Josh Irfan impresses on OK Junior debut

January 28, 2020

Karting

After months of preparation Josh Irfan finally began his career in OK Junior at the WSK Champions Cup. Having joined the reigning World Champions, Ricky Flynn Motorsport, Josh was in good hands as he arrived at the Adria circuit in Italy to officially kick off the season. With the European Championships starting in April the WSK events are used by the drivers and teams to get in shape before taking on the European and World Championships!

With 50 drivers on the grid Josh was being thrown into the deep end with a number of drivers coming into 2020 with a year of experience under their belt. But having picked up big victories in 60 Mini it was no surprise to see Josh get up to speed quickly with the Brit finishing 6th in the first Free Practice session on Friday.

It was a promising sign for Qualifying, but unfortunately Josh would miss out on most of the session. A disastrous start to the weekend saw Josh seize an engine after just one lap meaning he would have to sit out the rest of the session. Having not been able to set a proper flying lap Josh would qualify dead last in his group and 49th overall putting him on the back row for all four of his heats!

With now nothing to lose Josh saw an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and test himself in every single heat. Josh got off to a flyer with his first heat on Friday as he gained eleven places on his way to an impressive 9th place finishing within five seconds of the leader. Being the second fastest driver on circuit proved it was no fluke and Josh went into Saturday’s heats with the goal of some more top ten finishes.

However, on arrival to Adria on Saturday the conditions had completely changed, with the track now soaked it added a further challenge to an already tough situation for Josh. However, the conditions did not see any changes to Josh’s progress as he started the day with a 10th place finish. Josh would get another 10th in heat three as he improved his pace in the wet to lap within a second of the fastest driver.

Josh would save the best until last with a 7th place in his final heat rounding out a fantastic recovery. Across four heats Josh gained a total of 43 places to move himself from 49th in the standings after qualifying to 17th at the end of the heats. A remarkable achievement and Josh now had the Pre-Final to try and move himself even further forward.

With conditions still traitorous on Sunday the racing was set to be tough. Starting 9th in Pre-Final B, all Josh needed to do was finish in the top 17 to make the final. Driving a sensible race Josh kept himself out of any dramas and finished 7th place putting him on the outside of row seven for the final.

By the time the final came around the track had dried meaning all drivers would go back to slicks although damp patches were still scattered around the circuit. Starting near the middle of the pack it was a chaotic start for Josh who was caught on the outside going into turn one which would see him drop down to 17th on the opening lap.

But from there, just like he had been doing all weekend, he began to recover and make positions. Against the World’s best, Josh showed he has the pace to fight at the front as he made his way up to 10th place by lap 12 before taking 9th from his teammate, Dion Gowda, in the closing stages. With some drivers ahead carrying penalties Josh would eventually finish an impressive 7th place, a fantastic recovery given his situation after qualifying.

Over the weekend Josh made a total of 52 places, an impressive statistic for any driver let alone someone making their debut in the class! Had there been no problems in qualifying there is a good chance Josh could have fought for a podium with the pace he displayed, but that is a positive he can take away from the first race of the season.

Josh returns to Adria this weekend for the start of the WSK Super Master Series. A four-round championship which will travel to the biggest circuits in Italy over the next three months as we build up to the FIA Karting European Championships in April.