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For the start of qualifying the sun was out and the track was bone dry, with the drivers looking to make the most of the conditions; and after a strong practice session earlier in the morning it was Championship contender Tom Sibley who set the pace early, after the first 3 laps, 2 tenths clear of young Kameron Khan in 2nd. Daytona Tamworth regular, Charlotte Manton was holding her own early on, sitting in 7 th after 4 laps of her first TW Steel DMAX Champs quali fier. 5 laps in, Khan moved quickest, with Cameron Noble following him up the leaderboad with a 57.089. Khan, Sibley and Manton then quickly became the first 3 drivers under 57 seconds, before the course was neutralised under full course yellows as the field was deemed to have not be slowing down sufficiently for localised yellows at turn 4. As the yellows were cleared no one was getting close to Khan’s time of 56.678. That was until Golding powered in a 56.462 his 12th time around, a time he bettered next time round with a 56.405, 2 tenths clear of the chasing pack with just 2 minutes left of the session. Graeme Cobb stormed up into 2nd with a 56.638, demoting Khan into 3rd with an unimproved time. That is how the top 3 finished, with Sibley and Ben Leslie rounding off the top 5 after an action packed qualifying.
As the lights went green for the start race, Golding led the pack away, following a slow getaway from Cobb, Khan moved through into 2nd at turn 4. It was at that corner on the first lap that Joseph Conroy’s kart stopped on circuit, he was forced to run back to the pits for a swap, resulting in a full course yellow. At the getaway, Khan got the jump on Golding at the startline, briefly moving into 1st, but only until turn 4 as Golding slipped back up the inside. Sibley had a slow start to the race being pushed down to 6th, with Cobb 3rd, and Leslie and Manton rounding off the top 5 after 5 minutes. Having had his issues at the restart, Golding began to pull out a gap at the front , pumping in a fastest lap time of a 56.475 the 6th time round. The 4 drivers from 4th -7th were all separated by less than a second, as Sibley moved his way through into 4th , with some good moves on lap 8. Cameron Noble joined that battle having caught the drivers battling for position.
Khan was then pul led into the pits as his exhaust developed an issue on circuit, following a promising start, he decided to retire from the race at that stage. This bumped Sibley into 3rd, and Noble 4th, as he swept passed Manton. Further down the field, the 2 young drivers Max O’Shaughnessy and Joshua Craft had moved up to 7th and 8th respectively, with Harrison Pughe and Sam Bennett rounding off the top 10 at the 15 minute mark. Having missed the previous 3 rounds, Kamran Moussa-Zadeh had a slow start to the day, but began to apply the pressure to Tom Pughe on lap 16, as he closed the gap to less than a second. Following his kart swap, Conroy was running in last place at the 20 minute mark, a lap down on the rest of the pack, until Golding lapped Dane Christensen in 16th , bringing Conroy back within sight of the pack. On lap 21 O’Shaughnessy pulled into the pits with a kart issue, dropping him to the back of the field, as he spent over 2 minutes in the pits.
Back at the front, Sibley and Noble continued theie charge moving passed Cobb into 2nd and 3rd, but it remained extremely close as Cobb latched onto the back of Noble and tried to regain the las t podium spot. Manton used the battle ahead to catch back up with Cobb, and all 4 drivers found themselves within 3 tenths of one another as they crossed the line on lap 26. Manton was pushing hard, continuously looking up the inside into heavy breaking zones, forcing Cobb to defend, which allowed Sibley and Noble to pull away from them, though they themselves were still separated by less than a kart length. On lap 30 Manton made the pressure tell, with a great move up the inside at turn 4, having faked to the outside as they moved through the long right hander of 3. Just a lap later, Noble also made a brilliant move, getting a better run out of 4 and passing into turn 5. Manton used the battle to reclose the gap and latch onto the back of the pair.
The distraction allowed Sibley to get back through into 2nd, with Manton quickly following him through as she carried greater speed through the Esses, making the move stick at turn 3. The extremely tight race for 2nd had allowed Golding to pull out a gap of 12.7 seconds as the drivers crossed the line for the 39th time, in the 38th minute.
