Friday, 12 April 2013

Ryan Smith: A talented young karter talks about racing in the British Rental Karting Championship and his hopes for the future.

Performing at the pinnacle of motor sport commandeering a Formula One car majestically around the most beautiful racing circuits in the world, is a dream for so many young people.  A few of those harbouring this dream embark on a long journey of learning and polishing the skills they will need to enter this world.  With many different series and categories existing to provide aspiring young racers with arenas to do just that, I interviewed Ryan Smith, an eighteen year old from Edinburgh to find out what it is like to race in the British Rental Kart Championships and how he sees his future. 

       The British Rental Karting Championship is a series run over six races, held at varying tracks with the goal being that the competitors demonstrate the skills needed not only to achieve well at one type of circuit, but to be able to adapt driving skill and style to all types.  Races are held inside and outside with other variations including speed and length of the track, therefore the drivers achieving well in the Championship are those who can master them all. However well a driver can adapt to different tracks though, there will always be one that is more suited to their individual style. 

        “I like the bigger circuits, they tend to suit my style a bit more and there is plenty of room to overtake.  We have a mix of bigger and smaller circuits on our calendar, but on the smaller circuits it can be impossible to overtake cleanly, even if you are much quicker than the guy in front.”  “Raceland in Edinburgh is my favourite, without a doubt.  It is my home circuit and it is a great circuit to race on.  The next round of BRKC is being held there so I am hoping I can make up a lot of points there, and hopefully get my first win.”

        Although still working towards his first win, Ryan has graced the podium after coming third in round two this season.  His appearance was slightly tinged with disappointment though. 
        “It was a great feeling getting to spray the champagne for the first time, but at the same time I was disappointed because I had lost second on the run to the line.  But it was still a great result, even if I couldn’t quite see it that way at the time.” 

        With 110 drivers entered for the championship over the season, Ryan is currently running an impressive seventh, and at the pointy end of the table will be looking around at his main rivals. 
        “There are so many great drivers that it is impossible to only highlight one driver as a main rival, but I think the person everyone wants to beat is Lee Hackett.  He is the reigning champion and current championship leader.  I have had two incredible races with him over the past year.  He is a great driver and very difficult to beat, so to have a close race with him is always good.”

       Lee Hackett has taken victories at two rounds so far this year, but this doesn’t mean he can’t be caught as Ryan explained,
       “Each driver is allowed to drop their worst result at the end of the season, and on drop round scores there are only two points between Lee and Sean Brierley.  They are both very good drivers so I think it will be very close between them for the title this year.”

       Ryan may not have been too far away from this battle but for some slight disappointments. 
       “I was originally hoping for a top three finish at the end of the year but my season hasn’t gone quite as well as planned, but I would be happy finishing in the top five.” 

       Passion for racing is often ignited by older generations and Ryan is no different, although it was a certain British Formula One driver who motivated him to make the leap into the world of motor sport.
       “My Dad and my Uncle used to race, so hearing them talk about it made me want to try it, but I couldn’t due to football commitments.  But when Lewis Hamilton joined F1, I thought it was really cool so I got my parents to take me, and it went from there.” “I have always admired Lewis Hamilton a lot.  He has a great driving style and watching him race is what made me want to start racing.”  
        Lewis Hamilton is joined by some legendary drivers on Ryan’s list of inspirational racers.       “I also take a lot of inspiration from Ayrton Senna and Sir Jackie Stewart.  They are both legends of the sport and were incredible drivers.”

       First driving a kart in the same year Lewis Hamilton made his Formula One debut, Ryan had to wait until 2009 to drive a proper race when he joined the Junior Championship at Raceland, his local circuit, and finished third in the championship in his first year.  It was then time to think about his next steps. 
      “I really enjoyed racing at Raceland, but there was only so much I could do there and I wanted to get into a more serious championship.  When I heard about BRKC I thought I’d give it a go”.  Last year I was originally planning on only doing the first round, but I ended up doing the whole season and finished seventh in the end.”

       Being able to progress in this currency controlled sport is the biggest challenge faced by young drivers,
      “I would love to get into single seater racing.  It feels like that would be the best way for me to go from karting.”  “Motor sport is a very expensive business, and to go any further I would need to get a lot of sponsorship.  I think that I could go pretty well if I was given the opportunity.  I just hope that one day I am given the opportunity to prove what I could do at the next level.”

     For every young driver there is an ultimate goal being strived for,
     “ I want to make a career for myself as a racing driver and to be successful.” 
    The most successful in this business reach Formula One and hopefully one day we will see Ryan getting to drive the F1 circuit that most excites him,
    “Spa – Francorchamps.  I just love the combination of corners and the fast, flowing nature of the circuit.  Especially Eau Rouge.  Going through there at full speed in an F1 car must be insane.” 

And he may drive there in an Audi R8 or an Aston Martin; his favourite road cars…

If anyone is interested in sponsoring Ryan, contact him via twitter @ryansmith94

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