I took a trip down to the latest round of the 2015 MI karting championships on Sunday- just for a looksee. Most kart meetings seem to clash with car race meetings, which is an awful shame as I am sure many people would like to go to both (or is it just me?)
The last time I raced karts competitively was back in 1992 (I know, I’m ancient!) when, aided by buddy Donal Loughrey, I managed to clinch a championship despite a decidedly odd points system in the “real capital”! As soon as I wandered into the paddock, the memories, and many of the same faces, came flooding back. I must have spent about half an hour shooting the breeze with Tommy Cunneely and Brendan McKenna, both now supporting family members but both also top FF1600 pilots back in the day. Next up was Noel Brennan, a formidable 100cc karter back in the day, now running one of the top teams in the paddock, the smile still as evident as ever. Next up were some regular Mondello racers- Rod McGovern, Brendan O’Brien, Noel Dunne and Liam Denning- all in a very different role though- they are now karting Dads and by all accounts the apples have not fallen far from the trees! Leastone’s Paul Heavey was also there and we had a great chat whilst watching a few of the finals.
It would seem there is no shortage of talent in Irish karting at the moment- there was great racing all day with some cracking moves. The Cadet class provided the best racing of the day with plenty of potential winners in the mix. Sé Og Martin took final number one but Alyx Coby took the second, matching pace with strategy as she snatched the lead in the closing stages to take a popular win, adding to her recent double in Cork.
There have always been more than one Junior class in Irish Karting and it continues to confuse me. Back in the day, we just had 100 Senior and 100 Junior, then there was JICA and Mini Max etc- and now it appears we have three. Mini Max, Junior Max and the new IAME X30 class. The arrival of the new class seems to have diluted the others, with the Max grids well down on what I had previously seen. I made a few enquiries about the new class and was told that they are not sealed so do not have to be sent back to the UK and then (by someone else) that the Rotax class has had their 10 years and needs to be replaced. I am not up to speed on any of this but I did see plenty of talent in all the classes and would have loved to see them go head to head in a single Junior Class.
For some reason, there does not seem to be the urge to move to car racing that their was a few years ago and I have no idea why not. There were definitely more than a couple of drivers there that could probably jump into a single seater and raise a few eyebrows if they got the chance. If not FF1600, Paul Heavey would love to run a karter in his Vee or Formula 1000 car and I am sure he is not alone. In fact, Motorsport Ireland own the Young Driver Van Diemen, this year being piloted by Jonny McMullen- wouldn’t it be great to see some of the top MI karters getting a test in it at the end of the year?
Ireland has always produced world class drivers, and on the evidence of what I saw today, this shows no sign of changing- we just need a career path for them.