Tyler Wilkin profile

Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Features >> Tyler Wilkin

One of the latest drivers to move into the 2L Hot Rod class is Tyler Wilkin – he has taken victories yet his experience is only limited to Junior Rods.

Looking back younger drivers have commonly started in Ministox before embarking on a career in the adult formulas. Some of them have wanted to take the big jump from Ministox to National Hot Rods but used another formula as a brief stepping stone, notably Ian McKellar had about a year in Stock Rods and Steve Thompson raced in 2L Hot Rods before tasting success in National Hot Rods. Michelle Randell made the leap from the Ministox to National Hot Rods and became the first female to qualify for the World Final. Since then Junior Rods have appeared on the Spedeworth tracks to allow non-contact racing for the kids (a class originally adopted in Northern Ireland). Tyler Wilkin has subsequently become the first driver to move from Spedeworth Junior Rods to 2L Hot Rods in England.

Although now 16 his story begins whilst he was still 15 when the car was purchased during the summer of 2013.

“The car was originally from the UK as a blue top car then it was taken to Spain and raced at Cartagena Oval and was number 130; then it was brought back to the UK by us” says Tyler. “We practiced the car as soon as we got it the weekend after Spedeweekend 2013 and I knew it would be much quicker but didn’t realise the power difference until I put my foot down on the back straight at Aldershot Raceway. The power difference is such a big step from a Junior Rod and far better as its RWD.”

The Ipswich practice evening in March was used to gain more track time before racing with a pack around him. Being a new driver and racing with new tyres his opening three meeting would be from the back of the grid, starting at Northampton where 30 cars would start ahead of him.

Were you nervous for your first meeting? “I had doubted myself before I went out at Ipswich test night and then I slowly built up my confidence. Arriving at Northampton I wasn’t too nervous as I knew I had nothing to prove and I was also starting out the back, meaning I was out the way of the faster cars.”

“I didn’t feel intimidated because I knew I would be learning from the top driver in the formula by following the lines in which they were taking and braking at the same points at which they were. I don’t think you should make yourself feel intimidated as everyone has to start somewhere and everyone is happy to help.”

Although he only finished the first heat as mechanical issues forced him to end the meeting at heat two there was definitely speed there as his fastest lap was less than 0.1s slower than the fastest of the day (which was Chris Crane) placing him 12th overall in terms of lap times.

Wimbledon again saw him fail to start the final but the heats did enable more track time before moving onto the familiar Aldershot track. Were you getting frustrated still having to start at the back for the Aldershot meeting? “To be honest it was frustrating however as Aldershot was such a small and quick track, I felt starting off the back was a good choice as I had room to make mistakes. However the frustration does slightly kick in knowing that you could be sitting on the other side of the track to which I was.”

For his fourth meeting he was able to start at the front and duly won the heats at Ipswich before being upgraded to yellow for the final where he finished second behind white top Brett Collison.

What did it feel like to take two wins at Ipswich? “A lot of people have asked me this question; and to be honest it just gave me a slight confidence boost and self-belief. I was also very proud as I proved some people wrong because before I got a 2 Litre Hot Rod, Some people said I wouldn’t be able to do it and that it was such a big step that I would struggle a lot.”

Now with some laps under his belt and points on the board the youngster now has the opportunity to mix it with the established names in the class like Mark Paffey and Paul Wright.

Anybody or sponsors you would like to thank? “I would firstly like to say a massive thanks to dad and I couldn’t have done anything without him. I would also like to thanks Ram Motorsport for all the support and sponsorship. Would also like to thanks Matt Woodcock for painting and re-panelling the car. Thanks for HVS (Hillingdon Vehicle Specialists) for sponsoring me for this year as well.”

Tyler is the son of former racer Mark Wilkin who would like to add the following about how the car. “Pete from Racequip (which we would like to thank) said to me what would Tyler like to do next year, I said 2ltr and he got it. MW race prep re-shelled it and then I put all new parts on it. The people that have helped are Matt Woodcock MW, race prep Spinks Tuning, Adam from Joyce Race Paints and the man that set it up for Tyler, Mark Willis.”

So the all-important question, how did you feel as a father seeing him on track?” It made me have a lump in my throat.”

Opening meeting at Northampton. Photo: AG Race Photos

Paul Ballard - 18.04.2014

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