After missing out on a championship title by just one point in 2021, Lucky Khera (Graypaul Birmingham) came back to the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK Championship in 2022 with a clear goal. In a season which saw Khera take five pole positions and seven race wins, Khera had an almost untarnished record of podium finishes.
“This season has had its ups and downs; it was highly competitive but I have enjoyed the challenge of setting the fastest lap time, and the fight to finish in first place.”
Khera appeared to have a dream start to the season, with a double-pole and double-win at Oulton Park, but the second round at Snetterton proved Khera wasn’t unbeatable. “I had a few issues with the brakes at Snetterton, and it’s a track with a lot of hard braking zones.” Despite this, he still managed two second place finishes in Round 2.
His luck would run out at Donington. The first race of round 3 went well with a first place finish, but in Race 2, a puncture forced Khera to the pits and he ultimately finished in sixth, giving his two main rivals – H. Sikkens (H.R. Owen London) and Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst) – vital championship points. “Sikkens and I have been rivals for three years now, and this year he has had some outstanding pace, but I think I am more consistent. Morrow is new this year, but he is a quick driver.”
Round 4 took the championship to Khera’s favourite circuit, Brands Hatch, with the cars battling it out around both Indy and GP layouts, the latter Khera’s preference. “Brands’ [Hatch] GP circuit is mega. It’s full of blind corners and you have to be committed; you come out of a blind corner almost on the grass! You use every inch of the track, I absolutely love it.” And the results showed it, taking two race wins over the weekend. “My favourite moment of the season was at Brands Hatch; Race 2, I’d pretty much settled for second place behind Morrow, but my coach kept me in the zone. I re-focused and coming along the main straight into the last lap, I got by. I felt like I had my mum and dad with me – they both passed in 2021, so that was a special moment for me.”
Coming into the final round at Silverstone, Khera had a clear lead in the championship but it wasn’t a done deal. Ever the professional, he performed brilliantly, qualifying in pole position for Race 1. “I knew getting in the car for the race that I was going to win. The radio wasn’t working and I’d lost my rear view camera, but I had that same feeling I had a Brands Hatch and felt at one with the car. The car has been brilliant all season; the brakes, the balance, they tyres, the power, it’s just perfect.”
Khera scored a perfect first place finish, earning enough points to claim the Championship with one race still to run. Even with the title confirmed, Khera pushed on to qualify in pole position for Race 2, which he converted to a confident win.
“Next year, I want to focus on another category of racing. I’m not sure which one yet, but I’ll still be in UK Challenge for a few rounds.” Perhaps 2023 will give his rivals a chance at the title, but the 2022 Trophy will be in good company, next to the 2020 Trophy at Khera’s home.