Moussa-Zadeh then struggled to get out of the way as Sibley and Manton powered through, with Manton losing out through traffic. Meanwhile, Conroy moved up into 14th, as he showed his true pace for the day, holding onto the back of Golding at the front of the field, and using the blue flags being shown for Golding to his advantage. Josh Craft was also having a strong race, as he sat comfortably in 6th, having missed the earlier battles, and began to close the gap on Cobb to around 1 second with just over 15 minutes remaining. Golding proved why he was at the front of the field on lap 45, pumping in a new fastest lap, 56.214. With just over 10 minutes remaining, the father and son, Harrison and Tom Pughe, were in 8 th and 10th respectively with just Sam Bennett separating the duo.
Though it was Tom, usually a heavy driver, who found himself under pressure from Tim Ellis in 11th, with the pair split by just 0.4 seconds as they crossed the line for the 50th time. Further up the field, Craft had closed the gap to Cobb to less than a second, with both keeping their eyes on an opportunity to apply pressure to Noble in 4th. Up the road, following a lull in their battle, Manton found a second wind and latched onto Sibley’s bumper, as s he attempted to move up to the second step on the podium. Behind, Craft made the pressure tell, with a brilliant move up the inside of turn 9 moving him up into 5th. Into the last few minutes of the race, and Conroy set the fastest lap of the race, just pipping Golding’s earlier time with a 56.213.
Tom Golding passed the start line for the last time on lap 63, as he cruised home with a 17 second gap down to Sibley in 2nd, Manton kept the pressure up right to the last, crossing the line just 13 hundredths down in 3rd. Noble, Craft and Cobb followed in close behind. With a more substantial gap down to Leslie in 7 th, with H Pughe, Bennett and T Pughe rounding off the top 10.
The weather had changed overnight, with heavy rain in the run up to qualifying. The track was wet, but drying as the drivers took to the circuit. Having tested in the pouring rain the night before, Trundley set the early pace, with a 1:16.729, which was over 3 tenths quicker than the rest of the pack, as drivers struggled to findgrip on circuit. However, as expected, times quickly began to tumble lap on lap, as all drivers acclimatised, and the track began to dry. Just 2 laps later, Trundley’s time had dropped by over a second. However, as conditions developed, it was Cousins who got to grips with the circuit, taking the lead at the halfway stage, with a 1:14.870.
Mahony then came into the mix, with 5 minutes remaining, he set a 1:14.757 to move 1 st, only to be passed seconds later by Trundley who set a 1:14.733. Surprisingly, Trundley then brought his kart in for a swap, despite being the quickest driver on circuit. Due to the changeable conditions, the gaps were appearing across the field, with 4 seconds across the 14 drivers, a much higher gap than the DMAX drivers are used to seeing in dry conditions. With just 40 seconds of the session remaining, Cousins re-asserted his dominance with a 1:13.825 over 7 tenths quicker than anyone else on circuit. No one could respond to that time, with Trundley ending the session on 1:14.377, and Mahony, following a mistake at the final corner, 3 rd on 1:14.757. Nuno Costa and Richard Wade rounded off the top 5.
The whole grid seemed to get away fine, with no changes of position through turns 1 and 2, until Richard Wade lost control at 3, running wide and damaging his kart, resulting in a kart swap after just 1 lap, demoting him to last place. At the front, the early signs were for a 2 horse race, with Cousins and Trundley pulling away from Mahony and Costa in 3rd and 4th. Michael Coppin found himself alone in 5th, followed by a group of 4 drivers all battling for 6th 2 seconds further back, led by Matthew Conroy. On lap 4, Martin Bourke made a move stick on Conroy to take that position, as Alex Pritchard and Allan Curtis kept the pressure on in 8th and 9th. On lap 5, Cousins set a fastest lap, a 1:13.063, allowing him to pull out a gap of 1.4 seconds. On the same lap, Costa made the pressure pay, passing Mahony at Turn 4 to take 3rd position. On lap 7 Coppin lost control at the same corner, sliding off the outside of the circuit, moving him back to 9 th. Conroy managed to pass Bourke on the same lap, only to lose the position 2 laps late, as Bourke repassed him at the action corner, Turn 4.
