Category Archives: CLUB100

Club100 2017 Round 10 Report – Heavys

Club 100 Sprints Round 10 Whilton Mill

The second visit of the year to Whilton Mill and this time using the shorter ‘Zulu’ circuit which turns the flat right handed Inkermans into a tight hairpin before running into a short straight and then a tricky left, right, left sequence of corners known as Zulus one, two and three and named not after some African tribe or 60’s film but christened after the circuit owners dog. The final left hander leads onto the back straight. Some love the configuration and some loathe it but never let it be said that Club 100 doesn’t supply variety.

Into the afternoon and the clouds finally began to break up to give the fine weather the weather forecasters had promised for the Lightweights and Heavyweights/ Super Heavyweights events. And it was good to see a healthy turnout too necessitating B finals in both categories.

Qualifying

Group one

Adrian Brammer looked as though he was going to be quickest in Group one but it was newcomer Henry Jackson who surprised everyone setting the fastest time and breaking the forty four second mark. Sadly, he was excluded for being underweight. Championship contender James Browning ended up at the top of the timesheet from a surprised Andy Cowell who isn’t the best of qualifiers normally. Brammer took third from Andrew Dawson with Craig Rankine fifth.

Group two

Adam Wright took this one from Championship leader Mark Ridout. It was mightily close though with just 0.013 separating them. Alexander Lammin was third fastest from Ben Cottle and Chris James whilst Pete Gillet was the fastest of the SHW runners.

Pre B Final

Thirty runners for this one. Great to see. Mark Turner on pole from Daljeet Bahia with Paul Goddard next alongside Roger Mullen. Row three, Pete Gillett and Andrew Clarke with Nick Divers and Martin Gurnett on four. Jordan Salter and Shawn Morter completed the top ten. Turner made no mistake across the line at the start holding the pack and then flooring the throttle at just the right moment to lead by a few Kart lengths by the first turn. Immediately behind Goddard tried to go with him but had to fall in behind Bahia. But not for long. He dived up the inside into Inkermans but made contact. Turner was well clear of the pack as he crossed the line at the end of the lap but Goddard in second was now carrying the burden of a three place penalty. He had to win to progress. Bahia ran third ahead of Mullen and Gillett. Turner continued to lead with Goddard still in touch but not closing him down.

The two of them though were pulling well clear of the battle for third now led by Mullen from Bahia with Josh Pettit into fifth having climbed up from Grid twelve. Pettit’s impressive run came to an end with a spin promoting Shawn Mortar into fifth but well behind fourth and qualification. But with three to go Mullen spun out of contention. Turner took the win from Goddard who then dropped to fifth after his penalty. He was the quickest of the SHW group. Unfortunate this because it had been a really strong drive from the SHW. Bahia was a lonely third on the road some six seconds clear of fourth placed Morter but he too was carrying a penalty after exceeding the track limits once too often. Still, fourth was good enough. Gillett was placed third. Down the order and unnoticed by many was a really string drive from Henry Jackson. Having been excluded from qualifying he started in thirtieth position but worked his way up to eighth by the flag and set fastest lap in the process.

Pre A final

Pole for Browning with Wright alongside and Championship leader Ridout alongside Lammin on row two. Cowell and Cottle on row three from Brammer and Dawson with James and Wood completing the top ten. Poleman Browning detected a fault on his machine and was quickly into the pits for a Kart change which gave the rest of the field a few extra rolling up laps and a chance to warm the tyres. Browning got away from the start well enough but he would later state that his second machine didn’t feel quite right. All in the mind James? Out of Inkermans for the first time Ridout had the better exit and moved to the front whilst Browning defended resolutely from Wright. Behind, Cowell had got the better of Lammin at the start to hold fourth from Lammin, Cottle and a fast starting Wood. With three laps run Ridout still led and had opened a gap to Browning.

Wright was trying everything he knew to get by but was constantly rebuffed. Down through the Zulus’ for the fourth time though Wright timed his run to perfection and as Browning moved to the left on the exit to cover a move down the inside into the boot Wright remained on the right and simply drove past him. He immediately began to pull away and close down the leader whilst Browning was now defending from Lammin. Cowell meanwhile had Cottle close behind along with Wood. Into the Boot Cottle slipped ahead and Wood tried to follow him through. Unfortunately he made heavy contact with Cowell spinning the latter to a halt. Wood also got held up allowing Dawson up in to sixth. At the front Wright continued to close down the leader and on the penultimate lap he got a good run up the hill and took over at the front. Behind Browning had finally succumbed to the pressure from Lammin and dropped to fourth. Wright took the win by a couple of tenths from Ridout with Lammin third from Browning who had to fight off a late race challenge from Cottle and Dawson. Wood was next over the line but his six place penalty saw him drop out of the top ten. Forkes took seventh and set fastest lap with Rankine, Hill and Turner completing the top ten. A great performance from Turner, climbing eleven places through the race.

B Final

Jackson on pole from Mullen with Goddard and Divers on row two and Trafford and Clarke on three. Jackson was smartly away but Mullen lost out falling to fifth by the end of the lap. Goddard moved into second chased hard by Trafford with Kelman up to fourth from grid nine. Jackson quickly pulled clear at the front as Goddard fought to keep Trafford behind. But not for long. With three laps gone Trafford moved into second and immediately began to pull clear of Goddard whilst Kelman dropped out of fourth place after a spin which allowed Mitchell into fourth having started down on grid thirteen. Jackson continued to stretch his lead at the front and set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour whilst Trafford was an equally comfortable second ahead of Goddard and Mitchell. And this time there were no problems at the scales.

A Final

Forkes on pole from Wright with Wood and Cottle on row two. Browning and Ridout side by side on row three. Dawson and Gooch on four with Lammin and Cowell completing the top ten. Forkes led away from pole but it was Wood into second as Wright dropped to third with Browning and Ridout fourth and fifth. Down through the Zulu’s for the second time Browning muscled his way through into second and Ridout followed him through dropping Wright to fourth with Dawson fifth and Wood sixth. Forkes led across the line but as they ran up the hill for the third time Wright was back into third. Where was Ridout? At the end of the lap he crossed the line sixteenth and post race would admit that he’d simply made a mistake and run wide out of the first turn. Unlike some on the day though he didn’t throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity. Forkes still led and had pulled out a lead of over two seconds as the rest of the pack fought over second. But Browning began to close and was soon up with the leader and challenging hard finally getting close enough to try a move into the first turn.  He couldn’t quite make the move stick though round the outside but it seemed like only a matter of time and at half distance he was through into the lead at Inkermans. Dawson followed him through having demoted Wright a lap earlier.

