Jack Bolton takes Pre A Final, but it’s Joe Holmes on the title brink after winning the A Final
They think its all over… My rough guess, it is. Effectively. As everyone has known for a while really. But, much like last season, Joe Holmes needs only qualify in the Top 20 to secure Pre A and A Final starts and 2x100points to take the 2016 Heavyweight Championship title, he could then roll up and park up in each final at Red Lodge and pocket the points but that would be a terrible waste of money. After a 2nd in the Pre A Final to Jack Bolton, he started higher with a little bit more determination in the main show to prevent Bolton taking maximum points with an overdue double on what will be a disappointing season after last year. As it’s Joe Holmes who is ready to assume the champion’s mantle, and dabble with Elite for the rest of the season with a view to 2017.
You win at Clay Pigeon but you fail to qualify top 20 for the Pre A Final, fortunately Simon Lloyd started on the front row with poleman Jason Bradbury for the Pre B Final, and he was another who normally would be in the A group midfield. It was a good job it was 4 to qualify given that Mark Ridout is an emerging force in Heavyweights, Chris Murray won the A Final at Rye House last year and Paul Williams was coming off his best A Final result at Clay Pigeon. Unfortunately for one, and everyone else, behind they were likely to miss out. Bradbury made a good start and got away, and that was the only clean aspect as the fight behind was hard fought. Lloyd and Murray would drop out of the top 5, initially as Williams moved into 2nd, ahead of Ridout, Lennie Wood and Ben Benneyworth moving in. Lloyd worked his way back, passed Wood, then into the 2nd half passed Benneyworth and Ridout on lap 9 to secure a Pre A Final berth behind Bradbury and Williams. Into the closing stages Simon towed into and passed Williams to get back where he started, by which time the qualifiers were settled, Bradbury, Lloyd, Williams and Benneyworth, leaving Ridout a surprise miss out and Mark would’ve been starting the B Final favourite with Murray, but both had penalties, Chris’ an exclusion.
Jack Bolton, one of my pre season favourites, lined up in pole position for the Pre A Final with James Hattersley, not quite fresh from his Elite sprint, on a warm day in Wales, but intent on getting his fill of Llandow on the front row, Mike Townley and Roger Davis on row 2, Steven Downes and a lowly Joe Holmes on grid 6. The race would be dominated by Bolton, with Hattersley taking the fight to him early. Holmes would quickly emerge from the start in 3rd place 1.6secs off the lead ending lap 1. By lap 4 Bolton had broken the the tow to Hattersley who was being slowly run down by Holmes, Roger Davis after an excellent qualifying was hanging on to Holmes in 4th, while Downes was clear in 5th, as Harrison Darvill brought through the main field, with Townley, Daniel French, Michael Ballinger, Mike Bodnar and Tim Hill. Although the latter grumpily pulled into pit lane with smelly hot, boiled brakes, and body language that said “and that was nothing to do with me”. I beat a retreat. We were through halfway before Holmes caught Hattersley’s slipstream but once he had it, he put it to immediate good use to go 2nd, but 1.4secs off the lead he was not going to run Jack Bolton down in 6 laps. Jack remained tidy and managed his way down to 0.5secs at the finish, Holmes pushed his championship points to nearly unassailable, Hattersley well clear of a top 8 that had long since broken up into easy gaps running to the finish, Davis, Downes, French, Darvill, Bodnar, Townley and James Browning making up the top 10.
Lennie Wood on pole for B Final from Daren Townsley but it would Kieran Chidgzey off grid 3 moving through with Mark Ridout behind Lennie and the last 2 qualifying spots for the A Final would be contested by the trio, as the rest of the field fell away with and behind Townsley. Chidgzey took the lead on lap 3, and Wood settled to try and hang on to Kieran for as long as he could, Ridout coming up to contest 2nd, and move through but it would count for nought as he picked up a penalty for deliberate use of contact to do it or was it on Chidgzey for the lead into the closing stages? As the front of the race came back together to go at ‘it’ to the finish. When the dust settled Wood and Chidgzey had finished on the road 1st and 2nd, Townsley was promoted ahead of Ridout to 3rd and Mark was dropped in, behind a distant Chris Murray to 5th.
