Reigning MSA British Superkart champion Paul Platt retained his title in a last round thriller that was only decided with two laps to go.
The championship was poised to be a three way battle between Paul Platt, Dan Clark and Gavin Bennett. Superkarting-UK played host to the final rounds and unlike previous events, all the track action would take place on one day. After an earlier free practice session, qualifying took place in dry, cloudy conditions. Paul Platt had struggled with a long brake pedal in free practice but when the time came to make his mark he put in a lap of 1m 24.478s to secure pole position. Dan Clark had managed to get hold of another Gas Gas engine after the problems he had endured at Snetterton.
This was the motor that Paul Platt had used recently at Oulton Park to break the lap record. Dan’s time of 1m 25.482s was good enough to secure the second spot on the front row but worryingly was over a second slower than his rival. Toby Davis (1m 25.699s) headed row two and he was joined by James O’Reilly (1m 27.521s) who was having another run out on the Viper SK250. Gavin Bennett started the session on the back foot after seizing on lap 2 in free practice. But he managed to put in a time of 1m 27.570s for fifth quickest. Stephen Clark (1m 28.737s) was sixth quickest, the leading four stroke and using a new Anderson chassis for the first time.
When the lights changed Davis made the best start to take the lead. But at the Gooseneck it all went wrong when he thought he could take it flat and spun, dropping back to third place. Crossing the line for the first time, Platt led Dan Clark by 0.539s while Davis was fending off O’Reilly. Stephen Clark was next ahead of Bennett, Vaughan and Johnson. Bennett spun on lap 2 at the Gooseneck trying to get past Stephen Clark and dropped back to 17th, putting his championship chances out of reach. The title battle took another twist when Platt pulled off into the paddock.
A rear engine mount bolt had broken. Charlie Johnson also stopped when the water filler cap blew off. At the end of lap 2 Dan Clark led Davis by 0.86s, with O’Reilly in close attendance. Stephen Clark was the lead 450 with Vaughan up to fifth place ahead of Hatfield, Sam Moss, Andrew Gulliford and James Hassall. Gulliford’s race ended on the next lap when he selected the wrong gear and pulled off in a cloud of smoke. Clark extended his lead on lap 3 but he crossed the line shaking his head. Was the championship going to take another turn? Davis hit back with the fastest lap of the race but Clark still led by 0.762s. Hatfield’s good drive came to nothing on lap 5 when he retired and this elevated Hassall who had charged through from the 12th row.
He passed Vaughan going up through Coppice to take fifth spot. However, at Hall Bends he had a massive off when a track rod broke. The red flags were thrown immediately and the result declared at the end of lap 5. We were all glad to see James walking around the paddock later, clearly shaken up and nursing a damaged elbow. So the win went to Dan Clark by 0.980s and allowed him to close the gap on Platt in the championship. “There were no major dramas in the race and the shaking head was just down to a gear selection issue.” Davis finished a worthy second with O’Reilly giving the Viper SK a good result only 0.567s behind. Stephen Clark had a lonely race in fourth place to secure another win in the four stroke class. Mark Vaughan had his best result of the season to finish fifth.
Platt led the championship by one point going into the final race of the season but with grid positions determined by lap times from race 1, he found himself on the seventh row with a lot of work to do. Stephen Clark had a last-minute drama on the dummy grid when the water pump was leaking but with the use of some silicone, he was able to take up his spot on the third row. Pole man Davis led the field slowly out of Barn Corner and when the lights changed he got away first while O’Reilly bogged down. At the end of lap 1 Davis led O’Reilly by 0.491s with Dan Clark in third place. Bennett was next with Platt already up to fifth and looking threatening. Davis went grass tracking at the Gooseneck again on lap 2, losing the lead and dropped back to 7th. Bennett was looking to get in on the action and challenged for second place at the left hander before the mountain but had a spin and dropped to the back of the field. With two laps down, Dan Clark held a narrow lead over O’Reilly with Platt into third place.
Stephen Clark was next, the leading four stroke ahead of Hatfield, a recovering Davis and Vaughan. Platt moved ahead of O’Reilly on lap 3 and closed in on Clark but he got out of shape challenging for the lead at the mountain and had to back off. Davis was making up time and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 3 as he moved into fifth place. Back in eighth place, Aaron Sifleet was dropping water from his Gas Gas which made for a slippery track. On lap 4, Platt took the lead but just before the mountain he skated off across the grass allowing Clark to retake the lead. O’Reilly also went off at the same place but retired while Hatfield spun off at the hairpin. At half distance Clark led Platt by 1.632s with Stephen Clark in third. Davis was up to fourth ahead of the three Raider karts of Vaughan, Goodliffe and Roberts.
Platt closed in again on Clark and on lap 6 he swept past into the lead on the approach to Coppice. Despite a few scares due to the slippery track he kept Clark at bay. With one arm aloft he took the win to seal his fourth consecutive championship and equal that of his engine tuner John Riley. A tearful Platt was speechless in parc fermé after an epic drive. Dan Clark was also emotionally drained having come so close to securing his first title. “We messed up on the chassis settings after the first race which resulted in the back end having too much grip and the front pushing on.” After dropped scores he had lost out on the championship by seven points. Davis was pushing hard in fourth place and caught and passed Stephen Clark on lap 7 but at the flag, the four stroke KTM got the better of the two stroke Honda. Mark Vaughan completed an excellent weekend with sixth place while Moss got the better of Goodliffe on the final lap to take sixth spot. Roberts’ race ended on lap 6 with a broken plug tip.