Forkes though didn’t fall away and was holding off Wright for third. It was still anyone’s race and Browning was having to defend for all his worth from Dawson who in turn needed to keep a wary eye on Forkes and Wright. With four to go there was barely a cigarette paper between them. Into Christmas Dawson made a move which Browning defended and as Forkes exited the corner Dawson lost control and spun baulking Forkes and allowing Wright into second. He then set about chasing down Browning for the lead. Meanwhile down the order Hill, who had driven a barnstorming race up from grid nineteen and into the top ten got tagged by Rankine on the start and fish straight and spun to a halt at the pit lane exit. It turned out to be race defining moment. As the leaders came into the Boot for the final time Wright took his chance but Browning kept well to the inside forcing Wright to go the long way round. But he had greater momentum and looked to be well set to move into the lead at the final turn. But the yellow flags were waving. Wright beat the wheel in frustration. He would surely have taken the win but a jubilant Browning crossed the line a couple of Kart lengths ahead of a disgruntled Wright with Forkes an excellent third. Wood came home a lonely but worthy fourth ahead of Lammin who took the place by a virtue a penalty for Cottle for cone abuse. Ridout took seventh after a great fight back with Jackson a fine eighth after starting at the back. One can only speculate as to where he would have been had he not been excluded from qualifying. Still, he did get his monies worth from the day and a trophy for winning the B Final.

Williams and Turner completed the top ten with Nick Trafford winning the SHW division.

Podiums and Championships

A much needed win for James Browning. It was hard earned too as held off a determined challenge from Mark Wright who was clearly a touch miffed over his rivals resolute defence. Personally I saw nothing wrong and neither did the officials. Matt Forkes third place was well deserved. Having seen his big lead cut I thought he might slip down the order but he didn’t and was still in with a shot at the win at the death. The izone award was just reward.

And a trophy too for Henry Jackson for winning the B Final. A good day for him and hopefully he’ll return for some more

Mark Ridout still leads the Championship but the gap is just one point from James Browning with Adam Wright still well in the hunt just ten points adrift. It’s going to be a tense final two rounds. Nick Trafford took the SHW honours again and he is the hot favourite to win the SHW crown.

Reflections

Another great days racing at Whilton but it was a great shame that JV had to lay down the law after the first two Clubman’s races had to be restarted. Hearing drivers claiming that other drivers were deliberately turning into other drivers or driving people off the track is not good. All drivers have a responsibility to their fellow competitors. We want to see good clean racing with drivers showing each other respect. Take heed.

I must admit I struggle sometimes to understand the mindset of some drivers and not just with regard to driving standards. I had harsh words for a couple of them in the paddock after they had retired healthy Karts. It’s true they weren’t going to win but I just don’t get why you would spend money testing, spend money on overnight accommodation and travelling, money on racing and then pull out with plenty of laps to run. Track time is important so why not take full advantage. You don’t learn anything stood in the pits. There are drivers racing who will probably never trouble the podium but they don’t just give up. They drive and race for the joy of it. I grew up in a sporting household. Football, Cricket, Snooker and Table tennis were the main games. And one thing I was taught was that that you never give in. Winners don’t quit and Champions don’t give in. Quitting displays a mental fragility. If I were competing I’d play on that. Or am I missing something?

See you at Bayford!!

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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Club100 2017 Round 10 Report – Lights

Club 100 Sprints Round 10 Whilton Mill

The second visit of the year to Whilton Mill and this time using the shorter ‘Zulu’ circuit which turns the flat right handed Inkermans into a tight hairpin before running into a short straight and then a tricky left, right, left sequence of corners known as Zulus one, two and three and named not after some African tribe or 60’s film but christened after the circuit owners dog. The final left hander leads onto the back straight. Some love the configuration and some loathe it but never let it be said that Club 100 doesn’t supply variety.

Into the afternoon and the clouds finally began to break up to give the fine weather the weather forecasters had promised for the Lightweights and Heavyweights/ Super Heavyweights events. And it was good to see a healthy turnout too necessitating B finals in both categories.

Qualifying

Group one

Chris Bell stopped the clock with a sub forty four second lap on his first lying attempt but Chris Woodger beat him to fastest time midway through the session as did Ben Atkinson. Bobby Dawes was next but failing to get under forty four seconds with Thanassi Barnicoat next. A good effort this in his first run in Club 100. He’s raced in Easykarts though so he’s not short of experience.

Group 2

Sammy Venables topped the second group and he was clearly on form with seven out of his eight laps under forty four seconds. Jon Watkins took the second spot with Championship leader Darri Simms third. Second in the Championship standings Liam Cochrane could only manage the sixth quickest time in the session behind Andrew Ward and Seb Algieri.

Lightweight Pre B Final

Four to qualify for the Pre A final and Marc Roberts on pole from Jon Buck with Tom Mackenzie and Oscar Lancaster on row two. Row three, James Haslehurst and James Venning. Roberts led the field away but any chance of qualification disappeared as he ran wide and got swamped by half the field dropping to ninth by the end of the lap leaving Buck in first place from Lancaster. Venning was up to third after a sharp getaway with Mackenzie occupying fourth from Haslehurst. Venning was flying at this point and a lap later he was into second with Lancaster third from Haslehurst and Mackenzie. The order stabilised for a few laps before Venning decided he’d be better off at the front and with six laps run he moved ahead of Buck. Haslehurst by this time was up to third with Darren Martin into fourth whilst Mackenzie remained fifth. Martin’s fourth place lasted just a lap before he spun down the order. Lancaster had dropped to sixth but as Martin fell back he managed to get back ahead of Mackenzie, still in fifth. And that was how they remained all the way to the flag. Venning took the win almost a second clear of Buck with Haslehurst third from Lancaster with Mackenzie just missing out in fifth.

Lightweight Pre A final

Venables on pole from Woodger with Watkins and Atkinson on row two. Then the first of the Championship contenders Bell with Championship leader Simms alongside. Row four, Ward and Algieri with Cochrane and Darling completing the top ten. Venables brought the field up to the start but it was Woodger who made the smarter getaway. Well, not that smart. It was certainly quick bur he’d jumped the start much to his clear annoyance. Venables dropped to third behind Atkinson whilst Watkins got forced wide on the run up to Christmas corner and would be down in thirteenth as the field crossed the line at the end of the first lap. Simms got the better of Bell to run fourth with Bell fifth and Cochrane up to sixth. Darling ran seventh from Algieri.  Woodger continued to lead but with four laps run Venables was up to second ahead of Atkinson. But Venables had been a little too aggressive as he went by Atkinson out of Inkermans which meant the first two runners on the road were both carrying penalties.  Meanwhile Bell was pressing Simms hard into the Boot complex and as Simms ran a little wide Bell moved inside. As they ran down to the final corner Simms looked back over shoulder to see where Cochrane was. The answer was coming up the inside and the Championship leader dropped to sixth.

A lap later and Bell moved ahead of Atkinson for third. Cochrane wasn’t about to let him getaway and pressed Atkinson hard. Out of the final corner at the end of the eighth lap he swept round the outside and overtook on the concrete apron. But he got away with it. Champions luck? Certainly Liam new afterwards that he’d dodged a metaphoric bullet. He immediately closed in on Bell the two of them third and fourth on the road but in reality in first and second.  Two thirds distance and Bell slipped ahead of Venables to try and put some breathing space back to Cochrane. A lap later and he was into first as Woodger fell back to third. By the penultimate la he was down to fifth. At the front Venables was intent on the win and wisely Bell didn’t defend the place too hard knowing his rival would be penalised at the end. Venables crossed the line first but dropped to fourth after his penalty thus handing the win and valuable Championship points to Bell. A relieved Cochrane took second with Atkinson third from Venables. Fifth went to Watkins. After dropping to thirteenth he made steady progress up the order and had a late race battle with Simms. The two of them swapped places a couple of times before Watkins finally broke clear and also got the better of a fading Woodger who finished sixth on the road but dropped to eighth after his penalty was applied. Simms was sixth ahead of Darling. A good drive this. He was on the pace and kept out of trouble. Ward and Fincham completed the top ten.

