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Heat is on in Portugal after White gets late call to take on world's best
11:27am Thursday 29th November 2012 in Sport
Karting star Josh White is preparing for this weekend’s Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal.
The teenager had expected to be at home in Ilkley, but a surprise phone call means he will now compete in the biggest event of his career.
“It is fantastic news, just incredible!” White said prior to leaving for Portimao on the Algarve.
“I really expected to be watching the racing at home on the internet, but now I’m making my world championship debut,” a delighted White said.
Although he finished an excellent fourth overall in the summer’s Euro Max Challenge series, the Welcome to Yorkshire ambassador missed the cut for automatic qualification for Portimao by just one place.
Similarly, at the European season’s closing race, the International Open – held at Zuera, near Zaragoza – a stunning performance ended in heartbreak.
White said: “The International Open represented my last real chance to qualify for the worlds and at first, it was all going well.
“I was tenth fastest in timed qualifying and took a fourth and a second place in the two heats.
“This put me sixth on the grid for the first final, but just after the start I was smashed off the circuit. I managed to get back onto the track at the back of the field and came back through to 16th.”
Starting from the eighth row for the main final, White and his Coles Racing team knew that he would have to produce a very special performance and cross the finishing line in third place, or higher, to book his place in Portugal – at the event many refer to as the world finals due to its global entry and status.
“I was so elated. I could hardly believe I had managed to do it and I was celebrating like I’d just scored the winning goal that put Leeds through to the Champions League final when an official told me that I had been given a penalty for unfair driving.
“It felt so wrong because I’d been deliberately run off the track in the earlier race and then, after a slight bit of contact as I tried to pass another driver, I was penalised by ten seconds. This put me well down the order and out of the Grand Finals.”
It was several days after the event when Josh’s father, Nick, received a phone from series administrator Lynn Guidel and the news took them both by surprise: “It was great - astonishing really.
Lynn explained that Josh’s name had been put down as first reserve for the by virtue of him finishing fourth overall in the Euro Max Challenge and due to one driver being unable to make it, would he like to attend.
White says this is the race every driver wants to qualify for: “At the beginning of the season, the Grand Finals was on my list of key targets.
“All year long I’ve remained focused on achieving that goal and at times, it has felt like fate has tried to prevent me.
“I’ve had awful luck but never given up. Now I’ve had an amazing stroke of luck and I hope that it stays with me, all the way to Sunday.”