Times continued to tumble, with Cousins setting a 1:12.292 as he extended his lead over Trundley. It wasn’t the same case for 3rd, with Mahony sticking to the rear bumper of Costa, and looking for a way round at Turn 11, only to be denied, as the 3rd placed driver picked his line well. Conroy manged to squeeze back passed Bourke on lap 12. In his efforts to regain 5th, Bourke lost control of his kart and lost 2 further positions, with Curtis and Coppin the beneficiaries. On the 20 minute mark, the battle for 3rd showed no signs of ceasing, as Mahony and Costa went side by side through the final sector, only for Ma hony to make his move stick at Turn 11. Bourke continued to slide down the field, as he lost control a t Turn 5 on lap 20, leaving him beached and awaiting the help of the marshals, finally re-joining the circuit in last place. Meanwhile, Coppin was moving in the other direction, with a brave move round the outside of Curtis at Turn 10 moving him up to 6th, and quickly following that with a move on Conroy for 5th. At the halfway mark, Richard Wade held 9th position, pulling out a gap of 10 seconds over Macauley Pond in 10th. Seb Cook was the next driver to find himself beached at Turn 5, the marshals worked hard to get him moving as quickly as possible, but he still saw himself slide behind Bourke into last position.
Further up the field, Curtis slid passed Conroy, and managed to hold the position, despite the pair being shown blue flags as Trundley moved through on his way to a new fastest lap of a 1:10.092, however on the drying circuit, Cousins soon went faster, with a 1:09.808, the first time under the 1:10 mark, in the process extending his lead to 15 seconds. On lap 30, Coppin’s charge was quickly brought to a halt, as he damaged his sprocketrunning wide at Turn 3, forcing him into the pits for a kart swap, and dropping him behind Curtis and Conroy. Hoewever the change wasn’t for long, as Conroy’s battery became disconnected in the 1 st sector, dropping him down to 10th.
Following a strong 45 minutes, Stuart Shearman lost positions quickly as he fell off the circuit at Turn 6, knocking him down 3 positions. Further up the field, Coppin made up for his earlier error, and showing that he still had the pace on circuit, re-passing Curtis for 5th. Conroy was also trying to move back through the pack, passing Pond on lap 37 for 9th position. With 10 minutes remaining, and with the circuit drying out, Trundley began to close the gap on Cousins, closing the gap by around a second a lap, and bringing the gap down to under 8 seconds as he hunted down the lead driver. Calamity then for Cousins on lap 46, as he flew off the circuit at Turn 6 allowing Trundley, who was still lapping faster, to latch right onto his bumper. With less than 5 minutes remaining, Trundley made a move stick into the penultimate corner and quickly stretched his lead, opening up a gap of nearly 2 seconds as they crossed the line for the 48th time. Following a great recovery drive, Coppin once again fell off the circuit at Turn 3, and remained there for around a minute as the marshals worked hard to recover the kart, dropping him down to 9th place with just a minute remaining.
Trundley brought his kart home safely after a dramatic final 10 minutes, crossing the line for victory after 51 laps. Cousins was 3 seconds down the road in 2nd, with Mahony 3rd and Costa 4th. Richard Wade crossed 5th, after managing to keep his kart pointing in the right direction better than those behind him. Curtis was 6 th, followed by Alex Pritchard, Conroy, and a disappointed Coppin in 9th, with Pond rounding off the top 10.
The track continued to dry as the heavies headed out in damp conditions for their qualifying. On Chris Carter’s 1st trip to Daytona Tamworth, he set the early pace, with a 1:11.638 on lap 2. However he was quickly surpassed by Zaustowicz, Lee Witney and Sam Harris as the drivers acclimatised. The first man below 1:09 was Zaustowicz, as he pumped in a 1:08.729 on lap 6 to go fastest. Blaze Sienko found his qualifying efforts hindered as he fell off at turn Turn 4, with the marshals forced to recover the kart. Meanwhile Nakar moved top with a 1:07.396, ahead of Carter who was up to 2nd, Witney in 3rd , and Harris and Zaustowicz rounding off the top 5. Late arrival Chris Munro joined the session with 5 minutes remaining, as Witney and Nakar exchanged fastest laps at the front. As the chequered flag was waved, Carter improved his time, but to no avail, as 1:06.674 was only good enough for 3rd. It was Nakar, setting a new fastest lap, a 1:05.665, who claimed pole, having made the most of the drying track, with Witney 4 tenths down in 2nd. Harris and Zaustowicz rounded of the top 5.
