Young Kiwi karter Jacob Douglas is targeting a top 10 finish at the second round of the 2019 FIA Karting Academy Trophy Series in Italy this weekend.
The 13-year-old from Christchurch, the first New Zealand karter to earn a spot on the grid of the FIA Karting Academy Trophy Series, was quick but ultimately unlucky at the opening round of the 2019 series at Wackersdorf in Germany last month.
And after a whistle-stop trip home to contest the annual Sunbelts meeting in Nelson and Blenheim over Queen’s Birthday weekend he has returned to the Northern Hemisphere more determined than ever to make his mark.
“I learned so much about the way they race in Europe at the first round and felt that I had really upped my game by the end of that weekend, so I am super-excited to head back for the second round to try and do even better this time,” he said earlier this week.
Though the venue for the second round of this year’s Academy Trophy Series, the Circuito Internazionale Napoli Sarno, is one he has yet to compete at Douglas will this weekend have multi-time NZ kart champion Matthew Hamilton to call on for advice.
Hamilton ran then girlfriend and now wife, Tiffany Hamilton (nee Chittenden), at the circuit when it hosted the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals meeting in 2016 where she distinguished herself with a drive through the field to 11th place in her class Final, setting the fastest race lap along the way.
For his part Douglas proved that he can run with the best Junior karters in the world at the opening Academy Trophy series round in Germany, qualifying 9th (out of a field of 51) for the Final only to crash out of that race on the second lap when hit by another competitor.
Because of that his goal this weekend is two-fold – get into the Final again, but race for series points as well as ultimate race and round position.
“It would mean so much to me to be able to finish in the top 10 – or even more so the top five. But also,” he said, “I want to get some good points in the championship so that means I need good Heat races to be able to start in the top 10 in the Final, and hopefully get to the finish line this time.”
“I’ll definitely be giving it everything I have and I won’t be leaving anything out there. It’s been a dream of mine for a few years now to race at the highest level of karting in Europe and I’d just like to thank everyone at KartSport New Zealand and their sponsors Carter’s Tyre Service and The Giltrap Group, as well as my sponsors, WKS KartStore and Racer Products, for helping me take this step.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get to finish the Final last time but I’ll be trying even harder to get a result everyone can be proud of this weekend.”
Despite being the only Kiwi competing in the FIA Karting Academy races this weekend Douglas will not be the only karter from New Zealand racing at Sarno.
Auckland 16-year-old Matthew Payne is also back for his second meeting in Europe this year, in a works GP Karts kart in which he will be contesting the second (and final) round of the 2019 FIA European KZ2 class championship.