Mullingar go-karter, JP Sleator, put the experience he has gained competing in the UK to good use when he won the first round of the Motorsport Ireland Iame Cadet Championship at Watergrasshill, Cork recently.
The 11-year-old started karting in March of last year and has made rapid progress from the novice category to the cadet class.
He has already raced in England a number of times, including at the PF International circuit in Lincolnshire and at Shenington near Banbury.
JP’s father Jack, who has a motorsport pedigree from his rallying days, explained that kart racing is a family activity for the two of them, along with his wife Caroline and daughter Jade.
“We travel [to the UK] on the Thursday evening on the boat,” said Jack, “then we’re up at 6.30 on the Friday for an hour’s testing between 9am and 10am.
“There is more testing through the day and qualification on the Saturday evening and on the Sunday there are the heats and the A or B final, depending which you qualify for.”
Asked about his motivation for competing in kart racing, JP recalled his first event: “I was nervous and a bit scared. The other drivers looked a bit intimidating, but once I was out on the track, I was less nervous because I was enjoying myself driving.”
JP says he started learning from that first time outing, and determined to make good use of the experience: "I thought I would be like them [other drivers] some day," he said.
He is well on the way to that goal, and is training and watching his nutrition as his ambitions mature.
The lessons of his first year in karting are, the Curraghmore NS pupil, says: “Don't let the kart drive you – you drive the kart. You push at all times.”
JP has been taking part in the UK winter series at the PF International circuit, a competition that attracts the best drivers from across the UK and Europe, and has made the A finals a number of times.
As well as looking to the final round of the winter series, this month, for which he has been invited to drive for Fusion Motorsport, using a Synergy chassis, JP is testing and will compete in the first round of the Motorsport Ireland championship.
His most recent outing was to Shenington, where he recovered from the severe bruising he suffered in a testing accident on the Friday evening to finish sixth in the A final, narrowly missing a place on the podium.
“I've never seen him drive so well," his father, Jack, said, “all the work is starting to click together now.”
At home in Ireland JP drives with DMS Motorsport of Cork, where team boss Kieran Daly is his coach and mentor and Shane Daly looks after the engineering and set-up side of the racing.
Both Jack and JP paid tribute to Kieran, whose advice is proving very valuable each time JP returns to the track.
“He loves what he’s doing and would aspire to be a professional driver one day,” said Jack, "and for now, it's a great thing for a father and son to do together."
JP concluded: “I would like to thank my Dad for getting up early, my Mum for packing my bag, and my sister for helping me get my race suit on!”
He also thanked his sponsors, Jack Sleator Motors and CarGate Leasing, Mullingar, and The Monastery Inn, Clonard.