The British Universities Karting Championship (BUKC) 2016 kicked off across the 3rd and 4th February at Buckmore Park, Kent, with Newcastle’s teams hoping to rectify a disappointing qualifying round in November.
In the Main Championship, Newcastle A started the season in the best possible way, winning Round 1 in the Intermediate Class, before drama in Round 2. In the Rookie Championship, Newcastle B also started the season strongly, despite the team having limited BUKC experience.
In the BUKC Main Championship, each team has 4 drivers, taking part in a 25 minute sprint race (Round 1), and a 30 minute endurance race (Round 2) at one event as part of an 8 round championship. All grid positions are randomly generated to give an average starting position equal for all teams. The BUKC Rookie Championship has 1 round per event, with each round involving qualifying and a 30-minute sprint race per driver (again 4 drivers per team). Each individual race consists of 36 drivers.
“In the Rookie Championship, Newcastle B also started the season strongly, despite the team having limited BUKC experience”
Back in November at the BUKC 2016 qualifying event, absentees depleted the A and B teams, as 4 of the best 8 drivers were unable to race. Incidents such as broken exhausts and wheels falling off left Newcastle B missing out on Main Championship qualification, and Newcastle A scraping through with the final qualification place.
Despite qualification difficulties, Newcastle A went in to Round 1 quietly confident of a positive result. At an abnormally dry Buckmore Park, confidence grew as Round 1 got underway. Christos Oikomonu finished 10th in his first ever BUKC race, and captain Rob Langthorp eclipsed his previous best BUKC result by finishing 6th in his race. James DeHavillande then confirmed his status as one of the best racers in the BUKC by coming from 26th on the grid to finish 2nd, 0.1 seconds behind the race winner. With only the best 3 out of 4 races in Round 1 to count, Charles Theseria had a pressure free race, but unfortunately was unable to improve on the team’s best finishes.
“Despite qualification difficulties, Newcastle A went in to Round 1 quietly confident of a positive result”
Despite a set of strong finishes, Newcastle A were unsure how their results would stack up in Round 1’s standings. To their surprise, they had won the Intermediate Class, and finished 5th overall (beating 22 of 26 Premier Class teams). With a previous best finish of 11th overall in Round 8 of BUKC 2015, Newcastle started the season in the best way they could have imagined, coming away with a winners trophy.
While Round 1 got the season off to a great start, Round 2 took a turn in the opposite direction for Newcastle A. Langthorp and Theseria finished 22nd after slow pit stops cost them at least 5 positions. DeHavillande and Oikomonu were leading their race early on, but then… BANG! Blue shell! As the kart’s noise doubled, the team realised their exhaust had broken. To make matters worse, Oikomonu crashed in the pit lane attempting to make up for lost time after changing kart, losing even more time. DeHavillande and Oikomonu finished 28th. Round 2 certainly brought the team back down to earth, finishing 42nd overall.
“With a previous best finish of 11th overall in Round 8 of BUKC 2015, Newcastle started the season in the best way they could have imagined, coming away with a winners trophy”
Despite a poor Round 2, Newcastle A returned to the Northeast with 7th place in the Intermediate Class, and 28th overall, while also winning the largest trophy to currently be on show in the NUSU trophy cabinet!
Newcastle’s B team were also in action at Buckmore Park in the Rookie Championship. Andrew Navidi and Chris Iddon both had strong races on their BUKC debuts, finishing 14th and 11th respectively. Scott Kirkman was running as high as 11th until a red flag ruined his race, and ultimately finished 18th. The star of Newcastle B was Reece Matthews, finishing 3rd in his race after accounting for excluded drivers. Matthews will be moving up to Newcastle A for the next rounds at Llandow on 17th of February.