After threatening to take his first win at Glan Y Gors at the last round, in conditions that could not be more different, James Small delivered his maiden Elite win. Won it has to be said, at the first corner from the outside of the front row and initially assisted by the competition to give him a 10 kart lead. Pole man George Lovell had hooked the inside kerb, perhaps too much, or perhaps crowded by a belligerent Jonathan Lisseter off grid 4 and by the time the pack had settled on letting Parmveer Nijjar lead the pursuit. Small was clear, by the time Nijjar was clear in 2nd, Small had shown the pace to convert his lead to a win, in a 24 lapper where the battle for the last step of the podium was entertaining and hard fought throughout. Steve Brown, who’d quietly driven up from 14th, Lovell, Pete O’Connor, Hicks, Lisseter, all had a shot, Scott Martin, and Jay Elliot flirted with a challenge but Jack Harding wanted it more. No matter how many scores you drop now Brown has a firm 30+point lead over Ian Blake, who decided to skip a glorious day in Dorset for London-centric cycling jolly. Brown also has the best dropped scores, which sounds like a useless factoid, but if it become necessary to deploy them instead of another dropped score, it should be reassuring come November. We’ve reach the turn for home in the championship, it’s looking like it could be Steve Brown’s year, nothing more than that and now he has Small in for the rest of the season to take wins off his opposition.
Poleman Jay Elliott win the drag up and through Billy’s Blind inHeat 1 but Hicks would dive into the long right hander for Heat 1, Elliot would be run wide and grid 2 Dan Healey would run into the chicane in the lead ahead of Hicks, debutante George Lovell and Stephen Docker would follow Dan through inside of Elliott to demote him to 5th. Elliott would not recover his lead, Lovell moving through Hicks on lap 2 and run down the leader by lap 4. With Hicks on the defensive to hold off Elliott, Lovell would be free to pass Healey on lap 5 and pair would pull clear by 4secs by the finish.
Thomas Glyde converted pole position in Heat 2, but Parmveer Nijjar sharing the front row was lining Tom up as soon as the exited the chicane, David Longman losing touch and holding up the field behind. It would take Parmveer’s pass for lead into the chicane to bring him back to the pair, he’d demote Glyde to 3rd, but Parmveer was pulling clear. Indeed the worry would be late on for Nijjar as James Small coming off grid 9 worked his way through the field to 1sec off at mid-race, but it would be lap 10 before he started chipping off a few tenths, by then Nijjar was trying to be tidy. Behind the pair Lisseter had sliced and diced his way from grid 17 to come through to finish to 2secs off Nijjar in 3rd, and had managed to do it without picking up a penalty.
Ed Barrs had converted pole in Heat 3 but opened himself to take the natural line into the right hander after Billy’s, it was the wrong direction as James Hattersley could not resist putting it down the inside, fortunately that start was waved off. The 2nd was possibly worse entering Billy’s Blind with Hattersley on his left and Norris on his right, someone had to blink and it was Barrs. Andy Cowell tried a run around of Ed on the outside as Harding could not resist a run inside into the right hander. Cowell was optimistic but Harding was 3rd behind Hattersley and Norris into the chicane. By the time the reached the hairpin a divebomb by Lisseter on Mays for 4th nearly collected Barrs and Harding, everyone kept going, Lisseter losing all his momentum to make the turn, but it released Hattersley and Norris. Mays taking to the escape road in the chicane as Lisseter barged his way in again for 4th. It failed. But it left the top 3 2secs up the road. Mays was struggling and he’d be central to Martin inside and Barrs outside into the hairpin, Dan Healey coming through to 5th. At the same time Norris had slipped through Hattersley for the lead and would not be headed. Martin would charge off after Harding, to catch and pass him a lap before the finish.
By now Elite’s inherent aggression was simmering up, poleman Simon Young would hold off Stuart Martin and Jonathan Lisseter through Billy’s Blind, but Scott Martin would be loaded up behind and wide through Billy’s Blind in Heat 4 and into the right hander by Brown, Lisseter would over Young’s rear bumper to give Brown a run around Jon into 2nd into the chicane. Behind everyone ran wide and George Lovell emerged 4th, off grid 10. Not sure what red meat Lisseter had lunched on, but he’d only wait 3 corners before firing another down the inside, this time into Top Bend on Brown for 2nd. It ought not to have worked but then Steve was preoccupied with Lovell. The race settled down, long enough for Simon to miss his apex by a kart width in the hairpin to invite Jon into Horseshoe, Young determined not to be pushed off the pot but running wide off Top Bend, Lisseter would have the high ground through Billys and Brown on his bumper. Young would be 4th into the chicane as Lovell squeezed by. Norris moved on to Young’s bumper, and Mays failed to hang on to the back of the top 5. Brown could not hold Lisseter up front and he’d push clear to a 3.6secs win, as Steve, Lovell and Norris slipstreamed each other through Billys over 2nd place while Young sat on looking for pieces to pick up.
