It’s always a highly anticipated meeting on the UK Karting Calendar and the TKM Festival never fails to produce fantastic racing and drama. This year was no different with two races being decided at the very last corner! Here’s the story of what happened on circuit and some noticeable mentions.
Junior TKM Festival Cup
It was certainly a shock to see Leanna Page end up in the Festival Cup. She had won the TKM Festival shakedown meeting last month and showed great pace in the ‘O’ plate finals, but it never quite worked out for her in the Festival. She, for me, was the favourite for the final and found herself very close to victory.
However, another shock appearance in the Festival Cup was Lucas Sullivan. He started his weekend by qualifying 6th overall, that was certainly helped by the mix up in the order but nevertheless he looked in no mood to hang around and took the lead on lap five.
Joel Oswick and Thomas Evans took turns in playing second best to Sullivan before Page came storming back through on lap ten. In three laps she chased down Sullivan and now had three laps to pass!
Seeing the danger, it was that exact point that Sullivan started to defend. Despite having the time and space behind to go all out attack, Page was unable to find a way through with Sullivan making no mistakes. It was Sullivan who took the Festival Cup victory with Page a close 2nd.
Joining Sullivan and Page on the podium would be Maria Bright. After starting 11th on the grid she calved through the field to finish 1.6 seconds behind Sullivan at the flag. Great drive!
TKM Extreme Festival Cup
The closest finish in the Festival came from the TKM Festival Cup. Surprise names in this one included Paul Monks and Lewis Wadley who hit bad luck throughout the heats. Things got worse for the pair in the final with Monks having to retire and Wadley having to recover from 28th to 13th.
At the front it was Matthew Harris who led the early stages of the final before Alex Rees took charge on lap four. The pair then worked together brilliantly to drop the likes of Sebastian Hutchinson and fight for victory between themselves come the last two laps.
It was at that point Rees put the anchors on with Harris now having over two seconds between himself and 3rd place Matthew Haughton. Rees had done his defending perfectly, but looked nervous coming into the final corner knowing Harris would go for the switch back.
As the karts exited the corner it was a full on drag race to the flag and if the flag were a few metres further down the straight Harris would have probably won. But it was Rees who took the victory by just 0.02 seconds ahead of Harris in a fantastic finish to the race. Haughton finished 3rd gaining four places in the process.
Special mention – There were two noticeable hard chargers in the race, they were Jack Macaulay and Wesley Graves who finished 4th and 9th respectively. Macaulay gained a total of 23 places with Graves gaining 22, all in the space of just 14 laps. Excellent stuff!
Junior TKM Elite Final
The most dramatic race of all came in the Junior TKM Elite Final. The Tal-ko racing team mates, Bradley White and Adam Sparrow had been quick all weekend and when they started to work together early in the final they became too hard to keep up with.
Lee Whittingham in 3rd was able to stay within two seconds, whilst Roman Haskett was having a lonely race in 4th. The battle for 5th was exciting between Robert Welham and Archie Strong who had come to the conclusion they could go no further fairly early in the race.
After assisting his team mate for 13 laps, with two tours to go Sparrow passed White into turn one. It was like the bell ringing in a boxing match as the fight for victory was now well and truly on! Sparrow defended perfectly and White made a slight misjudgement at the ‘Bus Stop’ on the last lap which seemed to allow Sparrow some breathing space.
On the grandstand everyone thought the was race over with Sparrow disappearing out of view into the last corner with a kart length lead over White. But as the grandstand rose to applaud Sparrow, to everyone’s surprise first to appear was a delighted Lee Whittingham!
I didn’t see the last corner, but the fact White received a front fairing penalty perhaps tells a huge part of the story. My guess is that he misjudged his braking or expected Sparrow to move wide the cover off the switch back, but only Brad himself will know the true story. Unfortunately, it resulted in White clattering into the back of Sparrow under braking delaying the pair and gifting victory to Whittingham. Sparrow kept 2nd place with Haskett 3rd and Welham 4th. White was classified 14th.
Special Mention – A mention must go to Matt Luff. One of our ones to watch, he gained 19 places in the final to finish 8th place. Abbi Pulling gained the same amount on her to 6th place. Other hard charges included Theo Hesketh (13 places), Archie Albone (14 places), Matt Marsh (11 places), Samuel Johns (14 places) and Charlie Mann (11 places).
