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The postman delivering mail to JM Racing’s headquarters at PF was kept pretty busy in December 2014. Apart from the usual Christmas cards, Mike Mills was inundated with registration forms for the forthcoming Little Green Man Championships and X30 Tour. “I’m not sure how we’re going to cope with it all,” Mike confessed. “We expected that interest would be running quite high at this stage, but the response so far has been huge. Still, I suppose it’s a problem that several other series organisers would be glad to have right now.”
OPENER AT PF
The scale of interest was revealed on April 5th when no less than 125 X30 competitors turned out at PF for the opening meeting. In comparison, the Little Green Man cadet entry of just 50 looked quite small. “We have 69 drivers entered for the Senior X30 class today, isn’t that fantastic?” enthused a delighted Paul Fletcher who was contemplating the first “C” Final ever to be held on his circuit. “It just goes to show that, if you can get the formula right, there are still plenty of adult karters who want to take part in MSA racing.”
Paul’s enthusiasm wasn’t quite shared by the powers that be down at Motor Sports House. Had it not been for the intervention of CIK President Kees Van De Grint late on Thursday evening, in fact, all 175 contenders would have been packing away their equipment by Saturday. A minor alteration to one of the corners had resulted in the MSA Permit being withdrawn on Wednesday. A series of frantic phone calls were made by Paul himself and the club chairman, Nigel Edwards throughout Thursday, before Van De Grint’s intervention meant that this meeting could go ahead. Meanwhile, Mike Mills remained blissfully unaware that his series had come very close to being sabotaged at the first hurdle.
After topping Timed Qualifying, Lewis Taylor claimed pole position for the Junior “A” Final. However, Alfie Brown, Callum Bradshaw, Joshua Simms and Eddie Hack quickly relegated him to 5th place. Bradshaw’s race lasted for just two laps before he retired, leaving Brown to open up a sizeable gap. Taylor fought back to 2nd place and pulled a train of drivers behind him as Brown’s lead began to disappear. With just over 1 lap remaining, Taylor hit the front with Hack following close behind. Halfway into the final tour, Brown pulled off a daring manoeuvre that gained him 1st spot. Hack was badly compromised as a result and dropped down to 5th behind Ethan Hawkey and Anderson Chilcott. Brown claimed a narrow victory over Taylor, with Hawkey filling the remaining podium place.
Senior contender Dan Stocks made a bit of history by winning PF’s first ever “C” Final and only failed by a couple of yards to grab a top four finish in the next one. From pole position, Mark Litchfield stormed off into an early lead in the “A” Final and never looked like losing it. Lucas Vaus should have started this race from grid 3, but unfortunately failed to make the rolling lap. Oliver Hodgson climbed up to 2nd place but was unable to make any inroads into his team-mate’s impressive lead. Jacob Stilp followed in 3rd spot ahead of Chris Trott ,Stephen Letts and Philip Rawson made up the top six.
Just one week later, 126 LGM and X30 Tour competitors arrived at Kimbolton. On this occasion it was Angus Fender who claimed pole position in the Junior “A” Final with Brown alongside him. Fender led this race all the way, pursued at first by Brown before Mario Mills took over 2nd place. With a couple of laps remaining, Ben Wooldridge nipped past Mills who then came under pressure from Chilcott. These four remained in their positions at the end, with Elliot Harvey holding off Josh Thompson for 5th spot.
Stilp and Letts shared row 1 for the Senior “A” Final, but it was Hodgson who took an early lead in this one with Litchfield looking curiously off the pace. Stilp assumed command after 4 laps had been completed, as Hodgson dropped down to 4th position. Danny Keirle moved quickly through the field and soon replaced Letts in 2nd spot. Stilp was forced to defend on the final lap but held on to take a fine win. Derek Morgan resisted the efforts of Hodgson for 3rd, with Letts and Litchfield making up the top six.
Larkhall staged the first “stand alone” meeting of this Series. Short, sharp showers brought about frequent changes to circuit conditions and many tyre changes occurred throughout the weekend. Brown claimed pole position for the Junior “A” Final, setting off alongside Jack Gordon. Brown took an immediate lead followed, initially, by Saul Robinson. Gordon soon took over 2nd spot and it became apparent that he was a good bit quicker than the leader. After half a dozen laps had been completed, he went through into 1st place and won with a large margin to spare over Brown. Cameron Fisher inherited 3rd spot when Robinson was involved in an incident that cost him 6 places. Hack finished behind Fisher in 4th position ahead of Bradshaw and Chilcott.
