Platt starts the season in style
Paul Platt started the defence of his MSA British Superkart title with two emphatic wins at Oulton Park.
A new season with new engines and a bigger range of tyres. Would there be any surprises? The Superkarts were first out on track in bright sunny conditions with Ben Davis leading them round on the opening lap. Unfortunately his brother wasn’t having a good start to the season and dived into the pits at the end of the opening lap when the airbox came off. After two laps Louis Wall went to the top of the time sheets with a 1m 41.707s, but halfway through the session Platt went quicker and put in a 1m 41.220s. Louis responded with a 1m 41.017s and then pitted, happy that he had done enough. Platt had also come into the pits and adjusted the front track to get more stability. He left the pits with 2 minutes remaining on the clock and started his last flying lap behind Liam Morley in the Division 1 Anderson DEA, getting a good tow down the Avenue towards Cascades. Out of Deer Leap, he flashed across the line and stopped the clocks at 1m 40.986s to claim pole position by 0.031s. In parc fermé Paul didn’t believe he had done enough, but the rebuilt chassis since the Silverstone test plus new Hoosier tyres had done the job.
Third quickest was Toby Davis (1m 41.752s), set on his last flying lap and he was joined on the second row by Stephen Clark (1m 41.978s) in the leading F450. Dan Clark (1m 42.130s) headed row 3 but he only got in two laps struggling with a badly handling Anderson chassis. Completing the third row was Gavin Bennett (1m 42.164s) making a welcome return to the single-cylinder class with the new DEA engine. He had only taken delivery of it two days previously so had done well to get where he was on the grid. Aaron Sifleet (1m 42.442s) was 7th quickest, but had a big off at Druids. This resulted in a bent steering column and snapped stub axle. Fortunately his Dad’s kart was in the van and they were able to rob parts from that to get Aaron on the grid for race one. Nick Wilcox in the second F450 would have been next on the grid, but a contravention of a yellow flag negated all of his times and he started at the back of the grid.
As the pace car entered the pit lane, Sam Moss from the fourth row broke formation and dived into the pits to retire with a broken exhaust. When the lights changed Wall and Platt were side by side down to Old Hall with Paul taking the inside line and the lead.
At the end of the opening lap Platt led by 0.654s from Wall, then it was Toby Davis, Bennett, Dan Clark, Stephen Clark and Andrew Gulliford on the Apex KTM 450. His race ended on lap 2 when the airbox moved and starved the carburetor. Bennett also dropped out on lap 2 when the DEA seized.
Platt was soon lapping inside his qualifying time and on lap 4 set the fastest lap of the race, opening up a lead of 4.832s. Stephen Clark was holding second place after barging past his cousin on lap 2 and putting him on the grass. Toby Davis was holding third place but dropped back on the next lap when he hit oil dropped by another kart. Toby was also suffering from a leaking oil seal on his Honda, which didn’t help the situation. This elevated Wall into third place and he was the meat in a Redspeed sandwich as he had Dan Clark in close attendance.
Louis’ resistance to the Redspeed challenge ended on lap 7 when a coil wire snapped and from then on the result was never in doubt. Platt continued to lap in the 1m 40s bracket, the only driver to do so, and crossed the line to win. “Everything ran perfectly. The Hoosier tyres are good. They hung on and were consistent to the end of the race,” he said afterwards. Stephen Clark finished second on the road, the leading F450 but not eligible for MSA points. Runner-up in the championship was Dan Clark, a bit annoyed with his cousin for being aggressive in the early stages. “I also had a problem with the kart as it wouldn’t turn right. I had to come down two gears to get through Druids,” he said.
Toby Davis recovered from his earlier slide to finish in third place and he was well clear of championship rookie James Hassall on the Jade chassis. He had been scrapping with Ben Davis until the latter dropped out with a snapped crankshaft. Nick Wilcox on the second of the F450’s was next across the line after a storming drive from the back of the grid.
The grid for the second race was a bit depleted with various non-starters due to accident damage any engine woes and as usual was determined by lap times from race one. That meant that Platt was on pole while Louis Wall was on row 2 despite not finishing the first race.
At the start, Stephen Clark managed to out drag Platt into Old Hall. Nick Wilcox got a good start from row 4, while Sam Moss from the back of the grid made up nine places before the first corner. One of those was Gavin Bennett whose DEA bogged down on the line and he eventually got away at the back of the field.
Wilcox had moved into third place during the opening lap, but then lost it under braking for Hizzy’s Chicane and dropped to the back of the field. Across the line for the first time it was Platt, Stephen Clark, Dan Clark, Wall, Toby Davis, Hassall, Gulliford and Moss.
Platt stretched his lead on the next lap, while Stephen Clark dropped behind his cousin to act as tail gunner and keep Wall at bay. His challenge ended at Knickerbrook on lap 3 with a flat battery, which also runs the fuel pump. That left the trio of Redspeed runners safely at the head of the field.
By half distance Platt had opened up a lead of 2.568s and steadily increased that over the remainder of the race to clinch the double win, crossing the line with both arms aloft. “I couldn’t push as hard on the tyres in the second race, but then I didn’t have to as I had a five-second cushion, “ he said.
Stephen Clark sat behind his cousin for 8 laps and then passed him into Old Hall for the final time to finish second on the road and complete a double in the F450 class. Dan Clark had found that the Anderson chassis was cracked after race one. This was welded up and greatly improved the handling for race two but he couldn’t get close enough to Platt to mount a challenge.
Toby Davis was happy to collect two third places despite suffering from detonation and a trapped piston ring in his Honda. He was also pleased with the way the Hoosier tyres performed having tested other makes and compounds.
In fourth place at the flag was Sam Moss. “I was catching Toby but made too many mistakes, running wide at the exit of Cascades,” he said. James Hassall had another solid run to fifth place while Jack Layton survived a ‘big moment’ at Island Bend on lap 3 to finish 6th.
Two of the new 250cc engines finished with Gavin Bennett bringing home the DEA in 9th place who ran a different carburetor in race two and a very safe setup to get to the finish. “As we have only had the engine for two days we need to get some mileage under our belts,” he said. Julian Davies on the THR was running in 9th place but slowed in the closing stages when he felt a vibration to finish 11th. Mark Stansfield had problems with the Viper engine in testing on Friday and had to run the Honda development engine for the remainder of the weekend. Two good results netted him fifth place in the points.
Running alongside the singles were four Division 1 Superkarts having their first outing of the season. They were only guesting off the back of the grid. Liam Morley won both races in fairly easily and set a new lap record in the second race of 101.75 mph. “That went very well and we are chasing four titles this year, two in Division 1 and two in the 125cc class,” he explained.