Myers shows true colours at International Open
Oliver Myers made the most of a late opportunity to contest the RGMMC International Open at Zuera by posting a fine top six result against some of Europe’s leading kart racers.
Having thought his season over at the culmination of the Super 1 Series national championship, the 16-year old RDF Building Services Ltd / Turner Butler-sponsored driver received a surprise call from the Aim Motorsport team to join its line-up for the Spanish event and, despite having just a matter of days to sort travel arrangements, was quick to snap up the opportunity.
“It was a tasty offer, and one I couldn’t pass up,” Myers, who had driven for Coles Racing throughout 2012, admitted, “It was all very late in the day, basically just a couple of days before I was due on track at Zuera, but the chance to get back out in European competition was too good to turn down.”
A handful of previous forays into the 2012 RGMMC Euro Max series had not gone well for the Leeds-based driver, thanks to a combination of inexperience and mechanical mishaps, but, despite still being among the youngest in the Senior Rotax class, he was right on the pace – and able to fight with British and European champions – from the moment he arrived in Spain.
By the third and final practice session on Friday, Myers was consistently in the top ten, and had already been quickest on the stopwatch during a tricky Thursday test, when greasy conditions caught more experienced runners unaware. However, when qualifying came around, it was his turn to miss out as changing conditions raised question marks over which tyres to use. Having watched other classes struggle on slicks with the track still damp, Myers opted for the grooved wet-weather rubber, but admits that he didn’t get the session right.
“The tyre choice was right,” he confirmed, “but the pressures weren’t ideal and I also didn’t make the best job of getting a tow down the main straight, which is long enough to make a big difference to lap times. After the pace we’d shown in practice, qualifying only 17th fastest was a big disappointment – and definitely not representative of our true performance.”
With the field split into four groups for the ensuing heats, Myers would line up ninth each time, but twice showed his passing ability by climbing into fourth spot by the chequered flag. Only a frustrating tenth place in the third race, despite claiming the fastest lap, dented his hopes of a decent grid position for Sunday’s Pre-Final, where the #284 kart would again line-up on the inside of row five.
Sixth fastest time in the morning warm-up confirmed that the pace remained in Myers’ kart, and the reigning ‘O’ Plate champion lined up on the grid confident that he could make up places, and put himself in position to challenge for the one of the two entries to the prestigious Rotax World Finals to be held in Portugal later this month. However, when racing got underway, the closely-matched leading group made progress difficult and, after much swapping of positions, Myers found himself on the wrong end of a tenth-place result despite finishing just a few seconds down on – and lapping faster than – the winner.
A quick set-up change and a new set of tyres were employed ahead of the Final and Myers quickly found that, while not quite being able to match the times of the drivers right at the front, he was able to pick off those immediately ahead of him, particularly as the Aim kart found its sweet spot. The second half of the 15-lap race was especially satisfying as Myers was able to pass a couple of the year’s biggest names, confirming that his own 2012 form had been masked by misfortune. By the end of the Final, the Briton had risen to sixth place and only missed a top five finish by a matter of hundredths of a second. Moreover, he was also the highest-placed Aim Motorsport driver, despite having only joined the team a few days earlier.
“The result is justification of the potential I knew I had this season,” the MSA Academy prospect, who ended his national campaign in pain from a serious rib injury, commented, “Right from the moment I arrived in Spain, I felt comfortable in the kart and, as the weekend progressed, my confidence grew and grew. If I’d managed to qualify better, I have no doubt that we had the pace to win here.
“My previous European experiences hadn’t been the best, but this result confirms that I have the ability to go head-to-head with some of the best drivers out there – and come out on top! Obviously, I have to thank Aim for this opportunity and am happy to have repaid them with a decent result.”
Myers will return to the Aim awning for some UK outings before the end of the year, but remains open to options in both karting and car racing for 2013.