Vinnie Does Vegas!
Vinnie Phillips takes Las Vegas Supernats Title
Date November 15-19, 2017
Fusion Motorsport took their second Las Vegas Supernats title, the event that has become the jewel in the crown of the World calendar, with drivers from all over the globe competing in the Blue Riband event.
But the win didn’t come from the most likely source, with Vinnie Phillips producing the drive of his life to take the Micro Swift Final from 9th on the grid!
In the Mini Swift class, British Champion Taylor Barnard and UK front runner Freddie Slater flew the flag for Fusion. Once Taylor got to grips with the style of the class and the track, he posted fastest lap times and took a superb pole position in TQ, underlining his status as one of the hottest properties in the Cadet / Mini category across the globe. Freddie had looked fast in testing but in TQ had a poor track position, leaving him 17th overall out of the 85 drivers.
In Micro, Vinnie qualified 15th, his steady improvement over the week seeing him now within 0.7s seconds of the front runners, having been over a second off at one stage.
In Mini Heat 1 Taylor battled hard at the front but he lacked the pace shown in TQ, dropping to 3rd but driving well on the last lap to snatch back the win. Freddie had a disastrous first heat, coming off on lap 1 at turn 2, but recovered to finish just inside the top 20.
In Heat 2, Taylor again battled at the front but ultimate pace escaped him and after he defended for 6th on the last lap he had the US rule book thrown at him, receiving a 4 place penalty, with the officials stating ‘you can zig, but you can’t zag’. Freddie had a solid top 10 finish with an improvement in pace and some great over taking.
Heat 3 saw another difficult battle for Taylor, again he worked hard to keep himself in the top 6, crossing the line a creditable 4th, only to receive a 2 place penalty, despite the fact he did not deviate from his defensive position on the last lap, apparently you can’t zig or zag!
Freddie moved forward again with a great drive to 6th.
In Micro, Vinnie was the master of consistency in the heats finishing 11th, 10th and 11th, to secure grid 9 for the Final on ‘Super Sunday’.
As the Mini Swift drivers rolled off the grid for the Final, with Taylor starting P7 and Freddie P14, a top result was still on the cards, albeit a bit of a long shot. The team had worked hard to improve the performance of Taylor’s kart and initially it looked like the hard work had paid off as he shot into 5th and looked more than capable of running with the lead pack. However, a late move on lap 3 from another driver delayed him and he was left battling with the pack behind, who just didn’t seem interested in moving forward. Freddie on the other hand was moving forward and was wrestling his way towards the top 10 with some more great overtaking.
At mid distance Taylor was involved in an incident which saw him go over the top of another driver, bending the chassis and stunting his progress and the best he could do was hang on to 8th, with Freddie eventually crossing the line 12th, both promoted 2 places as it became apparent in post-race scrutineering that some drivers had been running illegal engines, making it clear why the team has been ‘up against it’ on race day. So with Taylor ending up P6 and Freddie P10, it wasn’t a bad result, but not the win that the team had hoped for.
It was left to Vinnie Phillips to uphold Fusion honours in the Micro Swift Final, but from P9 and missing a few tenths in the heats it looked like a difficult task. However, after a great start, Vinnie slotted into 5th and from there his confidence grew, as did his pace, picking off places as he made his way towards the front. Once into 3rd, he could have been forgiven for settling for a podium place, but the young Fusion driver now had his sights set higher and he motored his way to the front of the field. On the last lap he went back 2 places but with some calculated moves took 2nd and then performed his signature cut back move on the leader on the run onto the final straight to take a fantastic and emotional victory.
Vinnie’s win took the team’s 2017 title tally to 11, and underlined their status as one of the dominant forces in not only the UK but the World karting scene, having won every event entered this season.
Congratulations to all the drivers on a fantastic season.