Lightweight B Final

Marshall on pole from Roberts with Mackenzie and Wood on row two from Rowlands and Martin. Marshall led away from pole with Roberts tucking in behind but it was Rowlands who caught the eye moving quickly into third whilst Wood dropped away. By the end of the third lap he was down to eighth. Marshall continued to stretch his advantage at the front but Roberts was far from safe in second as Mackenzie and Rowlands began to pressure him. Half distance and they were both by. Martin was on a charge and a lap later he moved up to third as the battling Roberts and Rowland held each other up. Marshall was untroubled at the front and Mackenzie was well clear of the battle for third headed now by Martin from Rowlands and Roberts. And that was how they remained to the flag with Marshall taking a comfortable win from Mackenzie who took an equally comfortable second place from the squabbling Martin and Rowlands. But then came the post race drama. Marshall was underweight and excluded handing the win to Mackenzie with Martin promoted into the final qualifying spot ahead of Rowlands by just 0.093.

Lightweights A Final

The final race of the day for the lights. The three main Championship protagonists were all well down the order with Venables on pole from Woodger and Barnicoat and Watkins on row two. Wheeldon and Mather on row three from Ward and Atkinson on four. Row five, Bell and Fincham with second in the Championship Cochrane and Championship leader Simms starting eleventh and twelfth. Venables led the field away and this time Woodger was a little more circumspect off the line tucking in behind the leader as the field streamed up the hill. Barnicoat remained third with Wheeldon next from Watkins. Atkinson moved up a couple of spots whilst Ward and Fincham spun to the back of the field. Cochrane dropped a spot but Simms fared even worse. Coming through the Zulus he got tagged and spun to halt. Despite getting restarted he pulled into the pits and retired. Woodger didn’t allow Venables any respite and was ahead by the end of the second lap having briefly got ahead in the Boot on the first lap.

Watkins quickly recovered lost ground to move into third ahead of Barnicoat, Wheeldon, Atkinson and Bell. Woodger inched away at the front as Venables came under increasing pressure from Watkins and Barnicoat with Bell getting ever closer. Further back Cochrane was beginning to make progress moving into the top ten. Venables finally succumbed to the advances of Watkins and Barnicoat and dropped to fourth. A lap later though and he was back into third with Barnicoat dropping to fifth behind Bell. Bell knew a good result was within his grasp and a good haul of points would see him move back to second in the standings and cut Simms Championship lead and a lap later he was through into third with plenty of laps left to chase down the leaders. He was flying having set fastest lap and establishing a record on the seventh tour. Venables though was desperate to get back on terms and as they went up the hill into Christmas he lunged down the inside from well back making heavy contact and spinning Bell to a halt. Bell would later say he was sure he had enough pace to catch the leaders and win the race but rather than continue he too pulled into the pits and retirement.  Venables continued but within a few more laps he too was into retirement with a mechanical problem. Woodger continued to lead chased by Watkins with Barnicoat third from Atkinson. Cochrane was now up to fifth having taken full advantage of some of the confusion in front of him. And that was how the order remained to the flag.

Podiums and Championships

All smiles on the Lightweight podium with Chris Woodger taking his first win of the season. And well deserved it was too. Jon Watkins second place was his first visit to the podium since winning at round four whilst Thanassi Barnicoat can be well satisfied with third in his first Club 100 outing. Tom Mackenzie too can be well satisfied with his day after winning the B Final and taking home a trophy.

It wasn’t a great day for the three main Championship contenders and certainly Darri Simms will be glad to see the back of Whilton this year having been taken out of both A finals on both visits this year. Nevertheless he continues to lead the Championship but his lead has been cut whilst Liam Cochrane gained a bit of ground and increased his lead by a few points over third placed Chris Bell.  Despite a poor day Liam never gave up the fight.  With two rounds to go who is going to be mentally the strongest driver? Who will handle the pressure best?

Reflections

Another great days racing at Whilton but it was a great shame that JV had to lay down the law after the first two Clubman’s races had to be restarted. Hearing drivers claiming that other drivers were deliberately turning into other drivers or driving people off the track is not good. All drivers have a responsibility to their fellow competitors. We want to see good clean racing with drivers showing each other respect. Take heed.

I must admit I struggle sometimes to understand the mindset of some drivers and not just with regard to driving standards. I had harsh words for a couple of them in the paddock after they had retired healthy Karts. It’s true they weren’t going to win but I just don’t get why you would spend money testing, spend money on overnight accommodation and travelling, money on racing and then pull out with plenty of laps to run. Track time is important so why not take full advantage. You don’t learn anything stood in the pits. There are drivers racing who will probably never trouble the podium but they don’t just give up. They drive and race for the joy of it. I grew up in a sporting household. Football, Cricket, Snooker and Table tennis were the main games. And one thing I was taught was that that you never give in. Winners don’t quit and Champions don’t give in. Quitting displays a mental fragility. If I were competing I’d play on that. Or am I missing something?

See you at Bayford!!

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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Club100 2017 Round 10 Report – Elite

Club 100 Sprints Round 10 Whilton Mill

The second visit of the year to Whilton Mill and this time using the shorter ‘Zulu’ circuit which turns the flat right handed Inkermans into a tight hairpin before running into a short straight and then a tricky left, right, left sequence of corners known as Zulus one, two and three and named not after some African tribe or 60’s film but christened after the circuit owners dog. The final left hander leads onto the back straight. Some love the configuration and some loathe it but never let it be said that Club 100 doesn’t supply variety.

Heat 1

Just thirteen runners in the Elites. Another small grid which is going to prompt an exciting change in the formats for next season. Ian Blake had pole from Pete O’Connor with new dad Jay Elliott on row two from Dan Truman. Blake led the field away but it was Elliott into second from O’Connor with Truman hanging on to fourth from reigning Champion Steve Brown whilst the perennially unlucky Dan Healey dropped from fifth to ninth. Red Lodge winner Jonathan Lisseter dropped from seventh to the back of the field as Brandon Williams, Tyler Mays and Championship leader Joe Holmes all made up ground. Blake continued to lead but only by a few Kart lengths from the frantic battle for second. Elliot’s second place lasted just a lap before O’Connor forced his way ahead followed by Brown as Elliott dropped dramatically down the order falling to eighth after just four laps.

Brown was looking particularly quick and was quickly ahead of O’Connor and closing down the leader. Within a lap he was onto the leader’s bumper with O’Connor close behind chased now by Williams. Half distance and Brown was into the lead. A lap later and Blake was down to third behind O’Connor. A lap later and he was down to fifth behind Williams and Holmes who had worked his way steadily forward from Grid eleven. Brown continued to stretch his advantage at the front chased by O’Connor the two of them gradually pulling clear of the battle for third still headed by Williams. Brown duly took the win by a comfortable margin from O’Connor the two of them well clear of the battle for third which finally went the way of Holmes. Healey took fourth having for once been in the right place at the right time taking full advantage of a last lap shuffle. Williams was next. At the start of the penultimate lap he was third. By the end of it he down to eighth but recovered to fifth. Tom Dix was sixth and set the fastest lap which also established a record.  Mays was next but penalised down to eleventh thus promoting Elliott into seventh with a despondent Blake eighth from a returning Stephen Hicks ahead of Edward Barrs.

