The ninth and tenth rounds of the 2012 Formula Kart Stars Junior Rotax Championship played out at the renovated Nutts Corner circuit in Northern Ireland with the near 1400-metre circuit really giving the Junior Max contenders an opportunity to stretch their muscles in terms of pace with more than a handful of drivers commenting that its fast, sweeping layout held many similarities to mainland European tracks such as former FKS venue Genk.
Eight closely fought, sometimes chaotic and sometimes controversial rounds had failed to establish a clear championship favourite and those who thought that Nutts Corner may have seen one driver take control of the Formula One Management backed Championship would be proved wrong and, if anything, the title fight got even closer as the weekend progressed.
Formula Kart Stars Junior Rotax Championship
Saturday morning dawned dry and bright with five drivers, Sam Marsh (RL Racing Department), Shaun Arnold (Danny Cruttenden Motorsport), Luke Whitworth (P1 Racing), Josh White (RL Racing Department) and Bobby Thompson (Vital Motorsport) all harbouring hopes of championship glory.
However it was two drivers not in the title picture who took the headlines in timed qualifying as Luke Knott (Project One Racing) and Lando Norris (RL Racing Department) claimed two of the top three positions. Knott snatched pole position by 0.05secs from Marsh with Norris, doing double duty for the first time in FKS, slotting into third place. Title contenders White, Arnold and Thompson completed the top five.
Knott quickly proved that his qualifying pace was no fluke as he held off Thompson by less than half a kart length to win the opening heat with Marsh and a fired-up Rob Hodkinson (Advance Motorsport) a distant third and fourth respectively. However Knott’s luck ended abruptly in heat two when he retired with a mechanical failure, leaving Marsh to win comfortably from Arnold, Thompson and Norris.
The final was a cracking affair as Marsh led narrowly from Knott and Thompson. On the final lap Thompson snatched second from Knott but Marsh was just out of reach and claimed his third win of the year as Hodkinson and Arnold completed a closely matched top five.
Marsh continued his fine run in Sunday’s qualifying session, taking pole position from Matthew Arnold (Danny Cruttenden Motorsport), Thompson and Knott but when the rain arrived Marsh struggled for pace and in a very slick opening heat it was Shaun Arnold who took control, beating Thompson, Whitworth and his brother Matthew to the line.
There was heartbreak for Shaun in heat two, as his kart cut out on the rolling lap but he at least had a great view of an inspired drive from his brother Matthew, who chased Thompson home to score a fantastic second place finish with Lemuel Pay (independent) and Oliver Pidgley (P1 Racing) next in line.
The wet final was a walkover for Thompson, who led from pole position and pulled out a dominant seven second lead over the rest of the field and clawed himself right back into the thick of the title picture. Lando Norris edged out Josh White for second place, a fine result considering his relative lack of Junior Max experience. Pidgley was an impressive fourth with Shaun Arnold salvaging fifth. Marsh’s travails continued and he struggled home in 12th and with two rounds to go any one of Marsh, Arnold and Thompson can still realistically take the title.