Tyred and Emotional
Wheels come off Ed’s bid to win the World title
Sports writers often like to reverse the cliché about ‘snatching victory from the jaws of defeat’ to gently mock heroic failure. Ed may suffer a similar fate after a tyre came off the wheel rim of his kart as he led the pre-final at last weekend’s (20/21 November) Rotax World Finals at the La Conca circuit near Muro Leccese, in southern Italy.
Up to that fateful moment, it had all been going so right. Ed had qualified on pole position for Sunday’s preliminary final; ahead of the main event later that afternoon. Even before then he had been in dominant form, recording the fastest lap in timed qualifying and then converting his P1 grid advantage in the heats into two victories and a 2nd place to top the intermediate event rankings, and secure that vital pole position.
From the start, he had led the 34-strong field through the opening lap but at the chicane his right rear tyre – quite literally - let him down.
“I came into the chicane and it went ‘bom’ and popped off the inside of the rim,” he explained. Forced to spectate for the remaining fifteen laps, Ed knew that he would need to produce something very special if he was to stand a chance of finishing on the podium of the grand final.
“I started right at the back of the grid but had got up to 17th by the end of the first lap, only to be turned in on. There were four of us abreast going into a corner. The driver on the outside turned in and took two of us out.”
This put Ed to the tail end of the field once again and prompted another fight back – where he proceeded to battle his way up to an eventual, and very frustrated, 15th at the finish.
“He was seething afterwards,” observed his father, Mark.
“La Conca doesn’t like me,” Ed shrugged, referring to his previous, trophy-less visit to the Puglian circuit in 2008. “Unfortunately, the fat lady sang the wrong song but, hey ho, that’s racing.”
With the season now over, Ed is concentrating on his ‘A’ Level studies while preparing for his assault on the 2011 British Super 1 and Euro Max crowns with Strawberry Racing.
Ed revved up for World Finals
One of the largest and most iconic events in the international karting calendar takes place this coming weekend (17 /21 November), and Ed is aiming to take another step on the road to his dream of becoming a professional racing driver, by adding the world crown to his already glittering CV.
The event, held at arguably the world’s best kart circuit, La Conca in Puglia, southern Italy, is regarded as one of the most prestigious and hardest fought for in karting.
There are over 70 entrants in Ed’s category – Senior Max – with the 16-year old one of the youngest competitors. After timed qualifying on Thursday, to establish the starting grid positions, there will a series of heats on Friday and Saturday. The top 35 drivers going through to contest Sunday’s two finals.
The result of the first final will determine where the drivers start from for the grand final. The winner of that race will be crowned the 2010 Rotax World Finals Champion.
Last year, Ed raced in the junior class and finished on the podium. His graduation to the senior ranks this year has been little short of revelatory, with the Strawberry Racing driver underlining his immense talent by winning a round of the British championship at the beginning of the season and taking 2nd at the inaugural International Open in Spain just two weeks ago. His expectations are typically high for his latest challenge.
“Obviously it’s a big week for me, but I’m confident that I can be among the front-runners. I’ve raced there before, so that could be advantageous. I have an excellent team around me and I don’t see why, if everything falls into place, why I can’t challenge for a top three finish.”
He adds: “The key to opening the doors that could lead me to a career as a professional driver is to win big events like the Rotax World Finals. For now, I’m taking it one step at a time and just concentrating on doing the best I can at La Conca.”
The event starts from Wednesday 17th with free practice. To follow Ed’s fortunes day by day, go to http://live2010.kart-data.com/RGF/
Ed completes season on podium
And celebrates with silverware on Strawberry debut
Ed signed off his British Super 1 season with a fine performance in the concluding round at Three Sisters near Wigan, last Sunday (10 October).
He also used the event to reveal his new racing colours - the trademark red, white and green of reigning European and World Finals Champions, Strawberry Racing, who use Italian-made Tony Kart chassis, hence their colour scheme.
After inexplicably twisting ligaments in his knee prior to first practice, he found himself unable to keep his foot planted on the accelerator pedal.
“In the first practice session I lasted just a handful of corners before the pain was too great and I returned to the pits at a crawl,” he explained before bravely attempting timed qualifying, in which he could only post the 17th-fastest lap.
With ice-packs applied around his knee alleviating the discomfort, Ed opted to race. Unfortunately, a rash overtaking manoeuvre in the opening heat saw him come off second best. Dropping from 12th to 17th place he held on to complete the race in that position. The following encounter produced a far better result and he crossed the finishing line 6th.
Ed achieved the same result in the pre-final, from the eighth row of the grid, before pulling out all the stops in an enthralling main final to take 3rd position.
“That was a good race,” he said having clearly enjoyed himself. “It was hard but fair. No quarters was given or asked for, but there was no dirty stuff.”
Ed’s podium finish also contributed to him completing his maiden season in the senior category, 5th overall. At 16 he is one of the youngest drivers in the Rotax Max class and still qualifies for the Junior championship - which he won in 2009l.
