Gray still in the hunt de­spite qual­i­fy­ing spin

Two kart­ing rac­ers hos­pi­talised dur­ing event­ful week­end KART­ING

Harefield Gazette - - MOTORS - By Matt Lewis matt.lewis@trin­i­tymir­

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

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