It was a difficult start to the SKUSA Pro Tour for Callum at the Winternationals to say the least! A weekend that presented the opportunity for the CRG Nordam driver to begin his title assault ended with a driver crashing into him on Sunday’s final causing substantial damage to the kart. Callum’s journey to that final had been far from smooth, leaving him lots of work to do over the remaining two weekends of the tour.
The problems for Callum started in testing. A lack of power prevented Callum from being able to learn the NOLA Motorsports Park based circuit properly as well as do any decent setup work. Hard work from both Callum and the team eventually saw these problems fixed, but it was soon straight into the first race day on Saturday.
Qualifying saw the weekend get off to a decent start. In just five laps Callum set a time of 1:01.959 which was just 0.188 seconds off pole position. In such a closely bunched field this put Callum in 8th which wasn’t ideal, but certainly not a disaster! A surprisingly good start from the outside row put Callum quickly into 3rd place after just three laps, but he was then involved in a hectic battle which eventually saw him emerge in 5th. The second half of the race brought no changes in terms of positions and Callum was matching the leaders for pace and kept within three seconds to the race lead come the chequered flag.
Going into the final things were looking good position wise, but there was one thing playing on the minds of the team. Qualifying had seen a huge strain on the tyres, which could become a problem over the course of a 22-lap final. At the start Callum was once again on the move passing Samuel Lupien for 4th early on. But as the race approached the halfway stage the tyre wear started to become hard to deal with and it opened the door for both Lupien and Nicky Hays to pass.
Now in 6th the loss of positions unfortunately wouldn’t stop there with Callum losing another position late in the race to eventually finish 7th. It was an unfortunate scenario that the team almost knew was coming and couldn’t do anything to prevent it from happening. It’s going to be part of the process for Callum adapting to new circuits and a new championship over the Pro Tour.
Heading into round two on Sunday after some more changes Callum felt he was now where he should be with the kart and was confident ahead of qualifying. And so, he should have been as he qualified an impressive 4th place an improvement on the 8th of round one!
The Pre-Final was perhaps the most hectic race of the weekend! Callum was up and down the order in the early stages of the race dropping to as low as 6th by lap five. But an impressive recovery back through the order saw Callum come back to 4th which could have easily been a top three finish with a few more laps. He finished the race just 0.7 seconds off a win and two tenths away from 3rd!
Heading into the final the confidence was now sky high and Callum had his eyes set on a victory with even more changes made to the kart.
In a weekend that had been littered with bad luck things took a turn for the worst in the final with Callum being taken out on the opening lap. The impact saw the kart go over the top of Callum in a crash that immediately ended his race. It caused substantial damage and would see Callum having to watch the 22-lap final from the side-lines. A bitter end to a weekend that had the potential to end with Callum on the top step of the podium.
Overall the opening weekend of the SKUSA Pro Tour was disappointing for Callum. He did not get the results he had been aiming for and a difficult test saw him on the back foot from the off. Hard efforts from the team helped get things turned around, but Sunday’s incident was a tough one to take for Callum.
After the weekend Callum commented: “We had a really difficult start to the SKUSA Pro Tour. The incident on Sunday was unfortunate, but I think we made a lot of improvements over the weekend and could have had the pace to win the final. We now have a lot of ground to make up, but that’ll be our goal at Arizona in two months time. I’d like to say a big thanks to the CRG Nordam Team for their efforts over the weekend!”
A change to the Calendar see’s the Springnationals (rounds 3 & 4) now take place at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association circuit in Arizona. Another new circuit for Callum, but he will not be taking any prisoners after a tricky start to the championship.
Images courtesy of On Track Promotions & The RaceBox