“It’s been one of those years,” he said hinting at the mid-term frustration that blighted his race-winning start to the campaign. “Still, for my first year in seniors, 5th is no disgrace.”
Ahead of his appearance in November’s World Finals at La Conca in southern Italy, Ed is now preparing for the inaugural International Open race meeting, to be held at the end of this Month (27/31 October) at Zuera near Zaragoza, in Spain.
Ed joins Strawberry Racing
Team manager hails Ed's "Outstanding talent"
Ed has signed to drive for Strawberry Racing in the British Super 1 and Euro Max series next year. The newly-crowned Euro Max vice-Champion will complete this year’s Super 1 championship, and contest next month’s inaugural International Open at Zuera, with the Sheffield-based Tony Kart squad.
Warwick Ringham, Strawberry Team Manager said: “I think it’s been no secret that we have regarded Ed as an outstanding talent for some time. Naturally, I am delighted to finally welcome him into the team and I’m sure that he will make a significant contribution to our future success.”
Ed commented: “Strawberry is where I wanted to be. It’s the team that I - like everyone else - wants to go and win with. I raced with them at the recent Rotax Cup and was struck by their professionalism, preparation and spirit within the team. I gelled very quickly with everyone, my teammates, the mechanics and of course, Warwick and Dodge (Dave Gregory). I am focused on winning the British and European title with them next year, I think that is a realistic goal with a team of their pedigree”
Ed is European vice-Champion!
Double podium in thrilling final round of Euro Max Challenge sees
Ed finish 2nd overall
Ed added further luster to an already glittering reputation after delivering a superb performance in the final round of the Euro Max Challenge, at Genk last weekend (4/5 September).
He had travelled to the Belgian track with high hopes of further success after winning the penultimate round in Austria (17/18 July). But his performance perhaps surprised even himself after he took the title battle right down to the very last race of the series, when he won the pre-final.
The Kalman Motorsport driver signalled his intent right from the outset after a strong timed qualifying session saw him in touch with his main rivals by setting the sixth fastest lap before taking 3rd, 5th and 2nd finishes in the preliminary heats to secure fourth place on the grid for the first of Sunday’s two crucial finals.
“That first final was one of the toughest I have ever had,” Ed commented after his victory. “There were four karts, including me, fighting for the lead throughout. I was sitting in third and wanted that position to give me third place on the grid and therefore the vital inside line for the main final. It all got a bit scrappy and the driver in second went for a move on the leader and had a bit of a coming together. I saw my chance and took the win.”
With entry into both the inaugural Rotax International Open race to be held at the Spanish circuit of Zuera in October and December’s World Finals at the superb La Conca circuit in Puglia, southern Italy at stake, Ed knew that he didn’t need to win the second final to secure his passage to the two events and consequently produced a mature, thinking drive.
“I could afford to finish two positions behind the Dutch driver Mats van den Brand and still take 2nd in the championship. This took the pressure off me a little and so, after leading for a few laps, I allowed myself to be overtaken by several karts rather than defend and risk a crash. Sure enough, I watched as the new leaders began to fight and they eventually collided. It was like ‘Boom! Thankyou very much, I’ll take 3rd.”
It was a patient and intelligent move that successfully saw him return to the podium and complete his maiden year in the senior ranks on a high, which he acknowledged afterwards “This has been an exciting season for me and it was great to finish it in the same way that I signed off my junior career – as Euro Max Vice-Champion. To achieve back-to-back results in different categories is very special and down to the hard work of my team Kalman Motorsport, HRS Engines and the important support I receive from companies such as Freem UK, Brands of Watford and Vogel and Noot radiators, who make my racing and success possible.”
This weekend sees Ed preparing for the final round of the British Super 1 championship (18/19 September), by competing in the Rotax Cup at the fast Three Sisters circuit near Wigan in Lancashire this Sunday (12 September).
Fourth among equals
Ed closes in on championship rivals with top ten finishes in Scotland
The British Super 1 kart championship made the long journey to Larkhall in Scotland for its fifth round last weekend (24/25 July) and another strong performance saw Ed move further into title contention.
The Lanarkshire circuit is only visited once a year, and as a result he had to quickly reacquaint himself with it before timed qualifying. Ed quickly whittled his lap times down, but a fault with his kart’s electronic transponder saw him officially record only the 14th-fastest time - whilst his team had him in the top five on their stopwatches.
Undaunted, the Brands of Watford-backed teenager simply picked his way through the traffic from the seventh row of the grid to finish in 7th place in each of his two preliminary heats, earning 9th spot on the grid for Sunday’s pre-final.
Again, the highly-rated ACR Birel driver took the chequered flag in 7th place, scoring yet more vital championship points whilst some of his title rivals finished behind him.
In a somewhat bad-tempered, incident-filled main final Ed kept his cool and opted to go for a safe points finish, rather than become embroiled in an unnecessary battle and risk a crash. His strategy paid off and he duly took 6th place and moved within touching distance of the championship leaders – and is now 4th overall.
