Ross is karting champion

Sep 22 2010 Dumfries Standard Wednesday

SCOTLAND has a newmotorsport hero after Ross Wylie won the British Open Kart Championship last Sunday.

The teenage driver from Thornhill scored an historic triumph in the British Open Kart Championship race held at Rowrah, in Cumbria.

The event, known as the O Plate after the number plate bearing the letter O that is awarded to the winner, is one of British karting’s most prestigious titles.

“It’s been a horrendous year, so it’s fantastic to come away with a win,” said the 19-year-old who celebrated his birthday, and his parents’ wedding anniversary, just three days later.

“As you can understand, it was all a bit emotional afterwards and we had plenty of champagne,” he added with a smile.

“I’m aiming to move into car racing now and this was the best way to sign off my career in karts.”

However, the former Wallace Hall Academy student’s weekend got off to a faltering start when he failed to even make the start of the first of his three qualifying heats.

“My chain fell off on the formation lap,” he explained before bouncing back in fine style with third and first place finishes in the following two races.

“Despite the wee disaster in the first heat, I’d scored good enough points to start from fifth place on the grid for the championship final. There must be something about me starting on p5 at Rowrah because that’s the grid position I started from before clinching the Stars of Tomorrow Junior Max Championship in 2007,” he reflected.

“In the opening moments of the final I wasn’t that quick at all, and only found out afterwards that my piston head had cracked, causing the loss of power. In fact, my engine tuner said it was a miracle that my engine had lasted at all, let alone carried me to victory. As it was, I was managing to hold onto fifth when the leader’s chain fell off. That put me in fourth and suddenly the driver ahead of speared off the circuit – his motor had seized. This left my team-mate Matt Mason (and at the time, the reigning Open Champion) in second, with me in third and I thought, ‘I’m in with a shout, I could win this’.”

As the contest neared its conclusion, Mason began to defend his position, allowing Wyle to close. With the tension ratcheting up to fever pitch, Ross slipped past the Englishman and with the leader Jay Taylor leaving a gap, Ross needed no second asking and was through. His lead was short lived however.

“Suddenly Matt came flying down the inside, on the grass! He hit me and Taylor and we all fell off. I managed to scrabble back onto the track and was bouncing up and down in my seat urging the revs to pick up. It was certainly dramatic but that’s the way an O Plate should be.”