Steve Armstrong’s RL Racing Department are the undeniable kings of Formula Kart Stars, after Sam Marsh added the Junior Max crown to Lando Norris’s Mini Max title.Although Lando had put his championship beyond doubt at Nutts Corner back in August (11/12), the scrap to be top Junior went all the way down to the series’ very last weekend at Whilton Mill (September 8/9).
Sam Marsh was arguably in the box seat for the overall Junior Max spoils, but still needed to produce a champion’s performance to see off the challenges from his rivals, including that from his team-mate Josh White. With Lando choosing to concentrate on continuing his impressive learning curve in the Junior ranks, by sitting-out the Mini Max class, the team was able to concentrate on improving each of its drivers’ points standings. Norris’ older brother, Oli, bounced back from a frustrating season to deliver a string of encouraging performances.
Right from the outset, Sam was in sparkling form throughout the penultimate rounds (eleven). He set the fastest timed in qualifying, with Lando 3rd, Oli 4th and Josh in 7th. Having laid down this early marker, Marsh then won the opening heat and finished 2nd in the following encounter, giving him pole position for the final.
He was in imperious form in the final and ensured that he almost had both hands on the trophy when he won it comfortably. Lando crossed the line in 3rd to further underline that he is an exciting talent for the future. Oli claimed 4th with Josh a fighting 7th.
Sunday morning saw Marsh only required to participate in timed qualifying and the first heat to gather sufficient points to clinch his richly deserved, first national championship victory. Rather than risk incurring any unnecessary penalties in the remaining heat and final, he wisely became an interested spectator for the remainder of the day.
Looking to bolster his own position in the standings, White stepped up and took a brace of 3rd place heat finishes to give him a front row start for the A final. The Norris brothers locked out row four of the grid, with Oli on p7 and Lando taking the outside slot in p8.
Perhaps fired-up by the challenge from his younger sibling, Oli turned up the wick as the race got underway. He carved his way up the order to ultimately finish in a fine 2nd position, ahead of 3rd-placed Josh and Lando just behind – making it an RL Racing Department 2,3,4.
“Sam performed extremely well all weekend,” said RF Racing Department team owner Steve Armstrong. “He turned up on Saturday, set pole position in timed qualifying, won the first heat and the A final. In that race he simply drove away from the rest of the field. That pretty much sealed the title, so all he had to do on Sunday was race in the first heat and that was it.” He added, “Oli’s back to where he was at the start of the season. At Whilton we saw the promise he has and I hope Oli will end his Super One season on a high at PF this weekend.”
Josh White, the 2011 FKS Mini Max champion with RL, completed his 2012 campaign with a well taken 3rd place finish: “You can never write Josh off. He’s had a tough season but he never gives in and will scrap for every place. That will stand him in good stead for his future career and is why he was on the podium at the last round of FKS.”
Lando Norris also impressed his team boss with another fine display: “To come in and mix it straight away with the big boys is very impressive. Lando is naturally fast and hungry for success, every time out. He’ll return to Mini Max this weekend (22/23 August, as he bids to add the Super One title to the Formula Kart Stars championship he clinched last month). It won’t be easy for him but his experience in the faster, tougher style of racing in Junior Max will have helped in a big way.”
For more information about RL Racing Department visit www.rlracingdepartmentltd.com