Rising kart star Ryan Anderton will be able to test his mettle against the best young drivers from around the world after booking his ticket to the prestigious Rotax World Finals in Portugal later this year.
The Glastonbury-based youngster has enjoyed a successful season in each of the series he has contested, but it was his performance on the European stage that has really caught the eye, particularly as he was competing against much older rivals.
Having only graduated from the MSA British Cadet category at the end of 2011 – after finishing third overall in his final season in the championship – Anderton was looking forward to a year in the more powerful Minimax class. However, when the opportunity to race in the RGMMC Euromax series presented itself, he leapt at the chance to prove himself on the international stage, despite the fact that he would have to move up another class on the continent and race in the highly-competitive Junior Rotax section.
Against expectation, the 12-year old proved to be on the pace right from his debut at the season-opening round at Genk in Belgium, despite facing off against rivals aged anything up to 16 and with prior experience under their belts. Second among the 66-strong entry in qualifying, Anderton then overcame a couple of setbacks in the first of three heats – including an accident that threw him from his kart – to bounce back with top three places in each of his next two, only for his hard work to be undone when his kart was found to be underweight.
With a mountain to climb in the repecharge if he was to make the Final, Anderton charged through the last-chance race, claiming 27 places in just eleven laps to make it through to the main event of the weekend, and then proceeded to repeat that performance to reach seventh place, despite running on worn tyres and having to defend his position to the chequered flag.
Leaving Belgium holding a share of fifth place in the standings, Anderton’s confidence was high heading to Wackersdorf for round two, despite never having seen the German circuit before. Again, he had to overcome problems early in the weekend, with carburetion issues leaving him unable to reach full power at the end of the straights. Despite posting the second fastest time in his qualifying group, the St. Dunstan’s Community School pupil would be ranked 13th overall, and seventh on the grid for each of his three heats, but those races yielded finishes of seventh, fifth and fourth, elevating him to fifth on the rankings, and comfortably into the leading group proceeding to the finals.
Finishing seventh in the Pre-Final saw Anderton start the main event from the inside of row four, but he was back into the top
five and vying for a podium finish until three laps from home, when one of the drivers giving chase decided to use the #69 Coles kart as a means of slowing his own progress, dropping the Briton outside of the top 20.
Another new circuit awaited for round three, but the decision to test at the Asum Ring in Sweden prior to the event paid dividends as Anderton and the Coles team found themselves right in the mix from the opening practice session. Ninth on the overall qualifying list left the youngster with three starts from the inside of row three in the heats, and results of sixth and two fourths ensured another smooth progression to the final stages.
Further progress was made in the Pre-Final, where he climbed to third, but the second row start that result earned was negated by a problem on the Final grid, which saw the #69 machine relegated to last. Rain for the main event also added to Anderton’s task, but he stuck to it manfully, climbing as high as fourth before the usual karting melee left him shuffled to ninth at the flag.
Despite the occasional frustration, the combination of results over the first three rounds left the 12-year old heading for the finale at Salbris still in with a shot at a top three championship position and, despite being forced to forego any pre-event testing owing to UK championship commitments, he was immediately at the head of the times in practice and fourth overall in qualifying ensured a front row start for the heats. The form and frustration continued in the qualifying races, however, with an accident in heat one being countered by fourth and a victory in the others, leaving him tenth overall and headed for the finals.
A tactical drive to third in the Pre-Final put Anderton on row two for the Final, where a good start saw him threatening the leading pair, one of whom decided to take matters into his own hands. This time, luck was on Anderton’s side as his rival bounced off the #69 and into early retirement, although the collision dropped the Coles kart down the order. Undeterred, and despite struggling for grip, Anderton soon found himself running in sixth, before fortune turned back in his favour as a collision ahead promoted the Briton to P4, and earned enough him points to seal third in the final championship standings.
“I’m delighted, if a little surprised, at how the season has turned out,” Anderton admitted, “Competing in Europe was an unexpected addition to the campaign we had planned, and meant throwing myself in at the deep end in the Junior class, but I adapted quickly – as the results show. Fortunately, there were few problems switching between Minimax in the UK and the Junior class in Europe, as the biggest difference between the karts was in power, and the year has been a good one all around.
“There weren’t that many points between third and first in the Euromax standings and, with a little better luck, who knows where I could have ended up. However, as a 12-year old competing in that class, I have to be happy with what I achieved.”
Having also finished third overall in the UK-based, Bernie Ecclestone and Lewis Hamilton-endorsed, Formula Kart Stars Minimax series, Anderton is now exploring his options for 2013, but could choose to focus entirely on Junior Rotax. Before that, however, he will bring the curtain down on 2012 with outings in both the Rotax International Open later this month and, biggest of all, the Rotax World Finals, which take place at the Portimao circuit on Portugal’s Algarve at the end of November.
“Getting to race on the world stage is a huge honour, and one I intend to take full advantage of,” Anderton insisted, “I’m really looking forward to taking on the best young drivers in the world and, who knows, perhaps I can come back with some more silverware!”