Can someone please explain to me the slow run up in Heavyweights? It doesn’t happen in Elite, it doesn’t happen in Lights, so I cannot believe its an instruction, it happened at Clay Pigeon and its not like it’s the same pole man each time. Anyway after Bolton managed to oil up, the first time, and the field were called back after the 2nd. At the 3rd attempt the A Final got going. Much like the 2nd start, Bolton tipped into The Hook comfortably, Holmes content not to try to run side by side to claim the 2nd apex, instead content to hold off Elite competitor James Hattersley, Roger Davis, well placed on grid 4, Steve Downes harrying him, and Dan French on row 3 would be harrying James into the Hook, allowing Bolton and Holmes to get up the road to continue where they’d left in the Pre A Final. On the exit Downes had forced his way to the complex’s last tyre bundled apex, and passed it Davis was forced to the grass and allowed Steve through to 4th. Jason Bradbury would be left behind, in the demolished tyre bundle after the field had left without him.
Downes back in Heavyweights for the first time this season must have been exorcising pent up sideline frustration moving straight on to Hattersley towing French behind him down into the Raymonds hairpin. James went in narrow, ran all the way out on the exit, as you must to keep up the momentum, only for Downes to take advantage of his wide entry to pop out from behind him on the exit to pull up inside over start finish for 3rd, with Hattersley in danger losing out to French, but moved over to put him off running down to the Hook. It brought Mike Bodnar, Harrison Darvill, the disappointed Davis, into the fight, while just off James Browning and Mike Townley made up the top 10, with Clay winner Simon Lloyd, after moaning that he didn’t like it here, proving his point, with Luke Hornsby on his bumper. At the end of lap 2, Holmes sat a half kart length off Bolton, but looking comfortable, rather than stressed, Downes had towed Hattersley clear of French bringing through the main line and it would be Daniel struggling to stay in touch with a leading quartet that appeared to be coming back together as Downes towed into the fight for the lead, while French had Bodnar trying to worry him into a mistake by showing him the nose at the hairpin and down the Lancaster Curve or The Dell each lap. But thats a risky game Darvill behind, and he’d have to cover off Harrison after French picked up his pace, Davis made it a quartet, as Browning was being dropped and Lloyd was becoming frustrated behind him losing ground.
End of Lap 5, with half an eye over his shoulder at Downes, Holmes pulled out from behind Bolton off the Esses, to back one in (well a hint of it) on the brakes inside of Raymonds for lead, only to run through deep on track out, for Jack to take it back on the exit. Downes closed with Hattersley again into the Hook, only for Holmes to drill another move into Surtees, but running wide on the exit gave him the inside for MacWhirters and this time Holmes was through. After losing touch with French in the battle 5th, Bodnar had become increasingly defensive, this compounded Mike’s deficit on French, and made it more inevitable that Darvill would get a run somewhere and he’d be down the inside into Raymonds, although he’d have to position himself to put off Mike into The Hook to lock into 6th position change. Behind Lloyd had broken into the top ten after his fight through the Pre B, and up the Pre A field, to start 12th, and he’d passed Browning for 9th and move on to finding a way passed Davis and Bodnar ahead of him.
By halfway Holmes had eased into a few kart length lead, further gains looked likely as Bolton was holding off and up Downes, Steve would rub sidepods with him to pass into the hairpin, to Jack’s protest, and they were joined by Hattersley on the inside. Downes made him lift or be squeezed off at start finish, and he paid the same favour forward as the road swept left, he straight lined to the right to squeeze James out of the overlap to stay 3rd. Homes was released from 1.6secs out to 2secs the next lap, 2.5secs, 3secs and away to the win. The race broke into 3 behind Holmes, gap to Downes stretching Bolton and Hattersley, gap to French coming under pressure from Darvill towards the finish, Harrison would pass into Dan off Chandlers, after French missed the apex by a kart width, only to miss braking point by a similar glaring margin at the hairpin.
Perhaps the way have brake problems as French again ran wide of the apex through Chandlers, and Darvill was through again. No mistake at the hairpin. There was another gap to Bodnar about to lose out to Davis in The Hook and to Lloyd at MacWhirters, David Whitehouse worked his way up the main group from grid 13 to pass James Browning for 10th on lap 9 and get within reach of Bodnar. Hattersley took a shot into the hairpin on Bolton in much the same way as Downes had to try and get on the podium, but where Steve had not given a monkey’s if there had been some contact, James waved Bolton back through. I’m not sure I would have. But it released Downes into a comfortable 2nd place, Hattersley tried again but although clean, was too deep, and that was his bolt shot. Holmes-Downes-Bolton. Rob Moore finishing 20th beat Lennie Wood to the SuperHeavyweight class trophy.
Round 8 is at Red Lodge in Suffolk on 18 September 2016.
Report written by Chris Simpson
Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography