National Series 2014, Round 1, Sandown Park
The COVKARTSPORT crew head to Sandown, with 111 drivers signing on to face tough conditions and tough racing!
A new circuit to the series, Sandown Park hosted the opening round of the 2014 National series and also COVKARTSPORT’s highest ever attendance. 111 drivers signed on at the circuit as the rain poured down but as the racing begun, the rain stopped and a day of mixed track conditions tested the field to the maximum. The format for all the drivers is three sprint races with the points scored added up to produce a round winner. Any tie in points is decided by the driver’s fastest lap throughout the day. All the points go towards the driver’s championship total.
Jodi Humphreys has shown flashes of pace during his time in the series but Sandown was the round when it all came together for the youngster. Humphreys, who has had a number of podium finishes in his career, claimed a first round victory with a dominating win in the Junior class giving him an early championship lead. Hot on his heels though is reigning champion Sam Lovelace. Championship favourite Lovelace took two race wins and a second place whilst getting the better of Sam Nicholas, who took his debut podium on only his second ever start in the series. After missing the winter series, Oli Baines returned with a strong fourth place overall ahead of a three way tie for fifth. Last season’s novice champion Luke O’Sullivan managed to hold off series newcomer Reece Lycett and Daniel Beardmore, all three looking like they will be competing for wins this season. A close battle for eighth involved four drivers, two being championship contender in the winter series, James Saunders and Plus Winter Champion Ami Jerger, finishing in eleventh and eighth respectively. Meanwhile, Joe Tuffin scored his first race win, after a few years of trying, in the opening race of the day but suffered in the changing conditions to finish in a respectable twelfth overall.
Sandown Park played host to another new winner, this time in the Lightweight class. After a successful debut season in 2013, Richard Dunn started this season in perfect fashion, claiming a clear victory ahead of second placed Connor Marsh, who is showing how consistency works after scoring three top ten results overall in the winter series without actually winning a race. The final podium spot was fought over by Brandon Williams and Winter Champion Daniel Truman, Williams winning this battle on lap time. 2013 Plus champion Mark Bramford’s plan to move up to Heavyweights did not quite come off but he still had a successful day with three strong results on the way to fifth overall, fighting off the attentions of series debutant Tom Eastwood and regular Danny Henney. Eighth went to Gary Jones, who is looking to win back his Plus championship from Bramford, whilst ninth placed Alex Harding will not be worrying just yet about retaining his title from last season. With such a competitive grid this season, even race wins for former champion Graham Wallace and Rikki Gunner could not save them a place inside the top ten overall, finishing thirteenth and twenty-sixth respectively.
After debuting in the series at the final round of the winter series, 16 year old Ed White showed the field that he will be a contender for the title with a dominating display, winning all three of his races and claiming a clear victory overall. Behind the dominate White came Neil Humpherston and last year’s National champion Jeff Chapman in second and third respectively, both showing strong form early in the season. Winter champion Wayne Lidgbird kept up his form with fourth ahead of Allan Smith and Jonathan Carty. Smith and Carty are both expected to be in contention for the title when we reach the final round in November and have given them a decent start. Paul Lycett scored another top ten for the family, after his son Reece was sixth in the Junior class, fighting off Nicklas Mason for seventh overall. Michael Holdcroft’s win in his opening race helped him to fifthteenth overall whilst novice Slawek Piskorz scored an excellent thirteenth on his debut, which could have been a top ten with his pace. Lawrence Watt did not have the best of days but second place in his second race means he is still looking for a first race win after scoring seven second places in races since he joined full time last season.
With only one round gone, no-one is out of the running for the championship but there is pressure on some drivers to kick start their championship at Red Lodge so that they do not leave themselves with too much catching up to do throughout the year.
To find out more about the series, come and visit our ‘new for 2014’ website at www.covkartsport.co.uk.