CADWELL PARK 9TH JULY 2017
PLATT UNBEATEN AS LAYTON HAS A BAD DAY
Four-time MSA British Superkart Champion Paul Platt was on top form to collect two wins and go top of the championship table and lift the UK Cup. For Jack Layton, it was a day to forget as he struggled with engine issues.
With this meeting being the first kart only event for a long time there was a hectic schedule. There wasn’t a free practice session so it was straight into timed qualifying, although a lot of drivers had tested the previous day. After one lap of qualifying it was Francois Kishtoo who was quickest. However, on the second flying lap Andy Bird spun in front of him and the Raider driver had to take avoiding action, hitting the barrier hard. The session was red flagged for about 15 minutes and Francois was taken to the medical centre. He had suffered a nasty hand injury but the latest news is that an operation at hospital went well and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
The session resumed and Jack Layton was instantly on the pace lapping in the 1m 26’s but it was James O’Reilly who was the first driver to dip into the 25’s. Layton responded and set a pole lap of 1m 25.397s. O’Reilly had to settle for second quickest on 1m 25.855s and then had an issue with a rabbit that got a bit too close to the action. Tom Hatfield backed up his Parker Motorsport team mate with a lap of 1m 26.213s to end up third on the grid. Gavin Bennett was sporting the GP plates for the first time in the F250 National class, after his success at Donington, and put in a time of 1m 26.559s for 4th spot but the DEA motor was not performing at it’s best. The Gas Gas drivers headed out on track in line astern and it was Dan Clark who put in a time of 1m 26.751s on his last lap to secure fifth place. He was joined on row three by Gareth James with a 1m 26.868s. Paul Platt and Andy Bird shared row 4 with a 1m 27.318s and a 1m 27.472s respectively.
The grid was in good order as it approached the line for race 1 and when the lights went out it was Layton who took the lead. Hatfield was slow away from row 2 while Platt benefited from row 4. Up at Park Corner, Bird spun and Allen also went off. They both continued but at the end of the opening lap they were 22nd and 23rd. Layton had put a second over his pursuers at the end of lap 1 but it was all change at the end of the next lap with O’Reilly holding a narrow advantage. Platt was in third spot with Bennett next coming under pressure from Clark. Hatfield was holding sixth place but was being caught by James. At the end of lap 3 Hatfield pitted with a flat right front tyre. The team replaced it but the balance of the kart had been upset and he retired after another lap.
Up at the front Layton had regained the lead and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4. O’Reilly had been shuffled back to 4th place and it was now Platt and Clark who were after the reigning champion. On lap 6 it was all change. Platt crossed the line in the lead with Clark on his tail while Layton was in trouble and had dropped back to fifth place. The gear lever had broken and he was having to change gear using the rod attached to the engine. That left Platt and Clark to fight over the lead. Clark reduced a one second deficit to just 0.087s as they encountered traffic. But Platt held on to take his second win of the championship season by 0.224s. O’Reilly lost ground in the closing stages as he got held up back markers and settled for third place. Gareth James had been holding fourth spot since lap 6 but a reed petal was damaged and broke off with two laps to go. He dropped back to sixth while Bennett and Julian Davies fought over fourth. Bennett got the verdict, although his DEA was down on power, while Davies was lucky to finish when the big end started breaking up. Ross Allen recovered from his first lap incident with Bird to take seventh spot while Layton kept going despite his gearchange problem to collect a lowly 10th place.
As he had set the fastest lap from the earlier race, Layton was on pole for race 2 with Platt alongside him on the front row. Clark and Allen were on row 2 ahead of O’Reilly and James while Bennett was way back on row 5. When the lights went out Layton made a shocking start and was swamped by the pack and it was Platt that led away and up through Coppice for the first time. At the end of the opening lap he had a lead of just over a second from Clark. Allen was third ahead of O’Reilly while Layton had slipped back to 8th spot behind team mate Hatfield. Tom’s race ended on the next lap when his exhaust broke and he was joined in retirement by Julian Davies with a similar problem. At the end of lap 3 Clark set his quickest lap of the race as he reduced the gap to the leader. But he was slightly distracted when Platt’s chain guard flew off as they crossed the line. Next time around the black and orange flag was shown to the leader. Allen overtook Clark whose Gas Gas was starting to misfire and he started to drop back. O’Reilly’s Viper also developed a misfire and he pulled out on lap 5, followed a lap later by Bennett. “We tried something to improve the engine after race 1 but it didn’t work.” Allen started closing the gap to Platt and looked capable of a win but on lap 7 Platt responded with the fastest lap of the race. Allen was now beginning to tire and Bird closed onto his rear bumper. Layton had benefited from a couple of retirements and had recovered from his bad start to hold 4th place but he was over 5s behind the Allen/Bird dice. The black and orange flag had been withdrawn and Platt was now shown the black flag, although he did continue racing. Layton’s recovery ended on lap 9 when the engine started to misfire badly and he dropped back to 7th. Starting the last lap Platt got held up by traffic and Bird closed the gap with Allen now trying to stay with him. Platt encountered more back markers on the final lap but crossed the line for the win subject to judicial proceedings. Bird pulled clear of Allen for second place. James also slowed in the closing stages but took 4th place with Clark also struggling home in 5th spot with a misfiring Gas Gas. Layton was determined to get a finish and he crawled round the last two laps averaging 56mph to collect a lowly 12th spot and the last unlapped driver. Platt was summoned to see the officials after the race regarding the display of flags, however, the result was allowed to stand and he took another 40 points and a useful championship lead.
With all the championship races out of the way, the final race of the day was to decide the winner of the O plate – the UK Cup. Platt and Layton were on the front row, Bird and Allen on row 2, James and Clark row 3 with O’Reilly and Bennett on row 4. Anyone of those drivers could take the win. When the lights went out Layton made another terrible start, the DEA not picking up, and he was passed on all sides. Platt used pole position to his advantage and sped off up through Coppice. At the end of the opening lap he had Clark on his tail and looking determined. James held off Bird for third place, then came Allen, O’Reilly, Layton, Hatfield from row 9 and Bennett. Gareth James’ challenge ended on the next lap when he spun off at Hall Bends and Bennett pulled into the pits with an over-revving motor. Platt increased his lead but Clark responded on lap three and set the fastest lap of the race. But then disaster. At the end of lap 4 Platt appeared out of Barn Corner on his own and Clark toured into pitlane. Dad Kevin thumped the pit wall in frustration as Dan stopped with a broken cylinder head bolt which was causing a water leak. That left Platt with a lead of 5.665s over Allen with Bird just holding off a recovering Layton. Allen’s chances of putting in a challenge ended on lap 5 when the bubble bracket broke. Layton moved into second place on lap 5 and when Platt got held up by traffic the lead shrunk to 3.624s. Could Layton close further? Unfortunately not when the DEA started to misfire again. This allowed Platt to pull clear and he took the flag and celebrated in his customary style. “The engine has been great all day. We have fitted a new rear radiator and it has certainly helped with better cooling for the motor. It is nice to get the O plate that I last held in 2013.” Bird capitalised on Layton’s problem and collected second place but he was over 7s behind the winner. Layton’s misfire wasn’t as bad as earlier in the day but he had to settle for third spot, three seconds behind Bird. Hatfield had moved into fourth place when O’Reilly retired with an overheating Viper motor due to a loss of water. But then the Parker Motorsport driver had a gear selector fork failure on the last lap and he retired. That handed fourth place to Don Kennedy who just held off fellow THR driver Julian Davies, these two running nose to tail since half distance.
Words by Gary James
Photography By Steve Addison Photography
Like this article? Then check out all our other race reports here: