National Series 2014 – Round 4 – Whilton Mill
Whilton Mill is always a popular circuit with many drivers and Round Four of the COVKARTSPORT series was no exception.
Warm but overcast conditions greeted all 128 drivers, an attendance record for the series, as they arrived at the circuit and took part in the customary track walks and these conditions stayed the same for the majority of the day.
A consistent start to the season for reigning champion Sam Lovelace meant that he entered round four in second place in the points but that all changed as he finally scored his first win of the season with a dominant display around the Northamptonshire circuit. Lovelace scored a perfect score with three heat wins out of three as he dominated the day, five points clear of a close battle for second, settled in the favour of Luke O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan continues to impress and fought hard to see off the attentions of the equally impressive Matthew Tetley, who claimed his first podium in the series and is now in a position to challenge for the Junior Plus title even after missing the opening round. Fourth place for Daniel Beardmore was his best position of the season whilst title rivals James Saunders and Jodi Humphreys battled hard to keep in touch with points leader Lovelace but had to settle for only fifth and sixth respectively. Reece Lycett claimed seventh ahead of Ami Jerger, the current Junior Plus championship leader while ninth and tenth went to Taylor Ashcroft and Joe Tuffin respectively as they continue to have impressive seasons and securing their places in the top ten of the points table at the half way stage of the season.
In the Lightweight class, Neil Vincent claimed his first podium of the 2014 season and he did it in the right way by taking the top step position. After watching his sister Kayleigh take overall victory at Red Lodge, Neil repeated the feat with a score that included two wins during the day and in turn, moved himself into a strong position to fight for the championship going into the second half of the season. Behind Neil, there was a close battle for the remaining podium positions as Daniel Truman got the better of championship rival Richard Dunn by one point for second whilst the same gap meant that 2013 champion Alex Harding had to settle for fourth. Fifth place went to series newcomer Rhianna Purcocks, who kept out of trouble for a strong result ahead of Jack Wallace and Sean Brierley. Tom Evans raced well to win a close fight between himself, Mark Bramford and another series newcomer Michael Weddell, all the drivers on 48 points and only lap time separating them. This gave Weddell a top ten on his debut, which impressed in a field of 57 drivers in the Lightweight class. Kayleigh Vincent, Rikki Gunner and Steven Lester all scored race wins throughout the day but all finished outside the top ten showing just how competitive the Senior Lightweight class is in 2014.
At Whilton Mill, the Heavyweight class featured its fourth different winner in four rounds as series newcomer James Fitchew claimed overall victory. Fitchew, on his local circuit, had to fight hard for the win with Wayne Lidgbird only a point behind in second. The final step of the podium was taken by Ben Filer, who returned to the series after missing the first three rounds of 2014. Championship leader Jeff Chapman had a strong race day in fourth to increase his championship lead at the halfway point of the season and is looking good to defend his Heavyweight title. Thomas Martin scored his best result of the season with fifth, scoring the same as the championship leader and keeping clear of a titanic battle for sixth between Allan Smith, Sam Foster and David Whitehouse. All three drivers finished the day on 50 points leaving lap time to decide the positions with just over a tenth of a second covering all three. Smith took sixth ahead of Foster while former champion Whitehouse must have been pleased to score his first race win of the season during the event. Josh Overhill kept his points total ticking with ninth and Carl Bannister scored his best result of the season with tenth overall after missing round three. Neil Humpherston and Dean Davis both scored race wins while finishing outside of the top ten in twelfth and fifteenth respectively and after coming close on a number of occasions. Alex Vangeen scored his first COVKARTSPORT race win in the final race of the day.
So it’s Sam Lovelace, Richard Dunn and Jeff Chapman at the top of the championship tables at the half way point of the season. Will they be at the top at the end of the season? The story continues at the Ancaster circuit near Grantham where round five also includes the chance for anyone to become the Open Champion.