Josh Hatton claimed pole in the Senior class and took an early lead. He was closely followed by Hodgson, Rawson and Stilp. After 4 laps Hodgson hit the front and gradually pulled away to win this one by around 70 yards or more from Hatton and Ross Martin who had overtaken Rawson for 3rd place with the chequered flag in sight. Stilp finished ahead of Jamie Flynn in 5th position.
Pole-setter Brown opened up a big lead over Bradshaw in the Junior “A” Final. Jac Maybin grabbed 2nd spot after a couple of laps but lost out to Robinson and Bradshaw later on. Davey Shepherd and Yukinori Ishii relegated Maybin to 6th place as Brown increased his lead over Robinson to more than 200 yards. The race was cut short when Harrison Wedgbury collided with a lamppost. This brought out the red flags with three laps still remaining.
From pole position in the Seniors Litchfield made a storming start before being overtaken by Gus Lawrence. Hodgson then took up the chase as Litchfield dropped down to 7th spot. Keirle rapidly made up places and, with 4 laps remaining he hit the front taking Hodgson along with him. At the finish, victory went to Keirle by a margin of around 40 yards over Hodgson. Litchfield claimed a hard fought 3rd place ahead of Lawrence. Stilp followed Derek Morgan in 6th position.
Junior Qualifying was topped by Bradshaw who also claimed pole for the final. He took an immediate lead followed by Shepherd, Brown and Chilcott. As Bradshaw began to pull steadily away, Samuel Cornwell joined the battle for 2nd spot and he seized his opportunity with three laps remaining. By that time Bradshaw’s lead had extended to around 100 yards and he clearly wasn’t about to be caught. Shepherd then managed to get ahead of Cornwell and retained 2nd place right up to the chequered flag. Chilcott grabbed 4th position from Josh Thompson and Wooldridge squeezed out Brown for 6th.
Hodgson was the fastest man in timed qualifying and he confirmed this superiority by claiming pole position after his Heats. It all went wrong for him when the Senior “A” Final got underway. There was a crash around turn 2 that involved just about half of the 34 starters, including Hodgson who took evasive action by running off the circuit. That left Lawrence holding an impregnable lead that actually increased until three laps from the end when he retired with a broken throttle cable. Hodgson took over 1st place, but Matt Davis was making rapid progress from 19th on the starting grid and he went into 2nd spot. Hodgson crossed the line in front of everyone, but was subsequently excluded for his 1st lap excursion. It allowed Davis to claim his first win of the tour. Litchfield recovered from what had initially been a poor weekend by replacing Keirle for 2nd spot. Levi King finished 6th behind Danny Russell and Archie Tillett.
Bradshaw managed to pip Brown for pole position in the Junior “A” Final by virtue of his superior timed qualifying performance. He was closely followed by Philip Hanson and these two soon opened up a very comfortable lead over the chasing pack. James Taylor initially occupied 3rd spot until Brown went past him. Gradually, Brown began to close on the leading pair but it didn’t look as if he would have sufficient laps for a serious challenge. Hanson made a real effort to grab 1st place on the final lap but Bradshaw held him out. The race had ended a couple of laps too early for Brown who settled for 3rd spot ahead of Robinson, Gordon and Taylor.
From pole position Davis went into an immediate lead in the Senior “A” Final closely followed by Litchfield, who took over 1st place several laps later. Mark’s tenure on 1st position proved to be short lived as first Hodgson and then Davis went past him. Morgan joined the fray and relegated Litchfield to 4th spot. That allowed Hodgson to build up a massive lead and he coasted to victory, with Litchfield having fought his way through to 2nd place ahead of Morgan. Luke Hughes took 4th spot followed by Davis, Lawrence and Keirle. Abbie Carruthers was trying out this class for the first time having bought a brand new motor on Saturday. She did remarkably well to claim 8th place behind Paul Stewart.
Chilcott earned pole position for the Junior “A” Final and took an immediate lead. However, he was soon overtaken by Brown who pulled out a lead of around 30 yard before Bradshaw took over 2nd spot and began to give chase. Gradually he closed the gap until there was nothing to separate them. So intense was this battle that Robinson, leading a queue of eight karts, suddenly managed to catch up with them. Bradshaw lost out big style as he dropped out of the top ten. Robinson found himself in 1st place, only to be replaced almost immediately by Thompson. Brown regained 2nd spot and pulled Hanson along with him. Seven drivers were in contention as they began their final lap, with Thompson managing to hold on at the finish. He was closely followed by Brown, Hanson, Chilcott, Wooldridge and Harrison Wedgbury.
