club meeting and in practice we were very fast and consistently inside the top three, setting some very good times. That left me feeling quite confident for the races. PF is a very fast track and one that I really enjoy, with lots of different varieties of corners - really fun to race at.
"In qualifying I made a mistake going into the first hairpin on my fastest lap, though, and I'm sure that cost me an easy top three starting position. I was a little bit frustrated by that, but I was just concentrated on scoring good points in the finals. All I was thinking about was how I could make up positions in the heats and get myself back up there again for the finals."
Make up positions in the heats Harry certainly did, beginning both from fifth spot and taking the chequered flag third in the opening encounter - just over two seconds shy of victory - and runner-up in the second, barely five hundredths away from the winner. Having hauled himself back into contention via a brace of strong and intelligent performances, he was left eagerly anticipating the pre-final
"I got a good start from fifth up into third," related the 12-year-old - one of the youngest and least experienced drivers in the class, open to entrants as old as 17. "I managed to open up a gap to the pack behind and then battled it out with the two leaders to the end. I was satisfied with second to be truthful; it wasn't worth taking any unnecessary risks to try to get the win and it left me in a good starting position for the grand final, so I was just focussing hard on that."
Eight tenths adrift of the top spot at the close, the leading trio were in a race of their own, and more of the same was promised for the all- important grand final later in the day - but for Harry, unfortunately, things would rapidly begin to unravel.
"I had to try to make the best of it at the start, because being on the outside at PF can cost you as many as five positions in one go," explained the Evolution Racing ace. "It puts you on the outside line for the first hairpin too, where all the carnage tends to happen... I was third going into the hairpin, but I couldn't get across to the inside there so I had to try and hang on around the outside - but then I got hit from behind, which sent me out wide.
"People darted up the inside of me and I lost about ten places in all. That left me 13th and with bent steering, and I fought my way back up to eighth but then received a black flag. I rejoined again right at the back of the field and tried to carry on pushing as hard as I could, but by then I was so far behind everyone else that there was very little to be gained anymore and I ended up coming in 22nd.
"I was really disappointed, because I think that one final cost me two places in the championship standings if I'm honest, but I guess that's racing. I can't rewind what happened, and I was still really pleased with myself for finishing fifth in the British championship - at the end of the day it's my first year in Super 1.
"It's been a big learning curve and we are competing against the best drivers in the country, but it's been good fun and I've really enjoyed it. I'm really chuffed with what I've achieved this season. I definitely wasn't expecting to be as high up as I have been all the way. I just need to try my best again at Whilton Mill now."
Indeed, Whilton - scene of the FKS double-header finale this coming weekend (October 3/4) - will be far more about serious business than fun, as Harry steels himself for a what looks set to be a fraught three-way battle for the crown in a bid to lift the same trophy as did a certain Lewis Hamilton 13 years ago. For the victor, this time, the spoils are unquestionably the most coveted of the entire campaign.
"I've got to keep my head, just stay up there and keep out of trouble, and hopefully we'll come out of it on top," concluded the Wilmington Grammar School for Boys pupil. "I really enjoy the track; it's been resurfaced since I last raced there, so it should be even faster now - and therefore more fun to drive too. Every single corner there is a challenge; it has lots of overtaking opportunities and is just fantastic to race at.
"I've won a couple of club meetings at Whilton, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there again. I know I need to play the points game, and try to score as many of them as I can. I'm really going to go for it and give it my all."