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BY Sam Walker | Monday 29 April 2024

Hull Karting recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as it launched the new Hull Adventure Centre.

The facility on Poorhouse Lane, off Preston Road, has provided hours of fun and enjoyment for all ages, as well as hone the skills of talented young racers.

One of those who first donned a helmet in east Hull almost a decade ago was 16-year-old Leon Wilson.

The youngster took to the track and to the sport like a duck to water and such was his speed and ability that he was soon invited to compete in the British School Karting Championships with Hull Karting.

His performances in both wet and dry conditions then earned him a place in Arden Motorsport’s Young Racing Driver Academy in 2021.

Leon said: “When I first went to Hull Karting, it was just for fun, but since the age of 11, I took more of an interest in motorsport and started racing karts competitively.

“I was able to gain plenty of experience racing at Hull Karting and the staff are always so supportive.

“It’s a really great track, one of my favourites. I think with it being outdoor too, it presents you with plenty of challenges, such as variable weather, which you don’t get with indoor tracks and helps when driving on other circuits.

“It’s a great place to start for anyone interested in a racing career and I can’t thank Hull Karting enough for its support over the years.”

Ready in the garage at Silverstone.

Arden Motorsport, one of the UK’s best-known and prestigious racing operations, was founded by Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, alongside his father Garry, in 1997.

It boasts current Formula One drivers and grand prix winners Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly as former drivers.

Leon was promoted to compete for Arden in single seater GB4 Championship in 2024, making his debut at Oulton Park in Cheshire, scoring points in all three races by finishing sixth, 11th and sixth, as well earning the fastest lap in races two and three.

He followed this up with an impressive third and second in the qualifying session at Silverstone on Saturday (27 April).

After an 11th placed finish in race one and with race two being cancelled due to extreme weather, Leon bounced back to earn his first GB4 podium to finish third, just 8.6 seconds behind the winner.

GB4 Championship is supported by the British Racing Drivers’ Club, whose president is 13-time grand prix winner and 2001 Formula One World Championship runner-up, David Coulthard.

On the podium at the home of British motorsport (right).

On being told he would be racing in this year’s GB4, Leon said: “I was really excited when Arden told me they were entering me into GB4 this year.

“It was a year ahead of schedule, so it was slightly overwhelming at first, but now it’s like second nature and I’m focusing on where I am going to overtake competitors, rather than when I am going brake for the corners.

“I was pleased with my race pace in the opening round at Oulton Park, but my qualifying could have been better.

“I had a good start in qualifying at Silverstone, so I was disappointed to only finish 11th having been overtaken by more experienced drivers with better race craft.

“However, to earn my first podium in race three was amazing and hopefully the first of many.

“Arden is a great team with huge experience which knows how to help a driver progress to the very top.

“The end goal is Formula One, but for this year, I’d like to get a few wins and pole positions and I’m aiming for a top three finish in the championship.”

Leon speaks to the media following his third place at Silverstone.

Hull Karting marked its 20th anniversary celebrations with the launch of the new Hull Adventure Centre on Friday 1 March.

Archery-tag, bubble ball football and dodgeball have all been introduced to provide a bigger and better experience for visitors.

John Haines, manager at Hull Karting, said: “Leon became a member of Hull Karting Club aged 10 having enjoyed coming to us for three years before that.

“Immediately, his talent was obvious and it wasn’t a surprise to see him picked up by an organisation as prestigious as Arden.

“It’s fantastic to see him given the opportunity now in single seater racing in the GB4 Championship.

“Hull Karting Club is about helping to find the next Lewis Hamilton and to know we’ve been a step on Leon’s journey so far is humbling.

“Everyone at Hull Karting and the wider Hull Adventure Centre is eagerly following his progress and wishes him all the success in the future.”

You can watch Leon in action during the GB4 Championship with every race livestreamed on YouTube, as well as on the championship’s website and social media.

Discover more on Hull Adventure Centre here.