On a weekend of record breaking performances, five new Grand Prix winners were crowned
MSA British Superkart GP for Division 1 and F450 National
The Division 1 and F450 Nationals were first on track and after the qualifying races it was Gavin Bennett on pole with Liam Morley alongside while pole in the F450 class went to Stephen Clark with Chris Purdie joining on the front row. When the lights changed, Morley’s DEA led up through Coppice. At the end of the opening lap he had Bennett 0.654s behind him followed by Carl Hulme, Charles Craven and Paul Hewitt. Clark led the F450 class. Morley wasn’t hanging about and on lap four broke the lap record, extending his lead to 2.68s.
He continued to pull away and despite being under no pressure, broke the record again on lap nine to leave it at 1m 21.780s (96.27mph). His winning margin was 15.783s as he collected his first GP title. “I got a good start, relied on my pit signals and just kept my head down,” he said. Bennett couldn’t live with the pace up front and slipped back into the clutches of Hulme. They ran nose to tail for the final four laps with Bennett getting the verdict by 0.304s. In the F450 class, Clark looked to be heading for an easy win but he lost drive out of Barn Corner at the end of lap eight and dived into the pits thinking his race was over. “I then dropped the clutch and the KTM fired up,” he explained. Purdie was struggling with no rear brakes and then his chain snapped exiting the last corner on the last lap. That gave Clark his first GP title by 23.831s while Purdie managed to coast over the line to claim second place.
MSA British Superkart GP for F250 National
Gavin Bennett led the field away at the start and up through Coppice chased by Ross Allen and Dan Clark. However, Allen’s chance of winning the Grand Prix evaporated on the opening lap when the Honda seized. Bennett completed the lap at the head of the field with Paul Platt on his tail while Clark held off James Hassall, Toby Davis and James O’Reilly. Platt was closing in on Bennett when on lap 4 the leader ran over part of a rear wing end plate. It was thrown up and hit Platt’s crash helmet causing severe damage to it and the visor. Somehow he continued without losing a position to Clark. On lap 6 Bennett made a mistake at Mansfield and Platt was through into the lead. Clark then grabbed second from Bennett at the hairpin.
But Bennett wasn’t finished and on lap 10 entering Coppice he re-took the lead from Platt. The trio started the last lap locked together with the result still in doubt. Despite his vision being impaired by the damaged visor, Platt made his move and at the flag he was ahead by 0.188s from Bennett with Clark a further 0.424s behind. What a fantastic race! “That’s one of my hardest races ever,” said a joyous Platt. “I have been chasing the GP title for five years in this class and now I have finally got it,” he added. Into fourth place at the flag came Carl Kinsey using the THR engine. After retiring in an earlier race due to a detonation problem he kept out of trouble. Hats off to the new team for an excellent result. Gareth James was heading for fifth place but on the last lap he dropped back so Tom Hatfield claimed the place narrowly ahead of Mark Vaughan, who had a massive fuel leak.
MSA British Superkart GP for F125 Open and KZ
Liam Morley was looking for his second GP title of the day after breaking the lap record earlier. With the grid positions for the main race determined by lap times from the two championship races, Morley found himself on pole position despite his nonfinish in the previous championship race. It was a nice, orderly grid on the approach to the lights and when they changed Chris Needham took the lead with Morley and Matt Isherwood in line astern. Very neat and tidy. At the end of the lap Needham led by 0.867s with Kirk Cattermole holding off Morley and Isherwood. Danny Butler led the next group of Lee Harpham, Jake Coward and Richard Crozier while Dan Edwards had dropped back to 13th behind his chassis designer Dave Heathershaw.
James Harvey was behind the HRK’s but he had been losing water since the start of the race and when his TM seized going up through Coppice Rob Stubbs, who was right on his tail, had a big off across the grass. Fortunately with no serious damage. Cattermole lost second place on lap 2 when he understeered off at the end of Park Straight with no grip on his tyres and dropped back to seventh. On the next lap Morley set the fastest lap of the race and dragged along Isherwood onto the back of Needham. The trio then broke away from the rest and resumed their battle from an earlier race. Needham was able to make a break and opened up a small lead while Isherwood and Morley swapped places. But Morley was in trouble.
Crossing the line at the end of lap 7 he looked down at the engine, although his pace didn’t drop off that much. However, on lap 10 he pulled off with a big crack in the expansion chamber. That left Isherwood on his own and although he closed a little on the final lap due to traffic, the Grand Prix title was Needham’s. However, it was far from easy. “I managed to break the tow and keep my head down,” Needham said. “But the temperature of the engine went up. There is no water in it. I am well chuffed with the result and have done what my Dad achieved back in 1993 by winning the UK Cup, the National Championship and the Grand Prix,” he added. Isherwood was happy for his team-mate. “We worked together all weekend but in the end I just couldn’t match Chris,” Matt explained. “I was trying to work with Liam to get a tow and challenge for the lead but it didn’t work out.” Harpham secured third place but was nearly 9s behind Isherwood.
Fourth place looked to be going the way of English champion Cattermole but he was still struggling with front end grip and a slight misfire. Edwards was closing in. Out of Barn Corner for the final time they were nose to tail and Edwards pulled out of the slipstream to claim 4th place by 0.023s with a very quick final lap. “Dave Heathershaw has worked relentlessly throughout the weekend to get the right set-up for the HRK chassis,” Edwards said. “I haven’t been feeling confident about the handling all weekend but well pleased with fourth place.” Heathershaw brought the other chassis home in 10th spot. Coward completed an excellent weekend in front of another proud father with sixth place despite the engine cutting out towards the end while Crozier was the leading KZ driver in 8th place on the road.