|Spanish Open Championship front-runner Mitchell Hale claimed a vital 2nd place at Campillos last weekend (27/28 September) to keep up the pressure on his two main title-rivals Carlos Sainz and Gerard Barrabeig.|
Following a strong performance in qualifying - where he was 7th overall - before taking 6th and 2nd place finishes in his two heats, the Bristol youngster found himself setting his kart down on the 3rd row of the grid for the first final.
The drama and tension was heightened when, after the ‘1 minute to go’ board had been shown, the ’30 second’ board was delayed by rain suddenly falling. Despite mechanics sprinting into the paddock to collect rain tyres, the field was released onto the circuit for a formation lap.
In the difficult conditions and ensuing melee at the first corner, Hale dropped down to 12th position before climbing back to his original 5th place.
“People were spinning off as the rain fell heavily. I had to adopt completely different lines and that helped me. It was really good fun actually. I was reasonably pleased (with 5th) because it gave me good points for the championship and a half-decent grid position for the second final.”
At the start, the JRP driver made the error of trying to drive round the outside of the first corner at the start and could only watch as several drivers came past him on the inside. “Mark (Berryman, boss of JRP) had something to say about that!”
Mitchell added, “I got my head together after a couple of laps and started to move forward. By mid-race I had passed four drivers and was now 3rd. I caught the then 2nd-placed driver, Mark Megens but by the time I’d got past him, (Gerard) Barrabeig had got away. I was closing him down but ran out of laps before I could catch him.”
Reflecting on the race, Mitch had mixed emotions, saying; “If I hadn’t made that mistake at the start, I think I would’ve caught him (Barrabeig). I’m disappointed because I think I could’ve won. Still, I’m happy for the points and just have to learn to cut out the mistakes in the future.”
This weekend (4/5 October), Mitchell will race in the final round of the Winning Series Karting championship at the superb Zuera track, in Spain. Looking ahead to the race, he said, “I think we can go there and be fast. I’m hoping for a good weekend. It’s a huge track and should be fun. If I can get a top ten, that’ll give me confidence. We’ve struggled in recent races but hopefully after Campillos, we’ve turned a corner.”