Club 100 Sprint Championship Round 4
Bore Da! Croeso i Llandw.
Round four for the Elites, Clubman’s, Lights and Heavies at the quick and physical Welsh venue. A super circuit this with its quirky start line followed by the fast right, left, right of the Hook. A great overtaking opportunity here but get it wrong and you’re right under the eyes of the Clerk of the Course! Out of here and down the Bomber straight before the left hander into Surtees and then on to the double apex right at Macwhirters, round the very slight Lancaster curve and down the very slight gradient to the right handed Chandlers. Then it’s a blast along the Spitfire straight before the chicane at the Dell. Exit this onto the first part of the Hanger straight, sweep thought NGK chicane which splits the Hangar straight and then the flat out run to the quick Raymond’s hairpin. Watch the Niki Richardson DVD to see how to take this corner correctly. It’s an awesome piece of Kart control. Round the corner and onto the start/finish straight to complete the lap. At Just over a thousand metres long it may not be the longest of circuits but its quick, challenging and offers good overtaking opportunities at almost every corner. High cloud, cool temperatures but no threat of rain, and everyone looking forward to a great days racing.
After an overcast but dry morning the clouds finally lifted and the circuit was bathed in glorious sunshine but with a stiff, and sometimes chilly, breeze blowing in from the not too distant sea. No chance of rain though to spoil the fun.
Only one Group for the Lights with a down on numbers entry. Bobby Dawes set the initial pace but Championship leader Darri Simms was gradually lowering his times and set the fastest lap with a 52.150 on his penultimate lap. Dawes responded setting his fastest time on his final lap but it was not enough. Jon Watkins and Andrew Mather were the next quickest.
Pre A Final
Simms on pole with fellow Cornishman Dawes alongside. Watkins and Mather on row two from Freddie Fincham and Mike Noon. Chris Woodger and James Venning on row four with John Foulds and Christopher Bell completing the top ten. Simms led the field into the Hook for the first time with Dawes having a look on the second apex but wisely backing out of the move. Watkins slotted into third but behind these three it got very untidy. Mather got run out wide and slipped back to fifteenth. Fincham was also held up and dropped to eleventh whilst Bell took full advantage to vault himself up into fourth place by the end of the lap. Two laps gone and Simms crossed the line with a decent lead chased now by Watkins and Bell, the two of them having fought their way past Dawes. Watkins and Bell settled into a rhythm and began to close down the gap to Simms. But was Simms sandbagging? It didn’t take long to find out. Half distance and it had become a three way fight for the lead with Dawes being dropped as he defended from Venning. Bell took second from Watkins with an opportunistic move at Surtees and a lap later he caught Simms napping at Macwhirters. Simms fought back down into Chandlers but Bell held his nerve. A lap later and Watkins was up to second after getting a good run out of Surtees and forcing his way through at Macwhirters. Hard but fair. Bell reeled off the final laps to take the win with Watkins safe in second from Simms. These three had pulled out a fair gap back to the battle for fourth which finally went the way of Dawes from Venning with Woodger sixth. Fincham snatched seventh from Noon on the final lap with Tom Mackenzie and Adam Wheeldon completing the top ten runners. Just for good measure Bell set the fastest time on the final lap with a 51.992. The only driver to break fifty two seconds.
Bell on pole from Watkins with Championship leader Simms and Woodger on row two. Marc Roberts and Andrew Mather on the third row with Freddie Fincham on four and Mike Noon and Phil Dancer on five. Bell led the field away from Watkins but it was Woodger up to third as Simms used his discretion and didn’t fight too hard in the Hook. Roberts, Mather and Wheeldon all lost out as the pack sorted itself out down Bomber straight with Fincham, Noon and Seb Algieri taking full advantage to move themselves up the order. Dancer and Venning were early casualties spinning to back of the field and out of contention. Bell continued to lead but Woodger took second from Watkins. But only for a lap as they swapped back again. Simms was still running fourth but coming under pressure from Fincham, Noon and Algieri who was having his best race of the season. With five laps run the leaders were virtually nose to tail with Bell still leading. Fincham was up to fourth having got ahead of Simms into Macwhirters. A lap later and Woodger fell from second behind Watkins and then lost out to Fincham.
Simms was looking to make a move. Woodger was a little slow out of Macwhirters and Simms went for the gap on the exit only to push Woodger wide. Sportingly he backed off and waved him back through but in doing so he left the door open and Noon didn’t hesitate. Simms felt he’d done the right thing but there were those who felt he might have been better to have kept his foot in. No matter, within a lap he was back up to fifth fairly. Bell continued at the front but he wasn’t getting away. Fincham moved up to second at the expense of Watkins with Noon fourth. Woodger had retaken fifth from Simms. With just two to go it was still Bell in the lead from Fincham, Woodger, Watkins, Noon and Simms. One to go, still Bell at the front but Watkins was back up to second and as the following pack darted and dived the front two pulled a small gap. Into the final corner and Watkins was alongside. Round the corner they both pushed hard for the line but it was Watkins who just got there first by 0.022. Great stuff. But what of the rest? Noon grabbed third and showed just how much it meant punching the air as he crossed the line. Fincham would have been fourth but he’d picked up a three place penalty along the way relegating him to sixth behind Simms and Algieri. A well deserved result for Seb. Nash took seventh in front of Woodger who had also picked up a three place penalty. Wheeldon and Dawes completed the top ten. Simms set fastest lap.
Podiums and Championships
Jon Watkins was obviously delighted with his win, his first podium of the season. Chris Bell looked a little rueful having led the final from almost start to finish and missing out by the narrowest of margins. These two sit well down in the rankings but they have both missed a round. Make no mistake, they are both serious contenders. Mike Noon’s third place was hard earned and well deserved. He sits fourth in the Championship behind Freddie Fincham, Samuel Nash and Darri Simms. Darri felt he could have won at Llandow. There is no doubting his pace that’s for sure.
Llandow is a great circuit so I found it a little disappointing the entries were a little bit down. The Club strives hard to provide a good variation of circuits. I know drivers have budgetary concerns but missing out on venues such as this is a great pity. I saw much on social media last week about drivers wanting to visit PF in the future. But would you want to risk the high costs involved if members won’t travel north because they think it’s too far?
There was also some pretty poor driving at Llandow. I don’t know whether its the circuit configuration that contributes to this or if it’s just plain stupidity particularly into the first corner complex. Perhaps missing this out on the first lap might be a consideration. Then again maybe it is just drivers not using their brains. After all, the Elites managed perfectly well so why not everyone else?
See you at Ellough!
Report written by Chris Simpson
Photography: Jack Mitchell