Locals at Nutts Corner decider

Locals at Nutts Corner decider

16 November 2011

SATURDAY, December 3, will be a big day for local karting drivers when all the clubs in the province will declare their top drivers of the year at a star-studded awards ceremony.

This year’s awards ceremony will be at Galgorm Manor, Ballymena, and will also include the presentations of the Northern Ireland Championships as well as Ulster Championships and many individual top awards for individual achievements.

The Ulster and Northern Ireland Championships reached their finale at Nutts Corner recently.

Downpatrick’s Paul McLaughlin only made a return to the sport recently after three years out of the driving seat after racing in juniors. Starting mid-season, Paul was realistically just getting warmed up for next season in the World Formula class, which is now the largest and toughest senior class and would be a real test of his physical fitness after a regime that has saw him get to his fittest ever.

However, Paul’s experience in juniors and his new found fitness clearly held him in good stead in the penultimate round and in the heats the 20 year-old was mixing it with the podium runners.

When it came to the finals, however, McLaughlin was clearly one to be watched. As the race progressed McLaughlin was in an intense battle with the championship leaders and when they got into a bit of a tangle with three bends to go, Paul seized the opportunity, put all his overtaking skills to the test and in the end stormed home with a terrific win.

The Prokart class saw another big head-to-head going into the final round with Portadown’s Derek Wilson and Robert Devenney from Carrickfergus in an intense battle for the lead after being well matched all season.

Although by three quarters way through the year Devenney had a strong lead, by the time of the final race, Wilson just had the edge. In the final race, Wilson secured another win from Devenney and with that win also went the championship.

Devenney’s second did secure second overall, in this instance from Wilson’s team mate Nigel Stewart who sat out the final round. Tommy Fegan from Newtownabbey came in third in the final race and that helped him secure fourth overall, just ahead of Comber’s John Laffin in fifth.

The final meeting of the Ulster Karting Club’s season also included the Gary Ireland Memorial race for the 125 Rotax Max machines.

It produced a terrific battle between the top drivers in the class and it was Charlie Eastwood, from Carryduff, that came through to win by a decent margin.

With the Ulster Karting Club not holding a winter championships this year the main racing over the winter will be at Kirkistown, although the UKC will hold a special race on Tuesday, December 27.