PHUKET: The Grimes brothers have had a fairly busy summer with their racing schedules, having took part in the Rotax Invitational Thailand race, which was held in conjunction with the fourth round of the Thailand Rotax Max Challenge at Bira International Kart Circuit, just south of the Bangkok.
The Rotax Invitation race was held for the first part of the weekend. Ben was left very disappointed after qualifying; only setting the 8th fastest time out of a small but strong field of 13 drivers from Australia to Hong Kong – his lack of pace primarily due to engine problems while Sam qualified in 10th place.
A 7th and 5th in the heats by Ben put him 6th on the grid for the pre-final round; Sam, however, suffered mixed results in the heats; a 9th and a DNF in the heats saw him slot in 11th place for the final.
Ben finished the pre-final in 6th place after his engine’s performance dropped off towards the end, and he was unable to prevent others from blasting past on the straight; Sam progressed to 9th.
The heavens opened up an hour before the finals and the race took place on a very wet track. Ben put on an impressive display and wasted no time getting past a few drivers to take 4th and on the bumper of 3rd at the checkered flag while Sam finished a credible 7th place.
The next day saw two additional entries in the junior class, increasing the grid to 15 drivers. Ben qualified a lowly 9th after his engine problems worsened and returned to haunt him; Sam put his kart on row 6 after qualifying 11th.
Ben finished the first heat in 8th while Sam finished 9th right behind Ben.
The Phuket pair drove sensible races in the second heat/pre-final, Ben finishing 6th overall and Sam finishing 8th overall.
This time, however, the final took place on a dry track. Ben got a rocket start and was up to 3rd by turn one and right behind the two leaders; but lost ground to the lead duo due to the usual nudging and bumping in the aggressive junior class – Ben was 3rd until the final lap but an incident and an engine performance drop-off saw Ben drop to 5th at the penultimate corner, where he ultimately finished. Sam suffered bad luck and was unable to avoid the incident, which took place at the first corner – the rest of the race was about recovering for Sam, and recover he did, finishing 9th.
However, post-race disqualifications against three drivers promoted Ben to 2nd place, only behind a top Australian driver and he was also the winner of the Thailand classification, while Sam moved up to 6th place. As a result, Ben took the lead of the overall standings with a round to go before the championship leader (after round 5) gets a seat to the Rotax Grand Finals in New Orleans this November, and two rounds until the end of this year’s championship.
The brothers also participated in a very high-standard club race back in the UK at Whilton Mill. After getting very limited running for practice which saw both boys complete less than 30 laps, Ben finished 11th out of 25, even after Ben and Sam had started all the heats at the back of the grid due to it being their first race in the UK. Ben could of finished even higher as he missed the first heat which compromised his starting position in the final; although he set very quick lap times; just three-tenths off the fastest laps in the races. Sam’s best finish came in heat 1; a 15th place. Sam pushed a bit too hard in the final and found himself in a ditch, which left him no chance of recovering a few places.
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