SNETTERTON 19TH AUGUST 2017
CLARK DOUBLE PUTS HIM ON TOP WHILE HARVEY LIFTS DIVISION 1 TITLE
Dan Clark’s luck finally changed at Snetterton when he collected two wins and went top of the championship table. In a close decider for the Division 1 championship, Dave Harvey benefited when rival Carl Hulme retired.
For the first time since the re-configuration of Snetterton, the Superkarts were racing on the ‘200’ circuit as this meeting was organised around the 2CV 24-hour marathon. Everything was shoe-horned into three-quarters of a day and there wasn’t much time to make changes or repairs between each track visit. There was a free practice session and a fifteen-minute timed qualifying session. Dan Clark was in a buoyant mood and happy with the pace of the Gas Gas with no sign of any misfires. He was the first to dip under 1m 13s but then Gavin Bennett went quicker. Clark responded on his last flying lap to claim pole position with a 1m 12.432s with Bennett second quickest on 1m 12.863s. Andy Bird was trying different gearboxes in his Gas Gas and wound up third quickest with his final lap netting 1m 12.958s.
Jack layton had been fastest in the free practice session with a time quicker than Clark’s pole time. But he struggled in qually and couldn’t get near it when it mattered, ending up fourth quickest on 1m 13.095s. Ross Allen had sorted out the puncture problems from Cadwell Park and wound up fifth on 1m 13.124s. Sixth fastest was James O’Reilly who put in a lot of laps to record 1m 13.365s. Paul Platt went off at Riches on his second flying lap and then it took a couple of laps to get the tyres working properly. He managed to get in a 1m 13.664s lap and was hoping to go quicker but got baulked on his final run so ended up seventh. The Division 1 class were sharing the track with the 250 Nationals. As expected they were quicker with Dave Harvey taking pole position on 1m 11.113s. He was joined on the front row by Swedish visitor Invar Bjerge with a 1m 11.359s. Carl Hulme was third on 1m 12.401s.
The grid was in good order as it approached the line for race 1 and as expected the twins led away when the lights changed. At the end of the opening lap it was Hulme from Harvey and Bjerge. Bennett led the 250 Nationals and had opened up a useful gap over the pack. Layton led the train from Clark, Allen, Bird, Platt, O’Reilly, Gareth James and Tom Rushforth. Andy Waite had forsaken his 450 KTM and was having a run out on a 250 DEA. Unfortunately, he went off and dropped to the back of the field. Bjerge also made a mistake on lap 2 and lost a lot of ground. Hulme eased away at the front and Harvey had no reply. The contest was won early on and Hulme’s winning margin was nearly thirteen seconds. The race for the 250 National class was a lot closer.
Clark took over on lap 3 with a move into the hairpin but couldn’t relax as Layton went ahead of Bennett, who had his hands full keeping Allen behind. Layton had dropped to the back of the group by lap 6 but next time around set a new class lap record and took over the lead from Bennett, Clark and Allen. O’Reilly dropped out of 8th place with a broken exhaust on lap 7 and the same fate befell James three laps later. Clark and Bennett went around the outside of Layton into Riches on lap nine to demote the reigning champion back to third. But on lap 10 he picked off Clark into the hairpin and Bennett down the Bentley Straight. The four-kart group caught a pair of backmarkers at the end of the lap, however, Layton weaved through them to lead the group across the line with Clark, Bennett and Allen getting past before Riches. More backmarkers were caught on the next lap and this split the four-kart train into two pairs. Clark and Layton continued to swap positions until Clark got ahead along the Bentley Straight for the final time and held off Layton to the flag to record his first win of the season. Bennett was heading for third place but Allen got a better run around Coram for the final time and took the position. Platt kept the group in sight but couldn’t do anything about closing the gap and finished fifth in class. Bird struggled with the gearbox in his Gas Gas and dropped back cross the line sixth.
