Benwick karting champion Vinnie Phillips defeats hundreds at annual SKUSA Super Nationals in Las Vegas
- Credit: Archant
A nine-year-old Benwick boy defeated 506 other competitors from 40 countries to win a go-karting championship in Las Vegas.
Vinnie Phillips, who goes to Benwick Primary School, won the annual SKUSA Super Nationals at the weekend.
His dad Chris said: “It’s the first year Vinnie has been old enough to compete and he’s gone and won it.
“It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen him drive so well.”
Billed as the race of the year, and now in its 21st year, the five-day competition involved six classes and saw Vinnie compete in the Micro Swift category for driver between seven and 11-years-old.
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Chris added: “For my brother and I, football has always been our life. He played for Arsenal and I work there. Vinnie just didn’t take to football, though. But he’s definitely inherited our drive to win.
“Starting the season at eight was a steep learning curve racing against older more experienced drivers.
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“Turning nine in June and growing in confidence, Vinnie’s results started to improve and saw him finish regularly inside the top 10.
“The Vegas race was an opportunity to develop Vinnie’s race craft and technical ability.”
Benwick Primary school headteacher Jackie North has been “extremely supportive”, Chris said, having given Vinnie a leave of absence in order to compete.
Chris added: “In America the karts are a different specification to those which Vinnie had become used to in the UK, bigger and faster.
“Vinnie had just two days to get used to the new kart and track before the timed qualifying races. And with the finals race being broadcast on CBS sports network and the Super Nationals Facebook page, the pressure was on…
In his post-race interview, Vinnie thanked his dad for taking him to Las Vegas for the race and Fusion’s Dan Hazlewood (team principle), Neil Doran (data analysis) and Reece Wade (mechanic) for all their hard work during the week.
“A great first year of racing draws to an end in the best possible way,” his dad added. “Lets see what 2018 brings!”
Vinnie currently drives for Fusion Motorsport and is the youngest of only 16 drivers on the Red Bull Young Racing Drivers Academy.
This season saw Vinnie debut in the Super 1 British Championship IAME cadet category for eight to 13-year-olds. He finished 15th out of 46 entrants.
For updates on Vinnie’s progress search Vinnie Phillips 87 on Facebook.
RACE REPORT by Chris Phillips
Starting ninth in his first ever international event, a top 10 finish would have been a more than acceptable return. But as the lights went green, something clicked and a determined driver was behind the wheel.
Making up four places on the opening lap of 12, Vinnie had put himself in contention for the title. Lap after lap, Vinnie closed in on the next opponent and went straight past them showing no hesitation.
With two laps to go, Vinnie had caught the leader and the move was made to take the lead. The Brazilian was in no mood to make Vinnie’s life easy and managed to stay with him, and re-took the lead as they crossed the line for the final lap.
Intelligence and race craft beyond the years of a nine-year-old driver was now required. He would have one chance to make his move; it had to be timed just right to carry the momentum and to ensure his opponent didn’t have time to respond. With three corners to go on the final lap, now was that time, the move was executed. A perfect final two corners gave Vinnie the victory by 0.28 seconds and the title of Super National Champion 2017.