Seventeen-year-old Alyx Coby from Kilcullen, Co. Kildare was on the grid in Tynagh, Co. Galway, last weekend as the 2021 Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship got under way.
To prepare for the demands of her first full season in the IAME X30 Senior class – for drivers aged fifteen and older, both male and female – Alyx spent the winter training with the help of her performance coach, Irish Olympic Hockey star Nicci Daly. Alyx underwent an intensive program which included weight training, running, cycling along with mental preparation.
Alyx also travelled to Belgium and Spain earlier this year to take part in the first two rounds of the IAME Euro Series Championship, competing against up to 100 of the best racers in Europe over five days of competition to work on her racecraft and gain valuable experience ahead of the Irish Championship. Despite never having visited the circuits before, Alyx adapted quickly and made good progress during the events.
With COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting any form of motorsport in Ireland since October of last year this would be Alyx’s first home race in almost nine months and she was keen to put her winter training and European experience into practice and secure some solid points for the Championship.
Starting the first of the day’s two qualifying heats in fourth place, Alyx made it up to third as the karts exited the first corner, taking second place four corners later and moved up to the lead by the end of the second lap. She then put in a string of fast laps, including the fastest lap of the race, to take victory by almost three seconds.
With the grid reversed for the second heat, Alyx would line up in nineteenth place on the grid with a lot of work to do. A good start saw her pick up three places in the first corner and she then set about working her way through the pack to run in sixth place by the end of the second lap. She then picked off the remaining karts over the following laps to sit in third place and then with a dive up the inside under braking at the last corner she secured second place, once again setting the fastest lap of the race.
With those results, Alyx qualified in pole position for the pre-final. After dropping back to third place at the start she had a tough battle to get back up to second by the end of the second lap and then set about closing the gap to the leader. After chasing him down for a couple of laps, including setting another fastest lap, it became clear to Alyx that they were on the same pace so with a comfortable gap back to third she made a decision to settle in and maintain that gap and protect her tyres for the final.
Lining up in second place for the final, Alyx’s hopes of a good start were dashed when the kart bogged down as she crossed the start line and by the time the karts exited the first corner she had fallen back to fifth place. This left her with a lot more work to do than planned, but she knew she had the speed to make it back towards the front and bided her time rather than make any risky moves. By the end of the second lap she had clawed back two spots to run in third and took second with another late-braking pass into the last corner on lap four. By this stage the leader had opened a considerable gap and Alyx was unable to reduce it as both drivers were again running at the same pace, leaving her to take the chequered flag in second place.
Those results leave the Kildare teenager in second place in the Championship as the series moves on to Kiltorcan in Co. Kilkenny in mid-July. The seven-round Championship will also visit circuits in Counties Louth and Meath and Alyx will be hoping to build on her progress and secure her first Championship title when the season draws to a close in November. She also intends to travel to Italy and Belgium for the final two rounds of the IAME Euro Series later this year along with some rounds of the British Karting Championship if travel restrictions allow.
It was a successful day all around for the Coby family as Alyx’s younger brother, seven-year-old Christian, took part in his first ever Motorsport Ireland Championship race in the IAME Bambino class, coming away with first place finishes in both qualifying heats and the pre-final and was leading the final all the way to the last corner where he was overtaken to finish in second place.
Photo credit: Marc Quinlivan.