2021 looks set to be the biggest and best year to date, with the introduction of triple rounds (3 races per race weekend) and the return of some old favorite circuits. Here is a run down of the Class of 2021 so far.
It could so easily have been Charlie Hand’s title last year, but he’s back for a third year and amazingly still seeking his first win after seven second places last season.
Ruben Hage was just behind Hand with fourth in last years standings, having moved to cars towards the end of 2019. He had a strong start to the season last year, but Knockhill was disastrous and he came away with a best of fourth place at Silverstone.
Deagen Fairclough was last years Scholarship winner, he missed the opener at the Cadwell Park due to an unfortunate spin on Friday testing. After a cautious start at Croft, he was in the top six in both races at Brands Hatch, before taking second at Mallory Park for his first podium. Further podiums at Silverstone and Oulton netted him sixth in the Championship. He will be vying for the title this year.
After some promising performances in 2019, Matthew Cripps had a rather up and down year. He had a fifth in the opening race at Cadwell, but his only other top six was at Mallory before being tipped over.
Harry Rice was the 2019 Scholar and secured his first podium finish with third at Knockhill. He was a fairly regular top six finisher, but managed to get caught up in the midfield too much to challenge.
It took a while for Ashley Gregory to get into her stride, having retired both Cadwell Park races with engine problems. She starred at Mallory Park however with second in the first race and third in the second, back for her third year.
Harvey Caton had a couple of outings in 2019 but was virtually a rookie last season. Fifth at Croft was his best early season result, before ending his year with fourth in the final race at Oulton. For the first half of last years Championship Jamie Goode looked to be struggling, but then it just seemed to click and he was sixth in both Silverstone races, his only top 10 finishes.
Aaron Walker was another of last years rookies struggling for pace. He gradually began to latch on to his rivals towards the end of the year and saved his best until last with 10th in the Oulton finale.
There were signs of pace but a lack of consistency for James Wallis. It took him until Silverstone in October to break into the top 10, which he did in remarkable fashion finishing fifth. He was ninth at Oulton too, so should be stronger this term.
Oliver Cottam was one of the youngest drivers last season, but had a number of incidents and is still looking to break into the top 10. His best result last season was 12th at Croft.
To progress in the championship you need to avoid incidents and know your limits. Scott Sumpton had more incidents than most and apart from 10th at Croft, didn’t really prove what he could do.
It’s probably unfair to call Jacob Heap a returnee as he only contested the opening rounds at Cadwell, but showed enough promise to be back for more.
Adam Parker hails from Rochdale and this will be his first season of motorsport. He has some karting experience, but is a rookie in the true sense of the word.
Unlike Parker, Ollie Handley has vast amount of karting behind him. He’s one of the McLaren DNA drivers, but has been out of action for the past year after breaking his leg in a karting accident.
Conversely, Reece Blakely has been karting competitively for just over a year, already claiming multiple rookie titles. He could be one to watch for challenging the more experienced drivers.
This weekend will not only be Harry Hickton’s first car race, it will be his first experience in any form of motorsport. It’s in the blood though, as Harry’s father Dave is a vastly experienced Saloon Car racer.
Loui Hounsell will be team mate to Alfie Jeakings, who has just announced his return for a second year. After some experience in karts from a very early age, Loui won the Karting Winter Series at Bayford and this will be his second full season of motorsport.
Short Oval Racing has been Jamie Petters background, in Ministox and Ninja Karts. He’s another with a racing father, Dan Petters, a race winning Pickup driver.
Travis Chapman has followed the Karting route to the grid. Starting at the age of 10, he’s worked his way through the ranks and is now poised to take the car racing journey, joining Loui & Alfie with Jeakins Race Preperation.
Ben Carter is a Karting Graduate too and with a few years of experience behind him, but for Adam Harding, he has had almost half of his life on the karting scene and has won National Championships at Sprint and Endurance level.
The final newcomer this weekend is Scholarship winner Chloe Grant, the BWRDC Karting Champion. She was also the youngest driver ever to pass her ARDS test last year, at 13 years and 11 months.
Travelling from Perthshire, she was Rowrah Junior Rotax Championship last season and Junior East of Scotland Champion in 2019.
With Jack Ruddell, CJ Morgan, Arwen Graham and Ryley Price due to join in for later races, the future continues to look healthy.
Words from Peter Scherer Race & Rally News
Photos from Infinity8Media, Blurred Lines Photography & Andrew Parker