“I had a problem with my brake,” Ed revealed after the race. “As the race progressed I could feel the pedal going softer and softer. There was also quite a bit of crashing and bashing and I didn’t want to pick up a penalty if I couldn’t stop in time and be accused of dirty driving. All told, 6th was a decent result - and with four more points-scoring opportunities in the remaining two rounds, I’m in with a shout of winning the championship. That would be a terrific achievement in my first year as a senior driver.”
This weekend, Ed transfers his focus away from lifting the Super 1 crown and concentrates on winning the annual Kart Masters event, otherwise known as ’the British Grand Prix of karting.’
He says, “It’s a big event, and as a result attracts the best drivers from home and abroad. The ‘winner takes all’ format often produces amazing racing and some pretty desperate stuff too, hence why it is also called ‘Crash Masters’ by a lot of the drivers. Winning it carries a lot of prestige, as the champion is awarded a ‘GP’ number plate that they carry on their kart for the following twelve months. I’ll be doing all I can to put it on my kart.”
The action starts at 3:45pm today (30 July) with timed qualifying. The heats take place on Saturday before Sunday’s all-important finals.
Brilliant Brand takes maiden victory in Europe
Ed became the third driver in three races to stand on the top step of the Euro Max Challenge podium after winning last weekend’s (17/18 July) latest round at the appropriately named Speedworld circuit at Bruck, near Vienna.
At just 15-years old, he is also the youngest, and has now propelled himself into title contention with just one race to go.
Racing with the Hungarian Kalman Motorsport team, Ed began his weekend brightly by recording the 3rd-fastest lap (out of 72 competitors) during timed qualifying. From there, he won two of his three preliminary heats and was 2nd in the other – giving him pole position for the first of Sunday’s two finals.
In a tense race, Ed was able to maintain the upper hand over Holland’s Joey Van Splunteren, beating him to the chequered flag by barely two tenths of a second.
In the main final, he again led the field away from P1 on the grid, and having shaken off the early attentions of Van Splunteren, was able to pull away and seal a historic double – crossing the finishing line with daylight between him and his pursuers.
“I’m delighted to win in my first year in the senior category,” Ed said. “The level of opposition is very high and the racing incredibly hard, especially in the hot conditions (it was 40 degrees in the shade).
It is also testimony to the hard work of my team that they could give me a kart capable of winning after my crash on Thursday. During testing something went wrong and the kart went straight over the gravel trap and smashed into the safety barrier. I went in so hard I actually broke the barrier. I also scratched the paintwork on my new Arai crash helmet, so I was a bit miffed.”
With just one round remaining, Ed is hoping to be able to finish inside the top three of the championship and thus qualify for November’s World Finals, held this year at Muro Leccese in Puglia, Southern Italy.
In the interim, with barely any time to savour his Austrian success, he will now travel up to Lanarkshire to prepare for this weekend’s (24/25 July) fifth round of the British Super 1 championship. The following week he will contest the annual Kart Masters event, often referred to as the ‘British Grand Prix of Karting’ (30 July/1 August).
Ed returns to his roots and beats the best for Henry
On Monday (12 July) Ed pitted his skills against some of British motorsport’s finest talents – including former Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert - and with his team of fellow karting stars JKH Super 1, not only won but also helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Headway Charity.
The event also celebrated the life of Henry Surtees, who tragically lost his life in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch last year.
After an emotional welcome from Henry’s father John - famous for being the only man to win World Championships on two wheels and four - Ed and his team-mates won a thrilling and close-fought 2½ hour long endurance race in Formula TKM karts, a class in which he was British vice-champion in 2007.
The event proved to be an enjoyable and poignant sharpener for him ahead of this weekend’s (17/18 July) penultimate round of the Euro Max Challenge, held at the appropriately-named Speedworld circuit, near Vienna.
After the opening two races, Ed is currently sixth overall and just ten points off the top of the table. Another strong performance for the Dagnall teenager could propel him higher up the order and within sight of the series lead.
“I’m aiming for a top three finish,” Ed says. “It’s very much mathematically possible for me to win the title, albeit with just two races to go. That would be just fantastic, but I won’t be devastated if I don’t achieve it this year. This is my first season in the Senior Rotax Max category and it is very much a learning year for me.”
He added, “I’ve not raced at the track before, so I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what I can do. I’m top of the youngest drivers and if I can maintain that form at Speedworld, that’ll be almost as good as winning next Sunday (18 July).”
The event starts in earnest on Friday 16 with timed qualifying. The preliminary heats take place on Satuday, followed by Sunday’s all important finals.
Ed looks to repeat ’09 success in Kent this weekend
The prestigious and fiercely contested British Super 1 Rotax karting championship reaches it’s midpoint at the challenging Buckmore Park circuit this weekend (26/27 June), and Ed hopes it will also see him return to the podium.
This year, he launched his bid to become the youngest ever winner of the prestigious senior class with a stunning series of consecutive podiums; taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place finishes in the opening three races.
The 15-year old ACR Birel star is currently 5th overall in the points table, with a further four rounds to go. However, Ed confesses that, like many of his fellow racers, the Chatham track is not one of his favourites.
