Strawberry Racing’s Harry Webb has won the Euro Max title at his first attempt following a superb performance at Salbris, France (15/16 September).
“I’m glad it’s all over!” he said, puffing out his cheeks after sealing the Euro Max Challenge title in the penultimate race of the Championship. “It is also very special as this is my first year of competing properly in Europe.”
Webb had begun his campaign in fine style back in February with victory in the prestigious Rotax Winter Cup meeting held at Campillos, near Malaga in Spain. Ironically, it was only his success in Andalucia that convinced him to enter the Euro Max Challenge.
It proved to be an inspired decision, as he went on to dominate the series’ opening round in Belgium. Webb was again on top in Sweden, putting him firmly in contention for the overall honours as the championship culminated in France. However, he had to overcome the strong challenge from Holland’s Janneau Esmeijer and fellow Englishman Ryan Anderton.
If he was nervous prior to his Salbris showdown, Harry didn’t show it and coolly took pole position for his three heats after comfortably setting the fastest lap in timed qualifying. From there he guided his Strawberry Racing-run Tony Kart Racer EVRR to three consecutive wins to again claim the P1 position on the starting grid for the first of Sunday’s two finals.
With his team-mate Guan Yu Zhou immediately behind him, Harry’s game plan was to make a clean getaway from the starting line and put as much daylight between himself and his title rivals. The strategy worked perfectly. He and Zhou were in a class of their own, with the young Chinese star wisely not risking a possible collision with his team-mate in an unnecessary fight for the race win.
“Before the pre-final, lots of people had put new tyres on their karts, but I was saving mine for the second final,” explained Harry. “I knew then that I had to get away in the early stages. I nailed it from the start and the drivers behind me and ‘Joe’ (as Guan Yu is known to his team-mates). I saw that I’d got the gap I wanted, but had to keep pushing and maintain my concentration. It was pretty nerve-wracking in the last few laps as their fresher rubber allowed them to catch me up.”
When he returned to the pits, Harry was unaware that he had clinched the title – but his father Steve’s grin was an indication: “Dad had a big smile on his face and as I got out of the kart he said ‘We’ve done it!’ All the same we sat down in the team’s awning and worked out the points. The organisers said that I didn’t have to race in the second final [in order to avoid any possible penalties for a collision, or unexpected technical error with his kart] but Paul Spencer the team owner said ‘You’re still going out there!’ and besides, I wanted to go out and thank Joe.”
After holding on to his advantage from the start, Webb again led Zhou in flying formation to go clear of the chasing pack. Once firmly ahead, he pointed ‘Joe’ through and tucked onto his rear bumper, protecting his fellow Strawberry driver’s lead all the way to the chequered flag.
“Hopefully my European success will get my name out there and we’ll see how it goes. I’d like to be a professional racing driver and this is a good start to helping me achieve that goal,” he said, adding: “It’s my first year in Juniors, so it’s an excellent achievement for us to have such a good result. Thanks go to all the team at Strawberry Racing, Cream Engines, and my mum and dad.”