Over forty of the brightest young talents in British motorsport came together at Buckmore Park yesterday (23rd October) for the annual Henry Surtees Challenge karting event.
Now in its third year, the unique charity and career enhancing event, organised by John Surtees OBE, aims to raise vital funds for the Henry Surtees Foundation, as well as offering a spectacular range of prizes that help the careers of the young drivers taking part.
Amongst those competing in this year’s event were GP3 ace Jack Harvey, British F3 champion Jordan King, Formula Renault 2.0 stars Jake Dennis, Matt Parry and Jack Aitken, BRDC F4 race-winners Jake Dalton and Seb Morris, and former Formula Renault BARC champions Alice Powell and Scott Malvern.
Beating all of those, as well as a number of karting stars, to win the event was David Pittard, the Ginetta GT5 Challenge front-runner coming out on top after a thrilling day of racing in identical Club100 Birel karts around the iconic Kent-based venue. Damon Hill OBE had earlier lapped the circuit in one of the karts to officially open the event.
As well as taking home a prestigious Henry ‘H’ trophy, Pittard got the pick of the career enhancement prizes on offer, a GP3 test in Abu Dhabi with Carlin Racing, as well as a full set of Puma SE race wear and a pair of tickets to the 2013 Autosport Awards.
“A massive thanks to John and the Henry Surtees Foundation for organising such a fantastic event,” said Pittard. “I had a great race out there today; I qualified well in mixed conditions and made a good start which allowed me to pull a gap and I could put my head down and control the race from there.
“There were some big names here and I feel like a little bit of a small fish, so to come out and beat these guys has given me a huge confidence boost and I hope it’s a massive step for my career.”
Runner-up Paul Janes chose a pair of VIP weekend tickets to the British F1 Grand Prix 2014, donated by Bernie Ecclestone, while 2012 event winner Aitken chose a visit to Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes with simulator time and evaluation by an F1 race engineer, donated by Christian Horner, after finishing third.
Other prizes on offer included a Shell Pilota Experience at Ferrari’s Maranello base, a Formula Renault Eurocup test with Manor Competition, either a BRDC F4 or BARC Formula Renault test with Hillspeed, a simulator session at iZone, a Formula Ford test with Falcon Motorsport and a fully-funded race drive in the upcoming Michelin Clio Cup Series ‘Autumn Cup’ from Renault.
“Today has been changeable from the way the weather has treated us! But it has provided added challenge for the drivers and showed the quality of the field we had here, because we didn’t have any mishaps at all,” said John Surtees OBE.
“We had extremely competitive racing and I think that it augers well for the future that we can build on this, not only helping The Foundation, but also helping youngsters in this stage of developing their career in the motorsport world in preparing their motorsport programmes for the new year.”
The foundation was set up in memory of Henry Surtees after he passed away in 2009 following an accident whilst competing in Formula 2 at Brands Hatch. The funds raised from the event in the past have helped equip the Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance with blood transfusion equipment, and create a new centre at the head injury unit of Headway Tunbridge Wells.