West Norfolk kart racer Oliver Clarke has had a busy year so far racing in Europe and in the UK, culminating with an amazing weekend in Salbris France where he gained his first podium place as a senior driver.
The Iceni Academy student, who lives near Downham, came under the new governing body CIK-FIA rules that state from 01/01/17 anyone born in 2002 must now race on the world stage as a senior.
This means the 14 year-old, who was born at the end of 2002, is now up against seasoned adult racers, some of whom have many titles to their name. Meanwhile in the UK, he would remain a junior.
The year started in Valencia, Spain racing the Euro Winter Cup as a senior and Oliver had to add 30kg of lead on his kart to make the senior weight, such an addition can really hamper racing through the corners!
Out of 42 drivers Oliver finished the final in seventh place, an astounding result on a first showing in the class.
He then returned to the UK and raced in The MSA British Open in the OK Junior class at Rowarh, where he went on to win the title.
In March he travelled to Genk, Belgium, for the first time to race as a senior in the first round of the X30 Euro Series.
Some 42 drivers from all over the world gathered once more to start their bid for the Euro Championship title and Oliver once again had great drives through the pack, finishing the final in sixth place and sitting 4th in the championship points table.
At the weekend it was then off to Salbris in France for round two and after a disappointing time qualifying result due to a sudden weather change affecting set up, Oliver had to start at the back of every heat with lots of track and karts before him to chase down.
Undeterred the youngster went from last in every heat to gain a third, third and second place. That meant he started the pre-final in fifth place and finished it in second.
The final was a great race with the lead changing many times and Oliver produced a great race to finish second and on the podium. The commentator described one of his racing moves as the best overtake he had seen anywhere all year. The points gained here have moved him into third place on the championship table.
Clarke is a member of MSport Karting, run by Keiran Crawley who is based in Daventry.
Oliver said: “I am really pleased to get my first senior podium, it has been a big learning curve coming up to this class and I have enjoyed the quality and the demands of this high level racing.
“Although my TQ didn’t go to plan I soon picked back up and did my best in the heats and the pre final and final results were the icing on the cake. In all I passed 47 karts to get there in that period, the most overtakes of anyone racing out there.
“I would really like to thank Keiran and the team at MSport, my Dad who mechanics for me too, the Team at EHF Downham who support me, and my school Iceni Academy.”
Oliver has now decided to make the move in the UK to race as a senior, two years earlier than required in order to get as much experience as possible in a bigger, more experienced field.
He is once again in the Motor Sports Association academy squad this year, a select group of drivers who show potential to compete in motorsport at high levels and he will be down at Silverstone frequently for training, assessments and advice.
Oliver’s ambition is to be a professional driver in motorsport and he is looking for sponsors who want to support him now and in the future.
You can follow him on his Facebook page Oliver Clarke Racing or call him on 01553 810851. He races in the UK most weekends and the next round of the Euro Series is in Germany in July.