Matt Isherwood enters the 2012 British Superkart Championship in the Formula 125 Open class, having moved over from Short Circuit KZ2 during the winter. Switching from an Energy KZ chassis to an Anderson 125 Long Circuit chassis but retaining the Vortex powerplant that powered him to his 3rd place finish in the 2011 KZ Superkart Grand Prix, we catch up with the Croft double race winner to find out how he’s found the move to Long Circuit, his immediate success and where he goes from here.
Michael Groves (MG): Matt, After two seasons of racing KZ at Short Circuit, and guest appearances at the Superkart Grands Prix in 2010 and 2011, you’ve moved into 125 Open for a full tilt at the Superkart National Championship this year. How have you found the transition from short to long circuit?
Matt Isherwood (MI): My first ever ICC long circuit meeting was the GP at Cadwell Park in 2010 and the first big difference was the speed and the thrill of it! I loved it from the moment I tried it and that was part of the decision for us to move into 125 Open long circuit this year. One of the key factors you have to take into account in long circuit is the slipstream which you don’t really use that much on the short circuits. I have definitely not regretted moving to long circuit and I am thoroughly enjoying this season so far.
MG: And how have you found the move from the Energy chassis to the Anderson?
MI: I found that the Anderson has a lot more rear end grip through the fast and flowing corners but the Energy did have the upper hand through the slower corners. The Anderson handles really wet in the wet too with more predictable handling characteristics and less “snap” oversteer. We are still yet to find the optimum set-up to suit my driving style though.
MG: Speaking of set-up time, there were three pre-season tests, two at Oulton and one at Silverstone, but you didn’t get much track time in the kart before Croft did you?
MI: The first of the two tests at Oulton Park in February, Chris Needham (Division 1 Superkart driver) test drove my kart but he suffered with engine troubles and didn’t get much running in. The second test at Oulton Park went really well and we were straight on the pace lapping under the lap record, which is why we were really hopeful going into rounds 3+4 at Oulton Park but things didn’t go our way on the day. The test at Silverstone was really helpful for us gaining set-up data and also for my experience of driving the Anderson kart in the wet, again in that test we felt we were competitive.
MG: Did your performance at Croft (Pole, Fastest Lap and Double Race Win) come as much of a surprise?
MI: We went into the weekend on the back of being strong in testing but we didn’t expect to do as well as we did. It was a nice surprise but we have to think that winning the championship is about consistency which is not what we have at the moment.
MG: Yes Oulton started off fantastically but went rapidly downhill even before Qualifying had finished didn’t it?
MI: We were limited with our tyre choice and with the rain not forecast we didn’t bring enough tyres for all the races. Going into qualifying the plan was to set a banker lap and come into the pits which I did on lap 3 and see how the tyres were wearing. It turned out the kart was treating them well and I was trying not to work them too hard with the rear end so we went back out and on my 2nd lap coming into Lodge the engine let go on us. We then didn’t have time to fix the problem for the start of race 1.
MG: So despite that blinding first flying lap giving you pole, you didn’t make the start of race one, so you must have been desperate for a good run in race two, and again it started off very well for you.
MI: Starting from the back in race 2 with Liam Morley, we had planned to work together through the pack with Liam bump drafting me on the straights to catch the leaders. We progressed well through the pack on the first lap and Liam’s engine let go coming into the last corner then mine into the first corner. We are definitely hoping for some better luck for Bishopscourt in two weeks time.
MG: You’ve definitely shown you have the pace to be a championship contender this year, had you set yourself any goals for the championship before the season started and have they changed at all after the first two rounds?
MI: To be honest we haven’t even discussed the championship really, I just want to enjoy my racing and see what happens towards the end of the season. Putting too much pressure on yourself can be a bad thing sometimes.
MG: Finally, is there anyone you want to credit for your performances for this year?
MI: I have to thank my Dad and Gary Needham for working so hard to get the kart ready over the winter and of course to Derek at Magnum Motorsport for providing a very quick motor! We have also received support this year from Beta Tools which has been great. We’re still in the hunt for more sponsorship this year to enable us to carry on competing at the front for wins.
Anyone interested in supporting Matts British Championship campaign can get in touch with him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Matt’s incredible drive from the back to eighth in one lap at Oulton Park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFNJVOQhjdU&feature=youtu.be