Published April 03, 2015 14:37
The very worst part about a good thing is that it always has to come to an end. The 2015 season of the British Universities Karting Championship was unfortunately no exception!
After 1 qualifier, 6 rounds, and month of excitement, the season climax was here, and incredibly, all three class championships were up for grabs. Whilton Mill was the venue, changeable was the weather (as always!) and the scene was set. Who would be BUKC Champions for 2015?
Friday saw the finale of the 2015 Rookie Championship, and even with Salford’s overall dominance this season a bad round at Llandow last time out meant that a total of FIVE teams were potentially in contention for the title.
Salford A pulled it out of the bag however, with a confident performance giving them two race wins, a 2nd place and a 9th place to secure the championship with a 4 point margin overall. UWE B, chasing them all season, finished in 2nd after also suffering at Llandow but coming home 2nd in Round 4, and Huddersfield C beat Plymouth A to the final podium position after a disastrous round for the south-coast university.
Congratulations to Salford A, winners of the 2015 Rookie Championship!
To the main event. After hundreds of racing laps across the season it was down to the wire between 4-time BUKC champions Oxford Brookes, and the underdog Huddersfield team. If Oxford Brookes were able to take the title it would make them the most successful team in BUKC history, whereas this would be Huddersfield’s first ever BUKC title - a dream for the team considering they were a small rookie team only four years ago.
With the Rookies enjoying glorious sunshine the day before, it was fitting that the finale of the BUKC 2015 be played out at a rain-soaked Whilton Mill.
Race 1 got off to the ideal start for Huddersfield, who needed to finish above Oxford Brookes in every race to guarantee the title. It was Sheffield A that took the spoils with a superb drive from 19th on the grid to take the win, besting the championship contenders into 2nd and 3rd place - with Huddersfield coming out on top.
Race 2 saw Durham’s star driver Will van Es climb 24 places to take the race win, a great start to their intermediate title chase. Newcastle A’s James DeHavillande finished 8s down the road in 2nd place, with reigning champions Coventry A finishing in 3rd courtesy of captain Joe Charlton - a great result with the midlands university looking to finish on the final step of the podium now that the title is out of reach.
Oxford Brookes finished ahead of Huddersfield in the 3rd race, climbing 15 places - but were bested to the win by Nottingham A who finished 5 seconds ahead, with Birmingham A finishing 3rd. Huddersfield finished down in 9th place, a far less than idea finish after Oxford Brookes podium finish. Whilst teams drop their worst race result, with such high stakes it was vital for Huddersfield to put in as many high finishes as possible.
Both Huddersfield and Oxford Brookes had abysmal races in Race 4, with Brookes finishing down in 26th after an on track clash with Huddersfield A echoing Prost/Senna ‘89 - a controversial race ending that saw the Huddersfield team making a trip to the stewards and being excluded from the race for the unfortunate on-track fracas. This left UWE A’s top driver Sebastian Hutchinson to take the race win, finishing 7 seconds ahead of Loughborough A, with the newest Scottish team for this season, the University of the West of Scotland, finishing in 3rd.
Race 5 saw Oxford’s Callum Hughes take their first win of the 2015 season, a great achievement for the team after several 2nd place finishes throughout the year. Leeds Beckett A finishing in 2nd place 6.7s behind, with Oxford Brookes’ B team finishing in 3rd - their A team were not in the race.
To the final sprint race, with a mixed bag of results for all the top teams the Round 7 win was very much up for grabs, and with both Huddersfield and Oxford Brookes in this race together it was crucial in the championship battle. Disastrously for Oxford Brookes a penalty part way through the race handed the advantage to Huddersfield, who went on to finish just off the podium in 4th place - with Brookes finishing down in 16th.
The win in the final sprint race of the season went to York A’s James Ludlam, with Cardiff A finishing just behind in 2nd and Birmingham A in 3rd.
With the results tallied and the worst race result dropped, it was reigning champions Coventry A that finishing top, winning Round 7 without a single race win (3rd, 5th and 6th) - such was the mixture of results for all the top teams! Despite their exclusion from Race 4 it was Huddersfield that finished on top, a 2nd, 4th and 9th place enough to leave them ahead of championship rivals Oxford Brookes who finished down in 5th place after a disappointing Race 4 and 6 (2nd, 3rd and 17th). 2013 champions Hertfordshire A completed the podium, with a consistent 5th place finish across all of their point-scoring races.
It was a disastrous round for Intermediate class leaders Southampton A, who could only manage 8th in class after finishing 4th, 12th and 24th, leaving their immediate rivals Durham A to take the Round 7 spoils with a 1st, 8th and 14th. Scottish team Heriot Watt A finished 2nd in class with a 7th and two 8th place finishes, and Sheffield A came home in 3rd in class after their Race 1 win and a 7th and 18th place.
