|Northern Ireland’s Stirling brothers have made history by qualifying for the Bridgestone Cup at Lonato, near Lake Garda in Italy in October - the first time that three members of the same family have qualified for the prestigious race, at once. |
Reigning British Open KF3 Champion, 14-year old Carl had already qualified after winning the first qualifying race at PFi in Lincolnshire (6 April), but triumphed again at the second round on Sunday (4 May). In a thrilling final, Carl waited until the last lap to make his move for the lead, and then held off his rivals to the chequered flag.
“On the last lap, we were three abreast running down the back straight. Afterwards, when I saw the time-sheets, I couldn’t believe it – I was half a second a lap slower than the other two guys, but they were slowing each other up by battling so much that I was able to compete with them. It proves that it’s not always the fastest man who wins!”
In the same race, younger brother Adam (13-years old) earned praise as he powered his way from 17th on the grid at the start, to 6th at the finish and book his place for the race in Italy. “He drove a blinder” said a proud Carl.
Not to be outdone, it was 16-year old Craig’s job to uphold the family honour in the KF2 class.
After three tough qualifying heats, Craig started the final from 11th place on the grid, but found that set-up changes by his Millennium team had transformed his kart. Carving his way up the order, Stirling found himself in 4th place and pressuring Harvey for the remaining podium spot.
“There was absolutely nothing in it, in terms of our lap times” he explained afterwards. “On the last lap, I knew that I’d have one chance to make a move and make it stick. I sat on Jack’s rear bumper as we ran down to the back of the circuit and went into the ‘Complex’ (of tight corners). I dived down his inside and then made my kart as wide as possible as we ran into the last chicane and onto the start/finish straight.”
Dad, Alan was understandably delighted with his sons’ performance. “After Carl qualified by winning the first round, our main focus was to get Adam and Craig in the results to make sure that they qualified as well. I think its all credit to the boys (Adam and Craig) that they stuck to the task, despite difficult heat results and they each produced superb drives in their respective finals. They’re going to Italy as three competitors, not to support just one driver.”