|The third and penultimate round of the Euro Max Challenge at Sosnova in the Czech Republic saw the Strawberry Racing team experience mixed fortunes, but able to maintain it’s lead in the Senior and Junior classes. In the Senior category, team regulars Luke Varley, Joseph Reilly and James Greenway were joined by Barrie Pullinger and new signing, Sena Fujita. Josh Webster, the Sheffield-based outfit’s sole representative in the Junior Max class, faced a tough challenge but rose to it admirably.|
In a close Timed Qualifying session, Josh posted the ninth fastest time. His race set-up for the heats proved to be effective and he took a brace of runner-up finishes and a third – putting him fourth overall in the intermediate rankings. Advised by team boss Warwick Ringham that he simply needed to keep out of trouble and go for the best finishes possible in the two finals, Josh duly delivered. He drove superbly to finish third in the pre-final, before going one place better to take a much-deserved second place.
A delighted Warwick said, “Josh did really well all weekend. He just chipped and chipped away and got two excellent results to maintain his points lead. At this stage of the Championship, it’s not necessary to go for wins but to maintain the points advantage. He did everything we asked of him.”
In the Senior category, team regulars Luke Varley, Joseph Reilly and James Greenway were joined by Barrie Pullinger and new signing, Sena Fujita. As expected, James, Luke and Joseph were amongst the pace-setters in timed qualifying – fifth, seventh and tenth respectively – whilst Sena and Barrie acquitted themselves well by clocking the 26th and 28th fastest times.
In the heats, James and Joseph took a win apiece, whilst Luke’s consistent top ten finishes saw the trio qualify for the pre-final in third, fourth and fifth places. Barrie also qualified and was delighted to make the cut for a major international final for the first time. Unfortunately, Sena was unable to complete the line-up after finishing eighth in the repecharge.
“Sena did well, but was unlucky,” Warwick explained. “He joined us to experience racing in Europe and he had a tough time in a couple of his heats. He was bashed about a bit and didn’t get the finishes he deserved.”
In the first of Sunday’s two finals Luke won in fine style, with Joseph leading James across the line in third and fourth places. Barrie gave a good account of himself to bring his kart home in 27th position.
Disaster struck Luke on the main final’s rolling-up lap. His tyre deflated on the rim forcing him to dart into the pits. His mechanics worked a minor miracle to fix the problem and get him back out on track before the race had started. As he jockeyed for position, trying to take up his original grid position, he fell foul of the rules and was given a penalty. At the finish, this dropped him down to a bitterly disappointed 19th.
Joseph’s fortunes were little better. After the confusion of the formation laps, he took the start out of position and was given a ten-second penalty –demoting him from second on the road to fifteenth. James was the victim of an opening lap collision and found himself marooned in the midfield, unable to progress higher than 21st. Similarly, Barrie gamely plugged away but could only improve to 25th as the chequered flag waved.
“We didn’t quite end up with the results we wanted for the whole team. But with regard to Josh and Luke’s Championships, we’re still in command. Our rivals have to win both finals at the last round to stand any chance of beating us. In fact, Josh could not go to Salbris (9/13 September) and would still finish second at worst. So, I’m reasonably confident but we’ve still got to go to France and finish well.”
To find out more about Strawberry Racing Team and the winning Tony Kart EVR chassis, visit www.strawberryracing.co.uk