What a fantastic event this is epitomising what a great sport ours is when drivers of all abilities, from an ex British Cadet Champion to someone driving in their first competitive event ever come together to honour a young man who many had never met to raise money for research into the disease T-cell Prolymphocytic leukaemia which took him from us far too young in 2011. A particularly nasty and rare disease. Paul was a young man who loved Karting, loved life to the full and in return was much loved and respected.
A full entry too for the seventh running of the event at Whilton Mill International. Shame about the weather. Or was it?
As the grid formed up for the first the track was still wet from the early morning rain and with a stiff breeze blowing in from the North West it would remain cold all day with further intermittent showers keeping the track wet all day. There would be plenty of spinners!
Jon Maycock on pole from Pete Cowan on the two by two grid followed by the two Pawlicks, Greg and Phil. Next up Rich Cooper and debutant Sally Dalton from Ian Blake and Joe Borg with the hugely experienced, and event favourite Niki Richardson, starting ninth alongside James Coleman. As the lights turned green and feet hit the loud pedal the new Sodi four strokes lit up there rear tyres as the field streamed into the first corner ( OK, it’s a bit of poetic licence but you get my drift ). But carnage ensued with Karts spinning on the treacherous service and taking out others. Indeed, all round the first lap we had drivers falling off as ambition outweighed talent. All of which left Rich Ward, starting from grid eleven, leading the field across the line at the end of the lap with Kostas Kyritsis second having started on grid sixteen. Greg Pawlik remained third but a lap later would be down to sixth. He would eventually finish ninth. At the front Ward pulled out a huge lead from Kyritsis who had Richardson closing in. As the race wound down Kyritsis closed in on the leader but Ward had just enough in hand to take the win by a little over three tenths. Richardson crossed the line third but then found himself slapped with multiple penalties for kerb crawling dropping him to seventeenth and promoting Blake into third ahead of Adam Pughe, up from grid sixteen, and Johnny Goddard who also set the fastest lap of the race. He was also the only driver to dip below one minute twenty. Hmm..
Dan Sykes on pole from Owen Burton with Ross Kayman and Chris Bell on row two. Daz Teal and Ed Barrs next up from Dan Marshall and Andy Priest with Bing Yan and Jack Mitchell completing the top ten. A better start this time from the field as the rain had abated a little. But the conditions still caught a few out. Burton got the better of Sykes off the line to lead up the hill with Kayman intent on second. He and Sykes suffered half spins and dropped back promoting Bell into second by the end of the lap with Teal up to third and Mitchell into fourth having kept himself out of trouble. Next up was Marshall from Kayman with Karl Spencer into seventh from grid nineteen after an incredible first lap. A lap later and he was into sixth. Three down and Burton had taken over at the front with third, fourth, fifth and sixth remaining static. Rhianna Purcocks moved up to seventh at the expense of Kayman who a lap later fell out of the top ten. And that was how it remained to the flag, Bell taking the win over three seconds to the good and setting the fastest lap of the race.
James Montgomery on pole from Simon Pughe with event organiser Dan Underhill next and Brandon Williams alongside. Stuart Germon on row three with Martin Joyce alongside and Nick Divers and Jan Krautter on four from Karl Frankham and Jon Curry. Montgomery failed to take advantage from pole getting caught out by the conditions, a half spin and subsequent delay dropping him to eighth by the end of the lap. Pughe dropped to fourth but it was a fast starting Williams who caught the eye to lead by the end of the first lap from Underhill. Germon, Divers, Krautter, Frankham and Curry were all early spinners promoting James Saunders into fourth from grid eleven. Joe Richardson and Sam Dimelow both benefitted from the first lap chaos moving up to fifth and sixth from grids fourteen and eighteen respectively. Chris Daines was into eighth from grid twelve. Two laps run and Williams was already stretching a gap at the front as Underhill spun out of second resuming at the rear of the field and promoting Saunders into second. Williams continued to pull away at the front whilst Saunders gave vain chase. The two of them though were well clear of the battle royal for third between, Dimelow, Daines and Richardson, the three of them swapping places all round the lap. Pughe was still in touch but had Karting Magazines Piers Prior closing in rapidly. Williams took the win over four seconds to the good from Saunders who was himself over five seconds clear of third which fell to Dimelow with Daines next from Richardson. Sixth went to Prior who took the spot on the final tour setting the fastest lap in the process with an astonishing 1 minute 17.957 second lap. Comfortably the fastest lap of the day and an ominous warning to rest of the field.
