A BUDDING racing driver from County Durham was on track to lead a national championship when he crashed his speeding vehicle at 100mph.
Owen Walton had just secured the number one spot in the inaugural race of the season of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup 2017 when in the second race his Audi TT’s breaks failed - flinging him off the course and into trees.
Luckily the 25-year-old, of Sedgefield, walked away unscathed save from an aching neck the following day.
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Mr Walton was competing in front of about 1,000 spectators against 26 others, including his father Simon Walton, when he took part in the opening races at Oulton Park Circuit, in Cheshire, on Monday.
“It was bittersweet but I’m over the moon with the first race win in the first round in a new championship,” he said. “I’ve never raced in this championship before and it was great to show everyone we were here to win and not just make up the numbers.”
Despite starting in 15th place on the grid, following an initial 20-minute qualifying race, the driver notched up to the top spot - even securing the fastest lap time.
Due to difficult weather conditions the team made a judgement call on equipment which Mr Walton said paid off.
“It was quite a wet day but the track was drying up,” he added. “We made the gamble of putting dry tyres on while a lot of people used wet tyres.
“Although we had the right tyres on I still had to take 15 places on and drove the life out of the car.”
But it was in the last lap of the second televised race when Mr Walton was in a comfortable 5th position that his breaks failed.
He said: “I had two corners left and lost my breaks at about 100mph. I was devastated about that because I could have led the championship.”
Having suffered no injuries in the crash, Mr Walton commended the safety of his Audi TT, the same make and model used by his father in the same race.
Mr Walton said his team, named Swanflight after the family business, was investigating the cause of the failure and was confident it would be back up and running for April 29 and 30 when the father and son duo will compete at Rockingham Race Circuit, in Northamptonshire.
Simon Walton came 14th and 10th in the races.