“It’s like Monaco - but without the houses, boats and money,” he says. “Buckmore is exciting and has virtually every type of corner you could wish for, but on the downside it is narrow and because of an elevation change on part of the circuit, you crest one corner flat out and blind. If a kart has a problem ahead of you, you won’t see it until you’ve hit it. The consequences wouldn’t be good.”
Crashes aren’t uncommon at the circuit that famously hosted the early careers of Jenson Button and his McLaren team-mate, Lewis Hamilton - but Ed is unfazed.
“People tend to talk up the negatives about Buckmore, but it was kind to me last year (he took back to back wins in the two Junior Rotax class finals). If it does the same to me this weekend, I won’t complain.”
The event starts on Friday (25 June) with free practice, followed by timed qualifying and the first of two heats on Saturday. The remaining heat and all important finals run on Sunday.
Ed eyes top five finish in Germany
Not even the resultant air travel chaos caused by the recent ash cloud could disrupt Ed’s positive mood after a successful preliminary test at the Wackersdorf circuit in southern Germany.
He coolly walked into a hotel, checked in with his dad’s credit card and settled down for the night.
“He only found the most expensive hotel he could find,” Mark Brand quipped after receiving the bill. “Thankfully it was close to the airport departures building, so he only had a short walk from the hotel the following morning rather have me pay for an expensive cab ride, which wouldn’t have been unusual!”
Prior to his enforced stopover in Vienna, Ed had spent two days preparing for this weekend’s second round of the Euro Max Challenge with the Hungarian Kalman Motorsport team.
He said “The test went well. There were some of the other drivers out there at the same time and I was pleased to be down the road from them. I’m quite upbeat about my chances.”
Although he has not raced at Wackersdorf before, Ed quickly learnt the lines and professed a liking for the Bavarian venue. “There are a lot of corners – some fast, some slow – which means you’ll be on the brakes a lot. This will encourage late-braking manoeuvres, which is an area I concentrated on while I was out there.”
He added, “It’ll be important to stay out of trouble. The corners will invite lunges and of course, if the weather forecast is correct, rain will make this even more ‘exciting’. Qualifying will be the key. I’ll need to be at the front of the grid because from the start, the long main straight means you go into the first corner flat-out and then into a tight right-hander. Everyone will be arriving at the same spot at a considerable speed and that means I’ll have to be careful, crashes will surely come from the midfield.”
Despite his concerns, Ed is clearly looking forward to his return.
“It’s an amazing place. For example, the team and I went to the circuit’s restaurant and couldn’t believe we were at a kart track. It was fantastic, nothing like English kart circuits that normally just have burger vans! Overall, it’s more like a mini Formula One™ track. It even has an indoor kart circuit, the biggest I’ve ever seen. They clearly love their karting in Germany.”
After a difficult opening round at Salbris, France in March he is currently 12th overall in the championship - but knows that a strong showing at Wackersdorf will propel him into possible title contention. “I’m feeling quite confident, but I won’t really know if I’m really on the pace until they put the transponders on the karts for Friday’s timed qualifying. A good performance in that will give me the opportunity to fight well inside the points – ideally inside the top five.”
The event gets underway on Wednesday 26 May with free practice. Timed qualifying will take place on Friday before the heats on Saturday and Sunday’s all important finals.
You can follow Ed’s fortunes by going to www.rgmmc.com and clicking on the ‘RGMMC Live Timing’ button.
Dastardly tactics turns Whilton Mill into wacky races
But Ed maintains title momentum despite crashes
Jenson Button’s tweet summing up his Barcelona Grand Prix experience neatly paralleled Ed’s own fortunes at Whilton Mill, near Daventry last Sunday (9 May); ‘The race last weekend was a little frustrating but hey that's the way it goes sometimes...’
The ACR Birel star was competing in the third round of the British Super 1 kart championships at the Northamptonshire track and had looked set to equal his performance in the opening round of Britain’s premier karting series with another victory.
Having recorded the 4th-fastest lap during Timed Qualifying, Ed was the class of the field in his two heats and secured pole position for the first of Sunday’s two championship points-scoring finals.
As the lights on the start gantry went from red to green, he got a perfect getaway and led the 30-strong pack across the line to complete the first lap. Despite coming under enormous pressure from his pursuers, Ed was able to hold onto his advantage for another twelve laps. A forceful move for the lead saw him pushed off the racing line, opening the door for five karts to come past. As he tried to re-gather his momentum, Ed was forced onto the grass at high-speed by another driver. He slipped further down the order, to 14th and eventually brought his kart home in 13th place.
As he walked back to his team’s awning afterwards, his face told of his obvious frustration and anger. However, he used this to great effect at the beginning of the main final.
Ed launched his kart forward, passing four karts in as many corners. A pulsating race began to develop, as crashes, bold lunges and some highly-questionable driving standards made for a gripping spectacle. “Anything can happen!” said the commentator - reminiscent of the announcer on the late ‘60’s cartoon ‘Wacky Races’ - as the action became increasingly unpredictable.
