Photos courtesy of Chris Walker@ Kartpix.net
Tom enjoyed a dream debut in his new Formula Kart Stars category at Whilton Mill circuit last weekend (2-3 May), playing a starring role during Saturday’s opening round with pole position and three wins, including a triumph in the final.
Despite only sampling the new kart for the very first time in testing on Thursday, he made an immediate impression on the championship, consistently lapping at the front of the pack in Friday’s seven practice sessions at the Northamptonshire circuit.
With lap times between the grid packed full of rising karting stars proving extraordinarily close during practice, a tight qualifying was expected, but Tom excelled and claimed the first pole position of the year by just 0.020s from Jac Maybin. Making a great start to the first heat, Tom then led the first four laps before being shuffled back to sixth place on lap five. Engaged in an entertaining battle with Angus Fender and Jac Maybin, Tom demonstrated the fighting skills he’s become renowned for and moved into third place with two laps remaining, by passing Fender and Maybin on the same lap.
Soon after that opener, Tom was starting from third place for the next heat, and he then put in a classy drive to take his first win in Formula Kart Stars, holding off a challenge at the end from Dean MacDonald. Tom made sure of the victory with a decisive move on the last lap of the 14 lap race, taking the win by 0.070s from Ethan Hawkey, with the top six racers covered by less than a second at the chequered flag.
If the second race was hard fought, the third was anything but. Tom dominated the race, starting from pole, leading every lap with a commanding drive, to finish almost two seconds ahead of nearest rival Maybin.
The 26-lap final was the showpiece event of the first day of this prestigious new series, and Tom once more showed the qualities that make him one of the most keenly watched drivers on the karting scene. Starting from pole once more,he led the majority of the race, and fought back extremely well after being shuffled back to fourth place on lap 15. He was back at the front however, within two laps and then held his position at the front to the end, finishing 0.330s ahead of Maybin and so rounding off a dream opening day in the F1-supported series.
Tom followed that up on Sunday, with the third quickest time in both the warm up and qualifying sessions and finishing third in the opening race of the day after battling back from fifth place late on, backing that result up with a fifth place in the second heat in a largely uneventful contest.
A challenging second race on a drying track saw Tom start fifth on the grid, but he was down to ninth at the end of the opening lap. Undeterred, he fought back magnificently to move into fifth place by lap four, but drama soon followed after a loose chain meant Tom was off the pace but he kept plugging away and finished fifth at the end of the contest.
For race three Tom started ninth but soon moved up to fourth on the first lap. Tom set the timing screens alight with blistering pace but disaster struck after contact with another driver while Tom was making his move for third place, dropping him to the back of the field. A spirited drive saw Tom come through to eighth place at the flag setting the fastest sectors and lap of anyone in the race.
Lining up in fifth for Sunday’s final, he was up to third on the first lap and again recovered well after falling to seventh place on lap four. Immediately fighting back, he gained two places on lap five and then two moves in two laps towards the end of the race saw him claim another podium finish from a superb opening weekend in the championship.
Speaking of his first weekend, Tom commented: “Saturday was a dream debut in the series with a pole in qualifying and three wins out of four races. Sunday was challenging due to the changeable conditions however I’m glad to end the weekend with another podium. I feel very privileged to have the great name of Donington Park behind me, allowing me to compete in this wonderful series. A special thanks to Piers Sexton who supported me this weekend”
Formula Kart Stars benefits from six dedicated shows on Sky Sports, as well as features on the Sky Sport F1 Channel, the F1 Show and Game Changers broadcast on Sky 1. Formula Kart Stars is next in action at Silverstone on 6-7 June while Tom’s next race meeting is this coming weekend (8-10 May) in the Super One Minimax Series at Shenington near Banbury.