Ward on pole from Rob Moore with Martin Owen and Craig Johnson on row two. Row three, Adam Pughe and Shaun Carter from Andrew Hill and Dave Thomas. Karl Spencer and James Holland completed the top ten. Ward got away cleanly from pole followed by Moore but behind these we had a clutch of spinners. Owen, Johnson, Carter, Hill and Thomas all fell foul of the conditions whilst Pughe got delayed. By the end of the lap Ward had slipped to second usurped by a charging Spencer who was up from tenth into the lead. But only very briefly as Ward slipped back past up the hill. Chris Bell was another to take advantage and was into third from grid fifteen with Holland next from Moore. Ed Barrs was another rapid starter moving into sixth from grid seventeen whilst Jack Mitchell climbed from the back of the grid to seventh. A lap later he would be into sixth but then tangled with Moore and dropped to the back of the field. Half distance and Ward still led from Spencer, Bell and Moore whilst Niki Richardson was into fifth having worked his way up from grid twenty. Ward took the win just over three tenths up on Spencer for his second win of the day. Richardson took third slipping by Bell on the last lap with Barrs completing the top five. Mitchell set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour.
Jonny Goddard on pole from Tom Dix followed by Dylan Kayman and Joshua Sergeant. Kyritsis and Jared Kayman on row three from Rhianna Purcocks and James Elliott with Jonathan Lissetter and Dan Sykes completing the top ten. Dix got the jump on Goddard to lead at the end of the first lap but once again the rest of the front rows got overexcited and spun themselves out of contention allowing Lissetter and Purcocks into third and fourth respectively with Bing Yan and James Coleman next up having started right at the back of the nineteen strong field. The front four rapidly began to pull clear of the rest of the pack now led by Coleman as Bing Yan dropped back to tenth in the space of a lap. Teal was putting pressure on Coleman slipping by at two thirds distance. At the front Goddard slipped by Dix for the lead with one lap to go whilst the top four ran line astern but a little spread out. So Goddard crossed the line to take the win. He celebrated by executing a beautiful three hundred and sixty degree spin as he crossed the line. It might have earned him a perfect ten on an ice rink but in this case he received a one lap deduction dropping him to fifteenth. Silly Billy Jonny. But he did have the satisfaction of setting fastest lap. A win then for Dix with Lissetter second from Purcocks. Teal was next with Pete Cowan completing the top five.
James Saunders on pole from Chris Daines. Second row, birthday boy Glen Beard with Joe Richardson alongside. Dante Dhillon and Henry Miles on row three from Dan Truman and Sam Dimelow with Will Hirsch and Piers Prior completing the top ten. Saunders and Daines led the field away but both Beard and Richardson made tawdry starts and fell back. Miles, Truman and Hirsch all spun away their chances allowing Prior to make the most of their demise to move himself into third by the end of the lap behind Saunders and Daines with Dhillon fourth ahead of Dimelow. Beard ran sixth with Brandon Williams right on his bumper after moving up from grid fifteen. Surprisingly the order stabilised at the front apart from Dimelow who spun out of fifth, dropping to seventeenth. With two to go, barring incident, the front four looked to have cemented their places. And so it proved, Saunders taking the win and setting the fastest lap of the race with Daines over two seconds adrift in second and Prior a further two seconds back in third but well clear of fourth placed Dhillon. Richardson was next having forced his way by Williams at the top of the hill. A move which saw a very annoyed Williams drop to fifteenth and suggest that Richardson should learn how to overtake.
Front row starts this time for Jonathan Lissetter and James Coleman with James Elliot and Niki Richardson on row two. Dave Thomas and Joe Borg on three from Ian Blake and Andrew Hill on four and Sally Dalton and Kosta Kyritsis on five. Lissetter and Coleman got away cleanly to lead the field round the first corner but Elliot spun down the order along with Thomas and Borg allowing Richardson a clean run on the leaders to run first by the end of the lap. Coleman fell away but was still fifth by the end of the lap behind Richardson, Lissetter, Blake and Kyritsis whose first lap time was only bettered by the flying Richardson. Richardson continued to dominate setting the fastest lap of the race and edging further away from second placed Lissetter as Blake and Kyritsis fought over third swopping places several times whilst Pughe kept a watching brief in fifth. Double heat winner Rich Ward was up to sixth having started from grid twenty and looking very determined to gain the maximum from his final heat. No one though was going to catch Richardson who ran out the winner over four seconds to the good on second which went to Blake. After battling with Kyritsis over third he and the latter settled down and reeled in Lissetter in second. Kyritsis made a move for second but couldn’t make it stick running both he and Lissetter wide allowing Blake to profit. Kyritsis took third with Lissetter a philosophical fourth ahead of Pughe. Sixth went to Jon Maycock who mugged Ward for the place on the last lap. They’d both started on the back row but whilst Ward had made spectacular early progress Maycock had worked his way steadily through the field. Fine drives from them both.
