Karter Conversations - Part 3

BY Marcus Lim

In the final instalment of this three-part series, we speak to Jason Burns who competes in the Senior category of the X30 Southeast Asia Championship.

Jason Burns is no newbie to karting, with 21 years of experience under his belt. Racing in Singapore with AutoInc Racing, Jason emerged Champion during round 1 of X30 Southeast Asia. Back home in Australia, Jason has been crowned Australian national champion 4 times, and has over 10 Australian state titles. He shares some advice with us during an interview at KF1 Karting Circuit.

1. Who or what started you on karting?

I started karting when I was 16 years old. It was just a hobby that grew into racing — and now I’m 37! I raced in Europe, with (now) Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton; In 2001 I lived in Italy, where I was a factory driver. I’ve been racing for 21 years now, so I’m more of a veteran!

2. Do you have someone you look up to or inspires you?

Not now, because I’ve been racing so long… I’ve run my own race team, and now I do a lot of driver coaching — this is just a bit of fun for me.

3. Do you think you are where you want to be in karting, or would you want to go further?

I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to — I’ve won 4 Australian championships, and I’ve raced at the top level in Europe, and now I’m mentoring a driver and passing my knowledge on to him and helping him out.

4. Have you raced cars before, or purely karts?

No never cars, just purely karts.

5. As a karter we would imagine you like cars as well? Any favourite make or model?

Probably an Aston Martin — I’ve driven a few of them in the past.

6. Any advice for other young karters who would like to begin the sport?

The biggest thing is, you’ve got to have a belief and follow your passion. If you’re passionate about karting, you can make a career out of it — like me, I’ve been doing it for 21 years, and I’ve been lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Now I’m passing my knowledge on to young kids through driver training and coaching.

7. Has karting been full-time for you for the past 21 years?

Yes, I scaled back probably about 10 years ago from my own racing, but I raced here full time from 1997 onwards, and in 2001 I lived in Europe for 6 months by myself, where I drove for a factory team. After being a factory driver, I drove for a few teams in Australia, then I came back home and started my own race team — I ran that for about 10 years, and during that period I was doing a lot of driver coaching. Now I’m over here doing driver coaching too, as well as mentoring.

8. You’re now doing this full time? How long have you been here in Singapore?

Yes I’m based in Singapore full time; I’ve been here for 1 year now.

9. Since this interview is centered on the X30 series, do you have any thoughts about it, and is it a good platform for drivers to develop?

Yes, it is a good platform because the engine is very reliable; the parity is good (there’s not the situation of some good engines and some bad engines), and the competition is quite high here in Singapore. We just went over last month to the X30 European championships and did a round of that for the driver I look after, Jayden Jin. We competed in the same series — it had the same engine, same tyres… everything the same. Exactly the same as what’s here, just that it happens in Europe.

10. From here, what would be a good next step for most drivers?

They could go to Australia and compete there, because the competition level in Australia is quite high, and they’ve got a very good series over there. That can be a bit of a stepping-stone to the European championships, where they can go against the best drivers.

11. At what age would they be, by the time they get to a European level?

You can go to Europe from as young as 9 to 11 years old, if you wish — but my advice is to dominate in your home country, then go overseas to explore and see where you’re at, with the rest of the world. If you’re good, you’ll progress. I’ve looked after a lot of drivers in Australia who raced with V8 Supercar drivers and won.

12. After the X30 Championship, how far is it away from Formula 3 or other similar series?

Karting for me is the purest form, the closest thing to Formula One. You’ll see that all the Formula One drivers always go back and race karts, or they do some sort of practice in karts — they never go back to GP2 or Formula 3 or any of that, they always go back to karting because the it’s closest thing to Formula One. It’s pure. Anyone that’s raced cars always say, the most fun they’ve ever had was in karting.