|Gillard driver Tom Grice had a highly successful weekend at Parma in northern Italy, coming away with the third place award at the season-opening Margutti Trophy, but if he hadn't had to overcome damage sustained to his kart at the start of the semi-final he could well have achieved even more.|
The weekend didn't start very well when Tom only qualified halfway up the 78-kart field in timed practice in Friday's cold, wet and
changeable weather, but by Saturday and the qualifying heats he was able to run in the top five, earning him sixth on the grid for his
semi-final on Sunday.
But his problems weren't over yet, as on the warming up lap Tom hit the barrier protecting the race control tower and spun. He got going again, got back to his starting position before the lights turned green, and without hesitation moved up to fourth by the end of the first lap. Now part of the group at the sharp end, Tom was in a position to fight for the lead and spent much of the race dicing with European Champion and fellow Brit Jack Harvey. They were to swap the lead between them several times at Parma's two hairpins.
Towards the end, Harvey pulled away and finished a second ahead of Tom. Tom was underwhelmed by his performance, but when he arrived back to the pits it was found that his steering assembly had suffered in the pre-race crash and that he was lucky to have finished at all, let alone to fight for the lead!
In the final, which included the first 17 finishers from each semi,
the weather looked threatening but there were a few spots of rain but nothing more. Again Harvey provided stiff opposition but Czech driver Zdenek Groman had the initial lead while Tom ran second. He dived for the inside line at the end of the first lap and held on to the lead for three laps until Groman and Harvey fought back, with another driver following them through. Tom ran in fourth until Harvey's engine failed and he was promoted to third where he finished the race.
At the podium ceremony Tom explained, "We think the kart must have been bent in the semi, it was understeering badly and was a struggle to drive. My team [PDB Racing/Mark Rose Motorsport] did a brilliant job to keep me going."
To doesn't have long to recover as he is due to compete at the other end of Italy this coming weekend [16th March] in the WSK International Series at La Conca in Puglia.