After being elbowed back from 7th to 11th, Ed was disputing 10th place when a crash curtailed his chances of a strong points-finish. Arriving at speed into the first part of a left-right flick known as the Boot, Ed scythed down the inside of fellow title-protagonist Dan Holland’s inside. The pair ran side by side as they entered the second part, the turn right for the corner’s exit. As the centrifugal force carried Brand’s kart wide, Holland held his line. They tangled, with Ed dramatically spearing across the front of Holland’s kart before crashing heavily into the barriers. Both were able to resume, albeit with Holland having to pit for a new nosecone and Brand unable to finish higher than 20th in the remaining laps.
“Dan turned in and that was it,” was how Ed explained what he felt was simply a racing incident. “We’ll talk about it before the next race and I’m sure it won’t be an issue between us. There was no malice on either part.”
He added, “I’m still 5th in the championship, which I’m amazed about. It means that all is very much still to play for.”
Ed’s next race is the second round of the Euro Max series, to be held at the Wackersdorf circuit in Germany on 26-30 May.
Thrown chain denies Ed a chance of podium
A rare mechanical failure denied Ed the chance of repeating his earlier podium finish in the second round of the British Super 1 Rotax kart championship, held at Rowrah, in Cumbria last weekend (17/18 April).
The ACR Birel driver had gone into the meeting heading the points table and looked set for another strong performance from the outset. In Saturday’s Timed Qualifying session, he recorded the second-equal fastest time and followed this promising start with third place in his first of two heats.
On Sunday, Ed won his second race to secure third place on the grid for the first of the day’s two points-scoring finals.
“I finished third, but felt it was a case of damage limitation rather than going for the win,” he reflected. “My kart was struggling for grip and sliding out of corners, rather than squatting down and going. I just couldn’t get it to release [out of the bends], so third was good!”
Moreover, at this juncture the Brands of Watford-backed driver had consolidated his championship lead, but the main final would see him become a spectator rather than a key protagonist in a thrilling race.
The Lakeland Stadium circuit is set in a former quarry and is a fabulous combination of fast straights, tight corners and vicious, high kerbs. The racing is, invariably, as dramatic as the scenery that surrounds it.
From the moment the lights went to green, the race became a “bunfight,” as Ed called it. “I went for an early move to try and take the lead, but clipped one of the kerbs too hard and the engine revs suddenly went sky. I knew the chain had come off and that was that. I parked the kart on the sidelines and watched the others have fun without me.”
With some of his nearest rivals also having varied fortunes – including his team-mate and reigning champion, Michael Simpson – Ed was able to make the journey back home, safe in the knowledge that he was still very much in the title race, now second overall.
“What happened with the chain wasn’t the end of the world. The next round is at Whilton Mill [8/9 May], which is practically my home track. So, with a little luck, I think I’ll be back at the front and hopefully, fighting for victories again.”
Ed down but not out in France
Ed refused to give up, despite a frustrating opening round of the Euro Max Challenge karting series, at Salbris, in central France last weekend (27/28 March).
He endured a challenging experience right from the outset, when in timed qualifying he found himself off the pace and down in 30th place overall.
From this already embattled position, he said that he could only “make the most of the situation and see from there” in the three heats. He took a brace of decent finishes (11th and 9th) but a 21st place in the last ensured that he would start the first of Sunday’s two championship points-scoring finals well down the order.
“I’m not making excuses, but I’m still getting used to the senior class and things like the grippier tyres and front brakes. It’s all still very new to me and I had to get my head round it and settle in with my new team in Europe, Kalman Motorsport,” he said - highlighting that this was only his second international race in the faster, senior category.
A solid drive through the traffic saw Ed take 14th place and 21 points - 13 down on the race-winner’s haul.
“It wasn’t ideal, but it was better than nothing - and it meant that I would start much nearer to the front for the main final.”
However, unable to avoid a crash at the start, he fell to last place and was forced to throw caution to the wind.
“My back was against the wall and with double points available, I knew that I needed to attack in order to limit the damage to my championship chances,” he explained.
Ed fought his way past 16 karts to 18th place but another coming-together dropped him back down the order.
“I had to do it all over again and crossed the line exactly where I’d started (in 14th spot). For the spectators and people watching the race live on the internet it must have made for an exciting spectacle,” he observed wryly. “I just wanted to show the Kalman guys that I never give up. It was a little frustrating because I won the opening race of the British season just 7 days before and in France we were on the back foot. But that’s racing. There’s not a great deal to shout about unfortunately but we have points on the board.”
His next race (17/18 April at Rowrah, near Frizington, Cumbria) is the second round of the British Super One series, which he currently co-leads with his ACR Birel team-mate and reigning champion, Michael Simpson.
Ed takes first blood
Ed made a dream start to his British Super 1 kart championship campaign by winning the first race of the season - and then followed it up with a fine runner-up spot in the second.
If he was suffering from any nerves about working with an unfamiliar team - on a kart he was still learning about and having the reigning champion as his team-mate - he didn’t let them show.
In tricky, wet conditions on Saturday (20 March), the new ACR Birel signing was fourth-fastest in timed qualifying.
