I’m really excited to introduce you to our first ever guest blogger on the BIZ Karts website – Max Bladon. As you may already know, BIZ Karts became a main sponsor to Max in the MINI Challenge race series back at the beginning of this year. With firm karting roots, we were keen to be involved in what looks like an incredibly exciting motorsport career for Bladon! Complete with a cracking looking MINI race car liveried in the famous BIZ colours, Max has already started making a strong impression in the 2017 series. Having got off to a stellar start at Oulton Park and Rockingham respectively, we’ve caught up with Max ahead of Round 3 to hear his thoughts on Aprils’ racing…
Round 1: Oulton Park - 15th and 17th April 2017
Oulton Park was the first round of the season and a home circuit for myself. So, it was important to get a good start to the season with loads of family and friends coming down to watch and most importantly new partnership with BIZ Karts.
Going into qualifying I knew it was important to get up to the front end of the grid, as overtaking around Oulton Park is very difficult. Amazingly I managed to qualify the car onto pole position for the first race of the year! By putting myself on pole position for race 1 this gave me the best possible opportunity for a good set of results over the weekend.Race 1 was declared a wet race. This then meant everyone on the field had to race on wet weather tyres. From the start, it was obvious this wasn’t the best decision by the officials because after a few laps the track was dry. But I was starting pole position and everyone was in the same situation as me. I had a great initial launch off the start but left the door open for the first corner dropping me back to third on the road and a small mistake at the back of the circuit also led to me losing a further position to 4th overall on a massive grid of 32 cars. I then held 4th to the flag, this was a massive achievement for my first race in the JCW Mini’s and I also won the highest rookie award in the process.
In Race 2, I had pole position again due to the reverse grid of the top 4 drivers. I was really excited about this race as it was a dry race and I showed from qualifying that I was the quickest driver in the dry conditions around Oulton Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the best start due to excessive wheel spin, so I dropped one place from the start and due to the tight circuit of Oulton Park it’s very difficult to overtake, so I held 2nd position to the chequered flag only being 0.6 seconds off the lead.
As an overview of the weekend though, it was a very successful first meeting of the year and it certainly exceeded my own expectations of what to expect on the highly competitive grid of 32 cars. Leaving the weekend I was 2nd in Championship and 6 points off the championship lead.
Round 2: Rockingham - 29th and 30th April 2017
For the second round of the year, I was racing at the Corby based circuit of Rockingham speedway. This is a circuit I have usually gone well at over the years and I was excited to show people what I can do and most importantly put the BIZ Karts car at the front of the grid again!
Yet again I managed to put the BIZ Karts MINI on pole position for the second time this year from a great qualifying session. I was confident from starting on pole position again that I could make it count this time and go for my first victory of the year in the JCW MINI, as I had learned from my mistakes at Oulton Park 2 weeks before. When the lights went out I managed to get a great start and I pulled a gap from the field over the first 3 laps, but due to an incident behind me the safety car was deployed, undoing all my hard work. Yet again, I got a great restart from behind the safety car but after one lap of the safety coming in, there was another incident on circuit making the officials stop the race. This lead onto a full re-grid of the race for a second standing start. This was very stressful as I personally thought I had race 1 in the bag after pulling a gap! But with a full restart you don’t know what could happen. I could have a bad start or, even worse, be hit by someone else. Fortunately, I once again had a great start and I went on to build a 4.5-second lead and took my first race victory of my 2017 campaign!
In Race 2, I was starting from 5th position on the reverse grid order but unfortunately, I had to run old tyres and every other competitor around me had nice new fresh rubber on. This was due to me having already used all my available fresh sets from Oulton Park and Rockingham race 1. Even with grip disadvantage I was still focused on getting a great result for race 2. I managed to get another great start to get into the top three on the first lap. I then held this position for the next 4 laps until the tyres really started to let go and was simply easy pickings for the cars behind on fresh new rubber. I eventually wound up in 11th position.
Looking back over the weekend, it was a highly successful weekend which had netted me a large total number of championship points and in fact catapulted me to the top of the championship with a seven-point lead. I must once again thank BIZ Karts for their support, because without them I wouldn’t be leading the JCW MINI Challenge Championship.
Max will be going into Round 3 top of his class with an impressive 171 points. We wish Max luck for the next race weekend, taking place on the 27th and 27th May at Snetterton. Stay tuned to find out if he can hang on to (or hopefully extend!) his lead!
Thank you to Mark Campbell for photos.