A new start to the year at Bayford Meadows
The MSA racing season began at Sittingbourne’s Bayford Meadows last Sunday, with a Warm Up meeting to kick start the circuit’s 2018 racing season in its 20th year . Ahead of the Summer Championships which begins in earnest next month, there were some new faces, new karts and some new classes, which successfully debuted during the day. With competitors budgets in mind, Bayford Meadows together with Lydd kart circuit have come up with an economical initiative for the Rotax and Clubman classes, which restricts choice of gearing and limits tyre use throughout the year. The new ‘Club Max’ class in Rotax, looks to be a positive step in the right direction, if reaction from those competing is anything to go by.
Drivers were treated to an extra practice session before qualifying in the morning although this was held on a wet track after the previous day’s rain had doused the track. The wet surface persisted for most of the morning for the two Pre finals, until some welcome sunshine dried the asphalt in time for the afternoon finals.
Five of the young Bambino class drivers took part in their three timed runs during the day, the early morning moisture having an adverse effect on a few of their delicate little engines. Jayden Sherwood’s Clarke kart proved fastest in all of the sessions, managing to keep his engine’s revs up through the tight infield sections the best and not losing too much momentum. Kristian Stefanov was debuting his new for 2018 kart and managed to take second in the three runs, delighting his enthusiastic parents. Alfie Howland took two third places to Harry Freemans one, so secured third in the overall merge, with young Harry fourth. Rio Licata unfortunately failed to turn a lap in the final timed run, ending a chance to improve on his fifth in the standings.
Junior Club Max
Project One drivers dominated in the new Junior Club Max class, with Declan Lee, Zac Spence and William Egby taking the top three places in both Pre Finals and the Grand Final. Lee comfortably pulled away to a 4.2 second win in the final, Spence showed well in second place as did Egby close behind in third. James Black drove up from the back setting some very quick laps only just shy of winner’s Lee’s best – to finish fourth, a good omen for the future for the personable young lad. Jack Richards was comfortable in fifth after running in front of Black earlier on. Ross Hasting’s initial pace dropped off during the race as he finished 6th, on what had been an eventful day for the LICA driver. Oliver Bullion who had made a big jump up from Cadets finished a few seconds behind in 7th.
Junior Subaru UK
A healthy 20 karts were entered for the popular Junior Subaru UK class, with new drivers mixing it with the majority of class regulars. Damp qualifying saw Lewie Weaver take pole, with impressive Caitlin May 2nd, class debutant Joseph Knight 3rd, Charlie Hand 4th and significantly Leon Clark 5th. The first Pre Final started with Weaver and May sharing turns in the lead until Clark stormed through to the head of the field, once there he controlled the pace and took the win from Red Beswick and Harvey Roffe. Weaver slipped to 8th with May 5th. The second Pre Final once again went to Clark, who led every lap from Beswick and Roffe once again.
For the final over 13 laps, Clark took off in the lead from Beswick (GMS), Roffe slipped behind Katherine White, who’s Clarke Kart suddenly looked very threatening, she highlighted this by moving past Beswick into 2nd on lap 4. There was nothing between Clark, White and Beswick over the rest of the distance, the latter Beswick took the fastest lap but couldn’t find a way past the two in front, White shadowed the victorious Clark to the chequered flag, putting in her best performance so far. Beswick finished on her tail in 3rd. 4th went to a lonely Roffe, who had lost touch with the leading trio, but running clear of those behind. Lewie Weaver took 5th from Louis Barker who later suffered from a post-race nose fairing penalty, which dropped him to 13th. So 6th went to Charlie Hand from Catlin May in 7th. James Tomsett had a disappointing day by his high standards finishing in 8th after earlier problems. 9th went to Joseph Gethin and 10th Poppi Stephenson.
Senior Club Max
The new Club Max class attracted ten entries for the warm up event on Sunday, with a mixture of experience and youth, a good base for the future. An extra incentive was offered for drivers over 40 with a Club Max trophy up for grabs. Elliot Rice made a welcome return the the circuit, putting some miles on his new for ‘18 kart, that he plans to race in the SuperOne series this year, he led away from the start and gradually gapped Rob Springate in his Ambition racing run kart in 2nd place. Springate pulled clear of good battle for third which had SAIT driver – Tom Richards leading a close group consisting of Ryan Haines, Josh Bacon, Mike Ashby and Joe Hunt. Mid race drama intervened amongst this bunch as Richards started losing pace eventually succumbing to a loose exhaust, he had bunched those behind up which caught out class newcomer Joe Hunt, who drifted wide onto the grass coming onto the start finish straight, ending his race in the tyres opposite the finish line, with a heavily damaged Project One kart and sore wrist. Haines was the next one to suffer, retiring from third on the 10th lap of 14. The final positions were Rice by 3.7 seconds from Springate in a comfortable 2nd, Bacon took third just ahead of Club Classic winner Ashby in 4th, he had another newcomer James Popple on his bumper going across the finish line. Mark Figes finished 6th and took the win in the 177 class. Rice took the fastest lap on his 6th tour.
Honda Clubman Elite and Standard
The Clubman class was split into two categories with the Elite buy back class allowing open gearing and the Standard class using restricted 20-79 gearing .Project One drivers Jamie Perilly and Nathan Marques started the Grand Final on intermediate tyres and this proved decisive as they pulled clear of the 24 kart field, an earlier B final (won by Rylan Echberg) having trimmed the original class entry down. Behind the Project One pairing in front – Leon ‘Frosty’ Frost on slicks made third his own, having pulled clear of a great dice between Jai Lawrence and Blake Ticehurst, who raced bumper to bumper all race. Back at the front Marques set the fastest lap in his chase of Perilly and drafted up onto his bumper over the closing laps, he couldn’t find a way past his teammate though as Perilly took the win, a great start to him and his team’s year. Frost was alone in 3rd some 3 seconds back, Lawrence held off Ticehurst to finish 4th, Jessica White took 6th and first in the Standard class behind Ticehurst, capping a great day for the White sisters. George Oxford was 7th, Ethan Barford 8th, Ian Marginean 9th and Ethan Bentley 10th and second in the Standard class.
The Summer Championship begins next month on February 25th.
Report and images courtesy of Paul Babington