Young Kiwi karter Jacob Douglas can hold his head high this week after confirming his status as one of the top Junior drivers in the world at the final round of this year’s 2019 FIA Karting Academy Trophy Series in Italy over the weekend.
The 14-year-old from Christchurch was again quick from the get-go, using his familiarity with the South Garda track at Lonato in Italy’s north-east to be 6th quickest in his first hit-out of Friday, and 3rd quickest in his second to end the day 2nd in his group and 4th fastest out of the 51 drivers who fronted at the final of three rounds of this year’s FIA Karting Academy Trophy series.
Douglas is the first ever Kiwi karter to earn a spot on the grid of the FIA’s Karting Academy Trophy Series and again justified the decision of the selectors by putting together a 10-3 run through the heat races on Saturday (a result which included setting the fastest lap in the first one) then adding an event-best 2nd place in the third heat on Sunday morning to qualify 8th for the Final.
Though he got shuffled back to P14 early on in that race, the 14-year-old knuckled down and fought his way back to 9th place by the time the chequered flag came out, a result good enough to elevate himself from 15th to 11th in the series’ points standings.
“Overall,” Douglas said from the track this morning (NZ-time) “I am very happy with my performance throughout the series. In terms of the Final here at Lonato my start was not that great but I tried my absolute hardest and got back into the top ten. Not the end result we wanted but it is great knowing that I can run at the front.”
Internationally-experienced Christchurch-based karter Tiffany Hamilton travelled to Lonato with Douglas and confirmed that the 14-year-old had the pace for a podium and only lacked experience racing at the ‘world’ level.
“What you have to remember,” she said,“is that Jacob is racing with the best of the best, and it is no mean feat to finish in the Top 10 in your first year.”
The Academy Trophy Final at Lonato was won by 13-year-old Singaporean driver Christian Ho, from Kajus Siksnelis from Lithuania and Maxwell Dodds from the UK.
It was Siksnelis who claimed the overall FIA Karting Academy Trophy for 2019 however, from Ho and early season leader Robert De Haan from the Netherlands.
Douglas and Tiffany Hamilton will stay on in Italy for two more meetings at the South Garda track at Lonato, the annual Autumn Trophy next weekend, and the ROK Cup International one (for which Douglas has sought and gained a wildcard entry in the Junior ROK class) in October.