Ben Barnicoat notched up yet another Grand Prix victory in the 2018 FairFX Kartmasters MSA British Kart Grand Prix at Lincolnshire’s Paul Fletcher international circuit, equalling the record of wins, taking his Grand Prix titles total to seven.
The 21 year-old McLaren Automotive-factory sportscar race ace from Chesterfield was originally down to be racing a McLaren 570S GT4 at Brands Hatch in the British GT Championship race. However, days before, his teammate (also the racing car’s owner) pulled the entry until he found a more competent team to run the car.Handily this allowed Barnicoat to submit a late entry for the Kartmasters weekend - the biggest event on the UK karting calendar – and armed with 6 previous British Kart Grand Prix titles, giving him the opportunity for grabbing one more title to equal the all-time record set by current Ginetta factory-sportscar driver, Mike Simpson.
Winning all the preliminary heats, and easily taking pole for the Senior X30 Grand Prix, Barnicoat held the lead from the start lights out until lap 7, when Joe Turney, having trailed him from the start saw a chance and barged through into the lead.
Not one for giving up that easily and determined not to lose a potential seventh title and a £950 cheque, Barnicoat hounded Turney until lap 12, when he purposefully took the opportunity to snatch back the lead.
Turney now found himself under immense pressure from Senior X30 World Champion, Oliver Hodgson who took over 2nd-place on the last lap, this meant Barnicoat was untroubled as he reeled off the final 6 laps before taking the Grand Prix win by over 1 seconds.
He may have won the 2017 GP, but not had raced a kart in anger since last November, Barnicoat revealed that, “Joe Turney and I have been close all weekend. When I lost the place I just stayed behind him and waited, knowing I had the pace to get by and decided not to defend too hard. When I retook the lead, he had a go but did not make it. I never expected it to be an easy race”.
“I try to do Kartmasters every year if I can, although this year was extremely last minute, it was purely the fact that we weren’t going to do the Brands Hatch round of British GT, said Barnicoat, “Thankfully it all worked out for the best!”.
His teammate at Mick Barrett Racing for the Kartmasters weekend was Barnsley 16 year-old Cole Kilner, and in the preliminary heats he worked together with Barnicoat to secure a couple of top-4 finishes.
So starting the Grand Prix in 8th position, Kilner moved up to 7th position fighting in the chasing pack until the last four laps when he started to move forward through the field, making 5th-place his own and held it to the flag for a place on the Senior X30 podium, for his best-ever GP finish.
Along with his trophy, like the top-10 Senior X30 finishers, Kilner won a reserved entry place to the 2018 IAME International Senior X30 Final at Le Mans circuit, in France.
Suitably delighted at the result, “It was a good race, a cracking drive, pre-race we made a few changes to the kart and it cornered miles better, Kilner grinned, “so now we’ve got the set-up right for this circuit!”.
Having won the Senior X30 Open Championship at PFi only a few weeks earlier Thomas Turner was confident he would be up at the front of the GP field.
However, engine and kart problems in the heats gave his confidence a knock, yet the team hoped to have the kart fixed for the Senior X30 Grand Prix, but turning up late to the grid suggested frantic last-minute work.
Starting the race from 7th with a problematic kart, it was never going to be easy for the 17 year-old Rotherham racer to pull through the field, sure enough, at the start he fell back to 12th.
Recovering slightly, getting up to 10th by mid-race, Turner had fallen back down to 12th-place at the flag.
With his kart proudly wearing the Senior X30 Open Champion’s O-number plate Turner should have been battling for the lead with Barnicoat, and not finishing out of the top-10.
Dejectedly, sitting cross-legged atop a tool chest with his head hanging almost into his lap, through gritted teeth Turner announced, “Struggled with the kart all weekend – live to race another day…”
Worksop’s Phil Rawson, the factory driver for CRG Karts (GB & Ireland), had a slightly happier time even though he started the Senior X30 Grand Prix from grid slot 17. His 2018 season has been characterised by a lot of bad luck and engine problems - it struck again. For the GP he had a fraught time running mid-pack for the entire race he made places and came through to finish 9th out a very strong grid of 36 starters.
As Rawson put it, “I’ve bagged myself a ticket the IAME International Final in Le Mans!”.
The UK’s representative in the FIA-CIK Karting Academy Trophy, Sheffield’s Joshua Rattican, started the Junior X30 GP from 8th-place and was soon dicing in the top-6. Then a bit of close contact caused drop him to drop back to 9th-place at the flag.
But once a slew of penalties for dropped front bumpers were applied to karters who had finished in the top-8, Rattican found himself promoted back on to the podium in 4th-place.
Someone else who benefitted from exclusions was Matthew Hudson from Barnsley who started the Junior X30 GP from 9th, and that is where he spent most of the race, until the final lap where he dropped to 12th when he took the flag.
However, other karter’s post-race dropped front bumper penalties boosted Hudson five places up the finishing order to 7th-place.
Conisbro’s Joshua Wilby was one to suffer a front bumper penalty demoting him two laces to a 25th-place finish.
Sheffield’s Brandon Carr started the IAME Cadet GP from grid slot 4 but spent most of the race fighting around 7th-place, biding his time until the penultimate lap when he pounced on 2nd-place. Unfortunately, so heated was the battle for podium places, Carr came off worse in a tussle on the last lap, getting spun around with a trip across the grass to recover finishing in 14th.