Round 2 Whilton Mill
Lightweights Group 1
Bobby Dawes was initially quickest but it was Dominic Green, in his first race of the year, who quickly usurped him. From that point on he was never headed and over his final laps he kept chipping away at the clock finally setting his personal best and the pole lap on the final tour. Dawes fought hard but couldn’t quite get on terms. Good performance though after dropping down from the Heavies. Third spot went to Mike Noon who set his fastest lap on his final tour to push Sammy Venables and Jon Watkins down to fourth and fifth respectively.
Lightweights Group 2
Thomas Maxwell looked very quick early on in the session but it was Freddie Fincham at the top of the order mid-session before Christopher Bell, having his first run of the year, jumped to the head of the field with a 54.334. And there he stayed. Liam Cochrane worked hard to take second in the group beating Fincham by just 0.024 whilst Maxwell finished fourth, a tenth up on Andrew Ward. Buckmore winner Darri Simms was a distant ninth. He claims to struggle a bit at Whilton but his Endurance victory on the Saturday should have given his confidence a boost.
Lightweight Sprint Pre B final
Mather on pole from Algieri with Atkinson and Wheeldon on row two. Wilson and Wood on three from McKenzie and Green on four with the top ten being completed by Dancer and Dullnig. Mather led the field across the line but it was Atkinson who got the better start to lead the field up the hill chased by Mather and Algieri with Wheeldon fourth. Wilson and Wood had both fallen over each other and slipped back whilst Martin and Dullnig were both making progress. Atkinson was controlling the pace well from Mather who now had Wheeldon on his bumper, the latter having slipped by Algieri who now had McKenzie and Green pressing him hard. Barring any dramas Atkinson and Mather had the first two places sown up as they stretched their advantage at the front and so it proved. But third and fourth were still up for grabs. With two to run McKenzie got by Wheeldon for third the latter suddenly finding himself relegated to sixth behind Green. And Dancer was still in the fight and ready to capitalise on any errors. With one to go Green made it to third but he was racing with a penalty which would see him drop to seventh in the classification allowing Wheeldon and McKenzie to take the final two qualifying places for the Pre A final.
Lightweight Pre A final.
Green on the pole from Bell with the on form Dawes and Liam Cochrane on row two. Fincham and Maxwell on three ahead of Ward and Roberts with Becker and Malcolm-moore completing the top five rows. Green was in no mood to hang about at the start and by the end of the first lap he was already two tenths up on the rest of the pack led now by Dawes. Bell held third ahead of Fincham. Maxwell was up to fifth after a good start which saw him demote Ward and Roberts whilst Championship leader Simms was up into the top ten. Green continued to pull away at the front in what was becoming a demonstration drive. Almost. Late on he clipped a cone in the Boot so despite crossing the line five seconds to the good the resulting penalty dropped him to second handing the win to Bell with Fincham and Dawes third and fourth. These three enjoyed an almost race long battle for second with Dawes at the front but on the penultimate lap Bell forced his way by at the Boot. Fairly done though. Dawes tried to hang on but lost momentum allowing Fincham to nip by too. Simms and Maxwell had both closed up by the flag to take fifth and sixth. A good drive through the field this from pre-event favourite Simms. Nash took seventh after a tremendous drive through the field from eighteenth whilst Cochrane, Becker and Ward completed the top ten.
Lightweight B final
Two places at stake for the A final and twenty five drivers wanting them. Green was on pole from Dancer with Algieri third alongside Wood. Lidiard and Lewis on three from Williams and Jacopo Fioravanti and Martin and Bell completing the top five rows. Green led the field away and anyone viewing the lap chart would think he took an easy win. He certainly took the win leading from lights to flag but it was a nervy drive. Dancer slipped ahead of Algieri at the start with Liddiard fourth. The front three though were closely matched and both Dancer and particularly Algieri exercised patience rather than start fighting each other and losing ground to the leader, Meanwhile though Williams was closing in. But he’d been over aggressive early on and was also subject to multiple penalties. Didn’t stop him driving hard though. Down the order Andrea Fioravanti was showing some of his old flair and making steady progress. A leading runner in Club 100 in the distant past it was good to see. At the flag though it was Green with the win from Dancer with Algieri dropping away at the end and then losing third to the flying Fioravanti after the application of a penalty for knocking over a cone. I feel sure his day will come. A great third for Fioravanti then but not quite enough to earn him another race. Great drive though. Williams would have been next up but multiple penalties dropped him out of the top ten. Wood took fifth with Liddiard and Jacopo Fioravanti sixth and seventh after a good battle. Lewis Bell and Langthorp completed the top ten.
Lightweight A final
And so to the final race of the day. Green on pole from Championship leader Simms who had no complaints about the new format this round. Nash and Albert on the second row from Barker and Maxwell on row three. Mather and Rowlands on four with McKenzie and Watkins completing the first five rows. Green got a great start but Nash got the jump on Simms to slot into second as they went up the hill. Barker’s chances nosedived as he spun down the order whilst Maxwell moved into fourth ahead of Fincham and Mather. Down the order Dawes and Noon were on a charge and into the top ten from the back of the grid after a couple of laps. Green continued to lead and was beginning to pull away from Nash who was in turn pulling away from Simms. Fincham was up to fourth at the expense of Maxwell but only for a lap as Maxwell reclaimed the place in a move which also allowed Albert up into fifth ahead of Fincham. Behind these was the impressive Dawes ahead of Mather, Rowlands and Noon. At the front Green continued to stretch his advantage from Nash with Simms a few Kart lengths adrift but looking pretty safe in third with Maxwell back in fourth. Indeed, at this stage, although Simms was not making any impression on the front two, he was pulling away from Maxwell.
But not for long. Maxwell began to increase his pace and began to lap consistently in the 54’s whilst Simms was in the low 55’s. Bit by bit the gap began to close. But did Maxwell have enough time? With two to go Simms wrung everything out of his Kart to set his fastest lap but it was still several tenths shy of Maxwell. Penultimate lap and the gap was down to just a few Kart lengths. Maxwell had a couple of nibbles but couldn’t make a move stick. Simms appeared to lose out on the straights but looked to have the better traction out of the corners. Last lap. The leaders were way up the road and barring any penalties Green was taking the win from Nash but who would take third. Down into Ashby for the final time and Maxwell had another look, pulling alongside, but Simms had enough momentum to hold on and he had the inside line for the following left hander. Maxwell tucked in behind and as they descended the hill he dived for the inside just as Simms turned in. Maxwell struck his back wheel and spinning Simms to a halt. A sad end to a thrilling chase. It would be a long drive back to Cornwall for the luckless Simms. Green took the flag first for the second time in the day and this time the race was his. Nash finished a fine second and whilst Maxwell finished third on the road he took a six place penalty to be classified ninth promoting Albert onto the podium with Fincham fourth. Dawes took fifth ahead of Watkins with Noon and Mather seventh and eighth, and Rowlands completing the top ten. Watkins set fastest lap.
Roll on Rye House!!
Round 3 will be at Rye House on 23th April 2017
Report written by Steve Gray
Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography