Jauza James is proving equally adept on four wheels as he was on two after switching from motocross to karting 18 months ago.
James, 12, quit off-road motorcycle racing because of injury concerns, having missed a season after breaking his wrist, but soon turned to karting to satisfy his thirst for speed.
By his own admission, James endured a tough debut campaign in the Cadet Junior class, although he did outline his potential with a fourth-place finish at the Dockyard Grand Prix in May.
The Dellwood Middle School pupil has matured behind the wheel this season, moving up to the Tag Junior class and is closing in on fourth place in the standings, despite missing the opening three race weekends while assembling his new kart.
“I wasn’t really good in the Cadet,” James said. “I got beat a lot, but I didn’t let that make me feel down or sad. I’ve gotten a lot better and I’m chasing down the leaders, improving my points, driving skills and technique.
“I only had about ten minutes practice in my kart before my first race; I finished third, fourth and second in my three heats.
“They thought I was cheating because I was that fast and pulled off my mufflers to check my restrictors. Of course, I had junior mufflers on; I wasn’t cheating, I was just fast!”
James admits there was an element of good fortune to his maiden win this season; Ryan Burgess, the driver to beat, was forced to withdraw because technical issues.
“When I won my first race, it was a very exciting and happy moment,” said James, who races for the Pizza House team.
“Ryan’s kart got messed up and we got into a little tangle. When we’re on the track we’re enemies, but when we’re off the track we’re friends. Everyone is looking to beat him; he’s the fastest on the track. He’s raced more than the rest of us in the [Tag Junior] class, so he’s more experienced. He’s a very good racer.”
James was brought up in a racing environment; his father Derrick Seymour was an accomplished racer, as was his Godfather Shannon Caisey, who helps with race tactics. James, who models himself on Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, hopes to one day race in his father’s old suit and is trying to convince him to make a permanent return to the track.
“My dad was really great at [karting],” said James, who will compete in the tenth race weekend of the Bermuda Karting Club season at the Rubis Southside Raceway on Sunday.
“I’m now taking my dad’s karting journey because I’m like him; I like speed. I look up to my dad; he’s there for me every day. He came back out to race last season in the LO206 class. I said, ‘Dad, you’re really good’. I was like, ‘My dad’s still got it in him!’
“I keep telling him he needs to get back into the Shifter, the Tag Senior, or the LO206 class.”
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