Luke VarleyFor the past thirteen years, the annual Kart Masters event at PFi has been the jewel of the British karting’s summer season. The chance of winning the sought-after ‘GP’ plates attracts large grids, and as a result the racing is often fast and furious.

The team’s Junior Max star, Josh Webster overcame a chassis bending crash during Saturday’s warm-up – which required some ‘caveman tactics’ to try and straighten it out again – and went on to finish 16th and 2nd in his two heats: good enough to secure him a sixth row grid position for the first final. His team-mate, Barrie Pullinger had had a similarly torrid time but qualified just one row ahead, in tenth position.

Their fortunes would be polarized in the opening moments of the race. Despite losing a place at the start, Josh was able to recover and steadily climb up the order to take an excellent 2nd place. In contrast, Barrie was out almost instantly – the victim of a crash and with a broken wheel.

Unable to cut in at the start of the Grand Final from his outside position going into the first corner, Josh dropped to fifth place, whilst Barrie conversely enjoyed a dream start. He rocketed from thirty first on the grid up to seventeenth.

As the race settled down, Webster began to pick his way through to the runner-up spot. In the midfield, Pullinger had something of a rollercoaster ride, but was eventually able to seal a respectable fifteenth place.

In the Senior category, Luke Varley led the line with strong performances throughout the weekend. Fastest in his group during Timed Qualifying, he won his first heat and finished fourth in the second. James Greenway and Joseph Reilly fared less well, although James also did take a heat win.

In order to join his colleagues in the pre-final, Joseph found himself needing a top six finish in the B-final (or repecharge) and didn’t disappoint, winning it with ease.

He then delivered a barn-storming drive, to leap-frog from twenty ninth to sixth place in the pre-final. Varley had assumed the lead almost immediately and duly won to take first blood and pole for the Grand Final. Greenway was unable to get into his stride and became embroiled in a four-kart dice just outside the top ten, where he stayed.

As the air thickened with tension, Luke emerged from the fog of exhaust smoke to lead the Grand Final. Joseph also profited, nipping into third, then second, in quick succession. The pair broke away and was able to open a gap of over three seconds from Michael Simpson’s similar Tony Kart, which they held to the chequered flag.

Strawberry boss Warwick Ringham said, “I’m very pleased, especially for Joseph. He had a couple of bad heats – one where we had to start from the back of the grid and the other where he broke a rim. To go from the B final to finishing second was just fantastic.I said to Luke before everything started on Saturday, whoever qualifies on pole will have the early advantage. He focused on making sure it was him and he did it. From there, he was consistently in the mix. He deserved his victory.”

Regarding his Junior stars, he commented “I’m really happy for Josh. He did very well and I think second was a good result. Unfortunately Barrie broke a wheel in the first final and that put paid to his chances. But he showed character and didn’t give up. I would also like to say a special thanks to Paul Chambers for his efforts and contribution to our success. He gave us great technical support and a big ‘Thankyou’ to Paul Carr who worked wonders helping to get Josh’s kart somewhere near driveable again. I’m also grateful to all the drivers and members of the [Strawberry] team for their efforts and of course to Steve, Tim, Richard and Heather at Steve Ogden Engines for their support and fast engines!”

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Photo by Chris Walker / Kartpix