|British kart racer Tom Grice has put himself in pole position for the European Kart Championship at the regional qualifier in Spain this weekend, after a masterful win at the high-speed new circuit of Alcaniz.|
Qualification for the European Championship in KF2 ("Kart Formula 2") is based on finishing in the top 24 out of the 61 competitors entered, taken as an aggregate of the results of the two main finals. This top 24, from Western Europe, will join their rivals from the Northern and Central zones for a grand final. Winning this usually sets drivers up for a factory drive in KF1 or stands them in good stead as they move into car racing.
After qualifying ninth fastest Tom was consistently in the top six throughout the heat races with one win but then the team found a slight problem with the engine, which they were able to fix for the finals.
In the first of the main races Tom led for four laps early on but with his main rival and reigning Junior champion Jack Harvey a few hundredths faster Tom settled for second, which ensured him qualification for the next round.
At the start of Race 2 Harvey was knocked off, leaving Tom to fend off the McLaren-supported Oliver Rowland. Rowland got past but only for the length of a straight, then Frenchman Jean-Loup Chatin took control only for Tom to pass going into the back hairpin by feinting one way and quickly shooting by on the other side. Tom swapped places with Chatin throughout the race, eventually going over the line side-by-side, but Tom prevailed by four hundredths of a second.
With his second place in Race 1 Tom was the highest overall scorer and on the top step of the podium. "I had a gap on the first lap but then the others caught up, but as I like fast tracks I was able to come out ahead in the end," he said. "I'd like to thank my team PDB Racing for all their hard work this year and for making so many improvements to my kart."
Tom is heading straight to Italy this week for next weekend's race, the penultimate round of the WSK International Series where he will be hoping to carry on the momentum, but the European Championship Final will be in three weeks at Braga in Portugal.