WHILE Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was winning the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, would-be F1 champion William Tregurtha was tightening his helmet at Whilton Mill.
The 12-year-old karting ace is plying his trade in the fast and furious world of the Minimax class, reaching speeds of up to 75 mph against youngsters up to the age of 15.
But being tall for his age, the Shenley Brook End racer is at a disadvantage against some of the smaller and lighter competitors in his class, and is having to step up a division next year to Junior Max to battle drivers up to 17-years-old.
Despite being one of the youngest out on track in the Minimax class and only competing in selected events rather than the entire championship, William has had a number of top 10 finishes, coming 27th out of 39 overall.
Tregurtha races for the Intrepid team – managed by former world champion Benjy Russell. The team is kitted out with a full motorhome, complete with living quarters for the young drivers, as well as employing a mechanic for each kart they race over a weekend – not just a lad and dad combo working out of a car boot.
However, the frightening level of professionalism, even at the ‘relaxed’ Whilton Mill event, was nothing out of the ordinary for Tregurtha who went about maintaining his kart in the giant Intrepid team-branded gazebo.
His onboard computer registered his last three laps around the circuit, near Daventry, separated by just three tenths of a second, but even that was too inconsistent for his bosses.
At the bigger events, William also has access to telemetry readings and video footage of his race laps to help improve his lines and whittle his times down by hundredths.
It’s not a cheap hobby though, but while mum Jo reminds him that he is racing in what could have been her kitchen extension, his potential career is being given the family’s full backing.
Dad Craig said: “You’ve got to be clever with what you spend, because every part you buy can make you a little bit quicker. It’s a case of getting the bits that make a real difference.
“If you wanted, you could easily go out and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on making the kart faster, new engines for every event, new tyres every time you go out.
“Since we started properly in the sport three years ago we have seen too many children give up because they’ve been put under far too much pressure to succeed by their parents. I would hate anything to take away his love of racing.”
Tregurtha is in a fortunate position though, backed by Cranfield University as part of a post-graduate motorsport programme developing race engineers and designers, which helps give him extra time in the kart and help setting it up precisely. And the hope is that all this experience will help him to reach his ultimate goal.
About 15 minutes before his final began at Whilton Mill, William went to prepare – putting on his wetsuit as the rain continued to fall, locking himself away in his helmet before the start of the race.
In 10 years time, maybe he too could be crossing the line to win the Indian Grand Prix.
Watch on-board footage from William’s kart at the Shenington circuit Super One Heat One