FOLLOWING a disastrous 2010, plagued by uncanny misfortune, Earlston kart supremo Grant Murray is back on track and steering a path towards the north-east title he won in 2008 and 2009.
This year Team MBM (Grant and his dad David) have taken a different direction and moved on from their home-designed chassis to a 7kart (the same company which built their previous karts to their own design) mk4.
Grant explained: “The 7kart’s grip level and characteristics are very similar to my own, making it very easy to adapt, but remarkably, the lap times were more than half-a-second faster.
“With a little more adjustment and tweaking throughout a test day I ended up being one of the pace setters, matching both of the 7kart works drivers’ pace.
“This proved a bit of an eye-opener as neither me or my dad (or the 7kart team) expected me to be as fast so quickly.
“It was at this point, after much deliberation – humming and hawing from my dad – that we knew it was time we had to move on from our beloved MBM chassis and get a 7kart. A deal was then struck and a new kart was on its way as soon as it could be built.”
Sure enough, a week later and only a week ahead of the team’s first race meeting of the year, the new chassis arrived and a frantic few days of preparation occurred as Grant and his dad got the kart ready for the opening round at Warden law circuit near Sunderland.
This proved to be a testing one as, after running on a dry testing surface on the Saturday, the team were faced with a torrential downpour for the race the following day.
Grant recalled: “With no set-up work at all in wet conditions there was a bit of guesswork involved in the qualifying stages and, fortunately, we guessed pretty well, ending up third, 0.3 seconds behind fellow Scottish drivers Scott Abercrombie and Ryan Cannon.”
His results were as follows: Heat one, 7th; heat two, 3rd; heat three, 2nd; heat four, 5th; final, 3rd.
Round two saw the first dry meeting of the year. The day started well with pole position in qualifying and a win in heat one followed by a second in heat two, fourth in heat three and four, and third in the final, putting the top four in the championship standings only 12 points apart.
The blistering hot weather and the return of last year’s runner-up and Le Mans 24hr winner Steven Welsh ensured the racing was going to be nothing less than extremely close in round three.
Sure enough, qualifying proved this as the top five were separated by less than 0.1 of a second. It turned out to be a battle between the two rivals of years gone by – Steven and Grant shared two wins and two seconds between them in the four heats leading up to the final, closely followed by Scott Abercrombie in third as all three crossed the line with less than a second between them in each.
The final proved no different as all three drivers battled for position from lights to flag, with Welsh taking the win, Grant second and Abercrombie third.
With Welsh not contesting the championship this year it meant at this stage MBM was leading the championship by 18 points to Abercrombie and 40 points ahead of third-placed Michael Kew (7kart’s no. 1 driver).
Strangely for Warden Law and the country as a whole, the hot weather remained and track conditions were perfect for round four. The weekend started off brilliantly as during the practise on Saturday, Grant posted an unofficial time within reach of the lap record, and in qualifying he went even better.
“I could hardly believe my eyes,” he told us. “The current lap record was 58.26, held by another Scotsman and close friend Chris Miller, and the time I had set was a 57.97 – I never thought a sub-58 was possible.”
Heat one, however, didn’t quite go to plan for MBM as an avoidable incident on lap one resulted in Grant being spun 180 degrees and facing an oncoming train of 30 karts entering the chicane. He was fortunate to find a space in the traffic and end the race in fourth, picking up another new lap record (57.07) in the process.
This blistering speed was to continue throughout the day with various laps below the 58-second mark. Grant was able to hold onto the lead in every race from that point forward, taking his first victory in a final for almost a year.
He said: “I’d done it, finally we are back to winning ways. I remember someone once said ‘it’s not the winning it’s the taking part’. Yeah, right!
“Big thanks to my dad once again for making it all possible, as without his support and input I simply wouldn’t be racing at all.
“And whether it was by pure coincidence or not, my grandparents have made a return to the sidelines after nearly a year away, which, strangely, was the last time I won. They have now been told they are coming to every race from now on, and they can also give a running commentary to my girlfriend Jacqui as she can’t watch while I’m racing.”
Results/championship standings are available on www.twkartclub.com