In what was the biggest race of his career to date, Olli Caldwell finished 8th at last weekend’s Rotax Max World Finals and with it took the fastest lap and smashed the circuit lap record!
Last week the Sarno circuit in Italy hosted what is described by most as the ‘biggest kart race in the World’, 360 drivers from 59 different countries had qualified for the event to battle it out for World glory. Olli would be racing in the Junior class which contained 72 of the best racers in the World. Olli wouldn’t just be racing for himself, but also Team Great Britain along with 11 other compatriots throughout all the classes.
Due to the large number of drivers each driver only got five practice sessions each over the first three days before it was straight into qualifying.
Despite some struggles in practice Olli had a great qualifying finishing 12th overall and was the highest placed Brit. This meant he would start all of his heats from 6th place and he was also chosen to carry the official onboard camera for the live stream!
Olli got off to a solid start in heat one with 7th place and second fastest lap. He got pushed back at the start so to recover to 7th was a good result! The conditions took a turn for heat two meaning staying out of trouble was going to be even more difficult. But Olli was able to do just that and finish in 7th place once again, it’s fair to say at this point things were very much going to plan!
In terms of the heats Olli saved the best to last, he drove brilliantly to get himself in a battle for 2nd which went all the way to the last lap. In 3rd at the time, Olli found himself slightly delayed on the exit to one of the hairpins on the last lap and lost 3rd place, but to finish the heats with a 4th and second fastest lap was very satisfactory indeed! Now all that was left was to wait for the grids for the Pre Final.
Olli qualified 3rd for Pre Final A, to make the Final all he had to do was finish in the top 17, but from row two a win was starting to look possible. On arrival to the grid the heavens opened with a short rain shower passing over. The dummy grid was chaos with everyone trying to decide what tyres to go on, Olli was one of 33 drivers to go for slicks with three drivers gambling for wets.
Olli made a great start to the race, perhaps his best of the weekend, and got straight into the lead only to be pushed wide at turn two dropping him to 6th. That was where he ran for lap two before torrential rain came down. The track quickly turned into a river and the three drivers on wets had been thrown a lifeline and unsurprisingly finished in the first three places. For Olli and everyone else it was just about staying on the track, he did that successfully and finished 7th meaning he would start the World Final from 13th place.
Imagine the pressure, 17 laps ahead if you win you are World Champion! Starting 13th Olli made a decent start making a position or two, but the rest of his first lap was an absolute disaster! He got hit off three times and dropped all the way down to 22nd. Clearly fired up, Olli then drove one of the races of his life as he charged back through to finish 8th place and not only set the fastest lap, but break a new lap record! Given the circumstances that is a remarkable achievement, it of course left Olli thinking what could have been, but that’s what 71 drivers always leave thinking with one the World Champion.
Olli did himself very proud at Sarno. To make 14 places and break a new lap record is astonishing, we are talking about 14 drivers who are champions in their respected countries not just any old racers. To be ranked 8th in the World despite doing just a handful of kart races this year is unheard of.
Olli can now say he is ranked 3rd in Europe and 8th in the World! Oh and he’s the quickest Junior in the World at Sarno, ever….