The opening round of the 2018 Pembrokeshire Karting Championship was held last Sunday at West Wales Karting. It was the first time the venue hosted the season opener and what an event it was!
The event marked the 50th PKC round in our 10th season of running the Championship. 39 competitors joined us for the race which is a new record. Organisers were thrilled to see so many new and returning faces join our regular drivers and were very impressed by the talent, competitiveness and sportsmanship shown by everyone.
All drivers were keen to test their abilities against each other after taking the next step from arrive and drive racing in the hope to be in the running to win a place on our exclusive tour of the Williams Martini Racing F1 facility and heritage museum!
In the heavyweight division, rookie driver Brendan Evans emerged as an early favourite by being the fastest driver ahead of reigning Champion Michael Lloyd Davies (Carmarthen) and PKC45K winner Damien Holmes(Haverfordwest). First blood was awarded to Martin Lewis (Carmarthen) who took the win in Race 1 but spent the rest of the event in a close battle with Will Butler-Jenkins (Carmarthen). Michael and Damien traded wins during the remainder of the event with Brendan keeping the pair honest. Both lead drivers were so evenly matched that both tied on points at the end of the round with Michael just managing to edge Damien with a better finishing position record allowing him to record his first event win of 2018.
There was much interest and anticipation in the new intermediate weight division. Several quick drivers found themselves in the group and were keen to stake an early claim to the title. 2016 PKC Champion Dan Thomas(Templeton) was the favourite heading into the event and he lived up to expectation with a good scorecard allowing him to take the event win, however it wasn't all plain sailing with James Williams (Swansea) keeping Dan honest with similar lap times and a consistent finishing record seeing him finish second overall. Melany Howell (Drefach Felindre) qualified faster than Dan in the first session and took a decisive victory of her own in Race 4. Elsewhere Ashley Hutchings (Pembroke) and newcomer Matthew Morgan drove a strong event with the former taking a win in Race 1 and Matthew taking three consecutive second places. With such a range of talent in this category, there could be a few surprises in store as the season develops. All of the other competitors in this division drove extremely well with notable drives from John Mason (Johnston), Alix Aliston (Capel Dewi), Trev McCullagh (Newport) and Tash Reynolds (Letterston).
The lightweight division saw some big PKC names face off against each other during this event with reigning lightweight Champion Sam Joseph(Swansea) hoping to retain his title from Adam Jones (Tenby) who came very close last season and also Stuart Davis (Milford Haven) who has now established himself as a consistent front runner. There were two other problems for Sam heading into this event; the dangerously fast Kieran Davies (Tycroes) returned to the PKC along with his brother Callum and Colin Rowland Mason (Johnston), who was our inaugural PKC Champion in 2009 is back, thirsty for more success. Sam had his work cut out for him initially with Adam topping the qualifying times and Callum winning Race 1 but two consecutive wins in Race 2 & 3 were enough to edge Sam to victory. Adam raced hard taking a victory in Race 4 which allowed him to take second overall ahead of Stuart in third, who was a single point ahead of Kieran. It is going to be very exciting watching this group of drivers over the course of the season and you cannot rule out Joshua Partis (Milford Haven), Mike Holder (Llanycefn) or Wais Kuba (Cardiff).
The best rookie driver of the event was awarded to Brendan Evans but it is clear from all of the new drivers that we could see a different winner each event. Matthew Morgan, Callum Davies (Tycroes), Wais Kuba and Dylan Butland (Pembroke Dock) are all drivers to watch.
Tess Howell (Drefach Felindre) picked up the award for best over 40's driver in the Masters category. Will Butler-Jenkins, Mike Holder and John Mason are all capable of challenging for this award later in the season.
Melany Howell was the best female driver in action on the night with Tess Howell and Tash Reynolds both displaying the potential to be up there also.
At the end of the event several drivers contested in the Fastest Lap Challenge, where Colin Rowland Mason drew first blood and tops the leaderboard.
We would again like to issue a big thank you to the staff and management of West Wales Karting for helping us put on a great event and for all the work behind the scenes they did to get everything ready.
All eyes now eagerly await Round 2, where the PKC will visit the outdoor track of Carew Karting. All results and standings can be found on our website www.pembrokeshirekarting.co.uk
Remember, if you missed Round 1 or didn't get the results you were hoping for, this year only your top 6 rounds out of the 7 will count meaning you can afford to miss or have a bad round.