Steve Hicks on pole from Jack Mitchell with Piers Prior and Bing Yan on row two. Will Hirsch and Andy Priest on three and Sam Dimelow and Dan Marshall on four. Dan Truman and Ed Barrs completed the top ten. As the lights turned Green it was Prior who made the better start to force his way ahead by the time the front runners exited the first corner chased by Hicks and Mitchell. Hirsch again spun away a healthy grid slot as did Priest and Truman. By the end of the lap Prior was several lengths to the good from Mitchell in second and Hicks third ahead of Dimelow and Marshall. With two down Prior had extended his lead but Hicks was back into second ahead of Dimelow and Mitchell with Joe Richardson up into fifth from fifteenth. Half distance and the top five remained the same but a lap later Mitchell was down from fourth to sixth. Prior continued to run untroubled at the front but Hicks was coming under pressure from Dimelow and finally succumbed on the penultimate lap. Dante Dhillon crossed the line third having made steady progress up from grid thirteen. Unfortunately he’d picked up penalties dropping him out of the top ten and promoting Richardson into third ahead of Hicks with Mitchell fifth from Daines who set the fastest lap of the race.
The final qualifying heat of the day and James Holland on pole from Jon Curry. Karl Spencer and Karl Frankham on row two and Rhianna Purcocks and Jan Krautter on row three. Nick Divers on four from Jared Kayman with Martin Joyce and Shaun Carter completing the first five rows. Once again the inclement weather caught out the front rows. Poleman Holland spun along with fellow front row man Curry. Spencer, from third, avoided them to lead by the end of the lap with Purcocks in his wheeltracks. Frankham spun out of fourth with Krautter falling from sixth and Kayman, Joyce and Carter all being delayed. Those at the back of the grid took full advantage. Brandon Williams was third by the end of lap one having started on grid fourteen. Dan Underhill climbed from grid sixteen to fifth behind Divers who had stayed out of trouble moving from grid eight to fifth. Simon Pughe was sixth, from eighteenth ahead of Rob Moore, up from grid nineteen, and James Montgomery, up from grid twenty. Spence continued to set the pace but Williams was into second from Purcocks. Half distance and Holland still led but a lap later and he was down to second as Williams powered his way by. Purcocks remained third but under pressure from Underhill whilst Divers spun out of fifth. Williams continued to pull away and set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour taking the flag by almost five seconds from Underhill who took the place from Purcocks on the last lap.
Pole for Ross Kayman from Joshua Sergeant with Stuart Germon and Andrew Hill on row two. Dan Sykes and Bing Yan occupied row three ahead of Rich Cooper and Andy Priest on four from Martin Joyce and Dave Thomas. Just one to qualify for the B final. Kayman led the field away with Sergeant slotting in behind but Germon got mugged coming down the hill into Inkermans for the first time and was eighth by the end of the lap and looking out of the running. Hill fell back too as did Bing Yan and Cooper whilst Joyce was up to third from Carter. Martin Owen too made a great start up to fourth. Kayman continued to pull away at the front but Sergeants second place ended as he spun down the order. Germon meanwhile was beginning to recover and was back into fourth by the end of the second tour. A lap later and he up to second and setting about chasing down the leader. Owen was fourth from Joyce with Hill and Bing Yan next. Kayman continued to lead but Germon, now running in clean air, was chasing him down setting the fastest lap of the race on lap five ad pulling well clear of the pursuing pack. Kayman looked to have plenty in hand though. But Germon was reeling him. But would he have enough laps to mount a challenge? It didn’t look like it but as they headed up to Christmas corner at the top of the hill he had moved considerably closer. As they rounded the corner Kayman snapped into a spin. In a heartbeat Germon was through into the lead and pulling clear. Kayman resumed in third but couldn’t get back on the pace. Germon ran out an easy winner by over fourteen seconds at the flag whilst Owen crossed the line third ahead of Kayman with Joyce fourth and Bing Yan fifth.
Rob Moore on pole from Simon Pughe with Jonny Goddard and Jack Mitchell on row two. Nick Divers and James Holland next from Dan Underhill and Dante Dhillion. James Montgomery and Dan Marshall completed the top five rows. With just one to qualify the prospects were good for a great race. Or carnage. Moore got away well but it was Goddard who anticipated the lights best and by the end of the first lap he had pulled several kart lengths clear of Moore in second. Pughe’s chances of a win had evaporated on the first lap as he spun out of contention. Dhillon had made an epic start moving from eighth to third with Mitchell fourth and Divers fifth. Holland and Underhill both spun to the rear of the field putting them out of contention. Coming down the hill into the left hander before the back straight and Goddard was pulling ever clearer but as he turned in he was carrying too much momentum and spun backwards into the barrier. Silly Billy Jonny. Moore took over at the front. An exciting moment for him.
