Title caps a brilliant year for Bonnett

Matthew Bonnett
Matthew Bonnett

As most children were still playing with their new Christmas presents, Bridlington racer Matthew Bonnett was busy winning his first PPiK Junior Karting League title.

He travelled to Leeds, four days after Christmas, for the final race of his season, knowing he only had to finish in the top four to secure the championship, in the eight-to-12-years age group.

Things did not quite go to plan as two laps into qualifying Bonnett pulled into the pits with a loose steering column. But after a quick repair by the marshall, he was back on his way.

Although he only managed a couple of qualifying laps, the 10-year-old was able to get his kart to third on the grid with his closest rival for the title, Charlie Hunter, in second.

The race began and nerves and tension were running very high but Bonnett maintained his composure and managed to overtake his rival on the third lap and began hunting the leader down.

Each lap saw Bonnett get faster and faster, and with his nervous parents Natalie and Jamie watching on, he smashed his personal best lap time twice.

The prospect of being stuck behind a back marker did not fluster him, and he saw his chance and took two stragglers and the leader in one move.

He opened up a gap and pulled away but then his title rival Hunter, who is from Leeds, got through also and started putting pressure on Bonnett.

It was wheel-to-wheel fighting all the way to the finish line, even though the Bridlington racer knew he could have stayed in third place and sat comfortably for the championship win.

Instead, he went all out for the race victory and enjoyed his best race of the season to take the chequered flag.

Bonnett said: “I can’t believe I’ve done it, this is the best Christmas present ever.

“In the season there were ups and downs but I never lost sight of my goal. I didn’t want to sit in third to be safe, I wanted to win.”

After an emotional few minutes as he left the track, shaking hands with his fellow racers, he composed himself for the prize presentation.

Bonnett, who lives in Givendale Close in Bridlington, and goes to Martongate School, thanked his family and friends for their support during the year and Bridlington Round Table.

The youngster is a big Formula One fan and his sporting hero is Sebastian Vettel.

After watching Grand Prix races on TV, he decided to have a go at karting on his eighth birthday and has beenbeen hooked ever since.

Bonnett is hoping to compete his MSA licence this year and join national championships in the future as well as trying to retain his title in the Leeds championship during 2014.

He would like to hear from potential sponsors for the forthcoming year. Any businesses interested in getting involved can contact the Free Press sports desk.