A six kart entry may have been slightly disappointing for the ninth and tenth Challenge events of the inaugural Formula Kart Stars Cadet Honda season at Nutts Corner in Northern Ireland but quality more than made up for quantity in the four-stroke ranks.
After the hosting Ulster Kart Club went to extraordinary lengths to make the entire Formula One Management backed Championship feel welcome, those drivers who did make the effort to travel to the fast, flowing and undulating circuit put on a series of races that many felt were among the best of the entire weekend.
Formula Kart Stars Cadet Honda Challenges
Bright sunny skies greeted the drivers on Saturday morning and it was the only driver in the field with a Challenge win already under his belt this year, Danny Harrison (Chris Rogers Motorsport), who led the way with the fastest time. FKS debutant and local ace Jack McGaughey stuck to Harrison’s rear bumper throughout and was rewarded with second fastest time with Project One trio Connor McCarthy, Wesley Mason and Scott Symons rounding out the top five ahead of the second of the local drivers, Jack Irvine.
McGaughey endured a painful baptism to FKS racing in heat one when he mistook the last lap board for the chequered flag and pitted a lap early after challenging Harrison throughout. Harrison was left to cruise home ahead of McCarthy and Symons. McGaughey made up for the disappointment in heat two, waiting until the last corner to snatch the lead, and the win from Harrison but his heat one error meant that he would only start the final from third behind Harrison and McCarthy.
Harrison led the final from start to finish to score his second win of the year but the destiny of the trophy was in doubt right until the final corner as McCarthy shadowed his every move. McGaughey couldn’t quite keep pace with the top two and finished fourth, inches behind Symons and a massive ten seconds behind Harrison and McCarthy.
Sunday started dry but sadly didn’t stay that way although the weather didn’t prevent the Cadet Honda drivers putting on another superb display of racing.
Harrison and McGaughey couldn’t be separated in qualifying and only the fact that Harrison’s 2nd fastest lap was 0.01secs quicker that gave him pole. McCarthy and Mason shared the second row and these four drivers put on a sterling show in the opening heat, held in the dry, with the diminutive Anglo-American driver Mason eventually snatching his first ever FKS heat win by half a second after a race long duel. McCarthy and McGaughey completed the top three with Harrison a mere 0.8secs behind in fourth.
With rain now falling Mason proved the old adage that when you take your first win more seem to follow as he led virtually all the way to win by two-seconds over McCarthy and McGaughey with Harrison struggling in fourth.
Harrison’s struggles continued in the final as the top four broke away. For lap after lap Mason, McCarthy, Symons and McGaughey swapped places until McCarthy finally established himself in front. Mason and McGaughey touched on the last lap with Mason holding on for second and McGaughey slipping to fourth before being excluded for a post race confrontation with Mason. Symons celebrated his second straight podium in third but it was McCarthy smiling widest of all at the end of a thrilling weekend.