Since coming under the ownership of the enthusiastic Eastwood family Nutts Corner in County Antrim, Northern Ireland has undergone a major transformation with the circuit, now measuring nearly 1400-metres, offering drivers a real European style challenge.
Combining fast straights, flowing corners and plenty of gradient changes, the circuit also proved immensely popular with the Formula Kart Stars drivers and the Formula One Management backed Championship provided the venue with the first 2012 class Champion in the form of Mini Max title winner Lando Norris.
Formula Kart Stars Rotax Mini Max Championship
Although Lando Norris (RL Racing Department) arrived at Nutts Corner for the ninth and tenth rounds of the 2012 season with a commanding championship lead his nearest rival Connor Mills (Chris Rogers Motorsport) showed that he had no intention of letting Norris simply cruise to the title as he took pole position for Saturday’s heats, outpacing the points leader by 0.03secs with Ryan Anderton (Coles Racing) and local driver Gary Donnelly (independent) completing the top four.
Mills controlled the opening heat as Norris suffered a rare ‘off’ on lap one, although he charged back through to take second ahead of an impressive Donnelly and his fellow Northern Irishman Ryan Young (ART GP).
Race two was a crazy affair as the top ten karts duelled continuously for the lead. Jack McCarthy (Project One) escaped to win by more than eight seconds as everyone else continually tripped over each other with Anderton and Harry Williams (Coles Racing) emerging in second and third with Norris seventh and Mills eighth after receiving a two place penalty for contact with his title rival.
Once again the final was extremely close as Norris and Mills went head to head. Eventually Norris got the upper hand and scored a crucial win as Mills slipped to fourth on the final lap allowing Alfie Brown (Zip Young Guns) and Donnelly to earn their first podium finishes of the season. But Norris’ fifth win of the year wasn’t enough to secure the title just yet and Mills’ never say die attitude continued into Sunday’s qualifying session as he took pole position again from Anderton and Norris.
As spots of rain began to fall Mills took advantage of another incident for Norris to dominate heat one, leading Norris, Donnelly and McCarthy home by nearly ten seconds and Mills’ form continued into the fully wet second heat as he again left the rest trailing in his wake to win by a clear six seconds. Donnelly’s superb weekend continued with second place with Ellis Hanks (Advance Motorsport) initially finishing third before a penalty for contact with Williams handed Anderton the final podium place.
Sunday’s final proved just how cruel motor-racing can be at times as Mills, who had driven with a fantastic determined attitude throughout the weekend finally saw his title chances disappear when he coasted to a halt with an electrical problem. Norris was leading Mills by a couple of inches at the time of the latter’s demise and successfully fended off a late charge from Donnelly to seal his sixth win and the championship with two rounds to spare.
The podium was all smiles for Donnelly’s runner-up effort was the best of his career while Young overcame a battle with Anderton to make it two local drivers in the top three. For Mills there was only the consolation that from 16th in the standings after round three he had made Norris work harder than he had imagined over the subsequent seven rounds.