Myers ends 2012 with podium return
Oliver Myers brought the curtain down on his national and international kart campaign for 2012 by stepping back onto the Super 1 Series podium at Shenington.
The Coles Racing driver has endured a year of ups and downs – highlighted by securing his second national championship title with ‘O’ Plate success at Rowrah in June and the accident which left him with damaged ribs and a dented Super 1 championship bid in August – but remained determined to continue his pursuit of the latter right to the final lap of the season.
The Shenington weekend did not start well, however, when both of his chassis exhibited handling traits that left him off the pace in testing.
“We thought that the first kart had been straightened after the accident at Three Sisters that left me in hospital,” Myers reported, “but it didn’t want to turn in at all and we were four or five tenth off the pace. We switched to the chassis we had used at the previous S1 round at PFI but, if anything, that was even slower! We tried softening the set-up, but it was just sliding too much.”
Knowing that a fresh kart was required to keep alive his hopes of securing as high a championship position as possible, Myers and the Coles team began scouring the paddock, but it was only as they were considering whether to continue racing that an alternative was finally sourced courtesy of John Stewart at ST Racing.
With no chance to test the chassis before competition began on Saturday, Myers’ mechanic having only finished building it up late on Friday night, the Coles team approximated an initial set-up – which fortunately proved to be close to the pace and inside the top ten. The closely-bunched field, however, meant that a two-tenth deficit in qualifying would restrict the #O machine to eleventh on the combined timesheets.
Unusually, Myers had both of his heats scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but the nature of the Shenington circuit combined with the well-matched field to yield little more than a couple of outings in ‘no mans land’, comfortably ahead of the chasing pack, but unable to provoke an error from those ahead in order to make up places. As a result, his combined eighth and seventh places were good enough to guarantee ninth on the grid for the Pre-Final, but Myers knew that work was needed overnight to make his kart more competitive.
“The kart seemed happiest running on its own,” the MSA Academy prospect explained, “Both races were exactly the same, with the group I was in all running the same sort of times, and we didn’t have the extra turn of pace to move forward.”
Concerted analysis of the day’s data provided some clues as to where the kart was losing time and a change to the set-up for Sunday produced immediate results as Myers moved up the order during the morning warm-up session. Without a heat to confirm the improvement, the RDF Building Services Ltd / Turner Butler-sponsored driver had to wait until early afternoon to return to action, but the pace was obvious as the ‘O’-plated kart used a quick start to move from ninth to fifth. Once into the top five, however, Myers found himself in a battle that saw positions changing with almost every lap but, despite that, was able to reclaim fifth and hold it through the last couple of laps to secure a place on row three of the Final grid.
“It was a fun race,” Myers remarked, “The racing was hard and fair – although I don’t think there was a kart in the top ten without tyre marks on its sidepods!”
A little fine-tuning continued before the main event, before Myers made a flying start to move into the top three by the end of the opening lap. Again, he found himself in the midst of a tense battle which, despite allowing the leader the breathing space to pull away, saw him just as likely to run in second spot as he was to find himself fifth. When it mattered, however, the Leeds-based driver was able to successfully defend third place, earning a return to the podium with which to end the season.
“I was pushing hard for second place, but the driver ahead was defending resolutely and that meant that the karts behind were able to close in again,” he explained, “I couldn’t afford to make a mistake but, despite the pressure, I was able to hold on to third.
“It is great to be back on the podium, especially after what has happened in the last couple of months, and it is a good way to head into the winter. After the way the weekend started, when we thought we could be going home with zero points, getting a kart at the last minute and then taking it to third place makes it extra special – almost like it was meant to be. I have to thank John Stewart and ST Racing for agreeing to loan us the kart for the weekend, and also pay tribute to Strawberry Racing for the help that they have given us throughout the year.”
Finishing the year eighth overall in the Super 1 Series Junior Rotax standings, the 16-year old now has decisions to make regarding his future direction, with both karts and cars on the horizon.
“I’d love to be able to move up to single-seater racing in 2013, but it will depend on whether we can land the sponsorship to make it happen,” he confirmed, “If it doesn’t come off, there is the option of remaining in karts, and moving up to Senior Rotax, so we’ll just have to see what happens over the next few months.”