Heat 2

Williams on pole for this one with Barrs alongside from Mays and Holmes. Williams led the field away and from that moment on was never headed. Mays tucked in behind from Holmes with Barrs down to fourth. Hicks held fifth but not for long as Blake quickly made up ground as Dix fell back from Grid six. Within a couple of laps he would be at the back of the pack. Williams continued on his way but Holmes was intent on second and with four laps run he made it by Mays and set off in pursuit of the leader. Mays was now being pressed hard by Barrs and just after half way the latter made it by with Hicks following a lap later.

Blake was stuck in sixth and couldn’t quite get close enough to the battle in front to be a threat. Holmes meanwhile continued to close in on the leader but a win was not to be and Williams duly took the flag just under half a second to the good. The two of them were well clear of the battle for third place which went to Hicks after a last lap pass on Barrs. Blake took fifth having demoted Mays on the penultimate lap with Brown next having made steady progress up from Grid twelve and setting the fastest lap two from home. The lap also established a record. Mays had to settle for seventh but he was well clear off the battle for eighth which finally went to O’Connor who headed a chain of Karts covered by just over half a second. Truman was ninth from Healey, Elliott, Lisseter and Dix.

Heat 3

Lisseter on pole from Dix with Brown next from Hicks. Lisseter got away cleanly with Dix tucking in behind but Hicks was up to third at the expense of Brown who fell to fifth behind a fast starting Holmes whilst Healey also lost ground. Barrs made a storming start up from Grid ten to seventh whilst Blake was on the move from the back of the grid. Tenth by the end of lap one he was into ninth a lap later and challenging Barrs for eighth the latter having dropped back behind a recovering Truman. Unfortunately Blake got a little too feisty in his fight for ninth and he and Barrs made contact resulting in Barrs spinning to a halt and unable to resume.  Blake was adjudged the aggressor and would be excluded from the results at the end of the race.

Lisseter continued to lead but Holmes was up into second and challenging hard for the lead. It didn’t take him long to find away by and he quickly began to pull a gap as Lisseter defended from Hicks. Hicks made it by at half distance but could make no impression on the gap to the leader. Healey moved into third with Brown fourth as Lisseter dropped back to fifth. Holmes continued to stretch his advantage whilst on the penultimate lap Healey forced his way into second. A lap later and Brown also moved ahead of Hicks and that was how they finished. Holmes took the win from Healey, Brown, Hicks and Lisseter. Elliott took sixth. After dropping a couple of spots to eleventh in the early stages he fought back finally finding a way by Truman on the final lap. Dix was next with Williams and O’Connor completing the top ten. Holmes set the fastest lap on the final tour just to underline his superiority.

Final

Holmes on pole from Brown with Williams and Hicks on row two. Healey and O’Connor on three from Elliott and Barrs with Dix and Lisseter completing the top ten. Mays and Truman next with second in the Championship Blake on his own at the back. Holmes led the field way but it was a fast starting Williams who moved into second at the expense of Brown. I thought Williams jumped the start but no penalty was called.  Hicks and Healey remained fourth and fifth. Blake moved into the top ten by the end of the first lap. Holmes quickly stretched his advantage as Williams held off the challenge from Brown.

Healey though had swapped places with Hicks. Hicks stayed with him and the two of them began to build a gap back to the rest of the field.  Half distance and Brown was up to second and immediately set about trying to close the gap to the leader with Williams close behind. And both Healey and Hicks were both close enough behind to capitalise on any errors.  It didn’t happen though. Holmes crossed the line half a second up but never seriously threatened despite Brown setting the fastest lap on the penultimate tour. Williams remained in contention but had to settle for third with Healey and Hicks next up. Blake made it up to sixth with Dix, Barrs, Elliott and Lisseter completing the top ten.

Championship

Like Harry Neale in the Clubman’s Joe Holmes is now well clear of the pack. After a slow start he’s knuckled down and remained focused. Ian Blake has chased hard and kept himself in the hunt but his body language at Whilton suggested he’d all but given up the fight. Still, he’s bounced back before. Steve Brown started the year with two final wins but thereafter his good form deserted him. A recent run in the Birelart UK Championship saw him finish fourth in the final and just three tenths away from the top step on the podium. Another lap and he might well have won it. A great credit to himself and a good advert for the talent that exists in Club 100.

 

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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Club100 2017 Round 10 Report – Clubman

Club 100 Sprints Round 10 Whilton Mill

The second visit of the year to Whilton Mill and this time using the shorter ‘Zulu’ circuit which turns the flat right handed Inkermans into a tight hairpin before running into a short straight and then a tricky left, right, left sequence of corners known as Zulus one, two and three and named not after some African tribe or 60’s film but christened after the circuit owners dog. The final left hander leads onto the back straight. Some love the configuration and some loathe it but never let it be said that Club 100 doesn’t supply variety.

Heat 1

Despite the forecast being for a hot sunny day the morning sessions started in chilly overcast conditions with some moisture in the air as the Clubman’s took to the track for the first heat and the first false start of the day as several drivers fell off at the top of the hill. Second time around and pole sitter James Hattersley made no mistakes to lead the field up the hill and into Christmas corner. Harrison Darvill, starting alongside Hattersley, was slow away and tripped over Championship contender Pietro Pagano putting them both to the back of the field. Darvill was adjudged at fault and would be excluded at the end of the race.  Hattersley led the field across the line at the end of the lap with a sizeable lead from Mike Townley and Luke Hornsby whilst Peter Harris had driven a sensational first lap moving from Grid eleven to fourth. Martin Theodorou was next up ahead of Justin Buck who had his hands full holding off the attentions of Richard Evans who was having his first ever outing in a Club 100 Kart. He currently lies second in the Birelart UK Super Elite series so he’s no slouch. Chris Penny was next ahead of Darrell Lowe with Stefan Scully completing the top ten.

Another driver who put in an astonishing first lap moving up from Grid twenty three. Hattersley continued to stretch his lead at the front as Townley fought to hang on to second from Hornsby and Harris. Not for long though as he was soon demoted to fourth behind Hornsby, Harris and Theodorou. Rob Moore had quickly worked his way up to sixth from Grid twenty one but his challenge looked to have stalled as he settled on the tail of the battle for second. Just after half distance though he made it by Townley and a lap later dispensed with Theodorou for fourth. Hattersley looked to be well in command at the front but with four to go he suddenly began to lose power and Hornsby and Harris quickly began to close in by over a second a lap. Into the final lap he was still ahead. Harris forced his way by Hornsby at the start of the lap and closed in on Hattersley. Powerless to defend the leader had to cede the place but still had enough left to hang onto second from Hornsby. Moore came home fourth with Buck fifth and the impressive Scully sixth from Lowe. Theodorou took eighth from Evans who admitted that he hadn’t quite expected the intense level of competition. Jack Bolton rounded out the top ten. Pagano set the fastest lap but it was scant reward for twenty first place.

