Joseph Mawson led the charge for the Australian contingent during the CIK-FIA World Under 18 Karting Championship opener at Barga in Portugal to be fifth in the points standings following the first of three rounds.
Competing in his first event on European soil, Mawson took the fight to eventual winner Henry Easthorpe throughout the weekend before an electrical issue forced him onto the sidelines in the reverse-grid second pre-final.
Putting the disappointment behind him, Mawson charged from his 15th position on the grid for the final to cross line eighth – despite having to battle with a throttle that kept jamming on.
“After the heat races I was pretty confident going into the pre-final that I could finish on the podium as I had enough speed to win a heat and finish second in the other three,” said Mawson.
“In the first pre-final, I was just close enough to pressure Easthorpe but any move for the lead would have been risky. As we had a decent gap to the rest of the field I didn’t want to taking the risk of not finishing.
“After missing the carnage of the opening few laps in the reverse-grid race. I passed a fair few people to be in 15th by lap three after starting from 32nd. Unfortunately the ignition on the engine blew up so I was sidelined. If I had of finished 10th I would have started the final of pole but motor racing can be cruel I guess.
“After starting 16th I got a bad start in the final and got stuck in crashes with nowhere to go. I was 14th after the first lap working my way through then I was in ninth and my throttle jammed so I went back to 11th partly fixing the throttle problem, but the throttle was jamming on a bit so I was riding the brake every corner from 12 laps left. I worked around the problem to finish eighth by the end.
“It was a bit of a disappointing end as I felt as though I was fast enough to finish on the podium, but I’m fifth in the championship now, 26 points behind the points leader and only three points behind 2nd in the championship.”
While a collision led to his chain coming adrift in the opening laps forcing him onto the sidelines in the final, Mawson’s fellow Sydneysider Jacob Parsons showed true potential across the weekend with some strong times and results in the heat races.
Also competing at the same event, but in the Academy Trophy for drivers between 13 and 15 years old, was James Abela.
After being caught up in an incident which lead to him failing to finish the opening heat race, Abela fought back gallantly to secure the 28th, and final, grid position for the main event.
In the opening final Abela was the big mover charging his way from 28th on the grid to eighth, which finished as seventh when a fellow competitor was excluded. He backed this up with another eighth place finish in the final.
The next round of the championship will be contested at Angerville in France on August 25/26. All three drivers will return home tomorrow before beginning preparations for round three of the CIK Stars of Karting Series presented by Castrol EDGE at their home track of Eastern Creek in Sydney on July 28/29.