James Kellett, who embarked on a monumental scrap with Ollie Chadwick to claim the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at the last round of the year at Donington Park, has reflected on his very successful first year in senior car racing.
Kellett, who almost missed his chance to claim the title following a serious viral infection, claimed ten wins, eight other podium finishes, five fastest laps and six pole positions on his mammoth run to the title which saw him edge out nearest rival Chadwick by less than ten points after the 21 race season.
That’s a good result for any driver, but 17-year-old Kellett was embarking on his first season not just in the GT5 Challenge but in senior car racing as a whole.
He said: “It still hasn’t sunk in yet. It means the world to me. To be a champion in motorsport, you have to put a lot of effort in as a team and that’s the most satisfying feeling; that everybody’s worked so hard to get here and it’s paid off, for myself, my parents, my sponsors and the team.
“It’s been a fantastic season. Coming into the year, I don’t think many people expected me to do as well as I have, but I knew from testing at the start that we were quick and we’ve been able to prove ourselves all season with the wins, the podiums and the championship. It’s incredible.”
The title win came after two positive years in the Ginetta Junior Championship, which saw the Leeds based driver claim the Rookie Cup and the Winter Series title in 2013 as well as landing himself with the vice-champion crown last year.
Fast forwarding to last weekend at Donington Park, and it seemed that after battling through the worst of his illness to get himself out on track, the gods were against him as he retired on the opening lap of the first race having been taken out at the Old Hairpin.
However, a fourth and a third – combined with a badly timed prop shaft failure for Chadwick in the final race of the year – was enough to see him claim the crown.
Kellett added: “It was a nightmare build-up to the meeting with the illness and we didn’t really think I was going to be able to race. We went to the track on Saturday morning and my team said I looked like a zombie, I was pale white and I’d lost over a stone in weight.
“I still wasn’t fit enough for qualifying, but my goal was to win the championship and nothing was going to stop me. I hadn’t done any testing before the meeting, but we went into qualifying and did really well, getting P2 in the wet.
“We had a disaster in the first race though, getting taken off on the opening lap, which really knocked my confidence, then we had a bit of a disaster again in race two as my differential started playing up, which meant I finished fourth and lost the championship lead.”
Having showcased himself as one of the brightest young talents in British Motorsport over the last three years, Kellett’s attention is now turning to the next step in his career in 2016 and is looking for sponsorship from fans and businesses to make sure he continues his blistering pace next year.
If anyone can support this talented driver on his journey up the motorsport ladder, please contact Lee Kellett on firstname.lastname@example.org.