National Kart Racing Association’s Formula Blue championship returned to action as Dave Watts took victory at Clay Pigeon Raceway in the third meeting of the season. 

Watts streaked clear from Stuart Gray and Anthony Cleal in the ‘0’ plate final, while there was and impressive performance from former Team GB Bobsleigh star Serita Shone. With the challenge of managing multiple series on the day Clay Pigeon Kart Club imposed a set of guidance that followed both government guidance and that of Motorsport UK, those permitted to attended would have to register in advance and ensure they used face masks, antibacterial hand gel and stuck to a strict code of conduct in placer to ensure a safe competitive racing environment for all competing.

Paul Skipp (Motorsport UK): “To ensure the safety of the meetings now that racing has restarted the circuit and the club have put extra measures in place these include that all competitors have to register online and are accompanied by a maximum of two per driver. No spectators are allowed at this time and those that attend must wear masks at all times with the toilet facilities are manned, we have appointed Covid-19 officers to monitor and remind everyone.”

Formula Blue UK, #1 Andrew Cleal leading #3 Dave Watts,  Image Supplied by Matt Gale at Behind The Fence Photography 

The earlier qualifying heats provided a win apiece for Richard Puddle and Dave Watts taking, while Michal Bell finishing in a solid second to secure Pole Position for the ‘0’ plate final. Overall championship leader Anthony Cleal in comparison had a disaster from the word go, a one-lap penalty and Kart issues in the early heats looked likely to end his chances to claim Ben Person’s ‘O’ Plate, eventually lining up 13th well behind his main rivals. With Michael Ball starting alongside Serita Shone. Shone had outperformed many of the more experienced drivers to claim forth in each heat.

Michael Bell, #5 NKRA Formula Blue: “The heats were fantastic, my kart felt great, the pace was good, and the results were brilliant. Everything ended up coming together to put me on pole position for the final for the first time in an NKRA round, which was pretty unexpected considering the 0-Plate was up for grabs.” 

However, on the opening formation lap stewards, noticed fluid leaking from Shone’s kart resulting a second formation lap to allow her to tighten the radiator cap, The lost coolant required Shone to run her engine at a much higher temperature thought out the race, but she took the lead into Billy’s Blind with a simple pass under breaking on Bell. Struggling with reduced power, Shone went on the defensive as Watts and Gray began to push over the next few laps, the duo eventually overtaking as Shone ran he carburettor much higher.

Serita Shone, #4 NKRA Formula Blue: “The engine temperature was rising really quickly and got to 85 degrees when I knew there was a problem. It turns out I had lost all my radiator fluid.  I then had to turn the engine down, which meant I ran slower to ensure that I finished the race” 

Formula Blue UK, #15 Stuart Gray,  Image Supplied by Matt Gale at Behind The Fence Photography 

Anthoney Cleal was now making fast work of the midfield catching up with Richard Puddle who had passed Shone, Puddle seeming unaware of Cleal got caught off guard into Hans Hairpin to claim third in what looked to be an easy pass for Cleal. Russel O’neill began to head a four-kart train each looking for a shot at fifth place behind the struggling Shone with Nigel Vickery and David Waldron pushing equally as hard to improve their own positions in the race.

In the final few laps Cleal had caught Grey and began to put pressure on, In a late breaking move Cleal dived up the inside of Grey into Billy’s Blind and the resulting outcome saw the pair flirt with the outside of the track, forcing Cleal to back off and giving Grey enough space to hold on to maintain second. Watts took advantage of the battling duo to secure victory.

Dave Watts, #3 NKRA Formula Blue: “Very pleased to have been able to get the win. Had a difficult heat which put me third on the grid and then Stuart Grey had a better start putting me down to fourth, Really had to work for it but managed to get through to get the win.”

Serita Shone, #4 NKRA Formula Blue: “Although finishing fifth in the race, I actually finished third overall due to the points of start position being added to finish position. I am really pleased with the results, I worked hard all day (and year) for a top place finish! Also, nice to finish ahead of a field of men too, putting the girls back on the podium!”

“The engine temperature was rising really quickly and got to 85 degrees when I knew there was a problem. It turns out I had lost all my radiator fluid. I then had to turn the engine down, which meant I ran slower to ensure that I finished the race.” 

Formula Blue UK, #5 Michael Bell leads #16 Nigel Vickery,  Image Supplied by Matt Gale at Behind The Fence Photography 

Michael Bell, #5 NKRA Formula Blue: “Unfortunately, the final did not go to plan, a poor start and being caught out of position a few times meant a trip back down the order. I feel that it was a wasted chance at scoring a big result, but at the end of the day it’s still scoring good points for the overall championship and the best driver ended up winning on the day.”

The NKRA Formula Blue grid now has little time to prepare themselves for the final round of the season at Lydd International Circuit in Kent in just two weeks’ time. Formula Blue is run by the Two Counties Kart Club for all ages, featuring large grids and low costs.

Formula Blue UK, #9 Robin Stoddart,  Image Supplied by Matt Gale at Behind The Fence Photography 

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