MOTORSPORT: Abbi 'rises to the occasion' again with historic karting success
Back-to-back British karting titles for Gosberton racer Abbi Pulling (15) could pave the way for sponsorship offers to drive at a higher level next season.
The teenager made history at the PFI circuit, near Grantham, over the weekend when she became the first person ever to retain the Super One British Karting Championship.
Driving a Tal-Ko Racing kart, Abbi effectively wrapped up the title after two heats on Saturday when she finished third and second respectively.
Abbi said: "Last Sunday saw the last races of this year’s Super One Series British Karting Championship.
"But in contrast to previous years, there was no pressure on me as a second place in heat two on Saturday, along with a subsequent driving penalty for the only remaining championship rival (Dan Butterworth), meant that the Junior TKM title was staying in Lincolnshire.
"Sunday’s races were calculated affairs as an exclusion from the meeting could have still lost me the championship.
"But that wasn’t going to happen, of course, although it was a case of picking the right battles to fight in bringing the kart home.
"After a careful start in Final 1, dropping to sixth at one point, the race was spent gradually moving up the field to eventually finish in second place.
"Final 2 saw me get away in the top three, pushing on to lead on lap five.
"But unlike at Shenington earlier on the season, there was to be no breakaway this time and I dropped to second with four laps.
"As the new race leader drove defensively, it straight away allowed the pack to catch up and a hectic last couple of laps ended with a third place finish at the flag which kept this year’s perfect podium run going and confirmed the final championship position.
"PFI was the end to an amazing season and I'd like to say a massive thanks to Alan Turney at Tal-Ko Racing for the faith he has shown in me over the last three years in Junior TKM and to everyone who has supported me on this amazing journey so far."
Andy Pulling, Abbi’s dad, said: “She went into the final round with a small championship lead.
“But she was full of confidence, even when a technical problem in qualifying left her with much to do.
“Starting in eighth position, Abbi drove two very controlled heat races in which she finished ahead of her rival, Dan Butterworth, giving her what seemed an insurmountable lead in the championship ahead of the finals on Sunday.
“Despite this, Abbi once again drove in a very measured manner to ensure that she didn’t pick up any penalties, finishing second and third.”
Having taken up the sport as an eight-year-old seven years ago, Abbi made the switch to Super One in 2015 and came close to winning the British title a year later.
In 2017, she became the first girl ever to lift the Junior TKM crown and this year’s feat puts her ahead of ex-F1 world champion Jenson Button who won his one and only Super One title in 1992.
Abbi said: “It’s been such an amazing last two years and I never would have thought as an eight-year-old girl that in seven years I would be winning the British championship back to back.
"Hopefully, there are many more to come.”
Ged Coles, director of Sport at Bourne Academy, said: "Abbi is a fantastic student, not only in PE but within all areas at Bourne Academy.
"We are incredibly proud of her achievements in karting, having won our coveted 'Sporting Achievement Award 2018' for her fantastic achievements in the sport this year.
"Abbi is a very modest and unassuming student who simply strives to achieve everything she can in all that she does.
"She is a real pleasure to teach and continues to be a real ambassador for the school."
Lucy Conley, deputy head teacher at Bourne Academy, said: “We are all incredibly proud of Abbi as she is not only an outstanding sports woman, but a fantastic student and a truly delightful girl too.
“We are very lucky to have her as a student at Bourne Academy as she is a real inspiration to others.”
Lorraine Gathercole, chairman of the British Women Racing Drivers Club, said: “Once again, Abbi has left is awestruck by her talent and her measured approach to what many would consider to be overwhelming pressure.
“This girl’s capacity to rise to every challenge put before her really is beyond her 15 years.
“However, like so many young racing drivers, Abbi needs financial support to enable her journey to the highest levels to continue.
“But with these continually excellent results, Abbi goes on to demonstrate her talent to potential sponsors and partners.
“The only way is up for Abbi and we are all excited to be sharing this journey with her.”