Jack’s debut watched by nearly 100,000

Norwich teenager Jack Piper made his single-seater debut in front of a crowd of almost 100,000 at the prestigious World Series by Renault meeting in Belgium.

Norwich teenager Jack Piper made his single-seater debut in front of a crowd of almost 100,000 at the prestigious World Series by Renault meeting in Belgium.

Piper enjoyed impressive top 10 finishes on his first outing in the Formula Renault 1600 championship for Belgian-based race team Astromega.

The Thorpe St Andrew sixth former was the only debutant in the 13-strong field at Zolder, but came through to take ninth in his first race.

"It was a fantastic experience," said Piper, a member of Beccles Kart Club. "My main aim was to complete the race and get my lap times down as much as possible. To finish in the top 10 was a bonus."

Piper followed up his first outing with 10th place in the second race of the day, but was much quicker in the afternoon event, cutting his lap times to within just over a second of race winner, Belgian Niels Cox.

"I was pushing the guy in front of me all the way towards the end of the race and almost had him as we crossed the line," said Piper.

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The Norwich youngster's progress over the weekend impressed Astromega team manager Sam Boyle who said: "What Jack achieved was incredible when you consider his lack of experience. He was up against some very good drivers, some of whom are in their second or third season in the championship.

"It's a steep learning curve, but to do what Jack did was very impressive, especially in front of nearly 100,000 people. It must have been a nerve-tingling experience."

Piper damaged his ankle playing football a couple of days before the Belgian trip.

"He could hardly walk and at one stage we really thought he might struggle to operate the pedals," said Jack's dad Kevin, who turned to former Norwich City physio Tim Sheppard for help. "Tim weaved his magic, eased the pain and strapped the ankle up. If it wasn't for his expertise I'm not sure Jack would have been able to race."

Meanwhile, Piper, supported by Norwich-based Express Radiators and justjobsnorfolk.co.uk., is eagerly anticipating the next round of the Formula Renault 1600 championship at Dijon in France in a fortnight.