From this promising start, Ed comfortably won his first heat and took third in the return encounter to see him in pole position for the first of Sunday’s two points-scoring finals.
“To take the P1 position on my debut with my new team and having just made the step up from the junior to senior ranks was just fantastic, but it was far from ‘job done’,” he said before the start of the first final.
With twenty nine of Britain’s fastest and most talented drivers swarming all over him, Ed was initially pushed wide and lost the advantage. Finding himself down to fourth place, he staged an immediate fightback. Making short work of the drivers ahead of him, he found himself in second place and harrying the leader. He pounced under braking for a tight hairpin and from there was able to take a commanding victory.
With little time to celebrate, Ed was back on the grid lining up for the second final.
A magnificent start saw him hold onto his advantage to lead the field across the start/finish line and with drama and crashes behind him, Ed looked to be holding all the aces.
Until his Birel team-mate, Michael Simpson finally cleared the traffic and began hunting him down.
Simpson caught Ed and passed him with an incisive manoeuvre. As the pair ran in line astern, he probed and pressed for a way past, but had to settle for second best rather than risk a collision.
“World-class guys like Simmo rarely make mistakes,” he observed with a smile afterwards. “I tried everything I could to force one but Mike had everything covered, and I didn’t want to commit the cardinal sin of crashing into him and letting another driver win. It’s great that we’re both new leading the championship and with a long way to go (six further rounds) there’ll be plenty more chances for me to beat him!”
This weekend sees Ed back in action, in the opening round of the Euro Max Challenge at Salbris in France. You can follow his progress and watch Sunday’s finals live by clicking on www.rgmmc.com
Brand rewards ACR Birel’s faith with instant silverware
Ed Brand rewarded the faith of his new team with a podium finish on his debut at PFi last Sunday (8 March).
In preparation for the forthcoming opening round of the British Super 1 Rotax series, the reigning Junior Max champion was competing in a club meeting at the Lincolnshire circuit - which had also attracted the main protagonists for this year’s championship.
Ed opened with a strong fifth place in his opening heat, before winning the second in convincing fashion.
This gave him a front-row grid position for the main final. As the pack pushed and jostled Ed and his team-mate Michael Simpson wide at the start, he dropped to fifth, but kept his head and began to work his way back up the order. On lap 7, he made his decisive move for second place. A brave attempt to catch the leader saw him bring the gap down to just eight tenths of a second, but he simply ran out of time to mount a challenge for the win.
Nevertheless Ed and his new team were delighted: “Considering that I’m still learning about the kart, I’m really pleased to give the Birel RY30 S2 chassis and Andy Cox Racing a podium on my first time out. With Michael (Simpson) in third, it shows that we’re going to be a potent force in this year’s title race.”
Looking ahead to the Super 1 series opener in a fortnight, Ed said: “PFi is one of the toughest circuits on the calendar to come to because everyone races and tests here and therefore has their set-ups already dialed in. Having raced a different kart last year, I’ve basically got to re-learn everything”.
He added: “Also, I’ve only done a handful of senior races and I’m going up against far more experienced guys, so to leave with a trophy is a big confidence boost.”
The British Super 1 season commences on 20/21 March.
Ed signs for 'Ferrari of Karting'
Ed has signed a deal with one of the most iconic marques in karting - Birel Spa - just a fortnight before the British championship kicks off.
The deal came about after the UK importers of the Italian-made karts quite literally made him ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse.’
Ed explains: “In karting terms, Birel is like Ferrari – a legendary name in the sport. When they approached me and explained the deal, I couldn’t really say ‘no’. The kart looks amazing and it’s a great opportunity for me to work with one of the greatest names in the sport.”
Having recently graduated to the senior ranks, Ed will join reigning British Super 1 champion Michael Simpson, and he’s is clearly looking forward to the challenge.
“Simmo’s the yardstick. He’s arguably the top driver in Rotax Max and together we’ll both be in a team that has an excellent heritage and structure. As team-mates we’ll be working hard to develop the Birel into the very best package on the grid, and hopefully it’ll be Mike and I fighting it out for race victories and ultimately, the title.”
Last Saturday, Ed tested the Birel for the first time at PFi in Lincolnshire, and was instantly on the pace. He will make his race debut with his new team, Andy Cox Racing this coming weekend (6/7/ March) at the same circuit.
His new team boss, Andy Cox says: “I am delighted to have signed Ed. He’s a fantastic addition to the team and will make a very strong pairing with Michael (Simpson). To have two current Super One champions in our team for 2010 is awesome. It’s Ed's first year in seniors, but from what I have seen already he is without doubt championship-winning material.”For his Euro Max campaign, Ed will benefit from the newly forged collaboration between ACR and the official Birel team for that series, Kalman Motorsport (KMS) run by Peter Kalman. Ed will commence his bid to win the European title with KMS at Salbris later this month (24-28 March).
For more information on Birel and the RY30 S2 chassis with which Ed will bid for glory, visit www.acrbirel.com.