Hulme, Bjerge and Harvey occupied the first three positions on the grid for race 2 based upon lap times from the earlier race. The Division 1 title was up in the air with Hulme and Harvey tied on points. Layton was quickest of the 250 Nationals ahead of Clark, Bennett and Platt. Paul Hewitt was a non-starter in this race after securing the Division 1 English Championship in race 1. While the grid followed the pace car Platt dived into the pits with a problem. He managed to get it fixed but would have to start from the pit lane along with Paul Glenister. When the lights changed Hulme scorched away chased by Bjerge while behind it got a bit messy. Rushforth didn’t make a great start and held up Bennett while further back Julian Davies had the THR motor fail and pulled off at the end of the pit lane just as Platt and Glenister were emerging. It was a bit close. Hulme led Bjerge at the end of lap 1 with Harvey just ahead of Clark. Allen was on his own then came James, O’Reilly, Layton, Bird, Bennett and Rushforth all nose to tail.
Platt’s chances of making up ground came to nothing when he pitted at the end of the lap with a loose top water hose. O’Reilly’s good run also ended early when the Viper motor seized coming round Coram on lap 2. Bjerge took the lead on lap 3 and set the fastest lap next time around. But Hulme knew that if he was ahead of Harvey the Division 1 title was his. On lap 6 the championship was decided when Hulme retired with the top of a VM piston having detached itself. Bjerge drove a faultless race to collect an excellent win. Harvey kept him close until the closing stages when he got held up by backmarkers and eased his pace. The number 1 plate was his. The 250 National class was also a less fraught affair. Allen closed onto the back of Clark on lap 2 but then retired on the following lap leaving the Redspeed driver with a comfortable lead over his rivals. This he maintained for the remainder of the race to complete a ‘class weekend’ and 80 points that takes him to the top of the championship. Has the luck changed? After Allen stopped Layton took over in second place in the 250 National class and held off Bird and Bennett. Bird had changed engines for this race as the 2017 gearbox was better suited to the circuit layout. But on lap 7 he slowed and then coasted to a halt at the end of the following lap when the ignition battery failed.
Layton also dropped out when the shut off valve in the carb failed so that left Bennett with an untroubled run to the flag and second place in class. James had kept the group in sight in the early stages but dropped back after half distance. However, he had a big enough gap over his pursuers to take third. Andy Waite was making a return to the 250cc class this weekend and surprised a few people including himself with an excellent run to fourth in class ahead of Aaron Sifleet, the last unlapped runner. Martin Goodliffe seized his DEA in free practice and had to switch to the slower Honda engine. Perseverance paid off and despite being lapped finished sixth in the 250 National class.
Race One (13 laps) 1 Carl Hulme (Anderson VM) 15m25.757s (100.29mph); 2 Dave Harvey (MS Kart VM) +12.818s; 3 Dan Clark (Anderson Gas Gas); 4 Jack Layton (Anderson DEA); 5 Ross Allen (Jade DEA); 6 Gavin Bennett (Anderson DEA). Record Lap Carl Hulme 1m10.316s (101.57mph).
Race Two (13 laps) 1 Invar Bjerge (Anderson VM) 15m32.288s (99.59mph); 2 Dave Harvey (MS Kart VM) + 6.680s; 3 Dan Clark (Anderson Gas Gas); 4 Tom Rushforth (Spyda VM); 5 Gavin Bennett (Anderson DEA); 6 Gareth James (Anderson DEA). Fastest Lap Invar Bjerge 1m10.454s (101.37mph).
MSA British Superkart Championship Positions after 8 rounds
1 Dan Clark 262 pts
2 Paul Platt 227
3 Jack Layton 204
4 Gavin Bennett 190
5 Gareth James 186
6 Andy Bird 185
BSA National Championship for Division 1 Final Positions
1 Dave Harvey 185pts
2 Carl Hulme 177
3 Tom Rushforth 159
4 Danny Chan 128
5 Liam Morley 120
6 Simon Rushforth 108
Words by Gary James
Images by Nick Purdie