Into the afternoon the wind got up a bit and the track began to dry boding well for some entertaining racing from the lights, heavies and super heavies. Strong entries too across all the classes. With both lights and heavies split into two groups there were going to be some enthralling qualifying sessions with all eyes on the timing screens reports Steve Gray.
1st Qualifying Group
Six minutes to set a time. Andrea Fioravanti put all his experience to good use immediately setting the pace followed closely by Sammy Venables. Both were in the low 47’s before Fioravanti slipped in a 46.887 on his sixth lap. Then he backed off, went again and equalled the time on his last lap. Venables had no answer and had to settle for second. Rob Langthorp took third just edging out Adam Wheeldon by 0.010. Jonah Barker was fifth ahead of Elia Evagora. Chris Woodger, Mike Noon, Tom Mackenzie and Sam Nash completed the top ten with second to fifteenth separated by just seven tenths.
2nd Qualifying Group
Marginally the quicker of the two groups this one with three drivers breaking the forty seven second barrier. It was Darri Simms who set the pace consistently getting into the 46’s and setting the fastest time with a 46.865 on his fourth lap. Daniel Becker dipped into the 46’s just once. Good enough for second though with Ben Atkinson also breaking the barrier just once to be third fastest. James Williams, Henry Miles, Matthew Bell, Freddie Fincham, Andrew Green, Ben Smith and Darren Martin completed the top, a couple of tenths covering them all.
Pre B Final
Four places up for grabs in the pre A final and a close grid always makes for a bit of excitement. Ben Leslie sat on pole from Seb Algieri with Malcolm-Moore and Ryan Williams on row two. Joseph Liddiard and James Venning shared the third row followed by George Wilson and Marc Roberts on four. Chris Moore and Sam Harris completed the top ten. Leslie got a great start leaving Algieri to tuck in behind. Sadly Williams was quickly out of contention, spinning to the rear of the field whilst Liddiard, Venning and Wilson took advantage of his demise, also relegating Malcolm-Moore down the order. Venning was flying at this point and was quickly by Liddiard and hounding Algieri for second whilst Leslie continued to lead.
Half distance and Leslie still led but Venning was up to second with Liddiard back up to third, demoting Algieri to fourth. Malcolm-Moore was holding a strong fifth only a few kart lengths behind but unable to get on terms and challenge for fourth. As the race entered its final phase you might have thought the leaders would stay in formation. But no, they kept at it. Venning moved ahead of Leslie who dropped to fourth behind Liddiard and Algieri. But the race wasn’t done yet and on the penultimate lap Algieri swept by Liddiard for second. It was great stuff but in the context of the top four qualifying for the pre A final not really necessary. Liddiard crossed the line in first only to have the win taken from him for knocking over a cone. He did set fastest lap. Algieri then took the win with Liddiard third from Leslie with Malcolm-Moore just missing out on the top four.
Pre A Final
The first of the points paying finals with the added incentive of setting a quick time to determine grid position for the second final. Not everyone likes this new rule but I’m all in favour of a bit of innovation to add further interest. Simms took full advantage from pole to lead from Fioravanti with Becker third. Langthorp got the better of Venables to slot into fourth but behind these it all got a bit frantic with Miles, Bell, Williams, Barker and Wheeldon all falling down the order with Fincham, Woodger, Green, Noon, Evagora and Nash all moving up. A messy opener but then the race settled down. Simms was controlling the pace from the front chased by Fioravanti, Becker and Venables who had regained the place from Langthorp.
And that was how the front runners remained all the way to the flag with Simms crossing the line just shy of ten seconds ahead of Nash in sixth. Fioravanti took second but Becker and Venables both kept him honest whilst Fincham came home fifth. Noon, Green, Williams and Atkinson completed the top ten. But what of the all important lap times. A dominant win for Simms but a lap time only good enough for sixth in the final. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t like the new rule. Venables finished fourth but would line up on pole for the final with ninth placed Williams alongside. Third placed Becker and second placed Fioravanti would start on row two with eighteenth placed Ben Leslie starting alongside race winner Simms. Fourteenth placed Jonah Barker would start alongside eighth placed Andrew Green whilst sixth placed Nash was alongside tenth placed Atkinson. It all made for an interesting final.
Two places to go for then in the A final with just eleven runners and suddenly there was moisture in the air. Not enough to thoroughly wet the track but enough to make it very slippery. And it showed as the times fell away by around ten seconds a lap. A lack of wet track experience caught out several drivers. Ryan Williams led all the way, kept his concentration and won by over thirty seconds. He also set fastest lap. But what of the rest? At the end of lap one the veteran Keith Segal was up from sixth to second whilst Chris Moore and Marc Roberts dropped from third and fourth to the back of the field. Sam Harris was up to fourth and then promptly spun down the order whilst Rasaan Malcolm-Moore moved up from tenth to second before half distance before spinning out under a yellow at the bottom of the hill and being handed a four place penalty at the finish.. Williams meanwhile just kept on running away.
Segal dropped back down to fourth at one point before Malcolm-Moore’s spin promoted him back to third behind Dean Wood with John Wiseman into fourth having started last. Just four drivers completed the full complement of laps. Wood crossed the line second but lost two places for cone abuse thus promoting Segal into second and a place in the A final and Wiseman into third over a minute behind the leader. But he did keep it on the track so very well done to him.
Points and podiums. Venables got off to a flyer to lead from Williams, a fast starting Simms, Fioravanti and Becker. As they filed down the hill on the first lap Williams got a little out of shape and was slow out of Paddock allowing Simms to close and put a move on him into Garda. They rounded the corner side by side but Simms had enough momentum to make the move stick. All this gave Venables the chance to make a make break. Behind these Becker got the better of Fioravanti and began to close down Williams whilst Barker, Atkinson and Leslie were having a great battle for sixth with Nash and Fincham squabbling over ninth. Algieri and Woodger were both out of contention spinning down the order. With five laps run Simms was beginning to settle into a good rhythm and reeling in the leader whilst Becker eased his way into third at the expense of Williams. Two thirds distance and the order at the front remained static but Simms was just a kart length adrift of the leader with Becker, Williams, Fioravanti, Barker and Fincham running almost line astern. With eleven run Barker got ahead of Fioravanti at the top hairpin.
Venables still led with Simms right on his bumper. Could he hold on? Down the hill with just two to go he had pulled out a couple of lengths but he was just a bit too hot into paddock and ran slightly wide on the exit. It was just enough for Simms who was back on to Venables bumper and dived up the inside into Garda. It was perfectly judged. Venables tried to stay with him but was running wide and in danger of being passed by Becker. Wisely he backed away from Simms and tucked into second. Becker meanwhile lost ground and Williams moved closer duly taking third with just one lap to run. So Simms took the win and maximum points on the day with Venables a close second. Williams held on to third from Becker and Barker. Fincham came home sixth and set the fastest lap of the race, with Fioravanti close behind in seventh from Atkinson and Nash with Noon completing the top ten. Just outside the top ten Ryan Williams put in great drive to move up thirteen places.
For Simms it was two wins out of the last two races and rounded off a great weekend for him after his Saturday success. Sammy Venables was having his first outing in Club 100 kart so he’s definitely a driver to watch whilst for James Williams it was his first ever podium. Great stuff. And there were no penalties in the top ten. Well done!
Round 2 will be at Whilton Mill on 19th March 2017.
Report written by Steve Gray
Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography