Watching The Pennies: A review of the 2012 Little Green Man Championships

IMG_0677“We won’t be taking part in this year’s Little Green Man. I’ve seen how quick the two Mills drivers Stevens and Gee are going. There’s no way that anyone else can live with them and they’ll all be racing for 3rd place.” That was the comment made to me by one disillusioned parent just a few weeks before the championships got underway in April. Fortunately, it wasn’t a view shared by too many others. However the shock announcement in September 2009 that WTP had ceased production undoubtedly created an air of uncertainty. As we moved into March, organiser Mike Mills was confident that sufficient entries would materialise to make the championships viable. His expectations were realised a week or so later when the number of registered drivers reached 25.

If a black cloud had hung over these championships earlier on then at least the opening round at Fulbeck was conducted under clear blue skies. Mike Mills described it as a happy weekend for all concerned and, after enjoying some well contested racing, there was certainly plenty to smile about. Cory Stevens had a huge grin on his face as he celebrated victory in the final, but there were big smiles too from Sam Priest, Alex Stott and Jordan Falding who had all demonstrated that they were quick enough to give Stevens a hard time in future rounds. Rookie driver Lewis Brown surprised everyone with his pace and he was eventually rewarded with 5th spot ahead of Max Stilp The real topic of conversation, though, was Shayne Harrison’s amazing speed with an old B1 engine. More controversy would surround this motor at future rounds.

Kimbolton was the next venue and we were treated to a real cracker. Once again, Harrison’s B1 motor was outrageously quick and only his relative inexperience kept him off the podium. Stevens looked set to expand his championship lead, but a late surge by Priest earned him victory by a coat of paint. Sean Gee took 3rd spot less than a kart’s length behind with Eddie Hack in 4th spot ahead of Max Stilp and Gaby Weyer. If there’d been a prize for the unluckiest driver at Kimbolton, then Alex Stott would certainly have claimed it. After working his way up to 3rd spot, his race was ruined by a loose track rod.

There was plenty of excitement on offer at the Three Sisters circuit as five drivers furiously contested the lead with absolutely nothing to choose between them. Eddie Hack could have been amongst this group had it not been for a bad smash in an earlier Heat that resulted in him being seriously injured. The battle between Stott and Priest was particularly intense with Sam seizing the initiative late on in this race. Half way round the last lap, though, Alex pulled off a daring manoeuvre and Sam almost lost 2nd place to Cory Stevens. Thomas Day squeezed out Sean Gee for 4th spot, with Max Stilp following some distance behind in 6th. By setting fastest lap, Stevens collected two bonus points that kept him sitting on top of the championship table.

Round 4 at Ellough Park produced a defining moment in the championship battle. As ever, Harrison looked extraordinarily quick but a broken rear bumper knocked him out of contention with eight laps of the final still remaining. Coming off pole position, Priest had assumed command and he survived a sustained assault from Stott. As Sean Gee and Alex Sedgwick both began to apply pressure on the 2nd placed man, Priest was able to extend his lead and finished up a comfortable winner. Stevens had looked curiously off the pace all weekend and he came home in 5th place ahead of Gaby Weyer who managed once again to finish amongst the main prize-winners.

The championship pendulum had swung in Priest’s favour as they arrived at Buckmore Park to contest Round 5. Cory Stevens needed a good result here to regain the momentum and he looked pretty quick when Sunday’s racing got underway. Unfortunately for him, half a dozen others were circulating equally rapidly including Sam Priest. At the end of a hard day’s racing, It was Priest who took his place on the winner’s rostrum. Stevens found himself edged into 3rd spot by his team-mate Sean Gee with Stott in 4th position and Day 5th. For the first time in these championships, Harrison managed a top six slot provoking more comment about his engine speed.

A good result at Shenington could earn the title for Sam Priest, although much depended on how his opponents, particularly Cory Stevens, fared. Stott and Harrison both won Heats with Gaby Weyer recording her maiden victory in a Little Green Man event. The stage was set for an action packed final. Weyer led the race briefly before Gee took over. Priest seized control only to be replaced at the front by Stott. Harrison sustained a knock from Stevens which slowed him down slightly but he was lapping more than half a second quicker than anyone else and soon caught up with the leaders. After swapping places with Priest, he rapidly pulled away from the chasing pack. Priest’s 2nd place ahead of Stott, Gee, Stevens and Day was good enough to give him the championship title.

The drama didn’t end there. Since the opening round at Fulbeck there had been a certain amount of disquiet over Shayne Harrison’s obvious speed. This had increased throughout the year and at Shenington Mark Weyer protested Harrison’s motor on behalf of his daughter, Gaby. The engine was sealed and taken away for examination by Paul Klaassen who subsequently found it to be ineligible. Shayne’s win was taken away from him and this left Sam Priest as the winner. The final round at PF is reported elsewhere in this issue. By virtue of a well taken victory in wet conditions Alex Stott claimed 2nd place in the championship table ahead of Sean Gee, Cory Stevens, Thomas Day and Jordan Falding.

Far from going into decline, Mike Mills is predicting that next year’s little Green Man series should be amongst the best ever. Negotiations with a title sponsor have almost reached their conclusion and already there is a strong line up of drivers registered for the WTP class. Super Cadets will be included in the 2011 Series and it looks as though there will be a lot of support for this class. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be the 10th WTP champion.