Hoggard and MacDonald are first OK E Plate Champions
Jonathan Hoggard and Dean MacDonald were in scorching form at a sun-drenched Shenington last weekend (16/17 July) as they raced to victory in the OK Junior and Senior classes.
With the grids boosted by the chance to win a brand new Vortex OK motor, the Shenington SuperPrix hosted not only the second round of the inaugural British series for the OK class, but also the English Championship.
From the outset Hoggard was the man to beat. Topping the time sheets in qualifying, the KR Sport driver carried his form all the way through the heats and two finals. Strawberry Racing’s Axel Charpentier and Mark Kimber gave chase throughout and it was Kimber whom claimed the second spot on the front row of the pre-final grid, alongside pole-sitter Hoggard.
Charpentier out-smarted Kiern Jewiss and his team-mate at the start, but BMR’s Mark Porter surprised all three of them to slip into 2nd. With Hoggard and Porter moving clear of their pursuers, Kimber completed the top three, with Charpentier promoted to 4th after Jewiss was penalised for a dislodged nosecone.
With his confidence higher than the gliders from the neighbouring flying club, Hoggard aced the start of the main final to put daylight between him and the hard-charging Porter. Jewiss demonstrated his prodigious talent by rocketing from the back of the field up the order to 5th during the opening tour. Kiern locked horns with Axel and Mark as the trio scrapped for 3rd. Together, they set up a thrilling finale as each vied for the last podium step. At the flag, Jewiss nicked it from Charpentier and Kimber. Roman Haskett added to his excellent 6th place in the first final with 7th in the second, earning himself the free OK DDJ engine in the process.
Twenty-four drivers signed-on in the Senior Ok category, highlighting the appeal of the new engine’s performance characteristics. Of course, the chance to be crowned English champion and win a brand new Vortex DDS motor – supplied courtesy of Strawberry Racing – also added impetus to the rush of entries.
Jamie Flynn, the son of super-successful RFM team owner, Ricky, was fastest in TQ, pipping Dean MacDonald and Oliver Hodgson to pole position for the heats.
The diminutive MacDonald embodied the old adage ‘to finish first, first you must finish’ as he won the two preliminary races, as Flynn and fellow challenger Harrison Thomas suffered from DNFs.
MacDonald underlined his own ability with a perfect, lights-to-flag drive in the first final. That he triumphed over highly-rated opposition in the form of Jacob Stilp, Toby Sowery and Hodgson added more gloss to his performance. Flynn impressed again with a gutsy drive from 10th to challenge Stilp for 3rd. His efforts went unrewarded with another retirement, promoting Strawberry’s Luke Knott to 4th, ahead of Roy Johnson.
As if to rub salt in their wounds, Dean repeated his previous feat and dominated the second final. Stilp made a decent fist of making it look like a contest as he out-dragged Harrison Thomas and Hodgson through the first corners. Wales’ Thomas left his braking very late on the run into the chicane to deftly pass PFI’s Hodgson with privateer Ross Martin eventually claiming 5th and, in doing so, Strawberry’s prize of a free Vortex DDS.
Reflecting on the success of the weekend and the positive introduction of OK into British karting, Strawberry Racing’s Warwick Ringham said: “Everyone’s really happy with it. The drivers love the sheer power and responsiveness of the engine but also like the challenge of getting the most out of it. It’s more like old-school 100cc racing, because you have to think about what you’re doing. For the long term of British karting it will produce better drivers, as they will all have to up there game, learn how to drive properly, set karts up and look after their tyres in order to run at the front.”
More history will be made at next month’s (6/7 August) Kart Masters British Kart Grand Prix. OK makes its debut in the prestigious event, with the prized ‘GP’ number plates up for grabs in the Junior and Senior classes.