Too exciting as it turned out. As he turned left into the first part of the boot he too spun out of the lead. Did no one want to win this race? Dhillon took avoiding action and Mitchell immediately took over at the front with Dhillon behind. Maycock too took advantage. Having moved up from grid eleven to sixth on the first lap he was now into third ahead of Divers, Beard and Truman. With three down Mitchell continued to lead from Dhillon and Maycock. Down the order Moore was back up to seventh but then he spun again. Further back Underhill was beginning a recovery drive. Having dropped to seventeenth at the end of lap one by lap three he was up to twelfth. Mitchell and Dhillon remained at the front but Marshall was into third but too far behind the leaders to mount a serious challenge. With two to go Mitchell looked to have the race won despite having to defend manfully for much of the latter stages of the race. Sadly for the leader the officials decided he had clattered the kerbs once too often and he was called in for a drive through penalty costing him the race win. Given the conditions it seemed a touch harsh. Dhillon couldn’t believe his fortune and reeled off the final lap and a bit to take the win by over nine seconds whilst Mitchell still had enough of a lead over third to remain second. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Maycock took third with Underhill fourth after a sensational comeback drive. Beard was fifth from Marshall with Henry Miles seventh. Divers, Truman and Germon completed the top ten.
Pole for Rich Ward with Piers Prior alongside. Ian Blake and James Saunders on row two from Joe Richardson and Karl Spencer on three. Row four, Jonathan Lissetter and Rhianna Purcocks with Kosta Kyritsis and Daz Teal completing the top ten. Despite being on pole Ward said before the start that he was concerned that he would get speared off at the first turn. Prophetic words. Sure enough as the field streamed up the hill with Prior to the fore the poleman had gone missing. Spencer, Lissetter and Purcocks also lost out whilst Brandon Williams, starting from grid twelve was up to second ahead of Saunders by the time the field reached the back straight for the first time. Niki Richardson too had got off to a flyer. Starting seventeenth he was up to fifth behind brother Joe as they turned onto the back straight with Joe glancing anxiously behind. Down the straight and into the boot James Saunders ran wide across the grass. Joe R made it safely by but James came back onto the track at the top of the boot just in front of Niki. Into the final corner and Niki looked to have made the pass but James cut back on the exit of the corner running Niki wide and almost into the tyres. James crossed the line fourth but Niki came back at him to get ahead and was just in front as they headed up to Christmas corner at the top of the hill. But James wasn’t done. He dived up the inside and the two of them rounded the corner side by side.
But Niki had the line for the kink. It did him no good however as James edged him onto the grass and into a spin which saw them both come to a halt in a shower of mud and a cloud of steam. James was adjudged the aggressor and penalised whilst Niki resumed down in fourteenth and seemingly out of contention. As the rain began to fall again Prior continued at the front driving consistently and pulling clear of Williams with Joe R seemingly cut adrift in third. Blake was fourth but making no impression on the leaders with Kyritsis fifth and B Final winner Dante Dhillon sixth having started twenty first! With four laps run he was into fifth as Kyritsis suffered a spin dropping him to eleventh. Prior continued to lead from Williams but Joe R suddenly began to make inroads on the gap to second setting the fastest proper lap of the race on the eighth tour. I use the word proper as the results show Rich Ward setting the fastest lap with a sub one minute time nearly twenty seconds better than the rest of the field. Rocket Rich was running all on his own near the back of the field when he misjudged his braking point for Inkermans. Rather that spin he went straight on, missing the tyre barrier, and pulling back onto the straight having missed three corners completely!
Last lap and Prior looked to be home and hosed unless he made an error. Williams too looked to have enough in hand to take second but Joe R wasn’t in the mood to settle for third and dived under Williams at the boot showing the latter that he did know how to overtake. Brandon fought back into the last corner but Joe knows how to defend too and took second and leading Heavyweight. Blake took fourth, only a couple of seconds back but ten seconds up the road from Dhillon who was a very lonely fifth some ten seconds ahead of sixth place Niki R. Ed Barrs took seventh with Cowan next just ahead of Kyritsis. Adam Pughe completed the top ten.
The race though, and the crown of PLD 2018 Champion belonged to the man from Karting Magazine. A very accomplished drive in the conditions and although he’s been round Whilton Mill many times it was only the second time in a four stroke. A very worthy winner.
Whilst we applaud Piers for his win and his generous decision to auction off his winner’s prize, a Jack Dex Racing (JDR) test day with tuition in an MS X30, this was a day when everyone at Whilton Mill was a winner. Thanks go to all the drivers for putting on a great show in the difficult conditions. To all those who generously donated the prizes. To all the marshals and staff at the circuit. To the spectators who braved the wind and rain. To Alpha timing and Chris Simpson for the live feed and most important of all, to Dan Underhill for organising such an amazing event. Paul would be very proud of you for making sure that his memory lives on in such a great cause. At the time of writing Dan believes that the event has raised circa, an incredible £4500. A record amount.
Thank you everyone for your incredible generosity.
Written by Steve Gray
Images courtesy of Toni Onions