South Africa’s hottest racing export right now, Andrew Rackstraw showed that the future is very bright as he made his international racing debut at the Knockhill circuit in Scotland over the weekend.
This past Sunday, Andrew Rackstraw got his first taste of international racing. The 20 year old South African from Cape Town, flew over to Scotland, last Wednesday, where he began a new adventure in his so far exciting racing career.
The 2021 Investchem Formula 1600 champion, who now resides in the Global Touring Car paddock and pilots an Audi S3, was very excited to make his International debut in The British Racing and Sports Car Club, Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 2022 Championship.
The popular and competitive series made its second stop on the calendar in Scotland at the magnificent Knockhill circuit in Fife.
The 2.0389km circuit opened for racing back in 1975 and has been host to some amazing racing events over the years. With wicked undulations, high-speed bends and a fair dose of required kerb usage, it is truly a racing driver’s circuit.
The National Formula Fords see their lap times dip in the high 53-second range while the average lap time sits around a low to mid 54 second time. The 8 corner circuit was used in its clockwise direction format for the weekend. To put the speed factor into perspective, drivers carry an average speed of around 135kph around the short circuit.
Adding to the high speeds, the track is deceptive in nature making the challenge that much harder for Rackstraw, who only had 6 practice sessions before diving straight into qualifying.
It didn’t take long for the talented youngster to settle in and by the end of Practice 2, he was right up at the sharp end with a 54.547 lap time.
“My first international race was a complete baptism of fire. I drove a Formula Ford Kent car for the first time, on a new compound tyre that I have never raced on, plus I had to learn a new track which was rated as one of the most radical tracks in England. What a weekend! On top of this, the conditions were very cold with temperatures between -2 and 3 degrees.”
Qualifying and 2 Action Packed Races
All things considered a P6 in qualifying and ending 5 tenths off the sharp end in a new car, on an unknown tyre compound, new track and freezing cold conditions is a highly applaudable result, especially considering the competitiveness of the field with some of the best single-seater drivers the UK has to offer at National Ford level.
With 14 drivers behind him and only 5 ahead, it was definitely a good place to start your first ever international race. Unfortunately, race 1 came to an abrupt end on only lap 1.
After flying nearly 14 000 kilometres, you never want to exit a race so fast, but an over-zelous move from the driver behind sent Rackstraw farming into the gravel trap where the car would remain for the rest of the race.
“Unfortunately on the first lap I got taken out which resulted in me having to retire the car. This meant I had to start last in race 2.”
The team did a fantastic job to get the car back into racing shape and by race 2 Rackstraw was ready to make the most of his last chance to impress. Starting in P20, Rackstraw got off the line well and showed his class as he worked his way through the field. He pulled off a string of top drawer overtakes as he fought his way through to a fantastic P6 finish. His best lap was also only 4 tenths off the fastest lap of the race, marking an incredible result from South Africa’s freshest international racing export.
“I started P20 and managed to fight my way up to P6, showing great pace, matching the top drivers. Looking back at this race I must admit, it was probably one of my best races ever.”
Returning home with a smile
“It was a huge learning experience with a lot to absorb all very quickly. It was a privilege to race against the best the UK has to offer in a highly competitive series. I had to qualify after just a few sessions in the car and with only 1 clean run with no red flags. It was intense but I managed to put the Kevin Mills race car in sixth position out of 20 cars on the grid. For my first time, I was very happy with that result, as I knew I had more to give in the race as I got more seat time. This weekend was an amazing learning curve, we have put down many building blocks to be faster and more confident so I look forward to coming back and racing in Snetterton in July. I will also be back in the car for the Walter Hayes festival in November. Hopefully, by then we will be racing for some podiums.”
“I want to say a huge thanks firstly to Ian Schofield and my family who have given me this incredible opportunity, as well as Kevin Mills racing for letting me join their amazing team. A huge thanks also has to go to Claudio and RDSA for all the coaching and driver training and mentoring me on this trip. And finally to all my sponsors, Investchem, Sparco, Ravenol, Racebook, RDSA, Simgrid and Crossley & Webb.”
Catch Andrew Rackstraw next in action as he returns home for Round 2 of the Extreme Festival where he will be back behind the wheel of his GTC Audi S3 at Zwartkops Raceway on the 23rd of April.
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