500+ students, 100 teams, 40 Universities, four tracks and a shit-load of Red Bull can only mean one thing. BUKC is back.

Karting 6As it enters its 15th year, the British University Karting Championship (BUKC) is bigger and more popular than ever.

As always, the University of Southampton have hand selected their finest thoroughbred (and renowned Soton Tab Editor Ed Bannister, because it turns out all our competent ones graduated) racers to do battle in the asphalt arena of banditry and burning rubber. First stop, Rye House.

With the team motorhomes (read: beaten up Seat Cupra’s) loaded up with race suits and crisps, Team Soton set off on their 110 mile trip north to Hoddesdon, home to the Mecca of UK karting and the mother of all Sainsbury’s distribution centres.

Despite the best efforts of a reckless tool in a Transit van and rush hour M25, all three motorhomes arrived at the track simultaneously – much to the delight of Captain Dennison.

His good mood did not last long though. Coming into the third corner of race one, Dennison was taken from behind and mounted by a fellow competitor’s kart – not as 50 shades of Grey is at sounds, and actually quite unpleasant. As the kart came down off the upper torso of the flattened captain, it landed on his steering column, bending it beyond repair and leaving Soton’s race in tatters.

Karting 2

As usual, the racing at Rye came down to the wire.

After being carefully assessed by a BUKC mechanic, who astutely noted that the kart was ‘facked’, Dennison was forced to retire from the race. The circuit ambulance beckoned (a possible cracked rib has since been diagnosed), and after a BUKC paracetamol or two, Captain Denny was back fiddling with his tactics clipboard and plotting revenge in the Endurance round.

Karting 5

A well earned sausage sandwich for Captain Beleaguered.

The disappointment was soon abated though in race three, with BUKC newbies Titas Bucelis and Tom Evans racing up from unfavourable grid positions to a solid mid table finish, enough to at least raise a smile from their smarting captain.

Race four saw BUKC veteran Scott Michaels battling it out for the lead with pole sitters and reigning champions Coventry. Fuelled on by the unlimited amounts of sugar available at Rye House, Michaels managed to hold off the competition and cross the line just under half-a-second in front, taking Team Soton’s first win of day.

Race five saw another BUKC newbie Diego Martinez manage to convert a favourable grid position into a storming fourth place finish, leaving the young Spaniard feeling suitably relaxed about his day’s work..

Martinez really struggled to deal with the pressure on his BUKC debut..

Martinez really struggled to deal with the pressure on his BUKC debut..

Southampton’s pièce de résistance however, came around in the sixth and final sprint race of the day. In 17 laps, vice-captain Stuart Wells had worked his way up from 13th to first, his only threat being the pint-sized Cambridge rocket whom followed him through the order.

Come lap 30 and all appeared lost, the aforementioned rocket finding his way past Wells and into the lead. With the latter now under pressure from third placed Leeds going into the final lap, Team Soton held their breath for a top three finish.

Mr. Wells had other ideas though, diving down the inside of the final corner on the final lap to take his first ever BUKC win – by 0.08 seconds, before proceeding to give the ever recorded. Killjoy.

Stuart's prize for winning his race? An interview with the lovely Morag.

Stuart’s prize for winning his race? An interview with the lovely Morag.

As Stuart and Scott sat polishing their medals, Captain Dennison, on a paracetamol induced high, put the finishing touches on Team Soton’s strategy for the enduros – a longer race format where each kart is driven by two of the team’s drivers. The B team pairing of Diego Martinez and Chris Mansbridge drove a strong race, holding the lead at one point and coming across the line 13th place overall.

However, Will Fry and Tom Evans struggled with inconsistency in their race, as while each showed promise neither could set a consistent pace meaning they finished towards the back of the field.

Karting 1

A row of old tyres were all that separated this brave photographer from the raging battles out on circuit.

Concerned that his intricately designed team tactics clipboard arrangement had all been for nothing, much like his English degree, Captain Dennison sat nervously on the grid ready for the start of his enduro.

Alas, it was worthless. Both his and Titas’ kart, and that of Scott and Stuart, were awful. A severe lack of a decent engine in either meant that neither had the power to bother those at the sharp end of the grid.

Stuart came into the pits shaking his head, Scott went out on track shaking his head, both drivers had been forced into a swordfight with a buttering knife. Not for the last time that day, Scott was left thoroughly unsatisfied.

Both teams brought their karts home mid table, a disappointing end to an otherwise successful day, but still enough to ensure that SOUTHAMPTON RAN OUT OVERALL WINNERS IN THEIR CLASS!

If you’re interested in representing your University in the national karting championship, send a message to Wessex Motor Club on Facebook.

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