Queensland teenager Max Walton recorded the best-ever finish by an Australian driver in the FIA Karting Academy Trophy with a third placed finish in Trinec, Czech Republic on the weekend.
Since 2010 the FIA Karting Academy provides the opportunity for 45 drivers to be nominated by their National Karting Federation to compete in identical equipment against the top young talent. Several drivers who have participated in the FIA Karting Academy Trophy have risen to the pinnacle of Motorsport and Formula 1, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Esteban Ocon are all former graduates from the Academy.
Walton, who currently sits atop the standings in the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship, qualified sixth fastest on Friday before showing good speed and consistency throughout the heat races enabling him to start from third position in the main event.
After settling into third at the start, Walton drove a calculated race before making a decisive move for the lead mid-way through the race. Unfortunately, as rain started to fall, he slid wide allowing Norwegian Marius Barry-Berg to regain the race lead and Spaniard Hugo Martin to move into second. They would remain in these positions until the chequered flag.
“It feels amazing to bring the Australian flag on the podium and make history as the highest finisher for Australia’s Academy drivers,” said Walton.
“It was a great experience to represent Australia on the highest level of karting and to bring the third place trophy back to Australia.
“When the rain came I immediately started to think where the grip was so I could pull away further from the kart behind me, but I hit the ripple strip and had a big slide to move me back into third.
“Overall, it has been a great experience and I’ve made some good relationships with drivers and people from other countries.”
Alongside Walton during his journey was Jon Targett, who is one of Australia’s most experienced drivers and mechanics in European karting, along with fellow Australian Robbie Cubbin.
“I would like to thank Jon Targett and Robert Cubbin for all of their help all weekend with my driving,” said Walton.
“Thank you to all people how we’re following my journey all week and supporting me all the way it means the world to me that so many people have my back at all times.”
Walton is third in the overall standings with the second round of the Series to be held in Denmark on June 15-18 ahead of the final round in Italy on the final weekend in July.