Thursday, July 25, 2024
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    ST PATRICK’S Grammar School pupil Rory Armstrong says his victory at the Rotax Karting World Finals on Saturday “hasn’t fully sunk in yet.”

    The 12-year-old triumphed over 72 competitors at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit as he was crowned the 2023 Rotax World Champion in the Mini-Max race class. “I was starting in ninth place on the grid, so I knew anyone could win it on the day, it was a big fight at the front for the whole race. “I’ve been training hard all year, so it feels brilliant, I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet,” Rory said. Rory was representing Team UK in Bahrain as part of Sheffield-based Strawberry Racing, one of the biggest karting outfits in Europe, with current F1 driver Zhou Guanyu amongst their former members. He qualified for the Bahrain Finals after finishing second in the Mini-Max class at the Belgian Championship earlier in the season.

    Having started his karting journey at just six years of age, progressing into the national circuit in 2020, Rory was crowned the Northern Ireland Champion, Ulster Champion and the Northwest Champion in his class that year. Races on English tracks followed in 2021, winning the Micro-Max Ultimate Karting Championship and finishing the year as the MicroMax UK Vice Champion before Rory moved into European-level karting, qualifying second at the Winter Cup in Spain and finishing sixth overall in the 2022 Rotax MiniMax Euro Trophy standings. Rory signed with the Strawberry Racing team ahead of the 2023 campaign and prepared for the World Finals by winning the Irish GP Plate and finishing as runner-up in the BNL Karting Series.

    Proud dad Andrew, who raced karts himself when he was younger and acts as Rory’s mechanic, was there to witness the momentous win and joined his son on the podium in Bahrain. “To be there doing it with him and share that moment with him, it was special,” Andrew said. The Red High Year 8 student was recently called to the Carlin Motorsport Factory in England to take part in a computerised simulation test and a fitness evaluation for a Formula 4 drive.

    Formula 4 is the first step into openwheel racing and is the starting point for drivers who want make it onto the Formula One circuit. Not resting on his laurels, Rory is already looking ahead to the start of the new season in February, when he will move up to the Junior karting class for the first race of 2024 in Campillos, Spain. “I have two years left in the Junior class and after that hopefully I can move on to the single seaters and into F4, that would be the dream.”

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