Pete O’Connor led off pole position in Heat 5, but James Small came through from grid 3 and with Dan Truman running interference behind, James soon had O’Connor to himself, mving to the lead on lap 2 and dropping Pete at around 0,2-0.3secs a lap, while behind Harry Neale was flying, passing Truman, while matching Small’s pace. He’d catch and pass O’Connor on lap 8 but Small was 2secs up the road and there would not be enough time, and settled into 2nd ahead of O’Connor.
After winning Heat 1, Lovell had secured enough points for pole position for the Final, but Small likes it here, he’s won here, and he got the run on the flag and had room to open up the steering towards the exit of turn 1 to be 3 kart lengths clear as Hicks, Nijjar and Lisseter spread out behind Lovell though Billys Blind. Lovell probably didn’t know who to cover off, still getting to know the Elite personalities and all that, so he ran down the middle of the road, unsure who to cover off, and Lisseter on the outside with the shorter route through Billys crossed behind him to throw it up the inside into the right hander. Lisseter sailed wide, Lovell and Nijjar crossed behind him to make it 3 wide approaching the chicane. Niijar had the momentum then Lisseter went looking for the inside of Lovell into the chicane as Hicks went for the same kerb himself, O’Connor slipped through on Stephen’s bumper as Lisseter sorted out the contact from Hicks and threw a hand signal up the road. Lovell had given up making the corner and had gone to the grass, bypassing the chicane altogether. All of that put Small into 10 kart lead off the hairpin ahead Nijjar, Hicks, O’Connor and Lovell, who settled into chase mode. Then a gap to Lisseter, who after a poor Top Bend, was holding off Harding, Norris and Barrs on to lap 2. Harding took his lead from Jon on the previous lap and fired it down the inside into the long right, ran wide, but held 5th into the chicane. Behind championship leader Brown, who had had a poor end to the lap after a cautious start of grid 9, was jumped by Healey towing Stuart Martin through only for the pair to take their lead from the aggro ahead to sail wide and give Steve 12th back.
After a lap up front of clear running, Small had put another 0.2 into Nijjar, and was out at 1.6secs, it looked even at this early juncture that it would hard for anyone to haul James back and Parmveer had broken the tow to Hicks. Hicks sensibly figured O’Connor might tow him back to Nijjar, pointing him through in Billys and letting him have the next apex rather than back the pair into Lovell and Harding closing on his bumper. Stephen would be wrong, Pete gapped him, picked up George’s tow and was soon by.
The race settled in for what was a long 24 lap final for sprints, and perhaps thats why Brown had been so circumspect off the start, he finally picked off Scott Martin inside into the hairpin to move into the top 10 on lap 7, 7secs off the lead, but only 4secs off the podium as 3rd through 9th were close enough to be able to trip each other up as the final unfolded. You could see a game plan, indeed a championship strategy.
By half distance Brown joined the back of the group as Lovell repassed O’Connor into the long right hander, behind Harding, after passing Barrs tried a similar pass on Norris, and Brown hooked up on the group. Ahead O’Connor was drafted by Lovell, whose defence invited in Lisseter to leave O’Connor remonstrating at Lovell. Brown eased passed Barrs in the Horseshoe for 8th then O’Connor in the same place a lap later. Harding threw one down in the inside of the hairpin on Lisseter running the pair wide, Brown was 5th. Hicks had already acknowledged he didn’t have the pace to O’Connor but now at 3/4 distance the dynamic had changed he was in with a chance of a podium as Lovell ahead had picked up a penalty for contact earlier. Hicks defended into the hairpin, Harding came by Brown, then Lisseter, tripping each other up, Scott Martin had joined the group and worked his way up the line to pass Brown for 7th. Fun and Games. It settled again.
Small was comfortably heading for the win, 3.5secs clear of Nijjar, who in turn had been 2secs clear of the dicing behind. Lovell pulled into 1.5secs advantage over what ought to have been the battle for 4th only for George to pull into pit lane. Brown repeated his move on Martin into hairpin, Harding made his first abortive attempt on Hicks which helped Brown to pass Lisseter again at the hairpin. Harding pulled a perfect pass into the long right on Hicks, Brown getting on his bumper into the chicane.
Two laps from the finish, the thus far quiet, not to say anonymous, Jay Elliott, perhaps more under the radar, passed Martin for 6th to leave Harding, Brown, Hicks, Elliott and Martin fighting over the final podium step on to the last lap. Harding fluffed Top Bend and Brown was level-isn over the finish line but was forced to lift for a yellow into Billys. He covered off Brown into the hairpin, where Steve had been mighty on the brakes, and Jack was ordinary again through the last corner, fortunately, but not so bad, that the line was his friend. Harding was on the podium. Brown was on top and in charge of the championship.
Round 7 will be at Llandow on August Bank Holiday weekend.
Report written by Chris Simpson
Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography