2012 British Superkarts Championship
Rounds 3 & 4, Oulton Park Island Circuit – Saturday 19th May
After dominating proceedings at Croft three weeks ago, Timperley racer Matt Isherwood entered rounds three and four of the BSA National Championship for Formula 125 confident of a strong performance at his local circuit, a circuit he has achieved great results at on his last two appearances. However, reigning champion Ben Willshire was looking to hit back having struggled to match Isherwood’s blinding pace in the first meeting. Dan Edwards, another local, looked to be the only person to have the measure of the championship leader but a DNF left him with ground to recover.
Qualifying was held very early in the day, and as such the track was cold and wet. Isherwood set an incredible benchmark on only his second lap, but only completed another three laps before suffering engine problems that sidelined him. His time was enough to edge out Dan Edwards by 0.044s, with Danny Butler nearly two seconds back in third. Damian Sleep had a difficult start at Croft, recovering from a race one DNF to finish 4th in race two, and the perennial number four would join Butler on row two, with Willshire under a tenth back in fifth. Manxman Jason Kitchin sealed sixth place, albeit a second further back, followed by Ian Reid, Gareth Sheridan and 2011 ICC Champion Kevin Gray, this trio separated by half a second, while Lee Plain edged out a poorly Louise Colin to complete the top ten.
Isherwood didn’t make the start of a damp Race One, his issues from qualifying couldn’t be fixed in time, so it was Edwards who led the field round to the start, and at the end of the opening lap he was being stalked by Butler and Willshire. Willshire had a steady start, picking off Butler on lap two before doing the same to Edwards a lap later, pushing on to take a comfortable first win of the year. Edwards and Butler initially battled together alone, but Butler hit tyre trouble and Edwards had to nurse a carburetion problem that dropped them into the clutches of the charging Jason Kitchin, who relieved Butler of his podium position on the final tour. Further behind, Kevin Gray drove a solid but lonely race to finish a delighted fifth place, comfortably clear of Gareth Sheridan and Ian Reid, with Duncan Marshall finishing nearly fifteen seconds behind this duo in eighth. Paula Salonen, driving for Raider Karts, finished an impressive ninth place as a guest entry, while at the tail end of the top ten, Lee Plain, Gary Avrill, Val Fernandez and John Hutton fought over the remaining places, with Plain pulling out a small advantage over the rest to finish tenth.
Starting from the back of the dry second race after not starting race one, Matt Isherwood had a blinding opening lap to cross the stripe eighth of thirty-five, but his race ended soon after with another engine failure, ending what looked like a promising weekend in disappointing fashion. Race one winner Ben Willshire was deposed early by Edwards and Butler, and the duo quickly set about opening a great lead over a fast starting Ian Reid, who had also mugged Willshire early on. Willshire muscled back in front at half distance, but didn’t have the pace to make any ground on the leaders.
The gap between the leading two yo-yoed between a second and a matter of tenths, but entering the final lap Butler felt an issue from his engine and called off his charge, leaving Edwards to take the flag and become the third winner in four races. Ian Reid continued his great race to finish fourth, some half a minute behind the winner, while Kevin Gray capped off a brilliant weekend to take another fifth place, fending off Jason Kitchin, with Gareth Sheridan also in close attendance finishing seventh. Lee Plain improved on his first race finish to cross the line in eighth, with Val Fernandez following in his wheeltracks, while Salonen rounded out the top ten with a solid performance.
Ben Willshire leaves Oulton Park with the Championship lead, with Edwards and Butler in close attendance. Croft winner Matt Isherwood drops to fourth, but with dropped scores taken into account at the end of the season, there are plenty of points left to score. The next round of the championship sees the competitors heading across the Irish Sea to the Emerald Isle, with the UK Cup event held bi-annually at the Bishopscourt circuit on the 2nd June.