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Karting: top ten finish for Camelford teenager Alex Quinn on European debut

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 26, 2014


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UP against a grid of more than 60 drivers from all over the world, 13-year-old Alex Quinn from Otterham near Camelford took part in his first ever European kart race at a kart track near Malaga in Southern Spain.

And he returned in buoyant mood after finishing ninth in the final which was won by a 17-year-old.

Alex had the paddock talking about this newcomer on the European scene and he can hold his head high in representing a field of 18 British drivers on this, his inaugural European event.

Backed by Coles Racing team, Alex got the opportunity to test on the weekend before as this was not only his first European race, but his first time ever to drive a Junior rotax kart.

Hoping to escape the English wind and rain, day one was a typical Spanish sunny day, but unfortunately, this all changed and atrocious wet weather set in for most of the testing schedule.

Indeed many teams were not prepared for the weather and some suffered damage to their awnings over the test weekend.

Alex, however, was able to adapt to the wet conditions and was immediately setting front running times and surprising the regular series drivers and team bosses.

In the run up to the Rotax Max European Winter cup weekend, the drivers had two intensive track days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday with most of the 62 drivers present from as far away as Israel, Russia and America as well as closer European countries.

The business end of the event got underway on Friday with Timed Qualifying. Having had very little dry practice, timed qualifying was difficult and Alex achieved fifth fastest out of his timed qualifying group and when amalgamated with the second group was 15th fastest overall.

Saturday was an important day of qualifying heats when all drivers took part in three out of six heats to build up a points total to determine qualification into the pre final on race day.

In heat 1 the skies started to darken as the drivers prepared for the race. Parc ferme conditions applied which meant drivers and teams had to determine an all important kart set up based on their predictions of the weather for the race.

All teams opted for slick tyres and as the drivers exited on the formation lap, the sky looked ever more ominous. Starting in seventh place Alex lost a few places at the start to 10th place, but quickly started to regain positions.

After a few laps the rain started and Alex forged ahead as if on rails setting the fastest lap and finishing in an amazing second place.

Heats 2 and 3 were both run in wet conditions with rainmaster Quinn achieving a further second place in heat 2.

Disaster struck on the formation lap of his third heat when he was shunted off into the gravel by another competitor.

Alex had to get out of his kart, drag it back on to the circuit, restart the engine and race to catch up on the pack before the lights went green. He managed to rejoin in his correct position in time for the start of the race.

Alex started this heat from the difficult outside eighth position of the grid and finished in eighth place giving him a total of 12 points and his position secured for the pre final.

The race commentator made mention of Alex as someone he had not heard of in the European karting scene and remarked on him achieving the fastest lap times of all the drivers in all of his particular heats.

After a long week of testing, qualifying and heats, race day finally arrived. Alex had secured enough points to escape the last chance heats where the competition would say goodbye to 28 drivers who would fail to qualify for the main finals.

Alex started the pre final from the outside of the grid in sixth place. A strong battle ensued and Alex held his ground for the duration of the race and finished an incredible fifth place.

Speaking after the first final, Alex said that he could have secured fourth place on the closing corners of the race but took a strategic decision to remain in fifth to give him an inside starting advantage for the grand final.

Final preparations were made and a few changes were made to Alex's kart set up including using new tyres for the 12 lap final.

In front of a large crowd watching from the banks of the circuit, the event was also being televised live online by www.rgmmcmedia.com with many supporters of Alex from the UK sending messages of good luck.

Getting a good start it quickly became obvious that Alex's kart set up was not just as good as the pre final and he had to work incredibly hard to stay with the leaders.

Alex dropped to ninth overall at the flag and while a little disappointed, he could not have imagined when he arrived for his first ever European race that he might achieve a top 10 finish.

Looking at the results list many of those finishing around him had several years experience at this level and indeed the winner of the race was 17 years old.

Alex is planning further European events with the next one in Belgium in a couple of months' time. Once again, this will be at a track which he has never raced at before.

Whether he can financially continue with more European events is very much determined by attracting sponsorship and anyone interested in helping Alex with his dream of graduating towards Formula 1 should make contact via his website www.alexquinnracing.com

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