A quick kart-fettling break and with the weather looking to improve (we even spotted some blue sky at points!) it was into Round 8 and the final round of the BUKC 2015. With the advantage going to Huddersfield after their 2nd place finish in Round 7, Oxford Brookes were still in touch, just a single point behind. Two races and the championship title would be decided.
Endurance Race 1 saw Durham A’s ever dependable team of Will van Es and Andrew Dawson take the race win, a huge boost to their intermediate title chase. At the chequered flag the 2nd placed team was Huddersfield A, who looked to have all but solidified their 2015 title - until a late time penalty demoted them to 3rd place, disastrously for them directly behind Oxford Brookes. Fate, it seems, was fully intending this championship battle to go down to the wire!
The second endurance race was the decider. A season of racing and hundreds of laps at the UK’s top karting circuits had led to this point - a straight shoot out for the BUKC 2015 title between Huddersfield and Oxford Brookes. Whoever finished ahead would be crowned champions, as long as there was no further controversy along the way.
Sadly, it was not to be.
After 45 minutes of racing and two fantastic pit stops for Huddersfield, they were ahead of Oxford Brookes A in 3rd place and looked to be driving to the championship; but Brookes were catching. Storming through the field after their second pit stop, up to 5th place and chasing down the 4th placed Loughborough B, the Brookes team were on a charge.
With just three laps remaining and at the pace Brookes had they would be directly behind Huddersfield on the final lap. The track fence was absolutely packed with the entire paddock watching the finale to an incredible championship as they approached the final lap; until disaster. Shouts from the final corner, anguish from the Huddersfield team with their heads in their hands - their ever dependable driver Ollie Greenwood was in the wall!
The race finished with Oxford Brookes crossing the line in 4th place, far ahead of Huddersfield A who finished in 12th after their penultimate lap disaster - and it looked like Oxford Brookes were 2015 champions. Post-race events however turned the 2015 season from the most incredible ever into the most controversial.
Oxford Brookes’ B team kart had a mechanical issue towards the end of the race and had pitted for repairs. A stewards enquiry unearthed evidence that the Brookes team had deliberately held back their kart to place it directly in front of the Huddersfield A team as they crossed the pit straight, with the intention of holding them up to assist the A team with catching up. Unfortunately for the Oxford Brookes team their B team driver made heavy contact with Huddersfield A and forced them off and into the wall on the final turn; handing the position and apparently the title win to their A team.
Meanwhile, Oxford A took the Endurance 2 win, 17 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Cardiff A who were chasing an overall 3rd place finish - with Loughborough B finishing in 3rd after the penultimate lap incident between Oxford Brookes and Huddersfield.
It was the stewards decision that due to the nature of the incident, both Oxford Brookes teams would be excluded from the entire round; meaning that for the first time in their history, Huddersfield University were the champions of the British Universities Karting Championship!
After all the controversy and an incredible race, there was still one more to go to decide both the 3rd place finisher in the Premier class, as well as the Intermediate class champions.
It was Southampton A that took victory in the final race of the season, climbing 17 positions to finish just 5 second ahead of 2nd placed Cardiff A, who managed to finish just ahead of both UWE A in 3rd and Coventry A in 4th - meaning the 3rd place could potentially go to count-back!
Cardiff A took the Round 8 win with two 2nd places in both their races, with UWE A finishing 2nd overall with a 3rd and an 8th, and Coventry A finished 3rd with a 4th place and a 9th place.
Scottish University Heriot-Watt A took the intermediate class Round 8 victory, finishing 8th overall with a 4th and 13th place. Warwick A finished 2nd (10th overall) and Newcastle A rounded off the top three, finishing 11th overall.
In the intermediate class battle both Durham and Southampton both had a race win to their name in the final round, but with Durham A’s second result (a 22nd) 8 places above Southampton A’s (30th) it meant that Durham A were crowned the first ever BUKC Intermediate class champions, with Southampton A finishing 2nd overall, 14 points adrift. Warwick A finished in 3rd place, an excellent set of Round 8 results leaving them just two points ahead of 4th placed Sheffield.
Congratulations to Durham A!
After all the controversy of the 2nd endurance race it was confirmed that with 414 points overall, it was Huddersfield A that were crowned BUKC Champions for 2015. Oxford Brookes finished just 3 points adrift in 2nd place, and with their Round 7 win and a 3rd place finish in Round 8 it was Coventry that finished ahead of Cardiff by a single point.
Congratulations to all the teams - it was an incredible finish to the 2015 season for many different reasons, and the culmination of an incredible journey for the Huddersfield team having joined the BUKC as a small rookie team just four years previously.
Whilst the 2015 season is over, there is still more racing to look forward to - the annual BUKC 24hr Race is taking place over the weekend of the 20/21st June a Teesside Autodrome; a fantastic way to round off the year in the (hopefully) glorious midsummer sunshine.
See you next season!