Watts and Phillips off to a flyer at PFI

January 7, 2019

Karting

The #YRDArmy took to the track for the first time at the weekend with Luke Watts, Vinnie Phillips and Ivan Lomliev heading to PFI for the TVKC Winter Series opening round. After the Christmas break and ‘winter transfers’ completed it was time to find out how they would fare against their 2019 opposition for the first time in what would be tricky conditions.

Luke Watts (Mini X30) – 4th

With Luke now fully eligible to race in the Mini X30 class on a permanent basis this would be the start of a new era and new rivalries. The 26-kart grid was made up of a mixture of Cadet graduates and experienced Mini drivers all making for an exciting prospect.

The weekend got off to a good start with Luke qualifying 9th place. There’s no doubt he’d hope to be higher by the end of the weekend, but he had more importantly left himself in the mix for Sunday’s heats.

As he always does Luke turned up the gas for the racing and got off to a blistering start on Sunday storming through to take an emphatic win in the opening race. With the second providing a much more intense battle at the front Luke wasn’t quite able to repeat that result, but he still came up to an impressive 5th place taking the fastest lap along the way.

The combined results had left Luke on the front row of the grid for the Final alongside the British Cadet Champion Arvid Lindblad. Now up a class and no longer at a weight disadvantage Luke was mixing it with the best in the business once again.

Luke got things off to a good start in the final and took the lead on the second lap which fuelled a great battle for the spectators with Alfie Rigby. But it was battling for the lead that saw Luke drop down to 5th place halfway through the race which lost him huge momentum. A knock-on effect saw Luke down as far as 7th going onto the last lap but a fantastic recovery saw Luke climb back up to finish 4th place at the flag which showed great composure in what was a tough situation.

It was a shame Luke had been taken out of contention in the battle for the win, but he still finished just over a second behind the leader and was just inches away from a podium. It was nevertheless a fantastic start to the season and at this stage in the year racing experience is certainly more important than race results.

 

Vinnie Phillips (IAME Cadet) – 7th

After years of hard work is 2019 going to Vinnie’s year to go for the big time? Seventh in last year’s British Championship made Vinnie the third highest ranked driver at the weekend and he will undoubtedly be one of the favourites for this year’s British title.

Vinnie started the weekend as he meant to go on finishing in 4th place which was a solid start with two heats to come.

From 3rd on the grid in the opening heat Vinnie drove a fantastic opening race to challenge Aiden Neate for the victory setting the fastest lap. An exciting race ended with a drag race to the line, which saw Vinnie eventually missing out by just 0.06 seconds. 

That battle would be repeated in Vinnie’s second and final heat but on the last lap of the race he would get the better of Neate this time taking a crucial victory. It was that win that would seal pole position for Vinnie for the Final.

The start of the race didn’t go as planned for Vinnie, but damage limitation saw him in 3rd after the opening lap, and keen to get back to where he started Vinnie was back into the lead by lap three. He remained there until lap six when the familiar face of Neate arose, but Vinnie saw this as no problem sitting in 2nd place until the last lap board. However, this was far from a two-way battle with eight drivers in the mix going across the line, but things did not go to plan for Vinnie as he was forced down to 7th place. It was a disappointing end to a brilliant weekend, but there were certainly more positives to take away from it than negatives.

 

Ivan Lomliev (Junior X30) – DNS  

Unfortunately, there would be no racing for Ivan after picking up a rib injury during practice.But his pace on Friday was a huge positive to take away from the weekend.