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Challenging for the championship

Karter Will Davies lives his life in the fast lane between motor racing on the national circuit and full-time study at the University of Chichester. He believes his desire to win is keeping him on track for his higher education degree.

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Motorhead Will is a national karting competitor whose drive to win is fuelling his ambitions to one-day steer his own racing team to the highest level. The 21-year-old lives his life in the fast lane dividing his time between full-time education at Chichester, the national racing championships at the weekend, and the part-time jobs that power his passion.

Staying in pole position is not always an easy ride, according to the competitor. “I love racing,” he says, “that feeling of speeding at 60 miles-per-hour just inches above the tarmac. But there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work and many people who see me race assume that is all I do. They don’t realise the preparation work that goes on in the background leading up to competitions or the physical recovery after a long weekend.”

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Racing on a shoestring budget

Will was born and raised in Bognor Regis to a family with no prior history of higher education. His first experience of karting came at the age of 13 - which is relatively old, he says - when he was taken to the track for a present from his father.

Working to a shoestring budget, he races his go-kart – a 115cc with a two-stroke engine – in the Super One national league hosted across the United Kingdom and intended only for the country’s best drivers. But being the first generation to go to university while remaining competitive at the highest level is not without its challenges.

“There is a saying in racing that karting is not a sport but a lifestyle, and that is especially true for motorsport,” says the second-year student. “My University tutors are incredibly supportive and will occasionally give me flexibility with deadlines while I am competing.

“Even so, karting is expensive and it is hard to stay ahead of the curve without spending lots of money. I believe that I have the talent to race but it takes more than that to compete.”

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How university has landed him in pole position

Will balances a full-time BA (Hons) in Business Studies and Marketing degree alongside part-time jobs – from paperboy to outreach assistant to student ambassador for the Engineering and Digital Technology Park – to pay for the costly karting upkeep. It is this defiant entrepreneurial spirit which encouraged him to enrol at the University’s Business School to fulfil his dream of leading his own racing team.

“You don’t have to have your own team to race but it gives more freedom to build your own karts” adds Will. “I set up Fox Davies Motorsport with my friend, a mechanic, and after a successful year it grew rapidly and started to take up most of our time.

“That is why I chose to study Business and Marketing at the University as I wanted to learn new skills to help manage and develop the team. I have not looked back since I started: my racing has improved significantly and our team name is getting recognised more and more.”

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Igniting the ambitions of the next generation

To stay ahead of the chasing pack, Will receives support from the University, alongside a degree of flexibility with coursework deadlines, in a deal that keeps him on track. Such sponsorships are critical within a sport where new tyres or a lighter chassis can make competitors a tenth of a second faster on the circuit - the difference between first place and last, says Will.

Will works within the Outreach team to engage with secondary and college students in the region. The intention is to raise aspirations of young people living in his Bognor Regis hometown.

He adds: “I like to use my own personal experiences – of being the first in my family to go to university – to show the benefits that studying for a degree has afforded me. That I own my own racing business is proof that you can achieve anything no matter your background.

“The sponsorship agreement and promoting the new Department of Engineering and Design keeps me racing on the grid, studying in the classroom, and means I spend less time at my part-time jobs. Above all else, it has kept me in the sport I love.”

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Will's future plans are to open his racing team to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to offer them the opportunity to experience karting. This, he hopes, will also unearth a new generation of racers who have talent but not the necessary funds to compete.

“The University has been incredibly supportive and, without their help, I honestly feel I would not have been racing this year,” he adds. “Karting, like any motorsport, costs a lot and it is getting to a point where it is unreachable for many people, which is a great shame.

“I started my own path but have been extremely fortunate to have the help and support of the University and my tutors along the way. I am now in a position to share karting to others who have never before had the chance to experience racing. I want to show that with hard work, and support, anything is possible.”

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Find out more 

Keep up to date with Will's racing results at www.facebook.com/WillDaviesRacing. Alternatively for more about studying for a BA (Hons) in Business and Marketing at the University of Chichester go to www.chi.ac.uk.business.