Ed in bullish mood for Spain
Ed makes his European senior debut this weekend (13/14 February) at the Rotax Winter Cup and is looking to make history by taking back-to back victories.
With barely any time to unpack his suitcase or catch up on his homework after his recent trips to Japan and PFi, he is heading off to southern Spain to compete in the second Rotax Winter Cup.
As a junior, Ed won last year’s inaugural event held at the Campillos circuit in Andalucia. This time, he will take on Europe’s best drivers in the senior class.
However, he is confident that, after his strong showing in the Japanese Winter Cup (30/31 January) he will be able to mix it, literally, with the big boys.
“I know I’m only 15 and will be up against older and far more experienced opposition but I learned a lot in Japan and consequently, I’m confident that I’ll be able to run at the front in Spain. The Japanese style of racing was very fast and unpredictable. The European style is a little calmer and you usually find that a handful of drivers will be your main opposition throughout the weekend. In Japan, everyone’s fast, so the passing manoeuvres came from everywhere – front, middle and back!”
If Ed does succeed in making it onto the Campillos podium, he will almost certainly seal a burgeoning reputation as one of the most exciting talents of his generation. He has already begun to attract the attentions of leading lights in the motorsport world and Italian racewear firm, Freeminds recently signed his as one of their Official Drivers.
Managing Director of the company’s British arm, Freem UK, Jonathan Walker says: “Ed’s a very exciting prospect. His results over the past three years have marked him as an exceptional talent. He will become a Freem UK ambassador and we’re looking forward to working with him as he progresses through his career – from karts to cars.”
Ed says: “It’s a big honour to be recognised in this way. I will be one of a just a handful of Official Freeminds Drivers and am very much looking forward to representing such a great brand and rewarding them for giving me this opportunity.”
The event gets underway on Wednesday (10/2/2010) with free practice. Timed qualifying will take place on Friday before the heats on Saturday and Sunday’s all important finals.
You can follow Ed’s fortunes by going to www.rgmmc.com and clicking on the ‘RGMMC Live Timing’ button.
freem UK signs Ed
Using their positioning statement of ‘speed with style’ as the basis for their search for ambassadors, the British arm of the renowned Italian racewear firm Freeminds, has chosen Ed to represent them in both domestic and international competition.
After last season’s unique ‘one, two, three’, in which Ed won the British Super 1 Junior Max championship, was Euro Max vice-champion and finished third in the World Finals, Freem UK moved to sign a long-term partnership with him.
Freem UK’s Managing Director Jonathan Walker says, “Ed’s a very exciting prospect. His results over the past three years have marked him as an exceptional talent. In 2007, he was the youngest driver in the Junior TKM category and he came second in the British championship. The following season, looking for a new challenge he switched to the Junior Rotax class and, at his first attempt, came second in one of the hardest fought categories in UK karting. Last year’s results further highlight his ability and long-term potential. ”
He added, “Freeminds has a history of working with carefully chosen individuals, such as Nyck De Vries, and now we’re bringing that mindset to the UK franchise. Ed will become a Freem UK ambassador and we’re looking forward to working with him as he progresses through his career – from karts to cars.”
Ed says: “It’s a big honour to be recognised in this way. I will be one of a just a handful of Official Freeminds Drivers. Freeminds’ products are known around the world for their quality, style and comfort. I am very much looking forward to representing such a great brand and rewarding Jonathan and Giuseppe Andretto [Freeminds’ Export Manager] for giving me this opportunity.”
Ed will now compete in a bespoke Freeminds racesuit and will wear the superb Spidertouch gloves and Speed Star 2 race boots; all highly rated for their comfort, durability and feel.
For more information about the complete Freeminds range, please visit www.freemuk.com. For a brochure, call 01254 779 907/ 07887 835 235 or e-mail email@example.com
Freem UK is also on Facebook.
Ed impresses in Japan
Ed went all the way to Japan to make his senior karting debut and justified the price of his air ticket alone with a stunning performance.
He was taking part in the annual Japanese Rotax Winter Cup courtesy of HRS Racing Engines’ agent, Ryota and his performance at the New Tokyo circuit - actually located in the city of Ichihara – made him something of a celebrity.
Showing the talent that has earned him the backing of Italian kart giants, CRG, Ed quickly learned the tight, short circuit during practice and found himself second fastest driver(out of 34).
Comparing the standard of the local competition with that in Europe, he said: “[The Japanese drivers] were all fast, unlike in Europe. In the Euro Max series, you normally have ten drivers who are fast and the rest are slightly slower. In Japan, you just couldn’t work out who was likely to be your main opposition because they were all so quick!”
The style of racing was also an experience for the reigning British Super 1 Junior Max champion, European vice-Champion and World number three.
“It was really, really good racing but very different. They’re a lot crazier. They go for a lunge [to pass] from up to five kart lengths back, which produced a lot of crashes.”
Perhaps inevitably, Ed was caught up in accidents in his two heats: “In the first race someone just drove over the top of me and bent my chassis and in the second, I was crashed into again. It was a bit like dodgems. I managed to qualify for the main final though, which I was pleased about – albeit near the back.”
