Griffiths on a charge in UKC
It was another new track and another new challenge for Ethan Griffiths, as the young Welsh driver broke new ground at Rowrah for Round 4 of the Ultimate Karting Championship (10-12 June).
As was the case for his previous outing at Larkhall, Griffiths was thrown in at the deep end, having to get up to speed on a new track during a highly competitive race weekend. Despite the tall order, he delivered the goods at the site of the old quarry, gaining valuable experience along the way. Coming into the weekend, a target was set to overhaul the driver in fifth place in the standings as the pair were tied on points.
During Friday's practice sessions, the PaddlUp Academy's youngest driver mastered the circuit's challenging and technical racing line in short order but lap times proved slightly trickier to get on top of, with the team experimenting with different set-ups in an attempt to progress further up the timesheets. These efforts were aided by a Zip Kart Driver Coach returnee in the shape of Luke Hines – son of Zip founder and proclaimed discoverer of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Martin Hines. Luke provided extensive track analysis and technical data, supporting Ethan in his Rorwah initiation.
During Saturday's early morning practice session, Griffiths' lap times were enough to slot him in at the lower end of the top ten but once competitive running got underway, he came alive and found another gear.
The first heat would see the Honda Cadet racer storm through the ranks, elevating his P14 grid slot to P7 at the flag. Hopes of a sixth-place finish were dashed as he went wide at the last corner letting a competitor slip through but that only fueled his hunger to step it up once more in the following heats and final.
A P5 grid slot in Heat 2 was converted into a third-place finish but the top two drivers remained just out of reach, as was the case for most of the weekend. Such was Griffiths' relentless march, that a P11 to fourth in Heat 3 was one of his quieter races. A combination of his heat results meant a strong grid position on Sunday, setting him up for what promised to be a thrilling final two races.
Griffiths would experience his first setback of the weekend in the Super Heat, but he wouldn't let that stop him from piloting the vibrant #99 kart to an epic comeback drive. After starting fourth, contact on the second lap sent him tumbling down the order to 18th and last position. He quickly set about hunting down the pack before sything through the field, successfully overtaking a total of 11 karts en route to a sensational seventh-place finish.
The stage was then set for the all-important final. Starting fourth once more, and after a decent start, the young Welsh driver conceded a place and from that point on, was locked in a battle to regain his position. Despite being one of only four drivers to get under a 54-second lap time, ultimately, he was unable to snatch back fourth place and had to settle for fifth, capping off a strong weekend for Griffiths and elevating him to fourth place in the Driver's Championship.