Heat 2

Another heat that had to be restarted prompting a reduction in laps and race time. James Martin led the field up to the start for the second time but he was quickly demoted by a fast starting Thomas Glyde. Too fast as it happened as he was penalised two places for a jumped start. His day got worse as he was also adjudged to have made contact as he forced his way to the front handing him another four place demotion. Still, at least he led on the road. Championship leader Harry Neale moved up into second with Jamie Pender third ahead of Frankie Hedges. Down the order Simon Lloyd and Hattersley both spun to a halt in separate incidents. Hattersley resumed last and would ultimately finish sixteenth and set the fastest lap of the race.

Two laps gone and David Whitehouse and Stephen Docker both spun to the rear of the field. Glyde continued to lead with Neale close behind from Pender and Hedges with Martin, Bolton and Moore running line astern. Neale moved ahead with three laps remaining and promptly began to pull away from Glyde who continued to hold off Pender. Neale made no mistake to record a comfortable win with Glyde still second on the road but demoted to seventh thus handing second to Pender. Moore took third from Hedges but the latter was found to be underweight and excluded from the results handing fourth to Bolton from Martin and Townley. Dixon, Buck and Scully completed the top ten.

Heat 3

Marc Craddock on pole from Stephen Docker with Evans and Lloyd next up. This time everyone behaved themselves away from the line. Well almost. Evans and Lloyd went missing and would resume dead last but no penalties were called. Scully moved into third from Grid six with Moore driving yet another strong opening lap to move into fourth from Grid ten. David Whitehouse slotted into fifth ahead of Chris Dixon, another strong starter up from Grid twelve. Hedges Bolton and Pagano too all made strong starts from lowly Grid slots to run inside the top ten. Craddock continued to lead but was being hard pressed by Docker. But not too hard as it allowed them to build a gap to the chasing pack still headed by Scully.

Just before half distance Docker moved to the front but Craddock wasn’t going to allow him to get away and remained on his bumper. Behind, Moore made it by Scully and began to close in on the leaders. Craddock meanwhile allowed Docker a couple of laps at the front before moving back ahead. This time Docker lost a bit of momentum and from that moment on the result was never in doubt as Craddock pulled further away eventually crossing the line almost three seconds to the good. Docker was equally comfortable in second as was Moore in third as the leading five spread out. Whitehouse was an excellent fourth ahead of Dixon who set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour. Hedges was next, promoted at the expense of Scully who was penalised for cone abuse. Bolton would have been next but he too was penalised for cone abuse promoting Neale into eighth. Lowe completed the top ten.

Final

Moore on pole from Neale with Bolton and Scully on row two from Craddock and Harris on three. Hattersley and Townsley on row four and Pender and Dixon completing the top ten. Once again the field got away cleanly with Moore in the lead chased by Neale. Scully got the better of Bolton in the run up to Christmas with Harris also getting the better of Craddock. Hattersley, Townley and Pender ran line astern with Buck completing the top ten after a sharp getaway. Further back Evans was on the move. Having felt he’d been roughed up a little in the heats he’d decided to get a bit firm and was really getting his elbows out. With two laps run Neale slipped by Moore for the lead and as the chasing pack squabbled over third the two of them began to steadily edge away. Harris moved up to third with Bolton fourth and Scully into fifth having dropped briefly behind Hattersley. Craddock ran seventh and was gradually being dropped. Neale and Moore continued to pull away at the front with Neale clearly having the upper hand and under no pressure whilst equally Harris looked safe in second. The battle for third though was really hotting up.

Half distance and Bolton was back into third with Hattersley and Moore right behind. Scully was dropping away from the fight and being reeled in by Craddock whilst the charging Evans was up to eighth and closing in on Glyde. Dixon completed the top ten and then a big gap back to Pagano who was leading the remaining runners. Neale and Moore reeled off the remaining laps to take the top two spots but behind the battle raged. A couple of times Hattersley almost made it into third but Bolton was resolute in his defence. Sadly for him on the penultimate lap he clipped a cone going into the boot. Wisely Hattersley sat back, defended from the following Moore and let Bolton cross the line third having noted the penalty on the start line gantry. A wise move giving him a well deserved final spot on the podium. Bolton took fourth after an eventful drive with Moore fifth. Scully kept Craddock at bay for sixth. Next up on the road was Evans but a three place deduction, one for cone abuse and two for multiple contacts, saw him placed out of the top ten. Still, he’d enjoyed himself and did have the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap. Hopefully it won’t be just a one off drive. Glyde, Dixon and Pagano completed the top ten the latter cutting a disconsolate figure in the paddock knowing that his chances off the Championship for this year had just about evaporated,

Championship

After his second final win in a row Harry Neale now has one hand firmly on the Championship trophy. It will take a major upset to deprive him. He’s been the dominant racer all season. He’s missed two rounds and stood on the top step in six out of the other eight.

Peter Harris has run into some good form over the last few rounds and has been runner up to Harry over the last two events. He sits sixth in the standings. James Hattersley’s third place was his first in Clubman’s this year. But then he’s only competed in three rounds having started in Elites. Rob Moore remains second in the Championship from Jack Bolton.

 

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Club100 2017 Round 8 Report – Heavies

Club 100 Sprint Series Round 8 Clay Pigeon

Back to Clay for the second time this season and the Championships are really beginning to heat up. Joe Holmes leads the way in the Elites but will a resurgent Steve Brown continue his return to form in the defence of his title. Or will Ian Blake upset them both? In the Lights will Darri Simms get back on the top step of the podium or will Liam Cochrane continue his run of form. And lets not forget Lydd winner Christopher Bell. Probably the driver under the least pressure and it may well work to his advantage. In the Clubman class can anyone stop Harry Neale? Pietro Pagano reckons the Championship is Harry’s to lose but Harry was missing from the entry list at Clay so it was up to Pietro to produce a good result and keep up the pressure.  But there’s many a slip between cup and lips. And in the heavies James Browning was back after missing Lydd because of family commitments. Could he stave off the rapidly advancing challenge from Mark Ridout and Adam Wright?

Having had a beautiful sunny Saturday for the Endurance round the Sprint series arrived to find the circuit awash and a very stiff wind blowing from south to north across the circuit. The rain was a fine drizzle which never stopped all through the event. Days like these often throw up surprise results as the heavier drivers gain better grip. Here’s how the day unfolded.

Qualifying

Group 1

For much of the session it looked as though the two veterans, Andy Cowell and Tim Hill were going to be heading the times but despite improving their times over the final lap it was Adam Wright who just shaded it edging out Cowell by just 0.004. Championship leader James Browning was next up. Having missed the last round he admitted that he badly needed a good result to fend off the mounting threat from Mark Ridout who was in the second group. Andrew Clarke was the fastest SHW.

Group 2

SHW Nick Trafford was an early front runner before Anthony Harrington topped the order. But not for long. Previous Clay winner Steve Bosley was languishing down the order before moving up to third but it was Mark Ridout who finally topped the order on his penultimate lap. He was the only driver to break the fifty five second barrier. Paul Williams was fourth quickest with Trafford the leading SHW.

