Ash's hot streak puts him in top 10; KARTING ACE ENDS SEASON ON ROSTRUM.
The young Nuneaton karting ace has been racing for barely a year, but his progress has been sensational as he bypassed the traditional cadet entry level to leap straight into the more powerful Mini Max class.
Having taken a season-best fifth at Genk in Belgium back in August, Ash travelled to the fast, sweeping Shenington circuit in Oxfordshire bidding to repeat that feat.
"I didn't enjoy Shenington that much before," he explained, "because I had never really been that strong there, but on the Friday in the wet I had a really good set-up thanks to my mechanics Richard Amos and Sam Smith.
"We figured out which was the best set of tyres and we were just 1/10th off the quickest time. That was a big confidence boost, and although in the dry we were about 2/10ths off, that just made us work even harder."
With the remainder of the weekend turning out to be dry, Ash endured a couple of troubled opening heats on the Saturday, but a strong fourth spot in the third race paved the way for a more encouraging showing in the final among a competitive 36- kart field.
"In the first heat I didn't have the grip level I was expecting," the 14-year-old said. "I wasn't making the right moves, and was backing out of some of them. In the second heat I got a knock, so that wasn't great either, but in the third heat I drove much better.
"Having started 16th in the final I was up into seventh when, coming towards the start-finish line to complete the last lap, Nathan Harrison took my rear bumper out and sent my kart into a sideways spin, which dropped me to 11th.
"I was disappointed as we had worked hard to get up to seventh, but my times gave me a lot of confidence for the Sunday"
Determined to close out his debut season on a high, the P1 Racing star rose to the occasion and, battling back from a frustrating opening heat in which he admitted over-enthusiasm had got the better of him, took the chequered flag a close second in heat two and fifth in heat three.
"I got a great start from 21st in the first heat," Ash recalled. "I was really fast and within four laps I was up to 10th, following the front pack. I went for a move on Louise Richardson and had my nosecone and front wheel ahead, but she then turned in.
"I tried to get out of the tangle but her rear bumper was caught up with my wheel and flattened it, making it really hard afterwards to drive. It was my own fault, though, for having gone for a move that wasn't really there. I drove much better after that, and in heat two worked with Danny Harwood to get away from the pack and finish second.
"At the start of heat three Scott Robertson spun in the middle of the track, which sent people flying.
I went to the outside and dropped back to 19th, so I had to come back through again from there. The kart felt really good so I had loads of straight-line speed and power where I needed it, which made it easier to overtake. I just had to make sure I timed the moves right."
Given what had happened in the first heat, getting seventh on the grid for the 12-lap final was tribute to the strength of Ash's performances in the following two encounters, and left the George Eliot School pupil feeling confident about his chances - at least until the lights went out.
"In the first few laps I struggled a bit to keep up," he confessed.
"Amos and Sam wanted the kart to come on more towards the end of the race, so to start with I was thinking 'this is going to be really tough'. As soon as it did, I was able to close the gap on Danny Harwood and Matt Parry at the front.
"I got into third and then broke the tow to drop the rest of the pack. With Danny and Matt battling over the lead I was catching them hand-over-fist every lap, and with just a few more laps I think I could have been right up there with them."
Not only did third place exceed Ash and the team's pre-weekend expectations, it also marked out the Maple Park teenager as one of the brightest rising motorsport stars on the British scene, having overcome no fewer than four black flag disqualifications - the legacy of inexperience - to end the campaign ninth in the country out of more than 50 competitors.
QUICK PROGRESS... Ash Hand (above) with his trophy and (left) in racing action. Pictures: Chris Walker (www.kartpix.net)
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|Publication:||Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)|
|Date:||Sep 30, 2008|
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