As the Oxford Karting team arrived at the Rye House Raceway, a feeling of excitement was palpable. The team was coming off the back of an extremely successful season in the British Universities Karting Championship, where the A team had achieved 14th place, its best result since 2008, and the B team its best ever result at 26th.
Cambridge meanwhile had finished the season 22nd, although their captain Richard Morris did manage to bring home a race victory in the first round at Buckmore Park. The excitement was multiplied at the unveiling of the brand new Varsity Motorsport Cup, bought to replace the old one which seemingly went missing several years ago. Quickly though, all of the drivers took to the circuit to take advantage of the practice session, some to learn the circuit for the first time, others to get to grips with the new, grippier tyres being used on the Club100 karts.
These tyres certainly seemed to go down well across the field, with the differences in lap times being only a few seconds, something incredible given the difference in experience across both teams. When the hour of practice time was over, a short safety briefing led into the qualifying session where there were ten minutes for the drivers to go out and set their best possible lap time.
Oxford managed to lock out the front row of the grid, with Balliol’s James Lambton on pole, closely followed by the club president, Sam Rebbettes of Worcester College, but Cambridge’s Richard Morris was right behind them on row two. The race got off to a messy start, with Oxford’s Doug Henderson being taken out in an incident at the first corner, and a black flag being awarded to Sam Rebbettes for jumping the start. Oxford driver Matt Diffey also received a black flag for colliding with another driver and knocking them off the track.
At the front, James Lambton was beginning to pull out a lead over Richard Morris, and further back a fierce battle was being fought with the gap between eighth and eleventh being less than two seconds. Oxford’s Scott Houghton managed to steal ninth place from Cambridge’s Ed Bellamy with three laps to go, but lost it again when the pack got held up by one of the much slower back markers.
The chequered flag fell, and Oxford’s James Lambton took first, leading Cambridge’s Richard Morris by six seconds, with Oxford’s Callum Hughes taking third place. With the top fifteen drivers scoring points according to the MotoGP scoring system, and Oxford receiving a ten point penalty for two black flags they received during the race, the teams waited anxiously for the race organisers to tally up the results.
Finally, the announcement was made; Oxford had won by 72 points to Cambridge’s 58. It was a truly stunning drive from James Lambton, leading the race from start to finish, special mentions also going to Sam Rebbettes for the fastest lap of the race at 41.832 seconds, and Scott Houghton for climbing an incredible eight places to finish tenth. The Oxford team made up for last year’s loss in style, and they look forward to competing in the BUKC in June.