Forceful drives ensure Walpole Cross Keys racer Rob becomes Jedi master

Rob in overalls, his brother Dave behind Rob, his Dad Harry on the left and son Jenson (3) in the car.
Rob in overalls, his brother Dave behind Rob, his Dad Harry on the left and son Jenson (3) in the car.

Walpole Cross Keys racer Rob Sayell became Formula Jedi champion at the weekend in one of the closest contested championships of the formula in many years.

Sayell went into the lead after rounds 13 and 14 at Oulton Park by three points, but with 60 points available over the final two rounds at Silverstone, nothing was settled.

Qualifying went well on Saturday securing second on the grid but main rival Paul Butcher from Cambridge secured pole just 0.039 seconds ahead.

Butcher got away first but Rob appeared quicker and after two attempts to pass in the first three laps was successful on the third attempt, taking his fourth win of the season two seconds clear.

Butcher dropped to third at one point, coming under pressure from third placed Dan Clowes from Newcastle-under-Lyme, but the latter broke down after just nine laps, allowing Butcher to finish second.

Going into the final round it was a straight contest between Butcher and Sayell with Rob eight points ahead. If Butcher won Sayell would need to finish third or above to win the championship – if they tied on points Sayell would win having had more wins.

Sunday’s qualifying was wet – with Butcher known to do well in the wet. The session saw the pole position changing on every lap, Rob taking it several times before securing his first-ever pole on the last lap by 0.083 seconds from Clowes with Butcher third on the grid by only 0.033 seconds.

The rain stopped for the afternoon race and a dry line was forming on the circuit.

Sayell quickly charged away to create a cushion between him and Butcher. Butcher then came under pressure from Clowes. Fourth placed Lee Morgan, a former champion, passed them both however to chase after Sayell, assisted when new driver Elliott Mitchell went off around half way bringing a double yellow flag out, requiring Sayell to back off. This allowed Morgan to close up by around one and a half seconds.

Morgan caught Sayell and not wishing to risk tangling up Sayell waved him through whilst securing second in the race and the 2016 Championship by 13 points.

Rob said: “I cannot believe what a fantastic season we have had this year, a massive thank you to Dad (Harry) for giving me a 100 per cent car all year.

“To my brother Dave for all his hard work on the pit wall and keeping the car immaculate and of course Mum (Anne) the backbone of the family team for her support. Also number one fans Jenson (son, 3) and my wife Trudy for allowing this to happen.

“Big thanks to Mike Smith of Welney for a faultless Yamaha engine and Wesigns of Lynn for great graphics.”

Motors TV has covered the series and the Silverstone round will be televised on November 4 at 19.25.