HW/SHW Pre B Final

Mike Bodnar on pole from Paul Goddard with Lennie Wood and Gerard Moore on row two. Peter Hobbs and Craig Rankine shared row three from Alexander Lammin on four and Robert Stapleton and Jordan Salter on five. Top four to qualify for the Pre A final. Would we see the front runners settle into a rhythm and not challenge each other too hard? Not a chance. Bodnar led the pack away but Goddard lost out as Hobbs moved up to second from grid five. Wood remained third but Moore fared badly dropping back to seventh. Bodnar continued to lead but Wood was intent on second and slipped by Hobbs only for Hobbs to reclaim the place a lap later. Hobbs then managed to pull out a couple of lengths whilst Goddard remained fourth with Moore now back up to fifth. Half distance and Hobbs took over at the front with Wood now beginning to fall further adrift but on his own as Goddard and Moore battled over the final qualifying place. Bodnar moved back in front of Hobbs with four to run and Hobbs wisely settled for second realising that he and Bodnar were now well clear of Wood in third and safely into the Pre A Final. Not so Goddard and Moore however who fought hard over fourth before Moore finally got ahead on the penultimate lap. Bodnar crossed the line just over half a second up on Hobbs with the two of them almost twelve seconds up on third placed Wood who was well clear of fourth placed Moore with Goddard just missing out.

HW/SHW Pre A Final

Ridout on pole from Harrington with Bosley and Wright on row two from  Cowell and Williams on row three. Leading SHW Trafford on four with Hill and Cottle and Gurnett completing the top ten. Ridout led the field down to the first turn but as the field sped down the back straight it was Cowell into second from Williams with Harrington in fourth whilst Bosley spun away his chances of a good finish. Trafford too fell back as Championship leader Browning attempted to move forward. The digi board though was showing a penalty for 46, Cowell. Most thought it for a jumped start but he had been adjudged to have tapped Harrington as he moved into second on the first corner. A little harsh perhaps but then he does have a reputation. I’ve not forgotten Fulbeck 2000. Ridout continued serenely at the front and was pulling clear of the Cowell, Williams and Harrington battle for second. Half distance and Williams had gone missing having spun out. He would later claim that it was down to Cowell slowing suddenly in front of him.

All this promoted Hill up to third with Mark Turner fourth having started twelfth. Wright was hanging on in fifth just ahead of Browning who was trying all he knew to get by. Ridout continued to pull ever further away as Cowell remained in second over a second clear of third placed Hill whilst Wright got back ahead of Turner who fell briefly behind Browning before reclaiming the spot. Ridout crossed the line over nine seconds to the good with Cowell next to finish on the road but penalised down to fifth thus handing the place to Hill who slipped ahead of Wright on the final lap. Turner was next with Stuart Jones in sixth. A really fine drive this coming up from grid twenty. Browning was a disappointed seventh with Bodnar eighth. Another performance worthy of note, the Pre B Final winner having fought his way up from grid twenty one. Harrington finished ninth with Michael Ballinger completing the top ten.

HW/SHW B Final

Just two qualifiers for the main event from the fourteen runners. Rankine on pole from Super Heavy Gillett with Stapleton and Clarke on row two. Goddard and Lammin on three from Green and Germon on four with Storey and Townsend completing the top ten. Again the field got away cleanly and by the end of the lap Rankine led from Gillett with Stapleton third. Clarke had lost out dropping to seventh behind Goddard, Green and Lammin. A lap later and Green was into fourth chased by Lammin. With three laps run Stapleton made it up to second whilst Rankine continued to pull away at the front. Then Lammin got ahead of Green and began to pressure Gillet for third. Gillett then spun out and Lammin began to chase down Stapleton for second. Rankine was way up the road and would eventually take the win by almost seven seconds. With two to go Lammin was on Stapletons bumper and quickly by into second. He quickly pulled away too to take the second qualification place.

HW/SHW Final

Mark Ridout on pole from Turner with Bodnar third from leading Superheavy Trafford. Row three, Cottle and Wright from Jennings and Hill on four with Wood and Ballinger completing the top ten. The final start of the day and once again the field got away cleanly. Bodnar made a superb start and was ahead as the field exited the chicane for the first time. Poleman Ridout challenged hard but ran a little wide and Turner moved into second. Trafford lost out and slipped back to eighth allowing Cottle into fourth ahead of Jennings, Hill and Wright. Bodnar continued to set the pace and was pulling a gap from Turner who had Ridout close behind and Looking to move forward whilst Jennings moved into fourth with Hill and Wright behind as Cottle dropped to seventh. Down the order Championship leader Browning was making up ground moving  inside the top ten. Ridout homed in on Turner and duly moved ahead with six laps run. Bodnar though looked comfortable at the front but coming down the back straight for the tenth time the yellows were being waved at the hairpin. Bodnar slowed but Ridout didn’t and the gap closed dramatically.  But not by enough and Bodnar quickly responded to pull clear again by a few Kart lengths. Jennings was into third at the expense of Turner with Hill just behind in fourth and setting the fastest lap of the race. Browning had got up to sixth but he was too far adrift to trouble the leaders over the final laps. Bodnar reeled off the remaining laps to take the win by just under a second from Ridout with Jennings taking the final podium spot. Hill took fourth just ahead of Turner with Browning a lonely sixth. Ballinger was seventh ahead of the leading Superheavy Trafford with Cottle and Cowell completing the top ten.

Podiums and Championship standings

According to JV the last time Mike Bodnar stood on the podium the former had hair. I suspect it was even further back in time. Nevertheless it was a great win and a hugely popular one too.

Mark Ridout’s second place moves him to the top of the standings ahead of James Browning who needs a sharp return to his early season form. Stephen Jennings third place was his second podium in a row. I wonder where he would have been had he raced all season. Adam Wright remains third in the standings ahead of Tim Hill and Anthony Harrington.

Reflections

The weather at Clay was truly awful and played a big part in some of the results. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many smiling drivers. It may have been wet, windy and cold but the majority of drivers certainly enjoyed themselves. There was some very good driving too in the tricky conditions and surprisingly few penalties. As always the organisation was slick and the marshalls did a great job. Not easy for them in the rubbish weather. Next on the calendar is Red Lodge. I’ve never been. Some drivers like it, some don’t so we shall see. You can’t beat a bit of variety though.

See you there!

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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Club100 2017 Round 8 Report – Lights

Club 100 Sprint Series Round 8 Clay Pigeon

Back to Clay for the second time this season and the Championships are really beginning to heat up. Joe Holmes leads the way in the Elites but will a resurgent Steve Brown continue his return to form in the defence of his title. Or will Ian Blake upset them both? In the Lights will Darri Simms get back on the top step of the podium or will Liam Cochrane continue his run of form. And lets not forget Lydd winner Christopher Bell. Probably the driver under the least pressure and it may well work to his advantage. In the Clubman class can anyone stop Harry Neale? Pietro Pagano reckons the Championship is Harry’s to lose but Harry was missing from the entry list at Clay so it was up to Pietro to produce a good result and keep up the pressure.  But there’s many a slip between cup and lips. And in the heavies James Browning was back after missing Lydd because of family commitments. Could he stave off the rapidly advancing challenge from Mark Ridout and Adam Wright?

Having had a beautiful sunny Saturday for the Endurance round the Sprint series arrived to find the circuit awash and a very stiff wind blowing from south to north across the circuit. The rain was a fine drizzle which never stopped all through the event. Days like these often throw up surprise results as the heavier drivers gain better grip. Here’s how the day unfolded.

