RAPID young kart racer Mark Kimber delivered the drive of a champion during at the red hot Junior Rotax Winter Cup in Valencia but a debatable ten second penalty robbed the Solihull teenager of a dream victory on his debut with the Strawberry Racing team.
The 14-year-old starred to take the chequered flag in the headline race of the weekend on Sunday, which sparked huge celebrations in the Briton’s camp.
However, a ten second track limits penalty, triggered after a tangle involving team-mate Axel Charpentier, proved costly.
After finishing fastest in his group in free practice and qualifying, Kimber made an immediate push for glory in Sunday’s final by working his way into a position to challenge Charpentier for the lead on the last lap.
But during a tense wheel-to-wheel battle into the final chicane, the Briton was edged off the track.
Kimber was able to keep his momentum and after managing to re-join the track he went on to take the chequered flag, but post-race officials applied a ten second penalty after declaring the West Midlands schoolboy gained ‘an unfair advantage’.
“Even though I had a bad start in the final, I came back through to second place,” reflected the Veloce Sports managed youngster.
“At the last corner on the final lap, I tried to go around the outside but got forced off the track and then I was given a penalty so we lost the win. It was really disappointing as we were quick from practice all the way through the weekend and deserved it.
“Overall, though, it was a really good first race in Europe with Strawberry and our pace was strong.
“Qualifying was tough, with strong winds, and although I was a little unlucky to catch the pack halfway through my best lap, I still managed sixth which put me at the sharp end in the heats. They didn’t go as planned but I was happy to come through from eighth to second in the Pre-Final.”
Charpentier was also penalised for his part in the incident and the revised results placed Kimber a frustrating 16th with his team-mate one spot further back.
And while the outcome was a bitter pill to swallow, Kimber more than confirmed his potential as a very real 2016 title threat.
His manager, Rupert Svendsen-Cook, was understandably elated with the level of performance displayed by his young protégé on his maiden outing with the legendary multiple title winning Strawberry outfit.
He added: “Mark has been working very hard over the winter and with a new team in Strawberry he looked better than ever this weekend.
“It was a very impressive performance, right from the start he was never out of the top three on pace and he deserved the win without a doubt. It wasn’t to be this weekend, but it makes the season ahead look incredibly promising.”
Next up for Kimber will be the start of the British Super 1 Karting season which gets underway over the weekend March 19-20 at Rowrah in Cumbria.