British Superkart Association National Championship for F125 Open, Rounds 1 & 2, Brands Hatch, 13th April 2014.
Harpham tops the points but Isherwood and Morley are the stars
Reigning F125 Open champion Lee Harpham left Brands Hatch with the championship lead, but Matt Isherwood and Liam Morley had a win apiece. They now pose a serious threat for the rest of the season to the former European Superkart champion retaining his F125 crown.
Chris Needham, back in 125s after a spell in a Division One, set the early pace before the red flags came out. Dan Edwards seized his TM motor at Paddock Hill Bend while further round the lap at Clearways, Phil Garrett spun and was collected by guest driver Richard Watts in his 250 Honda. Liam Morley, also making a return to 125s was soon on the pace. A series of quick laps saw him secure pole position with a lap of 48.201s, comfortably inside the lap record. Needham improved on his earlier time but he was over a second slower on 49.233s to start alongside on the front row.
When the lights went out, Isherwood got a cracking start from row 2 and went past Morley and Needham on the run down to Paddock. Needham slotted into second place and they crossed the line at the end of the opening lap nose to tail. Morley led the next group of Moss, Harpham and Danny Butler.
Harpham moved into third place on lap two and started to close on the pair ahead dragging Morley along with him. Morley took over in third place on lap 5 and set a new lap record but on the following lap he pulled off with a broken clutch basket.
Isherwood started to put some daylight over his pursuers and by lap 13 had opened up a lead of 3.603s. He set the fastest lap of the race in the process and a new lap record beating Morley’s previous best. Harpham and Moss had caught Needham while Butler was holding fifth place, but 10 seconds further back.
Isherwood extended his lead over the remaining laps and ran out the worthy winner. “There were quick guys in front of me on the grid. I needed to get a good start and just keep my head down,” he said afterwards. All eyes were on the scrap for second place. Harpham passed Needham at Paddock on lap 17 but couldn’t shake him off while Moss watched and waited for an opportunity that didn’t come. At the flag the three karts were separated by only half a second. “Matt was pulling away and I had to make a move on Chris to stand any chance of winning,” explained Harpham. “My tyres had gone off by the end of the race and I was hanging the tail out at Paddock. I looked over my shoulder and saw the others coming but couldn’t do much about it,” added Needham. Moss was happy with his fourth place despite “running out of revs at the end of the straight. We will have to change the gearing for the next race.”
The first five rows of the grid contained current and former F125 Open champions, UK Cup winners, Grand Prix winners and lap record holders in the 125cc class and the 250cc class. Isherwood got another good start and led Morley into Paddock for the first time, while Harpham had his TM motor load up and lost a lot of ground.
At the end of the first lap Isherwood had eked out a lead of just over half a second with Needham, Morley and Butler in hot pursuit. Needham took the lead on lap two but Morley moved ahead on lap four. As they crossed the line at the end of the lap, only 0.097s covered Morley, Needham and Isherwood. Isherwood’s chances of recording a double win evaporated on lap seven when the big end failed in his Vortex engine.
Morley started to ease away and on lap eight set a new lap record of 48.655s to open up a lead of 1.541s. Needham was still chasing and was clear of Butler and Moss who were fighting over third place. Moss stopped at the pits at the end of lap ten when the water pump pulley on the axle moved and the belts came off. Unable to effect a repair, he was forced to retire. On the following lap Needham pulled out when the exhaust spring snapped.
That left Morley with a lead of 8.5s over Butler with Harpham up to third just ahead of Edwards. Morley continued to pull away over the remainder of the race and won by a massive margin of over 19s. “That’s made up for the earlier disappointment,” Morley said. “The new Anderson was performing well.” Butler looked to be in a safe second place, but the new TM KZ10 motor went a bit flat just after half distance and he just hung on to the position at the flag.
Harpham and Edwards battled for third place and Dan was ahead at the end of lap 14. But Harpham got a tow along Brabham Straight and drove round the outside of Edwards at Paddock to regain the position on the following tour.