Qualifying

Group 1

All the leading Championship contenders were in this group but it was no surprise to see Championship leader Darri Simms finally top the times. He’s always quick over one lap and this was no exception although he left it till his last lap to usurp Christopher Bell. These two were in a class of their own being the only drivers to get under fifty five seconds. Ryan Williams was next ahead of Liam Cochrane.

Group 2

Jon Watkins headed the list here setting his fastest time as early as his third lap. It would prove good enough for pole too in the Pre A Final. Bobby Dawes was next but almost a second adrift    with Sammy Venables next ahead of Jacopo Fioravanti who was back after missing several rounds.

Lightweight Pre A Final

Watkins on pole by a healthy margin from Simms but could he convert pole to a win? Bell and Dawes on row two from Venables and Ryan Williams on row three. Row four saw Cochrane alongside James Williams with Woodger and Jacopo Fioravanti completing the top ten. Simms looked to have got the better start but he got in way too deep into the first turn and emerged from the following chicane in sixth. Bell took over in second whilst Dawes also ran wide behind Simms and would cross the line down in eleventh at the end of the first lap.

Venables was up into third followed by Ryan Williams and Cochrane whilst James Williams fell back to twenty third. With two laps run Watkins looked as though he would drive away from the rest of the field as Bell fell back a touch but still remained ahead of the battle for third briefly headed by Ryan Williams before Venables reclaimed the place. Cochrane remained fifth just ahead of Simms. With five laps run Venables finally got ahead of Bell whilst Cochrane slipped by Ryan Williams to put the pressure on the chasing Simms. Simms knew he needed to stay on terms with Cochrane and a lap later he was ahead of Ryan Williams with Andrea Fioravanti now into seventh after starting on grid fourteen.

Watkins continued to pull away from Venables with Bell third but under threat from Cochrane who duly moved ahead at two thirds distance taking Simms with him as Bell got impeded by a backmarker into the Horseshoe. Simms fourth place was under threat though as first a recovering Bell slipped ahead at the chicane followed a lap later by Ryan Williams.  Watkins took the win over four seconds up on Venables with Cochrane third and setting fastest lap. Bell placed fourth from Ryan Williams and Simms as the field spaced out towards the finish. Andrea Fioravanti was next across the line but penalised down to ninth behind Jacopo Fioravanti and promoting Sam Nash into seventh whilst Mike Noon completed the top ten.

Lightweights A Final

Watkins on pole from Cochrane and Championship leader Simms on row two with Venables. Bell and Robinson on three from Dawes and Ryan Williams on four. Woodger and Mackenzie completing the top ten on row five. Watkins brought the field round to the start but then managed to get on the grass on the outside of the little left kink before Billy’s. With no chance of saving the moment he headed across the grass keeping the Kart dead straight and emerging in front of the pack as they rounded Billy’s. He had enough momentum to keep going and was fortunate not to spin or collect anyone else but he was down to ninth as the field arrowed down the back straight. Cochrane led the field over the line at the end of the lap chased hard by Simms. The two of them were already beginning to pull out a gap to the chasing pack led by Dawes from Bell, Ryan Williams, Venables, Robinson, Woodger and Watkins.

A lap later and Watkins had fallen to sixteenth but his race was far from over.  Cochrane and Simms continued to circulate at the front with Dawes third but being pressured by just about everybody as far down as ninth. It was a humdinger of a battle with places changing all round the lap and Karts going through the Horseshoe three and four abreast.  Yet it was surprisingly clean in the early stages. Half distance and as the leaders came down the back straight Cochrane went into the hairpin just a little too deep. He kept it on the circuit, just, but was tippy toeing round the outside. Simms took to the inside and was through into the lead. Behind, Ryan Williams made it by Dawes for third with Ben Atkinson into a scarcely believable fifth.

Having started on grid eighteen he’d moved up into the top ten and was tracking the ferocious battle for third which was playing out in front of him. He chose his moments to attack well. Sixth at this stage was Venables from Bell and Robinson.  Simms continued to lead with Cochrane a few lengths back and trying desperately to close the leader down. Onto the straight he tried a different tack as Simms stuck to the conventional line. It looked for a moment as though it had worked but Simms had the better traction and stayed ahead. As Cochrane dropped away he glanced over his shoulder. Suddenly his front wheel was on the grass and he did the Karting equivalent of a tank slapper. Fortunately he ran on to the cut through and kept it together. Had that piece of tarmac not been there he would undoubtedly have spun out. And that was game over at the front. Cochrane’s pace dropped and although he kept Simms honest he was never close enough to attack despite Simms being impeded by a backmarker. It was a welcome, and emotional, win for the Championship leader. But what of the battle for third? Ryan Williams’s third place lasted a lap before Dawes got him back. But he wasn’t done and a lap later he had the place back.

Dawes dropped to sixth behind Atkinson and Venables with Woodger seventh from Robinson and Bell. But still any of these could have a shot at third. But then, after a great and clean battle it all got a little fraught. Atkinson took third, grabbing the spot on the penultimate lap and pulling clear over the final tour. Venables took fourth. With two to run he’d been ninth! Dawes was next across the line but penalised three places after gaining a place through contact and classified seventh. Robinson placed fifth having been down in eleventh at the start of the penultimate lap. Watkins was sixth, up from twelfth with just two laps left. Next across the line was Woodger but he took a six place penalty after putting Ryan Williams out of the race on the penultimate lap.  Chris Chubb too took a six place penalty after causing Bell to come to a halt.  All of which left James Williams, George Wilson and Tom Mackenzie to complete the top ten.

Podiums and Championship standings

Darri Simms top step on the podium was only his second A Final win of the season and was a welcome relief and boost after recent events. He also increased his Championship lead. Liam Cochrane was happy enough with second. Since returning for round five he’s consistently scored big points. He remains third in the standings behind Christopher Bell who failed to finish at Clay after a fraught final. Ben Atkinson’s third place was his first podium of the season having just missed out previuosly finishing fourth on a couple of occasions.

Reflections

The weather at Clay was truly awful and played a big part in some of the results. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many smiling drivers. It may have been wet, windy and cold but the majority of drivers certainly enjoyed themselves. There was some very good driving too in the tricky conditions and surprisingly few penalties. As always the organisation was slick and the marshalls did a great job. Not easy for them in the rubbish weather. Next on the calendar is Red Lodge. I’ve never been. Some drivers like it, some don’t so we shall see. You can’t beat a bit of variety though.

See you there!

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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Club100 2017 Round 8 Report – Clubman

Club 100 Sprint Series Round 8 Clay Pigeon

Back to Clay for the second time this season and the Championships are really beginning to heat up. Joe Holmes leads the way in the Elites but will a resurgent Steve Brown continue his return to form in the defence of his title. Or will Ian Blake upset them both? In the Lights will Darri Simms get back on the top step of the podium or will Liam Cochrane continue his run of form. And lets not forget Lydd winner Christopher Bell. Probably the driver under the least pressure and it may well work to his advantage. In the Clubman class can anyone stop Harry Neale? Pietro Pagano reckons the Championship is Harry’s to lose but Harry was missing from the entry list at Clay so it was up to Pietro to produce a good result and keep up the pressure.  But there’s many a slip between cup and lips. And in the heavies James Browning was back after missing Lydd because of family commitments. Could he stave off the rapidly advancing challenge from Mark Ridout and Adam Wright?

