The annual Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ (SGMW) charity Karting Grand Prix returned for 2023 as a tribute to long-standing member Sue Baker.
Sue, who was a pioneering force in motoring journalism, a long-standing SGMW member and former chairman, passed away in November 2022 after bravely battling Motor Neurone Disease.
To celebrate Sue’s contribution to the world of motoring and the SGMW, members agreed that this year’s annual karting event would take place in her honour, renaming it the SGMW Sue Baker Memorial Karting Grand Prix with the Motor Neurone Disease Association as its nominated charity.
Fifteen teams entered – with last year’s winners Gazoo Racing competing against BMW, Genesis, Honda, Ineos/PFPR, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Newspress/Loop, Nobull, Porsche, SMMT, Toyota, Volkswagen – along with the Southern group team entry, Volvo by SGMW.
From the moment the lights went out, every one of the teams dug deep with some very committed racing.
The early pacesetter was the Porsche team, trailed by SGMW by Volvo in second and Gazoo Racing in third. In the early stages, the SGMW’s own Sean Ward set the pace with a fastest lap time of 49.868 seconds.
After nearly 50 laps, Nobull had broken into the top three only a couple of seconds behind SGMW by Volvo by SGMW in second place, while the Porsche team was showing strong pace in first place, quickly establishing a lead of nearly 12 seconds.
Soon after, Nobull battled into first place – with Porsche, Gazoo Racing and SGMW by Volvo regularly swapping places to make up the top four – with all showing strong pace to separate themselves from the rest of the field.
By the end of the two-and-a-half-hour race though, the Porsche team claimed victory with a brilliant fightback to complete 161 laps by the chequered flag and take the coveted SGMW Karting GP Trophy.
In second place, Gazoo Racing finished only 14.3 seconds behind the winner. It completed the same number of laps, while the Volvo by SGMW team took a well-deserved third place completing 159 laps.
All of the top three teams set the pace throughout the race with only a few tenths of a second separating them for the quickest lap of the day.
Overall winners Porsche recorded a time of 47.989 seconds, with second place Gazoo Racing just ahead with a time of 47.704.
Both were denied the bragging rights by SGMW by Volvo driver Sean Ward, who set the fastest lap of the day with a time of 47.648 seconds in the final stint of the race.
The race finished with SGMW treasurer Chris Manning handing over a cheque for £4,850 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).
SGMW chairman Ian Robertson said: “A huge thank you to everyone who was involved in organising the karting event.
“But, more importantly, thanks so much to everyone that supports the event, donates the money, participates in racing and who helped us to raise a whopping £4,850 for Motor Neurone Disease in memory of our dear friend and colleague, Sue Baker.
“Since we started the annual charity karting event, we have now raised more than £30,000. It’s thanks to our colleagues in the industry that this has been made possible.
“As chairman of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
The top picture shows Stuart Bird, a leading light of the SGMW karting organising team, and Sarah Armstrong, MND Association south east regional fund-raiser, with the £4,850 cheque and other SGMW members.
To learn more about the MNDA’s fantastic work visit www.mndassociation.org