From pole position Stilp took an early lead in the Seniors but it wasn’t long before Hodgson assumed command. Keirle then took over at the front but lost out to Stilp’s determined efforts. Hodgson then had another go at leading but was struck from behind and retired from this race altogether. That left Keirle out in front once more, closely followed by Stilp and Litchfield. Davis had made up places and was right on Litchfield’s rear bumper as they began their final lap. Down the back straight leading into Stewarts’ Sweep they appeared to be four abreast. Something or someone clearly had to give and it was Stilp who suddenly disappeared from the fray. Litchfield was also a casualty and he limped around, finally taking 5th place. Davis took full advantage of this confusion to claim an unlikely victory ahead of Keirle, Lawrence and the local lad, Chad Little. Stephen Letts followed Litchfield home in 6th place.
Brown took full advantage of pole position as he led the Juniors away, followed by Chilcott and Wooldridge. These three soon opened up a sizeable lead until around half distance when Taylor Bellini and Angus Fender managed to pull the chasing pack into contention. By that stage Wooldridge had taken the lead with Brown losing out to Chilcott, also. With half a dozen laps remaining, though, Brown made a decisive bid for the lead and was then handed an early Christmas present when Fender moved through into 2nd spot. That manoeuvre suddenly gave the leader a breathing space of some15 yards which he increased even further as Fender was forced to adopt defensive tactics. Wooldridge almost snatched 2nd place, but fell a few inches short. Chilcott, Taylor and Bellini followed very closely behind.
Hodgson claimed an immediate lead in the final for seniors, with pole-sitter Keirle initially having to settle for 4th spot behind Litchfield and Sam Stansbury. Davis joined in the fray and was soon up to 2nd before getting his wheels in front of Hodgson as they approached half distance. These two swapped places on a couple of occasions, with Stansbury making sure that he was never far behind. Litchfield had dropped down the field but he made amends with a determined move on Keirle that earned him 4th spot. However, that allowed Lawrence to catch up and he passed both drivers in a lightning swoop at the hairpin. Litchfield seemed to slow and lost half a dozen places. With two laps remaining Lawrence retired from the race, promoting Keirle to 4th. Davis held on for the win, followed by Hodgson and Stansbury. Keirle was excluded for overtaking on a yellow flag and Scott Allen this inherited 4th place. Rawson and Letts made up the top six.
PF- THE LAST ONE
As usual, PF hosted the last meeting in this Series. Ross Woodford surprised the regular front runners in Juniors by emerging on top of the timed qualifying sheets. However, it was Robinson who claimed pole position for the “A” Final with Bradshaw alongside him. Robinson led from the lights only to be replaced by Harvey soon afterwards. Bradshaw took his turn at the front before Robinson regained 1st place. From grid 10, Brown suddenly sprang into contention and went in front as the race neared its conclusion. Robinson, though, hadn’t given up on this position and pulled off a good manoeuvre on Brown with just over a lap remaining. Halfway round their final tour Brown managed to get his wheels in front and held on to the finish. Following these two home were Harvey, Bradshaw, Wooldridge and Owen Byatt.
Hodgson claimed pole position for the Senior “A” Final with Litchfield alongside him. Earlier on, Keirle had been the quickest in timed qualifying. With just one lap completed, the two PF team-mates pulled out a massive 30 yards lead over Connor Jupp in 3rd spot. Keirle soon got ahead of Jupp and set about making up this deficit. Suddenly there was a queue of 5 or 6 karts contesting the lead. Litchfield went into 1st place but then found himself badly compromised and dropped down to 5th. Keirle went ahead of Hodgson but lost this place a couple of laps later. Together they managed to establish a gap of 30 yards or so before Litchfield appeared, having fought his way back to 3rd spot. Hodgson began his final tour with a slender lead of 5 or 6 yards over Keirle, but Litchfield had put in several very rapid laps and was now in contention. He pulled off a mighty move to take 2nd place from Keirle, giving Hodgson that vital breathing space at the finish. Morgan claimed 4th behind Keirle with Letts in 5th position. Jupp failed by little more than a coat of paint to grab 6th place from Stilp.
So the 2015 X30 Tour was brought to a close. MSA rules don’t allow the X30 classes to run in championship format until 2017. Last year, however, we saw evidence that, numerically at least they are beginning to replace Rotax as Britain’s main categories for junior and senior drivers. In terms of actual race victories, Alfie Brown came out on top of the juniors with four wins from a possible nine. Callum Bradshaw bagged a brace of wins, while Angus Fender, Jack Gordon and Josh Thompson emerged on top in the remainder. Oliver Hodgson and Matt Davis claimed three wins apiece in the senior category, with top slots in the other meetings shared by Mark Litchfield, Jacob Stilp and Danny Keirle.
Written by Dave Bewley