Heckington racer Gadd expects tough title defence

Saluting another win. Picture: Jonathan Elsey Photography EMN-201002-143413002
Saluting another win. Picture: Jonathan Elsey Photography EMN-201002-143413002

Up-and-coming racing driver Tom Gadd believes he will be a marked man as he looks to defend a national title won so dramatically last season.

The 22-year-old won the 750 Motor Club’s Demon Tweeks Yokohama Locost Championship, and collected his awards, which also included best prepared car, at a presentation night last week in Stratford.

Gadd at the front of a tightly-bunched pack Picture: Jonathan Elsey Photography EMN-201002-143403002

Gadd at the front of a tightly-bunched pack Picture: Jonathan Elsey Photography EMN-201002-143403002

The Heckington racer made his debut in the championship just three years ago when he finished 15th, and improved to fifth overall 12 months later, having claimed his first podium finish at Cadwell.

But few would have expected the all-conquering form he showed in the 2019 season, winning six races, with three second places and a third in the 17-race calendar.

Gadd clinched the title at the final race of the season, at Snetterton, heading a 55-car grid, but knows he will have to up his game to secure a successful title defence.

The 2020 championship begins again in April at Silverstone, again over 17 rounds, and also visits Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Croft, Castle Combe and Oulton Park.

Tom Gadd with dad Michael. Picture: David Smythe EMN-201002-143352002

Tom Gadd with dad Michael. Picture: David Smythe EMN-201002-143352002

“I can’t wait for the new season to start at the beginning of April and my aim is try and build on last year with hopefully more wins and podiums,” he said.

“To win the championship again would be fantastic, but I know there at least 10 others capable of winning and it will not be easy.

“This year I will also have a target on my back as being so young I wasn’t expected to do so well last year.

“Just to add to the mix, there will also be new drivers joining the championship just to make it more interesting.”

While a relatively new hand at racing cars, he has plenty of track experience, having begun racing aged seven in karts, moving through several classes before graduating to cars in 2017.

The Locost championship is designed for cars based on the Ron Champion book, Build Your Own Sports Car for £250.

The cars are powered by a 1300 ford crossflow engine fitted to 1970s Ford models such as Escorts and Capri’s.

Strict regulations on engines and chassis ensures racing is close.

Tom prepares and runs his care from home with dad Michael, with technical support from Stuart Sellars at Hubberts Bridge-based TSR Racing.

“It was a steep learning curve when I moved from karts and it took us the first two years to develop the car as it hadn’t been raced before we bought it,” Gadd added.

“Last year everything just clicked at the second meeting, at Croft, where I qualified pole and won all three races.

“I followed that with wins at Anglesey, Cadwell, my favourite track, and Oulton Park, and never looked back.”