SWS Grand Finals Preview: Connor and Walton first timers with title ambitions

  • Connor and Walton have no fear as they travel to Paris for SWS Grand Finals
  • Both 11 year olds will be among the youngest battling for the SWS Junior title 

UAE based schoolboys Alex Connor and Oliver Walton have won a place in the 2015 Sodi World Series (SWS) Junior Cup which takes place this weekend (5 and 6 Junes) in France, and are setting out on their adventure of a life time which could well end with one of them being crowned SWS Junior world champion.

Connor has been a revelation in the UAE junior ranks, winning the 2014 SWS Junior title and has since progressed to the UAE Rotax Micro class where he has impressed the local karting community with his speed and tenacity.

Ahead of his life impacting weekend in France, he made it clear that he is not simply going to make up the numbers and confidently declared, “My objective is to win the world finals and bring home the trophy for the UAE and Dubai Kartdrome.”

“I am very proud and excited to be going to Paris to represent the UAE in the SWS world finals – what great opportunity for me. I am looking forward to enjoying the experience of racing against other kids from around the world.”

Of what he believes will give him the edge in Paris, Connor said, “My strengths are that I learn new tracks quickly and I never give up. I have completed and won the 2014 SWS UAE Junior Cup Championship and have also completed a season in UAE Micro Max. My focus and dedication to karting is also a strength of mine.”

The SWS Junior racing scene at Dubai Kartdorome has been the springboard for several young drivers and Connor acknowledges, “Kartdrome is where I began my passion for karting. The close racing in the SWS gave me the grounding to move into Micro Max and also the support that has been given to me by the team at the Kartdrome has been a real help. Even though we race hard on track we are friends off it.”

Also shining bright on the SWS Junior stage, particularly this season where he has raised his game impressively, is Walton who is likely to be youngest drivers on the grid at RKC, but arrives as the number one ranked SWS Junior driver in the world thanks to his notable showings so far this year.

But this is hardly a deterrent for the confident lad, who said on the eve of his departure to France, “It is my first Word Finals and I am excited to be part of such an event. I will be going there to win, but I will be enjoying the experience no matter how I end up finishing.”

Despite the confidence, Walton is also wary of the massive challenge that awaits him, “Although I know European tracks are different and have better grip, I think I will do well because I am expecting those differences. My Dad and I are going early, so I can get some local practice and track time. Recently I became ranked number one in the SWS international junior rankings, so that gives me confidence going in to the Grand Finals.”

“I know it will be a great experience for me. I’m excited to meet the other drivers from all over the world and see how I can perform against them. I will be the youngest I think, as I only turned 11 last week, but I am sure I will not be the only one who is there for the first time. I can’t wait!” concluded Walton.

Connor and Walton are both 11 and will face drivers up from their age up to 11 during the SWS Junior Grand Finals, consisting of an intense programme of Heats which start on Friday and conclude on Saturday with the all important Grand Final.

Dubai Autodrome communications manager Paul Velasco, who will be part of the UAE entourage, said, “I have witnessed Oliver and Alex progress at our venue and they are good examples of how the SWS Junior series has produced talented young race drivers. Their participation at the SWS Junior Grand Finals is not only a well deserved reward for them, and also vindication of a very successful grassroots karting programme.”

“It will be a huge challenge for the all concerned, but I am sure they will do the Kartdrome and UAE proud,” added Velasco.

The duo will be part of the UAE contingent of senior drivers contesting the SWS Grand Finals, including: Abdulla Al Ali, Hussein Umid Ali, Atef Al Barwani, Sam Zian, Paul Chatenay, Alexandre Silanine, Craig Shenton and Maz Nawaz, along with Junior drivers Alex Connor and Oliver Walton. Also making the trip, to contest the SWS Endurance Grand Finals are two teams from CG Racing and F3 Racing.