|Carl Stirling is on the brink of adding the British Super 1 to his current Open Championship title - after taking 1st and 4th at Whilton Mill in Northamptonshire on Sunday (31 August). The Millennium Motorsport driver saw off a strong challenge from his closest title-rival, Mackenzie Taylor, to win the first of the day’s two points-scoring finals.|
The sodden conditions caused accidents and drama aplenty. As rain bucketed down, the slightest mistake would send karts sliding off the circuit or into one another. Despite a spirited drive from second-placed Taylor, Carl was able to complete the 16 laps distance and take the chequered flag for the fourth time this season.
But not before Taylor had attempted a last, desperate throw of the dice. On the last lap Carl led by 4 to 5 kart lengths, and as the pair ran into the uphill Christmas Corner, Taylor left his braking very late and arrowed down Carl’s inside. They touched, and the crowd roared in apprehension as both karts fought for traction. Able to keep his Tonykart on the circuit, with all four wheels pointing forward, Carl squeezed the accelerator and pulled away to seal the win.
“Mackenzie and I broke away and were able to open a gap over the chasing pack by a clear 8 seconds. We were much quicker than everyone else, but I couldn’t allow myself any mistakes. It was a highly pressurised race but I enjoyed it – especially the result!”
With the Championship still very much in the balance, the pair lined up on the front-row of the grid together for the second final. As the karts began to accelerate across the line, Carl’s head snapped back as he received a whack from 3rd-placed driver, John Norris. This pushed the poleman forward and he held the advantage into the first corner, with Norris tucked in behind him and displacing Taylor.
A mistake by Norris allowed Taylor through and he began to harry Carl’s rear bumper. A lap later and Taylor was through with Carl now fighting a rear-guard action to fend off Norris - “I was battling with John and this allowed Mackenzie to escape” Carl explained afterwards. “A mistake on my part allowed another kart through and once that happened, I decided to play it cool and go for the finish. At this stage, its all about points not wins. Points are what I need and points are what I got. Its all about the Championship now, not race wins or podiums.”
Carl will take a 20-point lead to the final round (at Shenington in Oxfordshire, on 4/5 October) of British karting’s most prestigious Championship and knows that he still has the upper hand - “I just need a good result in the first final and that should wrap it up.”
This weekend (6/7 September) however, sees Carl make his European Championship bow at Varennes in France. In July, Carl had to qualify for the main event at Alcaniz in Spain and incredibly finished in 8th place – having never raced abroad or at this level before. His team boss, Dean Panrucker said, “Carl’s inexperience won’t hinder him. I genuinely think he’ll be a contender. He’s got the potential to be European champion. I’ve got no doubt in my mind.”
Carl echoes this, saying; “In testing (at Varennes), I was one of the quickest and believe that I’m good and fast enough to give myself a chance of winning.”