British and European kart races are notable for their almost guaranteed first corner melees but ironically, this was not the case at New Tokyo. However, as the races found their rhythm, Ed noted that the racing became fierce.
“At home, if someone is quicker than you, you let them past and then try to follow them and work your way together through the traffic. At Ichihara, if you passed a driver he’d get really angry and immediately try to take the place back. The last laps were phenomenal.”
Starting from 26th on the grid, Ed stormed up the order to finish in a fine seventh place and was pleased with his performance: “The competition was so strong. It was a great learning experience. I’d say that was a tougher race than what you’d normally find in England.”
A self-confessed “gammon, egg and chips stalwart,” he had been nervous about encountering Japanese cuisine but found the circuit’s catering surprisingly to his liking: “It was different to say the least. Lunch was a hamburger, curry sauce and rice. It was nice though.”
Ed also attracted a following amongst the Japanese drivers and fans, as he explains: “I had a group of about eight kids who would follow me around, taking photos and then walk onto the grid with me before my races. They have a real passion for the sport and everywhere I went, I was made really welcome. It was a really great experience and I’d definitely do it again.”
Ed’s next race will be the Euro Max Winter Cup (10-14 February), held at Campillos in southern Spain.
Can Ed make it big in Japan
Ed will make his senior debut in the Far East this weekend (30/31 January).
He had been looking forward to a modest graduation to the senior karting ranks by competing in a club race in Lincolnshire this coming weekend. But after a superb performance at the World Finals in Egypt last month (December 2009), he is now heading to the New Tokyo circuit in Japan.
Explaining how the deal came about, Ed explains "It was pretty much based on a chance remark made while I was over at Sharm El Sheikh. The father of Ukyo Sasahara [the Japanese teenager who won the Junior Rotax World Final] said 'Oh, you'll have to come out and race!' and I said, 'I'd love to,' and the next thing I knew, it had all been arranged."
Although he is widely travelled, as the European vice-Champion and World number three, this weekend also marks Ed’s first trip to the Far East.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he says. “Naturally, I expect the local drivers to be very quick. Ukyo was in Egypt, but it’s a long way for me to go just to make up the numbers. Also, the Japanese scene is beginning to attract a lot of drivers from across Asia and Europe, which all adds to the quality of the competition.”
Furthermore, Ed will be making his senior bow on a circuit he has never seen before and against he has no prior knowledge of.
There is also one factor that Ed admits is playing on his mind. The food.
“Ed’s a real gammon, egg and chips stalwart,” dad Mark confides. “We’ve only just got him onto Indian food. I think his hosts will struggle to get him on to the sushi, and he definitely won’t be trying the fugu [pufferfish, one of Japan’s most notorious and potentially fatal delicacies].”
Just in case he can’t adapt to the local cuisine, Mark says that Ed has already packed nearly a week’s worth of crunchy granola bars into his suitcase.
The HRS Motorsport driver will have his first taste of the New Tokyo track (actually located at the city of Ichihara in the Chiba province) on Friday during free practice, before the heats commence on Saturday. The finals will then take place on Sunday.
Ed Acknowledged as one of Britain’s Best
Motorsport News ranks him in top ten of stars
In its influential annual season review, Motorsport News (MN) has highlighted Ed as one of the best drivers in the UK. The highly respected weekly newspaper dedicated to all forms of motor racing said “Barely a weekend went by where Brand wasn’t fighting for a top three finish.”
Paying further tribute to his talent, the ‘Voice of British Motorsport’ added, “He shone by taking four early season wins in Super One [the national championship] and grabbing the title by the scruff of the neck.”
The comments appeared to reflect the achievements of newly-crowned F1 World Champion, Jenson Button - who himself won two junior Super One titles in the early 1990s.
After winning the British Junior Max title and becoming the Euro Max vice-champion, Ed is now graduating to the Senior Max category (using faster 125cc Rotax engines, capable of over 80mph) and will compete against drivers who, in the majority of cases, are older and more experienced.
He’s clearly looking forward to the challenge, saying “There’s been quite a lot of banter already, via emails and on the internet. It’s all been good-humoured so far and I hope that continues. Some of the established superstars are trying to wind me up, which I suppose is a sign that they at least expect me to be fast!
“Stepping up to the Senior category will be far from easy. It’s the toughest class with a lot of quality drivers in it. Some of the on-track battles can be fierce, but I’m really looking forward to it all. I’m going to be pitting myself against the very best drivers, so my plan is to keep my head down, learn as quickly as I can and hopefully, whenever and wherever the opportunities present themselves, beat them.”
Ed’s first major race of the season will be the Rotax Winter Cup, held at the fabulous Campillos circuit, near Malaga, Spain (10-14 February).
It is only the second time the fledgling race has run and last year, he drove into the record books as the Junior category’s inaugural champion. If he triumphs again, the HRS Motorsport star will further make history as the first driver to win the event in different classes.
Click here to view the Motorsport News feature, PDF Courtesy of Motorsport News