Oddly it was during a ski holiday with Will aged just four, that the trajectory into karting was set. We were visiting friends in Switzerland and spent time on the slopes sledging. Will couldn’t get enough of the steerable sledges they had there. He’d weave down through the play area, before drifting it sideways into the waiting area for the lift and repeating the process again and again. Since ski-doo racing isn’t big in the UK, the obvious alternative was karting.
Seven or so years ago Bambino karting was still in its infancy (pardon the pun) with very few MSA tracks and clubs fully embracing it. Will’s first proper outing came in 2010, at Daytona Karting, who’d not long introduced it into their corporate karting program. They also offered a monthly Bambino race (actually a time-trial) and this gave Will, then five, his first taste of competition and soon his first Karting trophies. Through research and talking with other parents, the bigger picture of Bambino karting emerged, with groups of parents centred mainly around Hooton and Fulbeck, coming together, to offer owner-driver opportunities for Bambino karting and competition. Already sold on the idea, in 2011 Will was bought his first Comer powered bambino Kart.
2012 saw a real step change in Bambino karting in the UK, when Darren Beavers took over the running of the Bambino Kart Club (something Scott Parker had started a year or two before). Seeing the greater potential and as a way of drawing together the various local pockets of Bambino karters, he promoted and ran the first National Bambino Championship. Such was the demand for a Bambino Championship that first series attracted approximately 30 entries from all corners of the UK. After a hard fought campaign, that saw William leading for much of the season, a series of carb failures and mechanical issues in the last couple of races saw him slip to second, missing out on the title by a single point. Still, second place, in a class field, whilst still learning the ropes of competitive karting was a major achievement.
Despite being one of the earliest adopters of the Iame Cadet engine (we picked up the engine and had it running before midday on the day of its public release), 2013 and 2014 proved to be quiet years on the karting front. He practiced regularly and even did some testing out in Spain, but none of the local club series proved enticing enough after the variety of the Bambino “travelling” championship. Karting-wise, he was in a kind of limbo, feeling he didn’t have the experience required for Super One or Little Green Man but not motivated by the thought of racing at the same track every month. Fortunately a chance meeting in 2015, with an old karting friend, pointed him towards the NatSKA (National Schools Karting Association) championship. A competitive but friendly travelling championship, that didn’t require quite the level of resources or commitment as the other national alternatives. It proved the perfect choice to rekindle his competitive spirit.
Will joined the NatSKA championship a couple of races into their 2015/16 season (it works around the school year) and quickly established himself as a real challenger for the Cadet title. Indeed, he ended the season as NatSKA Cadet Champion, after winning 7 of the 9 races that he entered. This included the first four which he had to start from the back, being a “novice” driver!
With title won, Will’s mind again started looking to “What Next!” Despite being young enough to choose to defend his championship or have a crack at one of the bigger Cadet Championship options, again he wasn’t motivated by these. Instead, he’s taken the bigger and some would say braver decision, to move up to junior and enter the resurgent TKM grid of the National Super One Championship. The only stumbling block was the requirement to gain a MSA National A licence because neither NatSKA nor the Bambino championship required an MSA licence (they both operated their own parallel licence systems). This meant that Will had to compete in a flurry of race weekends across the country. On at least one occasion a NatSKA race was completed on the Saturday, followed by a late night drive for an MSA race the next day. Despite this less than ideal approach, Will still managed to pick up a couple of novices prizes, before coming off his MSA “Novice” licence and then a couple of junior TKM prizes on his way to the extra six signatures required before upgrading to the required “A” licence.
In 2017 Will completed his first season in the TKM Super One Championship. He was the youngest competitor that year in Junior TKM and regularly challenged the top 10. He represented GBR in the 2018 IK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy and in 2019 won the British Super One Junior ROK title. In 2020 he carried on with some karting, winning the Shenington Winter Cup and Overall title, but also started his car racing career. He was the Rookie Champion and second place overall in his first car racing season. Will is now looking forward to moving into Ginetta GT5 in 2021.
On the right are some pictures of his early karting days.
Copyright 2017. W Orton. All Rights Reserved.