TKM Extreme Elite Final
One driver everyone was talking about all weekend was Ben Davis. Currently 26th in Super One, Ben was on fire all weekend. After qualifying 4th overall he went on to finish 2nd in all three of heats taking fastest lap in two of them. He finished 2nd in the Pre Final behind Ryan Cole who seems to have found a trick at Kimbolton.
He was certainly one of few drivers who could take the fight to Cole, but his race came to a devastating end at the first corner in an incident that also wiped out Jack Ransom, Rowan Reed and second row starter Luke Graver. Another driver who had exceeded expectations.
But whilst they stood disappointed a race was still running and Cole led Owain Rosser with Simon Vercoe and Joe Porter in pursuit. The incident had really stretched the front of the field with an almighty scrap for 5th taking place.
Despite his best efforts Rosser was never quite able to get close enough to fully challenge Cole, who really controlled the race despite his lack of racing experience since winning last year. He took victory by 0.18 over Rosser with Porter stealing 3rd from Vercoe in the dying stages of the race. Matt England gained nine places to finish 5th and just hold off Charles Machin who himself gained twelve places.
Special Mention – A special mention must go to Alex Ready. It was Alex’s first ever MSA race and he finished 19th out of 75 drivers and set a time just four tenths slower than the fastest lap of the race. One to watch for the future! Other hard chargers included Jake Campbell-Mills (14 places), Ross Darlington (16 places), Rebecca Cocklin (13 places), Ben Eden (15 places), Joe Barrow (12 places) and Joseph Cooper (13 places).
There was drama before the Final even started in TKM Clubman. After winning the Pre Final our tip, Daniel Mense looked a strong favourite for the win but wouldn’t take the start with problems pre race.
This promoted Matthew Grant to the front row who quickly broke away with Kyle Morby. Jack Coborn did his best to hold on in 3rd, but his attempts were unsuccessful.
It was Grant who led up until lap twelve before Morby hit the front with the battle now on. It was a very close race between the pair, but it would have to be another 2nd place for Grant with Morby simply leaving no room for him to pass. Finishing 3rd was Coborn.
Special Mention – A mention has to go to the novice Sebastian Laundon. He gained six places to finish 7th and set some very impressive lap times, just two tenths slower then Grant’s fastest lap of the race!
Junior TKM ‘O’ Plate
The Junior TKM ‘O’ plate was a race where nine drivers could have stood on the podium, with 1st to 9th split by 2.08 seconds at the line.
The first seven laps saw three different leaders in the shape of Bradley White, Joe Fowler and Abbi Pulling. Fowler re-took the lead from Pulling three laps later and was briefly passed by White, but with three laps to go he started his defence with eight drivers queuing up behind him.
First in the queue were White and Adam Sparrow who managed to find a way through with the last lap board now out. Some passing for 4th behind left it three for the victory and Fowler desperately trying to get through.
I stood at the last corner for this one and what a decision that turned out to be. White led Sparrow and Fowler into it and after the events in the Elite Final something told me Fowler was favourite!
But Sparrow pulled off one of the moves of the season! Under braking White moved ever so slightly across the track and Sparrow was quick to notice coming straight up the inside. It was a clean move and one that won Sparrow the ‘O’ plate and left White kicking himself in 2nd. Fowler finished 3rd with Jordan Lee-Chapman having a hugely impressive drive to gain eight places and finish 4th.
TKM Extreme ‘O’ Plate
Certainly one of the best races came from the TKM Extreme ‘O’ Plate. As Matt Taylor and Michael Cornell disputed the lead, our pre event tip Chris Whitton was working his way through the order nicely and was soon with the leaders and had plenty of company.
Entering the dying stages of the race it was Cornell leading Rosser, but as the latter took the lead a lap later he would find himself tumbling down the order with Taylor now leading. From the outside of row three Louis Beaven seemed to have timed his race to perfection as he was on Taylor’s case approaching the last lap board.
But in an unusual incident Beavan hit the tyres coming down the start finish straight which ended his race and moved Cornell back into 2nd with Whitton 3rd. The incident had given Taylor a slight bit of breathing space and he went on to add the ‘O’ plate to his collection with Cornell 2nd and Whitton 3rd. Peter Newman was an impressive 4th with Rosser dropping to 5th.
Special Mention – A mention must go to Kyle Springfield. By far the biggest mover in the race he gained sixteen places to finish 10th place. In a talented field that was hugely impressive!
Watch out for all the Maxxis TKM Festival 2016 videos to appear on Karting magazine soon!
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Bethanie Lawson