CROFT 29TH APRIL 2017
MORLEY MAKES IT LOOK EASY
Championship leader Liam Morley had two faultless drives at Croft winning both races by a sizeable margin. Reigning champion Lee Harpham did his best to stay in touch but had to settle for a pair of second places.
It was surprising to see that the current lap record for the 125cc class was over 15 years old. Some put this down to the bumpy nature of the track, but also the last time the series visited Croft was four years ago. Qualifying was held in cloudy but dry conditions and it was Nathan Coss who topped the time sheet before Lee Harpham took over. Liam Morley was second quickest before pitting but the team sent him out again after a brief stop. He then put in two rapid laps to take pole position with a time of 1m26.260s, inside the lap record. Harpham was also inside the record and despite the TM motor running a bit rich set a time of 1m26.348s for a slot on the front row. Coss was using a rebuilt Phantom chassis after he hit the barriers at Bishopscourt and was also trying a new Italian braking system. He improved his earlier time to set a 1m27.115s lap for third place on the grid and was joined on the second row by Danny Butler who went round in 1m27.613s. Sam Moss has switched to a DEA engine this season and was happy with its performance although he couldn’t get his Anderson chassis through the final hairpin without scrubbing off too much speed. He wound up fifth quickest on 1m27.887s just ahead of Dan Edwards. Unusually further back on the grid was Chris Needham in 17th place. After going so well at Silverstone and Anglesey earlier in the season he was struggling to dial in the Silverstone chassis over the Croft bumps. On the back row of the grid was Matt Robinson who didn’t manage a flying lap due to a clutch problem.
Morley led through Clervaux at the start of race 1 with Coss up to second place ahead of Harpham and Moss. Alan Crossen made a good start from the fourth row and slotted into fifth place ahead of Butler, Irvine, Edwards and Cattermole. There was the expected shuffling of places amongst the very competitive 125cc class on the opening lap but Morley appeared at the Complex in the lead and crossed the line to complete lap 1 with a gap of just over half a second from Harpham. Moss was in third just ahead of Coss and Butler. Then came the train of Cattermole, Irvine, Larder, Crossen, Connor, Edwards and McGaffin. Only 1.445s covering seven karts. Matt Robinson had made great progress on the opening lap and was already up to 17th place.
Harpham did his best to hang on to Morley’s bumper but the latter stretched his lead on lap 4 when he set the fastest lap of the race and a new record. From then on there was only going to be one winner and Morley continued to lap in the 26’s, finally taking the win by 4.809s. Strangely, the race was only over 7 laps with the clock stopping at 10 minutes. Harpham had to be content with second place with the TM running better but unable to match the DEA.
There was a great scrap for third place between Moss, Coss and Butler with the positions changing on every lap, especially into Tower Corner. Moss was able to open out a slight gap over Butler to take third while Coss lost ground on the final lap and just held on to fifth. Cattermole headed the next group with Connor and Edwards in his slipstream. They gradually closed on the karts ahead but Cattermole couldn’t make a challenge. “The chassis is not riding the bumps very well. One minute I have understeer then it snaps into oversteer.” Edwards got the better of Connor at Clervaux on the last lap to take seventh spot end while Robinson’s progress from the back brought him into 11th place at the flag.
The front row was unchanged for race 2 with Robinson finding himself on the second row after his drive through the field earlier. The losers were Sam Moss who ended up on row 4 despite finishing third and Nathan Coss on row 6, all positions based on the drivers fastest lap from race 1. When the lights went out Morley was away and into Clervaux ahead of Harpham and Robinson. Moss made a great start and was up to 4th but behind there was trouble. Cattermole received a nudge and spun off and was joined in the gravel trap by Neil Robinson. This split the field a bit and Rayman from row 9 found himself just outside the top 6. Robinson was out of the race but Cattermole managed to extricate the kart from the gravel and re-start, receiving a huge cheer from the grandstand for his efforts. However, he was three-quarters of a lap behind with little chance of making up ground.
At the end of the opening lap Morley and Harpham were nose to tail with Moss up to third having passed Robinson at Tower Bend. Butler was fifth from Irvine and then the train of Edwards, Connor, Crossen, Larder, Coss and McGaffin. Even closer than the earlier race with 1.217s covering 6 karts.
In a repeat of race 1, Morley again set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4, but not as quick as before. Harpham did his best to stay in touch but his TM was missing out on mid-range power and he gradually dropped back. With the race running its correct distance of 12 minutes, Morley crossed the line to take his second win of the weekend by 9.101s. A faultless performance which has opened up a useful lead in the championship.
Moss looked safe in third place for the first few laps, but when he got out of shape at Sunny In and then missed a gearchange at the Complex it allowed Edwards to close in. Butler joined them on lap 5 when they caught a back marker at Sunny Out and the battle was on. The positions changed every lap and almost every corner with them running three abreast into Tower Bend on one occasion and somehow all squeezed through the Jim Clark Esses. Edwards managed to edge away starting the last lap leaving Butler and Moss to squabble over 4th place. The position changed hands three times during the final lap and at the hairpin Butler defended the inside line. Moss had no alternative but to look around the outside but spun handing fourth place to Butler. Moss kept the engine running but Robinson and McGaffin went through followed by Irvine, Coss and Connor relegating him to 10th place at the flag.
F125 Open Championship Points after 4 rounds
1 Liam Morley 155pts
2 Dan Edwards 131
3 Lee Harpham 124
4= Andrew Connor 104
4= Danny Butler 104
6 Nathan Coss 92
Words by Gary James
Images by Nick Purdie and Ian Rushforth.
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