RISING star Samuel Hawthorne made an impression on his European debut.

The 14-year-old, from Harwell, took on some of the best junior drivers in the world in Belgium.

Hawthorne, who attends King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage, competed in the first round of the European Karting Championship at Mariembourg.

However, qualifying did not go to plan as the teenager found himself starting 18th for each heat after being held up on his flying lap.

Hawthorne, who took up karting three years ago, drove superbly in the three qualifying heats – the results of which determined the starting order for the pre-final – gaining places to challenge the top ten.

Despite progressing to the main final, he started at the back of the grid due to a mechanical failure.

Hawthorne recovered from a bad start to produce a stunning drive and climb from 34th to 17th.

But his race ended on lap six as an overtaking attempt resulted in both drivers crashing out.

Despite the incident, it was an encouraging start to his European Championship campaign, which also includes races in Italy, Germany and France.

Hawthorne is next in action on April 20-21 in the first round of the British Championship.