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Thursday 21 June 2018

Youth Academy is gearing up again

Motorsport workshops for students

Jack Murray of the Wexford Motorclub Youth Academy behind the wheel
Jack Murray of the Wexford Motorclub Youth Academy behind the wheel

2017 saw the second year of the Wexford Motorclub Youth Academy bring its students through their paces in various workshops built around motorsport.

This pioneering academy for Irish motorsport development saw two lucky students, Jack Murray (Cadet) and David Hamilton (Junior) drive in a round of the Motorsport Ireland Kart Racing Championship.

They were brought under the wing of NCM Motorsport with Noel Carey and Ken Daly. With their knowledge and experience within the sport, Noel and Ken helped both Jack and David successfully complete their year at the academy with a works drive within their team.

Also, three other students - Shane Brauders, Eoin Kinsella and James Egan - got behind the wheel of the NCRS-prepared Peugeot 106. They drove in Mondello at the Irish Rallycross Championship.

All the students got a chance to work in a team and showed their support for the overall winners of the academy for 2017 while at the events.

2018 promises more of the same adrenaline-filled action for its students, with a few surprises promised.

Wexford Motorclub Youth Academy has always aimed to keep learning fun so that everybody can enjoy themselves while gaining valuable knowledge from their experiences.

The induction day for the academy was in the Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford, last Saturday. No experience is required, however, you must be aged between eight and 18 to join.

This is Jack Murray's account of his experiences in the academy:

'The preparation for the works drive I won with the Youth Academy started almost a month before the race. I also won two test days with NCM Motorsport, and the first was in Athboy Kart Centre in Co. Meath. We had to leave at about 6 o'clock in the morning to get there on time.

The first test day: When we got there we were shown the karts for the first time and we had to help get them ready. Then we had to do a service to check everything was working.

We then started to get all our gear on, like our suits, boots, neckbrace, and rib protector. When we got into the karts for the first time, they were so much different to the ones in R-one karting. They were so fast compared to R-one, they were hard to get used to, but we got there eventually!

I had a couple of bumps, like when I crashed my kart first, when I went over the kerb sideways and broke the chain and sprocket off! I didn't realise the kerbs where so dangerous and rough! After all of the racing I was very sore and tired, it was a long day but so much fun.

The second test day: This was in Whiteriver kart track and we had to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning again this time.

When we arrived, we had to make the kart. It had no engine on it, or wheels, and I had the wrong seat, so we got a loan of a seat and made it fit!

But our time on the track was much easier because we knew what to expect and how to handle the kart so we didn't crash as much this time!

I did crash a couple of times, but Ken was watching me and he saw what I did wrong and he was able to tell me what to change, and I did change.

Then I started to go really well, and had some really good fast laps. It was a great day in Whiteriver. I really enjoyed it!

The race weekend: We left my house at 5 o'clock in the morning, and we got to Whiteriver at about 8 o'clock.

The set-up was very professional from NCM Motorsport, and everyone was really nice and helpful. My kart was there waiting for me. It had all the new stickers on it, and the youth academy stickers too. I was surprised to see so many NCM karts.

The testing started and I was very very nervous and was very scared, but then when I got into the kart and I started getting used to it a bit I wasn't so nervous. The testing was so different to the other test days, with so many karts on the track at the one time.

The race day: I was very nervous, and I was shivering all morning. It was the start of scrutineering and they told me when the races would start. They told me my position on the grid.

Then we prepared the kart, oiled the sprocket, checked the chain for tightness, and had spare tools with us in case it wouldn't start.

It was time for the first race. I was so nervous I could barely talk, but I was ready.

We started revving our engines and then the flag dropped and we went off into the practice laps.

Everything was good, it was kind of scary with all the karts around me, but I kept up with them. The NCM Motorsport team were happy with how I drove and now I was ready for the first heat.

In the first heat I finished seventh and I had a battle for sixth all through the race. In the second heat I finished sixth. I kept up with the pack, had some good battles and it was really good.

Noel in NCM said I was doing well and to keep it up and to push hard in the next one. But then in the last heat I had a big off into the first corner. Another kart hit me and knocked me backwards into the bank.

I nearly fell out of the kart. I even burned my arm on the exhaust! I got going again and pushed really hard and finished eighth.

This meant I qualified eighth for the pre-final. I had a good pre-final race, with some good battles again and I finished eighth in that, so that meant that I started on the fourth row of the grid in the final.

It was time for the final...the atmosphere on the grid was brilliant! I was so excited, we all started to rev up our engines, and the flag dropped!

It was a very hard race, the others were so fast! I drove my best and I finished eighth. I brought the kart in with no more damage. Ken and Noel were very happy with how I drove. I finished eighth overall but I had a great day, and I will do it again

The one thing I wasn't prepared for was the pace of the day. Garry said it would be fast, and I knew the schedule from my projects, but when you add the driving to everything else it's very hard but brilliant! We barely were in off the track from a heat or the final when we had to prepare the kart again, and sometimes repair it!

And then we were back out again, it all happened so fast! This was something I was not prepared for, it was so tiring.

If I could give some advice for next year's winner it would be to get fit! And I thought I was fit from hurling!

You use so many different muscles, you need to exercise them before the race and the test days. Ken told us at the first test day to do push-ups every morning and it worked for me. Also, I wasn't able to eat properly on the race day because I was so nervous!

I would like to thank all the guys from the Wexford Motorclub, especially Garry Bradley and Jonathan Looby, but I would also like to thank all the people from NCM, especially Noel Carey, for giving me this opportunity, and Ken Daly for driving all over the country for test days and for preparing the kart and servicing it.

Thank you for this opportunity to everybody involved. I had so much fun, and I am now looking to buy my own kart!'

Wexford People