Witney got a fantastic start, finding grip on the outside of t1 and passing Nakar for the lead. As the karts moved into Turn 4, Carter was turned around by Sam Harris, pushing Carter down to last, and earning Harris a 30 second stop-go penalty. At the front Wiitney continued his fantastic start, with a fastest lap of a 1:03.133 as times tumbled from the qualifying session. Zaustowicz, who had gambled and changed his kart between qualifying and the race, moved passed Nakar, for 2nd position on lap 3. But Nakar held onto his rear bumper, proving that his quick qualifying time was not just a flash in the pan. Carter was a man on a mission following his 1st lap incident, quickly passing Robert Purtak and Richard Newton to move up into 6th. Sienko proved a tougher target, with the 2 running side by side through the middle sector only for Carter to pass at Turn 9. At the same spot on lap 7 Carter moved passed Munro to move back into 4th position. Nakar continued to keep the pressure on Zaustowicz, as he tried to make a move stick at Turn 6, there was contact between them, but no change of position following some boisterous defensive driving. Sienko closed the gap to Munro and tried multiple moves on lap 10 to no avail, only to bog his kart down by slamming on the throttle on the exit of the final corner, losing a position to Richard Newton in the process.
Newton was on a charge in his own right, closing the gap to Munro to under 10 seconds. Harris, frustrated by his earlier mistake, made quick work of passing Purtak at Turn 3 for 8th position. With the circuit now almost bone-dry, Zaustowicz had begun to lap on pace with the leader Witney, with a deficit of 8 seconds to close, however he also had to be wary of the threat from behind, with Nakar hanging on to his bumper, and setting a fastest lap, of a 1:01.208. Witney responded with a 1:01.111 to extend his lead further on lap 17. Carter then pulled into the pits for a kart swap, however as he was within 3 tenths of a lap of the leaders at the time, it looked like he may have made a mistake, as the move dropped him down to 8th. However he clearly did have the pace, as he quickly unlapped himself and pulled away from the race leader, in the process being the first man to break the minute mark, with a 59.735. He then passed Sam Harris for 7th as he began to work his way back through the field. Simultaneously Zaustowicz began to pull away from Nakar for 2nd. Richard Newton ran wide at Turn 3 losing time and positions as he dropped to 6th. Carter then made a mistake, losing time through excessive kerbing, allowing Witney back through to re-lap him.
Witney then looked visibly agitated as Carter got a warning for over aggressive driving towards the race leader in his attempts to unlap himself for the 2nd time. Carter, following Witney closely, made the most of blue flags shown for the race leader to pass Sienko, and then quickly moved around the outside of the final corner on Munro, back up to 4 th, before passing Witney to move back onto the lead lap.
Zaustowicz only had eyes forward as the clock hit 40 minutes, as he moved within 1.5 seconds of the leader. He then caught Witney and moved side-by-side through turns 6 and 7 only to be held off at the same spot for 2 laps in a row. The pair then swapped the lead multiple times through laps 41 and 42, with Zaustowicz seemingly finally making a move for the lead stick through turns 4 and 5. As the race moved into its final quarter, Whitney had no plans to let Zaustowic walk away with victory, keeping tight on his bumper, and setting a new fastest lap the 46th time of passing, with a 58.919. With less than 10 minutes remaining, the pair caught back up with Carter, who was quickly shown blues and moved over to allow the 2 leaders passed, having already sealed his overall Championship victory.
Further down the field, contact between Sienko and Harris led to the former losing 2 positions, with the contact being deemed a racing incident by the Race Director. With 5 laps remaining Zaustowicz set a new fastest lap, a 58.532, as he looked to cement his place on the top step of the podium. It proved to be enough, with an ecstatic Zaustowicz sealing victory, followed closely by Witney in 2nd, with Nakar having faded into 3rd. Carter followed in 4th, with Sienko, Munro, Harris, Newton and Purtak rounding offthe field.
The final round of the 2016 TW Steel DMAX Championships will be held on 20th November
at Daytona Milton Keynes – call Mark on 033 033 27870 to reserve your space on the grid.