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Stratford karter Lucas Blantford now on the right track after almost quitting motorsport





EVERY young racing driver faces adversity in one shape or another and in Lucas Blantford's case, there was a time where giving up on his dream of being involved in motorsport felt like the only option.

Lucas Blantford in action at Larkhall. Photo: kartpix.net
Lucas Blantford in action at Larkhall. Photo: kartpix.net

Indeed, at one point the Stratford karter did decide his time was up, but it was only when he looked back at how far he had come in the past year that there was no way he could give up now.

Still only 12, it's been an emotionally-charged past year for the youngster, but he's bounced back from those difficult days and has his eyes set on continuing his development in the Mini Max series under the wing of the experienced Jack Dex and his JDR team.

Looking back on that emotionally-charged period, Lucas told the Herald: "My father (Adrian) is my biggest critic and whenever I am doing bad he will tell me and that normally makes we want to do better, and in turn that gets me better results.

"It was only when I looked back at what I achieved I thought I can't give up. Truthfully, it was a difficult start but when I looked back and saw exactly what I had achieved, I thought I could not pack it all in."

Adrian added: "Emotionally it has been a rollercoaster. I don't mind where Lucas finishes as long as he gives 100 per cent. He's starting to prove me wrong a little bit. We have an honest relationship and I think you need that, he needs to be told what is not acceptable.

"There are a lot of things the family goes through emotionally and myself and Lucas fall out quite a lot. We do have arguments, but at the end of the day we're very proud of what he's achieved.

"Twice we've had serious conversations about packing it all in and there was a time when it was all done. However, you never know who is watching you. Lucas wants to be a driver so he's go to stand above tens of thousands of other drivers and you can only do that by making sacrifices.

"He understands that, but he's still only a child and it's about finding that balance of letting him play with his friends and growing up whilst focussing on his racing and I think we've got that."

There's always a turning point in a racing driver's career and for Blantford, his impressive display at round three of the Ultimate Karting Championship at Larkhall seemed to re-energise him.

His impressive showing, which saw the talented youngster close the gap on the leading duo without a slipstream, was met with high praise from the commentators.

Lucas admitted hearing what was said about him made him "feel good" while father Adrian added: "[What happened] proved to Lucas that he could do it.

"That changed his year and he changed as a driver following that day. It proved he could keep up with the best, catch them and overtake them.

"We'd had a bad weekend up until the Sunday to be honest. We now call Lucas 'Mr Sunday' because that's when he always seems to deliver because he's switched on."

Lucas Blantford.
Lucas Blantford.

Adrian added: "On that day it sank into me that Lucas has got it, because even I was starting to doubt it. I was thinking am I just the usual racing driver's dad?

"Lucas was also doubting whether he could mix it and from what I have seen since then, that meeting certainly changed him."

Since those darks days Lucas developed as a driver and started to prove to others in the British Karting Championship and Ultimate Karting Championship that he was the real deal.

Despite missing two rounds of the UKC, Lucas finished third in the championship. He also finished 18th overall in the British Championship, seventh in the rookie standings and was also top privateer.

Looking back at his time with Honda Cadets, Lucas said: "It was very pleasing. Our aim was top ten as soon as I joined the UKC, so to come third is pretty good considering we missed two rounds."

"I don't think Lucas understands just how well he has done because he doesn't look at the wider picture," said Adrian. "He was racing against guys who had been doing this for a fair number of years, so to be so close them was impressive.

"Lucas does not look at who he has raced against in what was a true rookie year. I don't think he can quite grasp how well he has done.

"I'm very straight-talking. When he's not doing well he gets told. But looking back at what he has achieved, I don't think he understands which is quite humbling."

During his time in the Honda Cadets category, Lucas feels like competing in the British Championship and UKC has toughened him up as a driver, but admits the step up to Mini Max had its surprises.

"At first it was really scary because you're going from a top speed of 50mph to 70mph because there's more torque in the engine," he said.

"Then when you're on an outlap the tyres are really cold so you have to get the temperature into them to get more grip, and that was something I was struggling with."

Adrian added: "He certainly has become a better driver. Lucas knows how to defend now whereas before he was just letting anyone past.

"Now he's in Mini Max he's having to get used to generating temperature into the tyres more on formation laps. Lucas has definitely got the pace and we've bought different wheels which make the tyre work harder and brings them up to temperature better.

"In the kart you've only got the rear brakes and no front ones. No real temperature can go into the tyre from the brakes, so we're slowly getting there with improving tyre warm-up."

Lucas Blantford in action at GYG. Photo: kartpix.net
Lucas Blantford in action at GYG. Photo: kartpix.net

Lucas is certainly looking to continue his development as a driver and there could be some exciting opportunities on the horizon, and Adrian – a former racing driver himself – could not be prouder of his son.

"Sometimes it can be terrifying watching him race," he said.

"We learnt to deal with the fear factor. It's a bit different when his mother or grandparents come to watch him because we have to calm them down.

"I still get those butterflies at the start, but I know deep down inside me he's a racing driver.

"To come back from where he has been mentally, he's certainly proved me wrong quite a few times and I keep on telling him that he never ceases to amaze me. He always goes above the expectations that I have of him."

He added: "I think the chances of reaching F1 are highly unlikely because it's now a financial seat, you'll never get another Lewis Hamilton story or someone like Ron Dennis walking down a kart track again.

"Hopefully Lucas will end up in racing in one form or another. However, he's into aerodynamics and Lucas has always said that if he can't drive he wants to be involved in motorsport in other ways."



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