Having had a beautiful sunny Saturday for the Endurance round the Sprint series arrived to find the circuit awash and a very stiff wind blowing from south to north across the circuit. The rain was a fine drizzle which never stopped all through the event. Days like these often throw up surprise results as the heavier drivers gain better grip. Here’s how the day unfolded.

Heat 1

With the track well wet everyone held their breath as the field accelerated down into Billy’s for the first time. But everyone made it through without incident. By the end of the lap  Luke Hornsby had dropped to second from pole with Harrison Darvill up into the lead having started third.  Jamie Pender though dropped away from his front row spot crossing the line fifth whilst Stephen Docker remained in fourth. Down the order James Taylor drove a fantastic first lap moving up from grid twenty to twelfth. Martin Theodorou was another driver on the move. As the field continued to slither around the track Darvill continued to set the pace but Chris Dixon was up into second now ahead of Hornsby and Docker. Moore was into fifth having started on grid eleven whilst Taylors charge appeared to have evaporated down in ninth chased by Theodorou who was ahead by lap three and revelling in the wet conditions. Darvill continued to lead and was pulling a gap from Dixon and Hornsby who mid race found themselves demoted by Docker who then began to home in on the leader. With one to go the order looked to have settled but into the Horseshoe for the final time Docker spun to the outside throwing away a certain second place. Darvill took the honours with Dixon just holding off Hornsby for third. Fourth went to Moore with Taylor fifth after a late race surge. Sixth went to the former Elite runner James Hattersley. Having started on grid twelve he’d dropped to fifteenth early on before fighting back. Theodorou was next up from Jack Bolton. Another good drive having started on grid nineteen. David Whitehouse and Darrell Lowe completed the top ten.

Heat 2

Poleman Lowe led the field down into the first turn but it was a determined Pagano who came out in front and would still be at the front by the end of the lap. But not for long. Taylor was up to second from grid eight and clearly intent on first. Lowe was down to third with Theodorou fourth from a fast starting Stuart Osborn, up from grid nine. Taylor continued to pull clear at the front as Lowe, Theodorou and Pagano battled over second. With four gone Theodorou was up to second and chasing the leader quickly pulling out a gap. Pagano was third but then spun away his chances at the Horseshoe allowing Lowe back into third ahead of Peter Harris.  No one though could catch Taylor and he ran out the winner. Theodorou was some three seconds adrift at the flag but well clear of Harris who grabbed third from Lowe with two laps to go. Next up was Hattersley. Starting twenty third and last he’d moved up to sixteenth by the end of the first lap. He remained there for a lap before picking up places gradually over the course of the race. Steady rather than spectacular but staying out of trouble does work. Hornsby was sixth. Another good drive up from grid twelve. Bolton was seventh which was where he had started. Osborn took eighth. Having run as high as fifth he’d dropped back to tenth before recovering a couple of spots over the final laps. Moore was next holding off a very determined Justin Buck. He could have let him by as Buck was excluded from the results after colliding with Hodge at the hairpin and bringing him to a halt. Dixon completed the top ten.

Heat 3

Hattersley led the field way from pole but it was Buck who led the field into the chicane with Moore settling into third. Taylor was up to fourth from eighth ahead of Foster and Whitehouse who had made a great start up from grid eleven. He would be fifth after four laps before spinning out and finishing down in twenty first. Martin and Osborne, starting fourth and sixth respectively were both out of the picture dropping out of the top ten but still running. Buck continued to set the pace at the front from Hattersley who was just a few Kart lengths ahead of Moore who in turn was just a few lengths ahead of Taylor. Buck was really driving hard but was a little ragged a couple of times out of the chicane. It would be his undoing. Hattersley closed the gap and coming through the chicane for the fourth time Buck ran wide across the exit kerb and a large puddle. It was enough to lose a little momentum and as they slowed at the end of the back straight Hattersley moved to the front. Buck though didn’t fall away and the gap ebbed and flowed by a matter of hundredths as the race wound down. Half distance and Taylor slipped by Moore for second but could make no impression on the leaders. Final lap and Hattersley set the fastest lap taking the win by a fraction under half a second from Buck. Taylor took a lonely third ahead of Moore. These four had been the class the field.  Darvill was next some seven seconds adrift. A good drive though after starting on grid nineteen and really having to work hard to move up the order. Stefan Scully took sixth. After starting ninth he’d fallen back out of the top ten before moving forward. Theodorou was next. He’d started down in sixteenth but was ninth by the end of the first tour. Then he fell away by a couple of spots before settling down and moving up the order. Harris, Bolton and Docker completed the top ten.

Final

Taylor on pole from Hattersley with Theodorou and Darvill on row two. Row three was Moore and Hornsby with Bolton and Hornsby on four and Dixon and Harris completing the top ten. Taylor led the field down into the first turn but Hattersley lost out on the outside as Darvill powered his way through into second. Theodorou couldn’t quite take advantage and slotted into fourth with Moore fifth. Bolton got the better of Hornsby off the line for sixth. The order remained as you were for the opening laps but as they came down the back straight for the fourth time Hattersley was visibly closing in on Darvill for second. Then he spun. All on his own. Having braked he flicked the rear out but failed to catch it. A strong result gone. So Theodorou took over in third with Moore fourth but losing out just a shade on pace allowing Theodorou to keep him at bay. Taylor and Darvill were long gone and although the latter kept the leader honest he could never quite get close enough to mount a challenge eventually losing out by just over a couple of tenths. Theodorou took the final podium spot from Moore who was well clear of Dixon by the flag. Bolton ran fifth for a time before running wide at the hairpin and dropping to ninth. Two from home that became tenth as Scully powered past him. Hornsby was sixth losing fifth right at the end to Dixon. A good drive though. Pagano took seventh after starting down in twentieth. He needed the result too after disastrous heats. The pressure was really on him to produce something in the final to keep his Championship challenge alive. Scully, Harris and Bolton completed the top ten whilst Docker set the fastest lap of the race.

Podiums and Championships

James Taylors win was his best result of the season and came on his birthday too which earned him a rendition of Happy Birthday from JV. It was certainly more tuneful than the infamous winkle song but not as funny. Whilst the conditions played to James’s strengths it should not detract from a fine performance. Harrison Darvill too revelled in the conditions to post his best result of the season and the same is true of Martin Theodorou. None of these three are likely to be in with a shout at the Championship though unless of course we get rain at the next four rounds. That could mix things up!

Despite being absent Harry Neale continues at the top of the order from Pietro Pagano and Rob Moore.

Reflections

The weather at Clay was truly awful and played a big part in some of the results. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many smiling drivers. It may have been wet, windy and cold but the majority of drivers certainly enjoyed themselves. There was some very good driving too in the tricky conditions and surprisingly few penalties. As always the organisation was slick and the marshalls did a great job. Not easy for them in the rubbish weather. Next on the calendar is Red Lodge. I’ve never been. Some drivers like it, some don’t so we shall see. You can’t beat a bit of variety though.

See you there!

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Report written by Chris Simpson

Photography: Jack Mitchell – JAM Motorsport Photography

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