Gray still in the hunt despite qualifying spin
Two karting racers hospitalised during eventful weekend KARTING
RACING matters were overshadowed by safety concerns at the penultimate round of the MSA British Superkart Championship series
Ruislip racer Thomas Gray remains in the hunt for glory ahead of the final weekend of the season, but withdrew before the end of the meeting at Castle Combe.
Two drivers were hospitalised, one in an induced coma, as disaster struck and left spectators and drivers shocked.
The Wiltshire circuit is known for its relentless speed and karts average 101mph on a lap of the track.
However, qualifying plans were wrecked when a rival racer ploughed into Gray at 110mph, causing him to spin, and he could only manage eighth place on the grid.
Heading back into the pits, the kart had taken a battering, and a broken reed valve in the injection sparked a mad dash around the paddock for suitable replacement parts.
A repair job was completed with just seconds to spare before race one.
It seemed as though the Chippenham track was cursed as a serious crash saw Luke Plain carried off with a concussion and the race was red flagged.
A misfire in Gray’s kart, traced back to a faulty spark plug, had been holding back the teenager and was fixed in an attempt to improve on the opening result of sixth.
Lapping at 1.11.094 in race two, he was embroiled in a real battle with Mark Newton before the curse claimed its next victim.
This time the race was stopped due to a huge accident which saw driver Roy Bennett cut from the vehicle and in an induced coma after suffering neck injuries.
John Moon, press officer for the circuit, said: “All kart races are held under the control of the Motor Sports Association, with stringent scrutinising before the event begins, of the karts and the driver’s safety equipment such as helmet, overalls, gloves and boots.
“All drivers are licensed by the MSA and the vast majority in our race were very experienced. The circuit is licensed and has to pass regular safety checks by the MSA’s own circuit inspection team.
“The way the marshals, medical staff and rescue teams acted was impressive and they did everything they could.
“A comprehensive report of the accident has been provided to the Motor Sports Association, normal practice for all events organised under an MSA racing permit.”
At this stage, Gray’s team decided to withdraw from the final race of the day due to safety concerns.
The final meeting of the year takes place at Pembrey, in Wales, and Gray’s team were quick to send their best wishes to Bennett and his family.
n SPIN: Thomas Gray